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Let's face it, the south is cool. People are nice. The food is good and the weather, well, despite the hot and humid summers still beats being home in New York during a nineteen inch snowstorm.

I recently spent a day touring around Asheville, North Carolina, arguably now one of my new favorite little towns. Why you might ask? Well, because it was unexpectedly quaint, surprisingly close to my dad's newly built lake house and a town that welcomes the unfamiliar with open arms.

If you're ever headed to this city here are some of my recommendations on places to stay, where to eat and a few other things you might consider doing with your time.

Keep in mind I only had a half a day, imagine what you could do with an entire weekend!


ACCOMMODATIONS

I didn't stay the night but I stopped and toured both of these hotels giving them both a two thumbs up!

Grove Park Inn

Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa (www.groveparkinn.com)
From the drive up through a olde worlde neighborhood to access the hidden property to the over-sized fire places in the lobby, you'll be pleased with this pick. I didn't get the chance but if I had the opportunity to go back I would certainly spend some time in their spa -- buried underground and surrounded by rocks and lush nature, I can only imagine the massage would feel as good as the surroundings it would be delivered in. 

Grand Bohemian Hotel (www.bohemianhotelasheville.com)
Gorgeous, simply put and not to mention conveniently located around shops and restaurants all within walking distance. For those wanting to tour the Biltmore Estate, this roof over your head is a no brainer. I will never forget this unique space because the toilet that I dropped my new pink Canon Power Shot camera into resides there on the main floor. Bummer! 


GRUB

Taking Pleasure Seriously in Asheville, North Carolina-2The Corner Kitchen  (www.thecornerkitchen.com)
Yum, yum and more yum. I popped a squat at the expansive bar in this old house and ordered myself a proper southern "Breakfast Bennies" to get my day started (buttermilk biscuits with house smoked ham, poached eggs, spiced hollandaise and grits).

The Market Place (www.marketplace-restaurant.com)
An old friend from West Virginia, Bill Dissen, followed his dream and is now the executive chef and owner of this farm-to-table newly renovated hot spot. The philosophy is simple and something I subscribe to -- they believe in the importance of working locally, not just using ingredients from their surrounding area, but also in their contribution to the community. If that isn't enough to pay this restaurant a visit I don't know what is.



ATTRACTIONS

Bitmore EstateBiltmore Estate (www.biltmore.com)
If you haven't visited it, go see it. I found myself playing imaginary mind games as I wondered aimlessly through this 250-room French château. I could almost smell the food cooking in the cook's corner on the floors down below while the gentlemen smoked their cigars in their dedicated quarters above. Truly incredible and worth the ticket price especially given the new Antler Hill Village and Winery. Free wine tasting anyone?

Biltmore Village  (www.biltmorevillage.com)
I was pleasantly surprised by this beautiful neighborhood and the shopping, dining and accomodation options it provided. I strolled the cobblestone streets bumping into a boutique that I had once worked at in Atlanta when they first opened there. Monkee's was a where I learned everything there is to know about shoes and the woman that will do anything to get the pair that their heart desires, even if that means squeezing their foot into a size seven when they are actually a size nine.

So there you have it. My take on the little town that is packed with plenty of options for the day tripper or someone looking for a weekend get-a-way.

Signing Off Pleased,
-- Renee


Renee Woodruff blogs about travel, food and living life to its fullest on Shape.com. Follow her on Twitter.

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