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To the Mountains, We Went!

Updated: Oct 30, 2022

Read what we did and our completely honest review of our sister trip to Asheville, North Carolina from our hometown of Shelbyville, Indiana. We left early in the morning on Saturday, October 15th and returned around 8PM on Tuesday, October 18th.

Asheville North Carolina Fall Vacation

To the Mountains, We Went!

Keyen and I (Ricca) took weeks to decide on where to go for fall break this year. One thing we could agree upon was that we wanted to see A Pretty Place in Cleveland, South Carolina. Cleveland wasn't too far from Asheville so that's where we decided to stay plus we've always wanted to go. We spent more time than we want to admit trying to find where exactly to stay in Asheville. We took a recommendation from a friend to stay at the Country Inn and Suites by Radisson on Tunnel Road. It was a great budget friendly hotel about 7 minutes away from downtown and about 7 minutes away from the Biltmore entrance. We had a hot tub, complimentary breakfast, fairly nice rooms, and great service but we think we will try a different place next time with different amenities and right downtown. Keep reading to hear what we did on each day of our trip.

Asheville North Carolina Fall Vacation

Day 1:

We spent most of the day traveling and enjoying the scenic mountain views. The weather was amazing and we had plenty to talk about which made the time fly by! We drove through the University of Tennessee, Knoxville hoping to eat at Guss’s Good Time Deli. We have never had it, but in doing a food search, we decided it was just what we needed. Unfortunately, UT had a football game against Alabama (of all teams). So needless to say, when we drove up, the line to Guss’s was out the door. They take their football seriously! There were fans of all ages everywhere covered in orange! It was neat to compare other college towns to our alma mater, IU.

We got back on the road and made a stop at a local Mexican restaurant outside of Knoxville for lunch. The service was so quick and the food was super fresh, we may start making Mexican restaurant food stops a road trip tradition!

We arrived at our hotel in the evening, checked in, got settled, and took an Uber downtown. Parking isn't normally too terrible so this was the only time we needed to take an Uber. Saturday night was extra busy for the fall tourist season, a downtown concert, and college football.

We ended the night with drinks at the Hilton Garden Inn’s rooftop bar and lots of walking around the very, very busy streets of Asheville for food. We wound up having probably one of our worst dining experiences at the Bier Garden. The restaurant and bar was too busy, to the point they shouldn’t have sat us. Our food arrived under seasoned, not hot, overcooked, and about 1 ½ hours late. Had it not already been our last food choice, we would have left. The saving grace was that the manager was apologetic and did what he could to make it right.

Day 2:

Sunday was spent at the Biltmore Estate where we toured the gardens, house, and Antler Village. We learned a lot about the history of the home and the Vanderbilt family. The house was gigantic, carefully designed and beautiful in its own way. Built in 1895, we still had rooms that we loved and could see in our own modern homes. Fall was a great time to visit for the trees and mountain views but the gardens didn’t provide all of the lush beauty that it would have in spring or summer. So if you’re thinking about going and the gardens are the highlight for you, do a late spring or summer trip.

The Biltmore Estate felt more like a resort to us. The Antler Village was separate from the mansion but still within the “estate” and required about a 5 mile drive to go back and forth. The Antler village contained lodging, an ice cream shop, winery, farm, restaurants, a playground, plenty of outdoor seating, live entertainment, and shops. We had a late lunch at Cedric’s Tavern. The food was good and cozy on the cool afternoon. For an appetizer we ordered a meat pie. For entrees, Keyen ordered the shepherd’s pie and I (Ricca) ordered the house made sausage, colcannon potatoes, and buttered peas. We don’t normally order dessert when eating out but we couldn’t pass up trying the purple sweet potato pie, being sweet potato pie aficionados ourselves. It was a unique take on a deconstructed sweet potato pie but we didn’t enjoy it and couldn’t recommend it. The pie didn’t have the rich flavors we anticipated and we definitely wanted the traditional crust. The cranberry sauce was good on its own, very fragrant, but didn’t complement the pie very well. The toasted marshmallow was fun and helped to even out the other flavors while adding much needed sweetness to the pie. Shameless plug, checkout our Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie recipe on page of our Fall Cookbook. We would recommend Cedric’s as a whole. We imagine their fish and chips would be pretty tasty too!

