POMP rating: 🌴🌴🌴🌴🌴
FACTORS influencing rating: Scenery is very romantic. You can stay very busy or do nothing at all. Pet friendly. Local food and breweries are excellent. Family trip, girlfriend getaway, or couples retreat. Affordable.
If you live within a four to five hour drive of Asheville, North Carolina, and you’ve never been there, you definitely need to plan a long weekend getaway! My family loves the whole area, including Lake Lure, which is only a curvy 45 minute drive away from Asheville, and where they filmed the Dirty Dancing movie. Asheville has so much to offer: great food, local breweries, loads of hiking, waterfalls, a gorgeous lake, and relaxing mountain views everywhere. Oh – and there’s the Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home, that is open for tours year-round, but Christmastime is the best because it’s decorated and very, very festive.
I’ll admit that I’ve passed up the Biltmore on several occasions while visiting Asheville. I hate lines, I really don’t like crowds of people, and I’ve seen enough castles to last me a lifetime from my recent trip-from-hell to Ireland and Scotland. (That is a whole different story for another time, but there were castles – lots and lots of castles). Anyway, when my husband and I took our most recent trip to Asheville and tried checking in to our hotel a little early, they informed us that our room would not be ready for four hours. The weather wasn’t the best for hiking, so we decided to head on over to the Biltmore and check it out.
Admission Fee Steep, But Worth It
The admission fee was shocking, and I was skeptical that it would be worth it, but there were no long lines that I could see, so we thought we’d give it a whirl. The whole drive up to the parking area of the mansion and most of the walk up to the house, my husband was “doing the math” on what they rake in every day in admission fees at the Biltmore. It is staggering, let me tell you, and we were intrigued as to what all we would see once inside and if, indeed, it would be worth the $150 bucks we dropped to enter the grounds. Guess what? It was definitely worth the money.
Biltmore Personal Faves
I do love and appreciate architecture, and I found it interesting to walk through this mansion that was such a fine example of over the top, excessive wealth and living. The Winter garden room was my personal favorite, because it was lusciously tropical and set kind of in the middle of the main living area of the mansion. I enjoyed the dining room for its massive triple fireplace and out- of- this- world, fairy tale quality live Christmas tree. The indoor fitness facility was cool just to see the equipment they used back then, and the indoor swimming pool, although drained of water, had a creepy, claustrophobic feel that is the opposite of feelings normally evoked poolside. To me, this made it interesting. Some of the outside balconies were noteworthy, because of the mountain views and the Tuscan feel of the railing and furniture. There is a winery, and so many other great things to do here that I’m not mentioning, but worth the steep admission fee and about three hours of our time. Yes. Definitely. Don’t miss it! I won’t need to visit again, but I’m so glad that I did, and I think you will be, too. Well, maybe I’ll go back and tour the winery next time…..
Lake Lure and Dirty Dancing
I love Lake Lure. I love Dirty Dancing (the movie, that is). This mountain lake is so completely gorgeous, I cannot even describe it. If you’ve seen the iconic movie Dirty Dancing, you can look around and almost see Baby and Johnny practicing their moves lakeside. If you haven’t seen the film, what’s wrong with you? It’s a classic! Renting a boat is a fun way to spend the afternoon, but only for about three hours. Any longer, and you might get bored because the lake is actually very small. That’s a good thing, though, because you can’t really get lost out there. The homes up on the mountain with views of the water provide enjoyable scenery as you ride around. The water stays super chilly well into the Spring, but Summertime on the lake is perfection for swimming, tubing, and water skiing.
Other Notables in and Around Lake Lure
You can pull up to Larkin’s on the Lake, a great little waterside restaurant. We love the Bloody Marys there – the best I’ve had almost anywhere. The food is great, too, ranging from seafood to burgers to delicious soups. Nearby, Chimney Rock State Park is a great place to go for a strenuous hike. There are several trails to choose from, and the views are incredible. Another bonus is the whole place is pet friendly. Taking your leashed dog on the trails is totally acceptable and encouraged, and most hotels and cabins are also pet friendly. Rumbling Bald Resort has a couple of great looking golf courses (we are not golfers), a few restaurants, a spa and swimming facilities, and accommodations ranging from condominiums to large mountain cabins. There you can find putt-putt for the family, tennis, a fitness course, as well as an ice cream shop and volleyball! They also have a private swimming beach and kayaks for guests. We usually rent a cabin in Rumbling Bald or nearby, and almost always book a couples’ massage at their spa, which never disappoints.
Driving Around and Staying Over
No matter what time of year you decide to go, there will be things for your whole family (and dog) to enjoy. There is shopping, gem mining for the little ones, zip lining, kayaking, boating, tubing, horseback riding, hiking, spa services, and even the Blue Ridge Parkway nearby if you just feel like driving through gorgeous scenery. Oh, and of course, there’s the Biltmore. If you’ve ever visited Gatlinburg or Branson, and you like the activities but hate the overcrowded feel, Asheville and Lake Lure would be a great place to try for a small, charming, fun filled getaway. Check out VRBO or HomeAway for ideas on accommodations in the area, or book one of the major chain hotels in downtown Asheville. I think you’ll have a great time no matter if it’s a couples’ getaway, a girlfriend weekend, or a family vacation. Book it now – and have a great trip!