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Trip Report Asheville, NC with Toddler in June - Trip Report

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My husband, my 2 year old daughter, and I flew into Greenville, SC on Sunday and took about an hour drive into Asheville, NC. We checked into a 1 bedroom suite at the Country Inn and Suites West. The hotel was sufficiently clean and the complimentary continental breakfast was about what you'd expect. We paid about $115 per night. Late that afternoon, we headed to downtown Asheville. First stop was Pack Square Park, where my daughter had a blast playing in the spitting fountains. The park is small and not particularly aesthetic in my opinion. In fact, I'd say that about downtown, in general. I had read much of the low key, artist-vibe of downtown Asheville, but to me, it had a slightly seedy feel. I didn't see many young families walking around. We got stopped by someone asking for spare change to "get home," because she lost her purse and then ended up sitting near her in a restaurant, vodka shot in her hand. That being said, there were some interesting restaurants. That night we ate at Tupelo Honey and loved the food! My husband ordered the pulled pork BBQ plate and his only complaint was that the corn on the cob was not a very ripe, full piece. The flavors of his dish were great. I ordered the Venerable Veggie dish and it was delicious. The goat cheese grits were amazing and there were delicious fresh spices throughout the dish. My daughter had the grilled tofu, which I thought was good too. Kids meals were very expensive at this restaurant (approx $8 each), but the sides were only $3.25 and so you could do either a side of mac n cheese or tofu or something else.

Next day we hit the Biltmore Estate. We had bought advanced tickets online for $44. We had a lovely, relaxing day, but did feel that it was very expensive. We quickly toured the house (my daughter couldn't handle more than a quick run through it) and it was very efficiently managed. Next, we went to the farm and dairy. My daughter played with some plastic farm toys, while we watched a film about the farm. My daughter absoultely LOVED the petting zoo. There were lots of animals to pet. It was very well done. We ate lunch at the Quick Bites stand at the farm. It was pretty bad, honestly. I had a veggie burger, that was so hard in some spots, it was barely edible. It came with potato chips and baked beans from a can. My husband had pulled chicken and said it was kind of bleh too. Meals were about $8-$10 at the BBQ stand. (Sandwiches at sit down restaurants at Biltmore ranged from $12-$15 or so for lunch and entrees were even more). Next we hit the winery, but pregnant me, didn't partake. My husband sampled a few and said they were alright. The tastings were free and efficiently operated. Finally, we took a short hike in the mountains (trail map available at the Outdoor Center) and then ate some delicious vanilla ice cream at the Creamery. Afterwards we stopped at the McDonald's across from Biltmore, b/c it was recommended. It is decorated in a fancy way, but nothing that I'd call a must see. We went back downtown to Asheville for dinner. That night we ate with friends at Mayfel's. Food was so so. Kids meals were reasonably priced.

On Tuesday, we hit the Blue Ridge Parkway, which could not be any more lovely and magnificent. We drove north from the Visitor Center and stopped first at Crabtree Falls, about an hour drive. The hiking was a moderate loop less than 3 miles and just so beautiful and serene. My husband wore the Deuter Kid Comfort II pack with my daughter on his back. He said it definitely made the hike more strenuous, but it was not painful. My daughter loved her seat. She even fell asleep during a couple of hikes. We drove north just a few miles from Crabtree to Little Switzerland for lunch at the cafe. The staff were so nice and friendly and the food was good. My husband had the grilled cheese and I had tomato basil soup and salad. My daughter had an enormous PBJ sandwich (should have only ordered a half). It started pouring so we grabbed a coffee from the bookshop and sat on the porch. We decided to brave it out and drove south to Mount Mitchell. You can drive nearly to the summit and then do about a 10 minute walk to a 360 degree observatory. Unfortunately we had no view due to cloud cover. Next stop south was Craggy Gardens, but weather did not cooperate for a second hike. We dined at Chai Pani for Indian Street Food. I didn't love it. Many of the dishes were sweet and I prefer a savory dinner.

On Wednesday, we drove to Chimney Rock. The descent up the rock is all stairs and we were winded. Then we took a short hike to a waterfall. Problem with Chimney Rock is it's a more touristy and less natural experience. We paid $20 admission for the family and didn't find the experience serene enough, due to the crowds. It was nice, but we really preferred the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we headed back for a late afternoon hike. This time we drove south from Asheville to Mount Pisgah. We took a climb to the summit, where there is a cell phone tower. This climb was really nice, but basically the mile and a half or so is all up up up and then you backtrack and go down down down. Anyhow, we thoroughly enjoyed this hike, as we did our hiking at Crabtree Falls. The Blue Ridge Parkway is just incredible. Many great spots to picnic or BBQ too, but we didn't. We drove back to Greenville that night. I just love downtown Greenville, SC. We ate at a Mexican Veg restaurant and food was good, not incredible, but good. Then we had delicious gelato at a small shop off the main road. We slept at the Sleep Inn, Carolina Center, which was priced around $60 and was small and not modern, but fine for 1 night to be close to the airport.

Really nice trip with a youngster. We had a great family vacation.

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