We did suffice our sweet tooth before we left by getting a 1/2 scoop of banana pudding and a 1/2 scoop of vanilla ice cream from the ice cream shop. Though the ice cream shop serves Hershey's ice cream, the vanilla ice cream was a recipe from the original Biltmore creamery. The estate had a dairy back in the day that also also served ice cream.

We finished Day 2 with a dip in the hotel hot tub while chatting up a kind mother and daughter pair, and picked up pizza from Harvest Pizzeria. Sadly the pizza was a disappointment. It had barely any sauce and around 6 tiny pepperonis on the whole pizza. We ordered meatballs with polenta also. The meatballs and marinara were okay but the polenta was old, cold, tasteless, and stiff.

Day 3:

We woke up around 5 AM this morning to take a trip to Cleveland South Carolina to visit Pretty Place Chapel. The chapel is a part of the YMCA Camp Greenville and it has a truly breathtaking view of the mountains. We caught a gorgeous sunrise and took in the beauty of God’s creation.

When we returned to Asheville we decided to have brunch at Tupelo Honey. This was a more well known restaurant we found on the Food Network site and was then also recommended by a friend and the hotel concierge. Not to be a couple of “Debby Food Downers” but Tupelo Honey was not a win in our book. The chicken was dry and very under seasoned, like no seasoning at all. The potatoes were nice and crispy (loved that aspect) but no seasoning. The fried green tomatoes were hot and fresh but very under seasoned….you see a trend here? The biscuits were good but we weren’t in the mood for a harder savory biscuit so it didn’t quite do the job. The tables near us had waffles and they looked really good. Hopefully the restaurant's other dishes were better.

From Tupelo Honey we checked out a few local shops, art galleries, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, and I got a delicious latte with cinnamon, cayenne, and brown butter caramel syrup from High Five Coffee. The latte was amazing and something I want to go back for already!

We headed back to our hotel, but not before stopping by Mary’s Mountain Cookies for jumbo cookies to take with us. We crashed for a couple of hours before heading back out in search of another perfect sunset location. Scroll below to see some photos!

This last night was probably one of our favorites in Asheville. We went to the top of the AC Hotel, known for its tapas menu, cocktails, and having one of the best views of the sunset in Asheville. I ordered a margarita with honey shrub, bee pollen, and black salt and we shared the really tasty Cerdo Pan Plano (flat bread) at the Capella on 9 restaurant and bar while we watched the sunset and discussed business.

After some time at the rooftop bar, we headed out to the car to get our winter coats (smart Indiana girls we are) and walked around Asheville some more checking out local shops, music, and restaurant menus. We had already made reservations at Strada Italiano but we fell in love with the menu from Dilbar. A restaurant specializing in Indian street food. This will probably be the first restaurant we visit on our next trip back!

Our dinner reservations for Strada were at 8:45PM and it felt like a perfect way to end a chilly, slower fall night in Asheville. The Italian restaurant was dimly lit and cozy. The comfort food hit the spot! We split perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and cheesy on the inside, arancini with red sauce and balsamic reduction, and ciabatta bread. For our entrees we both ordered La Falda alla Panna and split grilled chicken and Italian sausages. Keyen ordered a side of broccolini that was seasoned and grilled to perfection. I ordered a side of their Bolognese sauce, because I love a good Bolognese, but in my opinion there wasn’t enough depth…sigh! However, that definitely did not stop us from saying Strada provided our best meal in Asheville. Their homemade pasta is top notch. If you plan a trip, definitely make a reservation.

We definitely ended our Asheville trip on a high note. We had a great time but we couldn’t do all that we anticipated. We would love to visit again to check out more restaurants, coffee shops, the arts district, and a spa! On the way home we made a quick stop in Lexington KY to visit family. It was the cherry on top of the trip!

We hope you enjoyed our Asheville trip itinerary and review! In the comment section below, please let us know what you think of our trip and/or what you think of Asheville if you’ve been before.

Last, let us know where you recommend for our next sister trip!

Asheville North Carolina Fall Vacation

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