Dreaming of a cozy getaway with your valentine? Asheville has it all for romance: beautiful bronze sunsets over the mountains, a foodie- lovers’ haven and plenty of brisk outdoor activities to take in before settling down to a warm fireside drink. So grab your sweetie, don your hats and mittens and make for the North Carolina mountains this winter!
Things To Do
Grove Park Inn
The Grove Park Inn has so much to offer, it’s a destination in itself. Even visitors not staying at the hotel can take advantage of the myriad activities on offer at the stately, 100-year-old Arts and Crafts style resort. One of the most romantic locations in Asheville, the massive Great Hall Lobby shines in all its early 20th century glory. Locally sourced granite boulders make up two massive 36 foot, floor to ceiling, stone fireplaces. Kick back in an original craftsman rocking chair with a signature cocktail in hand from the Lobby bar and snuggle with your sweetie in front of the roaring fire. (Hint: ask about the hidden elevator inside one of the fireplaces!) Come sundown, step outside onto the expansive terrace and catch the magnificent western sunset dipping into the hazy Blue Ridge Mountains.
Additional amenities for guests and visitors include a Donald Ross designed golf course and ten places to eat and drink on the property itself, including one of only two AAA Four Diamond restaurants in Western North Carolina (Vue 1913; upscale casual, reservations recommended) a dualing piano bar (Elaine’s Dualing Piano bar; Thursday-Saturday only; over 21), and Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen for locally sourced craft beers, regionally inspired food and indoor and outdoor seating. Don’t miss Grovewood Village, an antique car and Asheville history museum , which is also located on property. Above all else, take time to unwind in the 43,000 square foot spa and pool area, rated one of the “Top Resort Spas in the US” by Conde Nast Traveler. Enjoy cavernous relaxation pools, contrast pools, lap pool, inhalation room, sauna or eucalyptus-infused steam room.
Completed in 1895, George and Edith Vanderbilt’s masterpiece remains the largest private home in America and embodies all the romance and nostalgia for the grand lifestyle of the Gilded Age. You’d be forgiven for feeling as though you had stepped back in time to the period of Downton Abbey. In fact, until April 7, you can fully immerse yourself in that reverie! A brand new exhibit, “Downton Abbey Returns,” featuring the actual costumes and set decorations from the hit show, is included with your Biltmore Estate admission.
In addition to the main house, the Estate includes the beautiful Frederick Law Olmstead designed gardens and pathways winding through 8,000 acres and Antler Hill Village, home to dining, shopping, outdoor sports, the Farmyard and Winery. Enjoy complimentary wine tasting in the wine room, take the “Behind the Scenes Winery Tour and Tasting,” or saddle up a horse for a trail ride through the rolling hills awash in mountain views. Finally, Cap off your day with live music and a local craft beer at Cedric’s Tavern, also in Antler Hill.
North Carolina Arboretum
To the West of downtown Asheville, at the gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway, lies the North Carolina Arboretum. This February 14-16, the Arboretum presents “Sweets with Your Sweetie” an event that offers cocoa at the hot chocolate bar followed by a guided hike. Hikes will focus on the natural history of the Arboretum, including some of the region’s more prominent birds, and will be one- to two- miles in length. The event is free; however, standard parking fees apply for non-members.
A short drive from downtown Asheville puts you within distance of several mountainous trails that reward hikers with beautiful waterfall views. The “Land of the Waterfalls” entices adventurous couples to explore scenic trails and forests in the surrounding area and search for more than 60 local waterfalls. For the most easily accessible, try the 60-foot Looking Glass Falls located right on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. Further south, Hooker Falls is an easy 1.2 mile roundtrip stroll from the parking lot in DuPont State Forest and is located near Triple Falls and High Falls, for a waterfall trifecta.
Visiting Beer City USA to explore the more than two dozen local craft breweries? Why not let someone else do the driving while you do the drinking? Several well-rated beer tours offer bus, walking or even bike service and behind the scenes access to a multitude of local breweries, including Green Man, Hi Wire, Highland, Wicked Weed and more. Asheville Brewery Tours, with more than 850 excellent Trip Advisor reviews, even includes a dog-friendly walking brewery tour option. For couples wanting to extend their beer-vana, check out Sierra Nevada brewing company, a 20 minute drive south of Asheville.
Where To Eat
When folks ask where to go for a special meal in Asheville, the answer is almost always Curate. Rated one of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2018, Curate is James Beard nominee Chef Katie Button’s expression of love for Spanish culture and authentic cuisine. Conde Nast called the place “dead sexy” and its unique décor and seasonally rich tapas transports you to Spain. Let the accommodating staff guide you at the vermouth bar for something new!
Just outside the Biltmore Estate in the historic Biltmore Village lies the quaint, upscale Corner Kitchen. Located in a renovated Victorian cottage, the rambling farm-to-table restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner with a locally sourced, New American cuisine.
French Broad Hot Chocolate Factory and The Chocolate Lounge
What better way to warm up from your outdoor winter adventures than with a steamy mug of hot cocoa? This downtown café comprised of a lounge, a boutique and a chocolate factory, is a haven for chocolate lovers. Indulge in hand-crafted chocolates, paired with wine or beer, housemade ice cream, a wide range of sweet confections like artisan truffles and brownies, a menu of drinking chocolates and even gluten-free options. The Chocolate Factory and Tasting Room offers daily tours by reservation and covers the cacao cultivation and production of their chocolates.
Made from scratch biscuits topped with fresh, homemade jam and local honey is just one appetizing reason to frequent this original establishment. Touting itself as a “revival of southern food and tradition,” Tupelo Honey is well known for its hippyish vibe, fried green tomatoes, and supper special plates. The recipient of numerous accolades and awards, the cozy, neighborhood restaurant has never swayed from its humble beginnings and remains a true, southern staple in the heart of downtown Asheville.
Places To Stay
Apart from the Biltmore Estate and Omni Grove Park Inn, both of which offer exceptional service, on-site dining, and special packages for couples, Asheville has several other romantic hotels, cottages, cabins, and bed-and-breakfast inns.
Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph Collection
Located just outside the entrance to the Biltmore House, in historic Biltmore Village, the Grand Bohemian Hotel sports a tudor, stone-clad exterior and opulent interiors that reflect the unique style of Asheville. Amenities include a full-service spa. The Marriott-owned hotel is currently offering a Biltmore Escape package that includes 2 adult tickets to the Biltmore Estate, valid for two consecutive days, and gourmet breakfast in the on-site Red Stag Grill.
The AC Hotel by Marriott, Asheville Downtown
Recently renovated, the AC Marriott Hotel is conveniently located off Broadway Street and is within walking distance to popular restaurants, boutiques, and pubs. The property offers garage parking, an expansive lobby, modern rooms, and an on-site dining options. Perhaps the best feature of this hotel is its rooftop bar, Capella 9, which offers creative libations, delicious tapas, and panoramic views of western mountain range. Frequently, Capella 9 presents live, local music.
The Windsor Boutique Hotel, Asheville Downtown
Originally built in 1907, The Windsor Hotel is an elegant and intimate boutique-style hotel that features condo style suites. Each room has its own kitchen, laundry facility, living area, and separate bedroom, gifting residents with privacy and luxury. The modern decor, excellent location, and elegant accommodations make the Windsor Boutique Hotel a popular choice for those visiting Asheville for a romantic getaway.
While visiting Asheville this winter, take time to converse with the locals. The bohemian, hippyish lifestyle coupled with sincere, southern charm and mountain scenery make the eclectic town of Asheville one that is not replicated anywhere else. Arguably, Asheville is the most romantic city on the East Coast! Enjoy it!