July 31, 2008

Art and more art - This Weekend

Local photographer Max Cooper (a fellow graduate of UNC-Asheville) stopped by the blog a few days ago and alerted me to his amazing upcoming exhibit focusing -yes, pun intendend- on the River Arts District. It kicks off Saturday night, August 2, at the Pump Gallery (in the Phil Mechanics Studios building) from 7-10 p.m. His Web site has information on the exhibit, and you should check out his always entertaining blog, A Dark Topography.
Also this weekend, Biltmore Village is holding the 36th Annual Village Arts & Crafts Fair, on the lawn of the Cathedral of Old Souls. Enjoy yourself there on Saturday from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. (just in time to go over to the Pump for Max Cooper's opening) and Sunday from noon - 6 p.m.
Plus, WNC Magazine wants you to know about The Art Walk Opening Reception with Clay Space Cooperative and Tom Pazderka. This Friday (August 1) from 5:30-8:30 at the Asheville Area Arts Council.

Advising you in much the same way as one BlogAsheville blogger, Get out there and support the local artists! Because, well, we're lucky enough to have a lot of them to appreciate!

July 30, 2008

Biltmore Summer Concert Series

Biltmore Summer Concerts (click for ticket prices and more information)

Stephen Curtis Chapman - Friday, August 1
KC & The Sunshine Band and Village People - Saturday, August 2
The Stepcrew - Wednesday, August 6
Gladys Knight - Thursday, August 7
B.B. King - Friday, August 8
REO Speedwagon - Saturday, August 9
The Beach Boys - Friday, August 15

All concerts begin at 8:00 p.m.

Want to visit for the summer concert series? Stay just down the street from Biltmore with Carolina Mornings, at the Biltmore Condos - our Asheville luxury vacation rentals.

July 28, 2008

Cherokee Reservation a hotspot for international tourists

The Asheville Citizen-Times recently published an article about the popularity of Cherokee, NC among foreign travelers. According to the article, there were about 358,000 international travelers visiting North Carolina in 2007, many to visit and learn more about the Cherokee culture.

The article largely discusses the fact that many Germans in particular are drawn to the Southeast, wanting to know more about authentic American Indian culture. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians is aware of this, and now offers a German language Web site.

There is also the added bonus of lively surroundings - including the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, and attractions such as the Blue Ridge Parkway and Asheville - that makes Cherokee a good place to visit.

Long vacations (6 weeks of vacation time) and a favorable exchange rate make traveling to the United States a feasible option for many Europeans, and along with the Cherokee reservation in particular, the entire Southeast is growing in popularity among foreign travelers. This should give the tourism a little boost as the national economy makes Americans more reticent to travel.

Cherokee, Asheville and the rest of Western North Carolina are also good places to vacation for those in the Southeast who would like to take a vacation but don't want to travel far from home, with rises gas prices and talk of recession.

Cherokee is about an hour from Asheville, and has many cultural attractions to enjoy, including:
Plus much more - visit the Web site to see all Cherokee has to offer.

Need a place to stay?
Carolina Mornings has properties close to Cherokee or Asheville, or anywhere else in the Western North Carolina area. Save on gas by choosing a cabin, chalet, cottage or vacation rental close to your primary vacation destination!

July 25, 2008

Asheville, Thomas Wolfe and Orson Scott Card

Photo from www.wolfememorial.com

Lately we've been talking about the Thomas Wolfe House and Memorial at Carolina Mornings. We love packages, and guests love packages, so we're trying to come with something related to the Memorial house (suggestions are welcome). Anyway, one thing we thought of is a book sold in the gift shop: Asheville, and Thomas Wolfe. It gives you an idea of some of the places in Asheville that Wolfe featured in his writing.

When Googling the book, I discovered that Orson Scott Card, a somewhat known author (hah! by "somewhat known," what I really meant was Very Well-Known Among Sci-Fi Readers Across the Nation), actually reviewed the book, the memorial, and Asheville itself - back in 2004 in a Greensboro, NC publication called the Rhinoceros Times. The review is an entertaining read (it is Card, after all) and says some spot-on things about the Memorial and Asheville in general.

