Take you riding in my car…

Brewbikes
Fat Tire Bikes

Plans change.  Instead of taking it easy my husband and I headed over to Asheville because, why not?  Have you been?  This was my first visit but not my last.  What a great, laid back, artsy hipster town (or at least the parts I spent time in).  Check it out….

Asheville is a 4-hour straight-line drive from Nashville. The trees are a week or two shy of putting on their fall foliage show but still lovely to look at with lots of shades of green blanketing valleys and rolling hills that morphed into The Smokies as we entered North Carolina…

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Backyard Swannanoa view

We opted to stay at an East Asheville apartment with a lush backyard that overlooked the Swannanoa River.  It felt like we stepped into a HGTV redo – the place was beautifully furnished and styled, impeccably clean, and very reasonably priced.  I recommend staying there if you want a quiet, peaceful space to de-stress and relax before experiencing Asheville…

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Weekend Living Room

After settling in we headed into town to check out the scene, spending the afternoon walking around the area bordered by Patton Avenue, North French Broad Avenue, Haywood Street and Broadway.

There were two places I wanted to check out; Malaprop’s Bookstore and the Asheville Pinball Museum.  I never did get to play pinball but Malaprop’s can now be added to my list of great bookstores (see the others here).  The love of books shows in the overall selection, tongue-in-cheek displays, and overall vibe of the place…

Indiebound
One of the awesome displays at Malaprop’s
FashionBooks
Who doesn’t need a paper Karl?
BlindDateBooks
Funny Extraordinary Elegant Gripping Vibrant Sizzling ‘Mystery’ Books

We also spent a lot of time at Woolworth Walk on Haywood Street.  We should have sat at the counter and had a grilled cheese and shake but chose instead to wander the two floors of art.  I love to explore these sorts of spaces, where you never know what you will discover.  Since I fancy myself an artist, and am definitely crafty, I can be a harsh judge but I saw a number of pieces that I’d like to own at some point…

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Popcorn Sutton by Eric Cunningham
AbandonedStuff
Abandoned Art by Walter Arnold

Did I mention that Asheville is a beer and coffee town?  There may be more coffee spots per capita than in any other US city I’ve ever been in, including Seattle.  We had coffee at the apartment, followed by double espressos at Malaprop’s, Café Au Lait’s at Asheville’s oldest coffee shop (Old Europe Pastries), and Cappucino’s at Double D’s – all in a four- hour time frame…

Pastries
Old Europe Pastries

After all that coffee you would think we’d be wired but we actually squeezed in a nap before heading out to dinner at  Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company .  We followed dinner with an impromptu group birthday party with cake from Short Street Cakes. We kept the party going at members-only Asheville Yacht Club  where we sat in the Playboy booth (think bunny head silhouette covered with hundreds of images of semi-naked ladies – you get the picture) which set off an epic discussion of porn then vs. now, misogyny, traveling cross country, the benefits if dual citizenship, and old tv shows and rock tours…

The next morning we ate breakfast at DeSoto Lounge in West Asheville.  What a scene.  I’m pretty sure I was the least hip person in the place as well as being the only person not in a band.  For sure I had the least amount of tattoos and piercings.  That said, the food was cheap and healthy and the vibe pretty laid back, which was exactly what was needed to fuel our next stop, a tour of the New Belgium Brewery

NewBelgSign
Enter Here All Ye Who Like Beer

I don’t drink but I appreciate the history of and craft that goes into making beer. I recommend making reservations if you want to take the brewery tour, something we did not do.  Instead, we took a chance there would be a cancellation  and lucky for us there was (thank you to the 14 guys from Ohio who were no-shows)…

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One of many pieces of New Belgium art
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Inside a brewing tank
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Free beers to sample throughout the tour

It was a fun tour, led by a very upbeat bike-riding PR guy, with lots of beer samples and silly jokes along the way.  Plus, the factory is brimming with art, bikes, and personality.  I finished the tour thinking that there are worse places one could end up working at than New Belgium (in North Carolina or Colorado)…

After buying some beer souvenirs we headed back East, planning a return visit the entire drive back.  I never did make it to the Pinball Museum so that is a must -do for our next visit.  Do you have any recommendations of things to do, places to stay, or things to eat in Asheville?  I’d love to know your favorite places…

*Take You Riding In My Car Woody Guthrie

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