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Adventure

Adventure

The Biltmore Estates

August 8, 2016

Many people associate Asheville with one of its most visited areas – The Biltmore Estates.

Completed in time for Christmas 1895, the construction of the largest home in America took approximately 7 years and housed generations of Vanderbilts and Cecils.

This estate, and truly it is that, has a large home with 250 rooms, a vineyard and winery, grounds for horseback riding, and even an inn and hotel. It is huge.

To give you a bit of perspective, this is the view of the estate (mind you a hazy bus view).

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This is even a cut off view!

Our visit started midday on a Saturday. Warning, Saturdays are very busy at the Biltmore. We bought house tickets ahead of time online and picked them up at will-call. You can print your tickets though.

We bought tickets for a specific entrance time as the star tries to stagger the amount of people in the home at one time. Despite an entrance time, it was still extraordinarily busy within the home.

We started our visit at the estate’s winery. Along with our entrance tickets came a wine tasting. While we are not big wine people, it was a nice addition to our visit and a way to see more of the grounds. The winery has great selections and most are available on site for visitors to purchase. The wine can also be shipped to your home.

Following the visit to the winery, we parked in the main lot and hopped a bus for a short ride to the estate home. Once there we had our tickets scanned at the main entrance and followed a self-guided tour.

The self-guided tour was perfect for our attention span although we missed things because we felt the pressure to move so fast through the house. Self-imposed pressure and lots of people which made us want to move through.

*Note: There are fans blowing through the house in the summer but no AC blasting or anything. I did not expect this and thus kind of wanted to be finished sooner than I would have otherwise wanted. I imagine this is a non-issue in other seasons.

Some of the coolest things we saw were an indoor pool and bowling alley. Additionally, can you imagine dining at this table?!? Oh man. It’s like Downton Abbey meets where does one buy a dress for that?

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Don’t even get me started on the floor.

There were also so many sitting and game rooms. You could hide from people for hours #goals.

The main staircase is also incredible. Here is an outdoor shot of the staircase windows.

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I am apparently in the wrong business.

In addition to the beautiful home, there are beautiful gardens on the grounds and a lovely conservatory.

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So pretty and extensive.

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You know I love my blooms.

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Side view of the home.

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The home and grounds were lovely. In addition to these features, there is also a carriage house area where there are gift stores and eateries. It was super busy during our visit but it was so picturesque and pretty.

The only downside… their magnet game was lame. Yep. I said it. I love my vacation magnets and it just wasn’t happening at the Biltmore.

What questions do you have about the Biltmore?

Adventure

Chimney Rock, NC

August 4, 2016

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One of the things I really like to do when traveling is to take side trips to great scenic venues.

Our most recent vacation to Asheville was a tough one for us. While I wanted to love it, we ended up feeling somehow misplaced in Asheville and so left a day early. Yep.

As we left, we took one of the scenic detours to Chimney Rock.

Chimney Rock is one of those cool attractions not too far from Asheville. It’s maybe an hour or so outside of Asheville. You drive through a lot of small towns to access the area and it’s just cool to see so many new places along the way.

Once at the Chimney Rock park entrance, we paid about thirty bucks for an entry fee. While this is kind of steep, the fee gives you access to different trails, a play area, and of course the giant Chimney Rock.

Typically, there is an elevator that takes you part of the way up the cliffside to the “Chimney” but unfortunately it was out. So we took every single stair. Let me tell you, my bum looked great that day!

Along the way, there are different stopping points. This allowed us to catch ur breath and to take in the views. It was very foggy but also just incredible.
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We continued to the top little by little.
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Once there we got a view of the entire county. It was so impressive and honestly the photos don’t do it justice.

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Can you imagine building and traversing such a high cliff sans stairs? Woof.

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All in, the hike up took us about 15 to twenty minutes with stops. It wasn’t too bad and was well worth the view  and the commemorative magnet I brought home from the adventure.

Facts to know about Chimney Rock:

  • Website and hours of operation here.
  • About 55 minutes to 1 hr and ten minutes from Asheville
  • Gift Shop and Visitors Shop at Trail base
  • Sky Lounge Deli halfway up the trail
  • Nature stops detailing birds and bats of the area
  • Camp grounds and small town shops nearby

If in the Asheville or Greenville area I would recommend a track to Chimney Rock. I can’t imagine how beautiful it would be in the fall.