So, other than sharing the Orson Scott Card article about visiting Asheville, I'd also like to recommend you take a trip to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. It's just $1 for adult admission, and only $0.50 for students. Where else can you look inside a historic place for $1? Plus they do some pretty cool events in the Thomas Wolfe house, usually for about $6 (still unbelievably cheap for cool events).

While you're in Asheville or Western North Carolina for summer vacation, Bele Chere weekend, to see Biltmore, or even if you live in the area and have never been before - go check out Thomas Wolfe's old house located right in downtown Asheville.

July 24, 2008

More Bele Chere guidance

The Mountain Xpress brings us more interesting Bele Chere action:

A live webcam of Bele Chere
An article about the humble beginnings of Bele Chere '79 (a mere 10,000 people, where as the past few years have seen 350,000-400,000)
And links to the Bele Chere Basics, Entertainment Schedule, Food & Attractions

Also note Shuttle Info:
  • Shuttles are $3 roundtrip and run every 20 minutes. The first shuttle runs an hour before the festival, last shuttle runs an hour after the festival.
  • East Route Shuttle goes from behind Asheville Mall on Tunnel Road to the circle on College Street.
  • West Route Shuttle goes from the K-Mart at Patton Avenue to the intersection of Wall Street and Otis Street.

July 23, 2008

Come to Bele Chere and stay with us

Carolina Mornings still has several available Asheville vacation rentals, cabins, cottages, chalets, and condos for Bele Chere weekend (Friday-Sunday).

Asheville Properties
Biltmore Condo

51 Downtown Condo (stay in the middle of Bele Chere!)
Bull Creek Cottage
Blueberry Hill Cabin

At the Cove Chalet

Plus a whole bunch more within a 30 minute drive of downtown Asheville and Bele Chere.
While you're at it, browse our specials, some of which include gas gift cards!

July 21, 2008

Bele Chere 2008 is coming! Insider tips and tricks Part II: Parking!

See Part I, which includes online and magazine guides to this year's Bele Chere festival, as well as transit information.

Parking. The straightforward, easy and obvious way to park is to use one of the many pay lots surrounding downtown. During Bele Chere, anyone that has a parking lot charges for public parking. When I've paid in the past, I've used the YMCA or First Baptist Church of Asheville parking lots, which are right next to each other, and located on the edge of downtown. There's no telling what they'll be charging to park though, and I've always found that I'd rather save that money for the great art, trinkets, food and drink you'll find downtown at Bele Chere.

My recommendation is to park on a neighborhood side street slightly away from downtown, off of Charlotte Street, College Street, or even Merrimon Avenue. You'll do a little more walking, but it is a street festival, after all - so you've got to expect some walking.

The neighbors who live on those streets might disown me for divulging that information, but all of the locals who go to Bele Chere are already parking there, so why shouldn't you? (SORRY neighborhood locals!)

At Carolina Mornings (also known as Asheville Cabins), we still have 5 vacation rentals available right in Asheville proper - including a luxury Biltmore condo, a downtown Asheville condo, and cabin rentals. Other properties located outside of Asheville are also available, and some are within 30 minutes of town. Hotels are booking quickly and have high summer rates, especially during Bele Chere. You'll get a lot more for your money with a vacation rental. Call us at 800.770.9055 or visit us online!

Enjoy the 30th Anniversary celebration of the Bele Chere festival in Asheville! And most importantly, have fun and stay safe this Bele Chere!

Bele Chere 2008 is coming! Insider tips and tricks Part 1: Bus and Taxi transit

The Bele Chere official Web site is, of course, your one online stop for complete information about this huge public event (each year during Bele Chere weekend, Asheville hosts one of the largest street festivals in the Southeast, with 365,000+ people!).

The Mountain Xpress has this year's official print guide to the festival. This has info about all the bands, the stages where they'll play, parking lots and more in one convenient, roll it up & put it in your back pocket kind of guide. You can pick them up ALL over town - just keep your eyes peeled for a Mountain Xpress newspaper rack.

The guide should look like the picture to the left, so keep an eye out! Photo from Mountain Xpress Web site.

Tips and Tricks
So, now that you know where to go for all of that other valuable information on the festival, I'd like to share my tips and tricks for the easiest navigation of getting to and from Bele Chere.

