How to maximize a holiday trip up to Asheville

The past few days sure haven’t felt like mid-December around Charlotte, but as we bask in the sunshine and enjoy the warm weather, (slightly) cooler temperatures and holiday wonder await just to the west.

A short two-hour drive up to Asheville will provide you some of the best holiday entertainment you’re likely to find. Ready to make the trip? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Coffee at Double D’s

Your first stop at Double D’s isn’t necessarily “holiday oriented,” but do you really want to miss the opportunity to enjoy coffee and a pastry inside of a British double-decker bus? I didn’t think so.

Double D’s Coffee

This bus is the real deal – a 1963 Lodekka model that served the residents of Bristol, England, before crossing the pond. An impressive drink menu accompanied by baked goods and smoothies are sure to start your day off on the right foot.

(Disclaimers: They only accept cash, and hours can vary, so call ahead before dropping in.)

(Gingerbread) House Hunting at the Grove Park Inn

Asheville’s legendary Grove Park Inn is home to the National Gingerbread House Competition, in which competitors from far and wide put their confectionery works of art on display for all to see. Charlotteans have been known to make an appearance in the competition, so keep an eye out for some local flavor.

Grove Park Gingerbread Comp

Lunch and a craft brew at Edison’s

Walking by all of those gingerbread houses sure will work up your appetite. Look no further than Edison’s Craft Ales + Kitchen, located just around the corner from the Inn’s lobby. Named after one of the Grove Park’s most famous patrons, Thomas Edison, this bar and grill is a great spot to grab a North Carolina craft beer, handcrafted cocktail, or locally-inspired dish.


Visit the Vanderbilts

They may not live there anymore, but you can still visit the place they once called home – the Biltmore Estate. You’ll need to purchase a ticket for your visit, but the experience is well worth it. Keep in mind that the house is only part of the fun.

Biltmore Interior

Begin your visit with a stop by Antler Hill Village, where you’ll find several boutique shops perfect for some last minute Christmas shopping, as well as America’s most-visited winery. The Biltmore Estate Winery offers a guided tour through their wine making process, followed by a complimentary tasting featuring a selection of over 20 handcrafted reds, whites and rosés.

Hungry? Make the most of your time on the estate grounds by enjoying dinner at one of the Biltmore’s six full-service restaurants.

Candlelight Tour of the Biltmore Estate

The Candlelight Tour of the Biltmore Estate is the pièce de résistance of any holiday trip to Asheville, offering unrivaled Christmas decor throughout the nation’s largest private residence. From the 55-foot Norway spruce brilliantly lit in the front yard, to the 250 rooms meticulously decorated to the very last detail, there is no denying that the Biltmore is second to none when it comes to impeccable displays of Christmas spirit.

Photos: Eric Osterhus