Beyond the welcome respite from steaming temperatures in Miami, Asheville offers visitors a quirky, charming, and vibrant contrast to our day-to-day.  The first, obvious contrast is apparel–the uniform of passersby is decidedly relaxed and sporty, but not your typical Lululemon or Athleta variety.  Ripstop fabric, drawstrings, and pouches typify the clothing, and the shoes are much sturdier, able to hit a hiking trail as needed.  As most shops closed at 6 pm on a Thursday evening, our shopping opportunities were limited and we had to hustle through downtown Asheville to see what we could see.  My husband, Tom, tried on the aforementioned ripstop pants with lots of cording, but to no avail.

I found the restaurants more interesting than the shopping, with entrances, patios and signage that offered insights into Asheville’s charm.  In mid-July, we enjoyed a lovely meal at Blackbird.  My favorite dish was the beet salad, with the coconut cake a close second and the kids were happy with their selections of steak and pasta.  During our early August visit, Tom and I tried Tupelo Honey.  While the biscuits and brussel sprouts were yummy, the entire meal lacked the quality and flair of our Blackbird experience.  Next time, two spots with inviting signs and entryways–Rhubarb and Curate.

What’s hard to capture in photos is the spirit of the town.  From the gentleman with the vintage typewriter offering “poetry for free” to the passersby to the large chalk board posing questions about bucket lists and audacious goals.   The people in Asheville are so nice, so authentic and so welcoming.  And the views of the trees and the Blue Ridge Mountains are pretty tough to top.  If you visit, Aloft Asheville, The Omni Grove Park Inn, and the Biltmore Estate are all great accommodations, depending on your budget and aesthetic.