Taxi and Bus Transit. If you plan on drinking alcohol at the festival and don't have a designated driver, please please PLEASE use a taxi service or the city bus. The bus is by far the cheapest option, while the taxi may be the easiest (especially if you life or are staying far from downtown). You can arrange a taxi driver to take you to the festival, then keep the driver's direct number for a pick-up when you decide you're ready to leave.

Bus Service:
The city buses (Asheville Transit) start running at 6 a.m. and run until 11 p.m. Buses may run longer on Bele Chere weekend. If you have questions, The Transit Center is located near the heart of downtown, at 49 Coxe Avenue next to the U.S. Post Office. Regular fare is $1.00, or you can buy a booklet of 11 tickets for $7.00.

Taxi Services:
New Blue Bird Taxi Company - 828.258.8331
Beaver Lake Cab Company - 828.252.1913
A Red Cab Company - 828.232.1112

Stay tuned for Part II: Parking!
Which will include my recommendation for parking as well as a brief bit of information regarding Carolina Mornings - Asheville Cabins vacation rental accommodations for Bele Chere weekend!

July 19, 2008

Laugh Your Asheville Off & other Asheville weekend happenings

It may be Saturday afternoon, but the weekend possibilities are far from over.

The highly successful Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival is in it's last night at Diana Wortham Theatre. This is the largest comedy festival in the southeast, and tonight for $15 you can see the Final Comedy Blowout at 8pm, featuring a full stage of comics, including Johnny Millwater.

Other events:
  • Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands
    Hours: Sunday 10am - 5pm
    Cost: $6 adults, kids under 12 get in free
    Location: Civic Center in Downtown Asheville
  • WNC Jazz Society - Ann Hampton Callaway, vocalist, featuring Ted Rosenthal, pianist
    Read more

    Event Web site

    Sunday, July 20 at 7pm in Diana Wortham Theatre

July 18, 2008

Last day in Asheville

Well, I'm back in Carrboro and ready to report on the last 24 hours or so that I spent in Asheville. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, that will just have to stay on my list for next time.

Wednesday night
A group of friends and I went to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall (hilarious movie) at the Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company. Here are a few of my favorite things (about Asheville Pizza!):
  • Good, cheap movies - $3 movies, almost always audience favorites. Afternoon movies are for the kids, evening movies for adults. It's so popular, in fact, that on any given night the 7pm and also often the 10pm movies are sold out well before showtime. You have to purchase tickets earlier in the day if you want a guarantee that you'll get in. Movies change on Fridays. This week the afternoon movie is The Dark Crystal (yes, from 1982) and night movie is The Incredible Hulk.

  • Good food - While the pizza isn't exactly homestyle NYC pizza, it's unique in a good way. The greek is really, really good and I love that with every pizza there are 5 sauce choices and 5 crust choices (I love the honey wheat). The other stuff on the menu is pretty tasty too, and ranges from quesadillas to burgers.

  • Good beer - Really good micro brews. I like the Ninja best, but they recently started only providing about half their beers at one time, so I tried the Scottish. And I liked it a lot.
Thursday afternoon
Got to go to Tupelo Honey Cafe for lunch. I had the Eggs Crawley - eggs any way you like (mine were over hard) with asparagus and crab cakes, all covered with hollandaise. The crab cakes, by the way, are the best I think I've ever had. None of that 50% bread stuff - it's all crab, very lightly breaded, and it melts in your mouth. Yuuuum.

Then I went to Vintage Moon for the first time. They serve tea in the front window, where you're surrounded by lacy, velvety vintage clothing and other articles. I found an AMAZING amber necklace that I definitely could not afford.... but I considered trying. Lots of treasures to be found at Vintage Moon (location).

Now I'm back in Carrboro and it's time to tell you what's going on this weekend! More on that later today. Have fun and enjoy it extra for those of us who have to be away!

July 16, 2008

In Asheville, Days 1 & 2

So far I'm on track to do just about everything I planned to do in Asheville, with a few good things I didn't plan thrown in! I'm staying just down the street from the Carolina Mornings West Branch office, which is awesome since I usually have a 20 minute commute to work when I'm in the Carrboro office.

I'm loving the cool nights and not-too-hot days. It's been perfect weather for my stay - sunny, low-mids 80s with a breeze during the day, low-mid 50s at night. I haven't felt weather this good since May!