Adventure

Blue Ridge Parkway

August 3, 2016

During our Asheville trip I informed the husband that he needed to pick an activity to do.

His pick: The Blue Ridge Parkway and an associated trail.

My pick: Getting Doughnuts prior to our journey.


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Prior to setting off on our daily adventure, we enjoyed our daily bread at Vortex Doughnuts.

Vortex has both yeast and cake doughnuts and the prettiest lattes.

I had read about Vortex on a trip forum and added it to our list.

I woke my husband up at 6:50am – on vacation – and we headed over to the shop. Located in a slightly industrial setting, the shop has an industrial feel with cool accents such as velociraptor and triceratops artwork. I cannot make this stuff up. The accents fit the vibe perfectly though.

We looked at the doughnuts for a couple of minutes and had the chocolate yeast and salted caramel cake doughnuts. They were so so good and I in my semi-gluten-free state was in a food coma.


Once full, we began our drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway begins right outside of town and continues for miles and miles. We traveled about 13 miles of the parkway up to the Craggy Gardens trail. This trail begins right after the visitors center and is a short and easy hike. Again, we thought it would be strenuous and it was not too bad at all. On the guide it is an “easy” hike at 1.2 miles.

The drive up was lovely and the trail was a nice way to start our day.

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It’s like hiking in heaven.

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Again, how in the world do these tunnels and roads happen!?

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The Craggy Gardens lower view below.

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The view from the top.

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I’m a sucker for wildlife and flowers.

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Can you imagine this place in the fall? Unreal.

Adventure

Highlands NC and Dry Falls NC

August 1, 2016

IMG_20160624_1231147_rewind When we headed down to Greenville last month, I planned for a side journey to the Highlands, NC area. I had read and seen many beautiful wedding photos set in Highlands, specifically at Old Edwards Inn, and was dying to see the small town in person.


Let me start first with the journey to Highlands. We came from Greenville thru the mountains and wound up and down steep mountainsides to visit. How does one describe being in absolute awe but being terrified at the same time? Heights y’all. The drive, while slightly terrifying, was so beautiful. Everywhere you turned was just encased in pretty.

Before going to Highlands, we traveled a bit past to Dry Falls, NC. Dry Falls is a waterfall located in the state park system. You can look at these beautiful falls from afar, or hike (as in stroll) to the falls and stand under them. My sister had gone here last summer while expecting a baby and I figured if she could do it then we certainly could.

When we arrived, we “hiked” down to the falls… I looked so silly in my Kavu backpack. I full on thought it would be a trek. Anyway…

The falls were beautiful.

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Just really doable and really pretty. We putzed around the area for about 20 minutes and then headed toward Highlands.

Upon arriving in Highlands, I could easily see why anyone would want to get married there – it’s charming and beautiful. While I really don’t have any photos from in town (or they are all awkward turtle cellphone shots), I do have recommendations of cool shops to look at.

My favorite – Bardo 

Everything in the shop was gorgeous and tasteful.

Additionally, Dutchman’s Designs was another great home store.

A couple things about Highlands, it is fairly touristy and there are a lot of shops that cater to that. The nice thing about the tourist thing – the salespeople are fairly friendly. Highlands also has the cutest and coolest churches around. There was one with a Joanna Gaines vibe and I was so tried to take photos.

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While Highlands was certainly a cute town, we did not stay the night and instead headed on toward Asheville, NC.

Stay tuned for an Asheville area recap!

Adventure

Greenville Travel Guide

July 29, 2016

You all. I may have found one of the sweetest, barely scratched-surface, cities around – Greenville, SC.

About a month ago, we traveled to Greenville as part of our yearly vacation. I had wanted to go since realizing two of my favorite bloggers are based out of Greenville. Check out their sweet blogs The White Buffalo Styling Co. and For All Things Lovely . Not only are these two amazing bloggers, but they just seem so warm and personable in their writing and sharing.

Okay, back from my tangent.

For those unfamiliar with Greenville, it is a smaller city located not far from the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is in upstate South Carolina and is less of a that typically thought of South Carolinian coastal feel. We traveled to South Carolina’s coast last year (Charleston and Hilton Head) and while I loved that experience, I almost felt more at ease in Greenville.

We started our trip with a stay at the downtown Courtyard Marriot.You all, the staff was so kind here. I know hotel staff is supposed to be hospitable, but we all know that isn’t always the case. This staff was accommodating, gave great recommendations, and were just so helpful in general. The location was also great as downtown Greenville is pretty active.

