Have you grown weary of how fast-paced the holidays have become? Some stores are playing Christmas music weeks before most of us have even thought about Thanksgiving dinner plans with our families and friends. There are TV commercials trying to convince us that gifting a teenage child with their brand's shoes is a quick way to get the first sign of affection in months.
There are Christmas trees in stores, replete with shiny balls that every toddler wants to pull off and throw. Many of us have at least three houses to visit on one single day so we don't feel guilty about not seeing every family member. This can be a stressful time of year!
It is an excellent idea to hold up a stop sign to the insanity and book tickets to get away for the holidays.
Asheville, NC, is a laid-back mountain town full of beauty, culture and art, world-class food and an award winning craft beer scene. From tapas at Cúrate to champagne and cheese at Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar to tacos at White Duck Taco Shop, there are restaurants for every taste bud and budget. Catch a show at The Orange Peel, stroll through the River Arts District or take an entertaining and educational ride around town on the LaZoom bus.
There are activities in Asheville for every member in your family. If you require something warming to chase away the chill, make a stop or two at one of the many wonderful bars in town, like Highland Brewing Company, Lexington Avenue Brewing Company, Green Man Brewing Company or The Thirsty Monk.
Here are a couple of holiday-specific activities in Asheville, NC that make the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains perfect for this time of year. Make the choice to take a break from the hustle and bustle!
Christmas at Biltmore: The Biltmore is an impressive estate that warrants a future trip just to spend several days exploring the grounds. From November 3 through January 1, the Biltmore comes alive with a truly festive air. Christmas at the Biltmore largely follows tradition, like with the 35-foot Fraser in the grand Banquet Hall and the attention given to kids.
This year, Santa will be visiting with kids in Antler Hill Village, a perfect location for parents because they can sample some of the estate's delicious wine. If you are a crafty type and enjoy DIY projects, take advantage of one (or a few!) of the holiday craft seminars going on in the Conservatory, one of my favorite places at Biltmore. Along with the giant Christmas tree one can view in the Banquet Hall, there are 68 other individually decorated trees throughout the estate.
Along with the daytime activities, there will be Candlelight Christmas Tours with music, an impressively tall 55-foot and brilliantly lit tree on the front lawn and the option to head to Antler Hill Village. Lodging and dining is available on the estate. Other activities include horse and carriage rides and, of course, shopping. For more information, head to Biltmore's website.
Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Contest: This gingerbread contest is a staple of holiday celebration at the resplendent Grove Park Inn. There are four categories of entry (Adult, Teen, Youth and Child), and the Adult grand prize includes a $5,000 check along with swank perks at the Inn. You can enter the contest up through November 12, so there is still time for you to get in on the fun!
If viewing art is more your style than creating it, make sure to drop by the Grove Park Inn anytime from November 20 through January 2. After checking out the gingerbread houses, enjoy a romantic dinner at Horizons and consider spending a couple nights right on the property. Everything you may want or need can probably be found right at the Grove Park Inn, making it another wonderful lodging option for your holiday stay in Asheville, NC.
There are various other holiday activities to enjoy in Asheville, NC, like theater performances, art festivals and traditional music around town. For a full list of what is happening, click on Explore Asheville.
Follow Amber DeGrace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/amberdegrace