So, onto the things I've done around town...

When I got to town on Monday night, some friends and I ate dinner at Doc Chey's, where I hadn't eaten in about 2 years because over time it got busier and busier (like everywhere else in Asheville) and eventually the regular wait got so excessive I quit trying. For example, 4 of us arrived for what I thought was a late dinner - around 7:30 - and we weren't seated until 8:15. While 45 minutes isn't a bad wait, just think what it must be like at 6pm! The place was still packed with late diners when we left an hour later. Not a place to go when your stomach is already rumbling.... but this time mine wasn't. I was reminded about how I really do love their lo mein (the vegetable). I wasn't a big fan of the miso soup, which I had never had. They also have pretty great edamame.

After Doc Chey's, us girls walked down the street to Temptations for our girls' night - Monday night $5 martinis. Everyone showed up and we had a blast. I enjoyed my favorite extra dirty martini with garlic stuffed olives, and also had my second favorite drink - a cosmo. It was just as good and just as fun as I'd remembered, plus any girls' night (or guys' night too, I assume) is always a good substitute for therapy :)

Yesterday (Tuesday) after work we did the sushi thing, and I was going to try Kubo's, I promise I really was, so I could offer readers some kind of review! But my friends were less than enthusiastic about their experience eating there, and said Green Tea was still better - and cheaper. So, I ate at Green Tea for the umpteenth time. That's okay though, because their miso soup is my favorite!

Today I'm hoping to try out the French Broad Chocolate Lounge & tonight I'm watching a movie at Asheville Pizza - more on that tomorrow!

July 14, 2008

A short trip to Asheville

Although I still consider myself an Asheville 'local' - envisioning myself there on a daily basis - I actually relocated to our Chapel Hill office about 2 months ago. Since Carolina Mornings has our home base in Asheville, those of us here in the center of the state get to regularly spend time up in the mountains. It's a pretty nice arrangement (and it keeps me from leaving here and running away back to Asheville for good)!

I was lucky enough to be in town about a month ago, and stayed in one of our East Asheville hideaways, Deer Run. This time around I'll be with Asheville friends from Monday evening - Thursday evening, and thought I would share my personal itinerary, all the favorite things I'm dying to do as a former local and some new things I haven't gotten to try yet.

Martini Mondays at Temptations
Temptations has pretty good specials each night of the week, but Mondays are my favorite - $5 martinis all night long. They make a really great dirty martini with garlic stuffed olives, and also have a list of intriguing novelty martinis (of which I enjoy the Dirty Girl Scout).
Location: Downtown on Biltmore Ave, near Pack Place

Eat, drink micro brews, and watch a movie
Option 1: Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company. Highlights include great pizza, micro brews, and $3 movies. There's an open restaurant in the front, or a theater in the back where you can order from the full menu while you watch the movie (staff shouts your name when food is ready). Who can resist that combo? Movies change weekly and can be found on the Web site.
Location: Merrimon Ave - look for the big building painted with movie scenes. Photo from the Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company Web site.

Option 2: Cinebarre. Highlights include amazing popcorn, beer & wine, and newly released movies. A 'fancier' version of Asheville Pizza (higher prices too). Multiple theaters means multiple movies, and a waitstaff to take orders from your seats and bring you food and drinks during the movie.
Location: Biltmore Square Mall, West Asheville

Eat out. A lot.
Tupelo Honey Cafe is, hands down, my favorite place to eat. (I also love Sunday brunch at Corner Kitchen, which I'll miss this time around. Carolina Mornings offers a lot of specials with Corner Kitchen, as it's regularly recommended by national publications, locals, and visitors.)
Instead of my favorite regular sushi restaurant, Green Tea, I'll probably try Kubo's (see the Sushi post).
Since I haven't been yet, I'll try the French Broad Chocolate Lounge for their famed liquid truffles.
And finally, I will definitely go get an ├ęclair (the size of my head!) at Well-Bred Bakery in Weaverville.

For more to do in Asheville and the surrounding area, see links in the sidebar and scroll through our previous posts!

