Travel Journal #3: Anniversary Trip to Asheville, NC

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When Gerrit and I got married in 2010, we went to Asheville for our honeymoon. I’ll be honest: it felt a little like making lemonade out of lemons. We didn’t have a very big honeymoon budget and were about to undertake a really big move, so staying close to home and going somewhere less expensive seemed like the best option even if it wasn’t the most exciting.

On our honeymoon we stayed at the cutest cottage, toured the Biltmore, ate some great food, and generally had a good time. But it still stung a bit to watch friends travel to places like Hawaii and Mexico while we were driving six hours up the road for our honeymoon.

Now, eleven years later though? I kind of love it. Because we have fallen in love with Asheville deeply, and have made anniversary trips a bit of a tradition. Not many people can say they get to frequently travel back to their honeymoon spot. But we can and we love it.

And this time we even stayed in the exact same cottage we stayed at for our honeymoon. AND we found our old guest book entry! Man, what a blast for the past. And we felt so grateful to be able to stand in the same room overlooking the skyline and think about everything that has changed in life and still be thankful for each other.

Ok…enough with the sappiness. Here’s what we did on our trip! Some old favorites PLUS some new experiences that we loved!

Day One

Ok, let’s say day one is arrival day. So there’s not much here. We got into town, checked into the cottage, relished in some silence, and then went downtown for dinner.

We ate at Asheville Proper and it was fantastic. (Pro tip: whenever you see bone marrow on the menu, just order it.)

Then of course we had to get dessert at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. There is always a line, and I will always wait in it. I had the chocolate peanut butter cake and OH MAN.

Day Two

Day two of our anniversary trip to Asheville was our “Asheville” day (aka not The Biltmore). We started out with breakfast at Tupelo Honey (a classic) and then spent the morning browsing through some favorite stores (especially Malaprops bookstore).

Around lunch we went to explore the River Arts District a bit. This is an area of Asheville we hadn’t been to before, and while we weren’t exactly there at the best time, I can tell it has some cool stuff going on.

For lunch we went up to the Grove Park Inn (another Asheville spot we hadn’t been to before) and immediately made the decision that next time we visit Asheville we want to stay here. It was gorgeous with gorgeous views and we had an excellent lunch (a lamb burger we split because we were still full from breakfast) on the terrace at The Edison. It was perfect.

At lunch we started talking about French Broad Chocolate and I mentioned how I heard you can do tours at the factory. We didn’t have any particular plans for the afternoon, so I got online and got two last minute tickets for the Sunday afternoon chocolate tasting.

And let me tell you, this was the BEST DECISION. I was basically in chocolate heaven for an hour, as they discussed how the chocolate is sourced and processed and then we got to taste the different chocolate both on their own and baked into treats.

If you are a chocolate lover visiting Asheville, definitely look into the visiting the French Broad Chocolate Factory!

Then it was back to the cottage to change clothes and off to dinner at Chiesa, which was another solid experience. (Although, truthfully, my chicken was a bit dry…but everything else was great!)

Day Three

Day three was our Biltmore day, and I have a whole post about visiting the Biltmore if you want more tips. We’d been before and enjoyed seeing it again, but the best part was definitely the Backstairs Tour, where an animated guide led us through back rooms of the house. We learned about how service worked at the house, the relationships the Vanderbilts had with the people who worked for them, and also how the Vanderbilts narrowly missed being on the Titanic.

After a full day at the Biltmore (touring the house, eating lunch, walking through the gardens, going on the tour) it was time to relax. We grabbed some pizza and headed back to our cottage just as it started to rain, which made for the perfect cozy evening. Plus it’s always nice to travel as a parent and realize that you don’t have to start thinking about bedtime routines at 6:30.

Day Four

We headed home on day four, but we still had one fun thing in mind!

A year ago, on our other anniversary trip to North Carolina (where we skipped Asheville because of the pandemic and did a lot of hiking instead), we were supposed to ducky the Nantahala. But a strong rainstorm cancelled that plan, which was a bummer.

Oh, wait, here’s where I should insert a fun fact! Gerrit and I met working as summer camp counselors together, and on one of our camp adventures we had duckied the Nantahala before and had been looking forward to doing it again.

Well this trip it happened on the way back!

If you aren’t familiar with a ducky, it’s an inflatable kayak, kind of like a mini raft. There are single ducks and double ducks (we did single because, hey, we know our marriage). And it was so much fun to get out on the Nantahala again! It’s the perfect river for ducks because the rapids are just fun enough to feel exciting but not rough enough to feel scary (minus the waterfall at the end, which you can totally skip if you want to).

It was a great end to the trip, and we are always so thankful to be able to get time away together. Especially when we get to return to one of our favorite places!

Want more Asheville planning an Asheville trip? Check out our weekend in Asheville itinerary!