July 9, 2008

Watermelon Day at the Farmer's Market

The Fourth of July has come and gone, so the season is definitely 'ripe' for watermelons! Celebrate this juicy summertime fruit by enjoying Watermelon Day at the Farmer's Market this Friday, July from 11 am - 2 pm.

From the event web site:

Sweet, juicy melons…what could be better on a hot summer day! Get a taste of fresh, locally grown watermelons at the Watermelon Day and enjoy a little family fun.

Hosted by the WNC Farmers Market, the N.C. Watermelon Association, and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Watermelon Day has activities to bring out the kid in all of us.

There will be free watermelon slices for all and drawings for free watermelons and prizes. To round out the day's events, there will be a watermelon seed-spitting contest and watermelon-eating contest for kids. And, if coaxed a little, the reigning N. C. Watermelon Queen will show how far she can spit a watermelon seed!

Even if you can't make it to Watermelon Day, you should still check out the WNC Farmer's Market, open daily from 8 am to 6 pm. It's a good size, with lots of vendors and retail buildings.

570 Brevard Road Asheville, NC 28806
Tel: 828-253-1691

Other events happening this month:
Master Gardener Plant Clinic

The NCSU Master Gardeners Program offers plant clinics to assist the public in diagnosing and solving gardening questions. All clinics are free, and the public is encouraged to bring samples from problem plants or insects that need to be diagnosed and/or identified. The Master Gardener Program provides research-based information on home horticulture.

Saturday, July 12 & Saturday, July 26
11 am - 2 pm

July 7, 2008

N.C. Arboretum Twilight Tuesdays

The N.C. Arboretum (one of my favorite spots in town - the photos you see are ones I took 2 summers ago) is hosting a new monthly event called Twilight Tuesdays.

Twilight Tuesdays include free parking and admission to the arboretum as well as live music and access to the gardens, bonsai, and other exhibits. (Here's the introductory Citizen-Times article regarding this event series.)

Unfortunately I'm behind the times on this one, there's already been two - the first featuring Lew Gelfond and Hank Bones, and the second hosting Biltmore Brass. Never fear, however, because there's several more to go, as the series ends in late October.

Next Tuesday you can catch The Low Tech Ensemble from Western Carolina University. They perform gamelan music - which is "an orchestra of tuned percussion instruments originating in Indonesia and coastal Southeast Asia," according to the Citizen-Times.

The current exhibits include:
Kaleidescope - an outdoor contemporary landscape sculpture juried exhibit, featuring a variety of artists
Our Precious Land: Visions and Scenes of North Carolina - oil paintings by Luke Allsbrook, depicting the beauty of WNC farmland and other NC scenery.

Twilight Tuesdays are from 5-7 p.m. Remaining series dates are:
July 15
Aug 19
Sept. 30
Oct. 21

July 3, 2008

Indie Ice Cream in Asheville

Thanks to a recent BlogAsheville post about the new West Asheville ice cream shop for this blog idea! :)

One of my favorite things about Asheville in the summertime is all the local ice cream shops. Let's face it: what the locals know is that there is no way any of the Cold Stones or TCBYs out there could compare with Ultimate or the Hop.

So, here is a guide to the independently owned, hand-made ice cream parlors - conveniently located on each side of town. Click "location" to view a Google Map.

The Hop, our trusty kid & college student ice cream shop. All us locals loved the old location - a drive through that used to be a car repair shop. But the new location just down the street is huge and comfy, and now they are much better equipped to handle the customer flow.
640 Merrimon Avenue
(in shopping center across from Atlanta Bread Company)

Ultimate Ice Cream, my personal favorite and the perfect location for grabbing a scoop before or after visiting the WNC Nature Center, or taking a dip in the Haw Creek swimming pool. Amazing ice cream flavors and blends - including one made from Black Mocha Stout, a local Highland Brewing Company beer (don't worry - the ice cream is non-alcoholic).
1070 Tunnel Road
(in shopping center behind Pomodoro's Restaurant)

2 Spoons.
The newest spot in town, so I haven't been there myself. According to the BlogAsheville post mentioned above, the cones are handmade and the ice cream is 'delicious'!
721 Haywood Road
(between Burgermeisters and Tolliver's, and next to Haywood Used Appliance)

Let me know if I've missed one - and which is your favorite. Happy eating!