Following our arrival, we ate lunch at Grill Marks. The restaurant specializes in burgers and milkshakes. While we didn’t go the milkshake route, the burgers were very good and had special branded grill marks on them. It took me halfway through the meal to figure that out. Shake my head.

We then decided to do some adventuring by heading to the local Mast General Store. Mast has locations all around the Carolina’s and I believe one in Tennessee. The premise is that you can buy outdoor gear, kids stuff, clothing, etc. at their stores. You can also buy my favorite mug ever.

Downtown Greenville has a lot of cute shops and restaurants. The week we were there, a soccer tournament was happening and that added even more energy with all the teens and families.

Along the edge of downtown Greenville is one of the prettiest parks, It’s called Falls Park by the Reedy and well…I will let the photos do the talking.

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There’s a suspension walking bridge across the falls that offers pretty views. We went back at dusk and it was just perfect. Alongside the park, there are a couple of restaurants that overlook the area. Additionally, there is a portion of the park with an outdoor theater stage. We saw college-aged kids practicing for a performance and it looks like something fun for the community.

After walking around for a little bit we were beat. We went to wash up and rest before heading out to dinner.

For dinner we went to Smoke on the Water. I’d describe this as a classier barbecue joint. The menu included pulled pork and chicken, ribs, and brisket. The food was very good, but what set the restaurant apart was really the service. Our waitress was so professional and nice. I was so impressed by this because we often go to restaurants around our own town and the wait staff acts like we are a burden. I hate that feeling and thus naturally really appreciated the kindness. In addition to the kindness, the restaurant had great dessert and appetizers – loaded potatoes with barbecue anyone?

We finished the night with another walk along the Falls and through downtown. It had a nice energy but was also very peaceful. Hands down enjoyed Greenville.

Adventure

Chicago from a Boat

April 24, 2016

A couple of weekends ago, we had the rehearsal dinner for my brother-in-law and his now wife!!! on a boat. The boat cruised along the lakefront and went up and down the Chicago River. While I’m not going to share all their photos from the night, I figured I’d leave you with some Chicago skyline images.

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I should mention it was insanely cold that weekend, hence why there aren’t more outdoor photographs.

Adventure Aesthetic

San Francisco Weekend

March 22, 2016

The nice thing about living far away from most of my college and high school pals is that I have a lot of great places to travel too. The bummer is that I can’t see these pals more often.

A few weekends ago, my husband was off at a bachelor weekend in Colorado. Knowing I’d be alone for the weekend, I found an cheap flight out to San Francisco to visit my best buddy from grade school- we’ve been friends for that long!

My pal moved out to San Francisco this past year to get her masters in biochemistry. She is living the San Francisco life and seems to really enjoy the city’s vibe. It was so nice of her t be my guide and hostess for 48 hours. The fact that she still likes me afterwards is amazing!!

While I wanted to take a lot of fantastic photos recapping my trip, it rained pretty much the entire weekend. During brief dry spells, I managed to snag a couple of photos of the things we saw.

We snuck up to the Marin Headlands and got the quintessential Golden Gate Bridge photo(s).

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We made it past the houses in the background of the Full House intro.

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Again…it was pouring so car photo.

We went down to the Fisherman’s Wharf to see the sea lions and to walk down to the Boudin Bakery to have a snack.

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The one scratching its nose…I can’t even. So cute.

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Alcatraz in the distance.

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We went down the curvy Lombard Street while listening to old school rap.

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We saw some cool places and just great views.

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Though I didn’t get a photo of everything while there, we did see a lot of fantastic places and things. Even though it was extraordinarily rainy- I mean drenched clothes raining- I could still tell San Francisco is beautiful. It is no wonder it costs a fortune to live there because there are just sights on sights.

Besides what is pictured, I was able to meet my pal’s lab friends, go grab a drink with them, and enjoy a lot of meals with her. I am so glad I have a pal like her who will let me stay with her for that amount of time with no breaks and still treats me kindly. She is selfless in that way and I couldn’t appreciate her more!

 

Adventure

Savannah

February 1, 2016

Winter makes me ache for some time away from the cold. I always think it’s nice to plan a late spring or summer trip this time of year to have something to look forward to. There are some fun trips coming to the blog soon 😉

These photos are from our late spring trip last year to Savannah, Georgia and the surrounding area. This trip had been on my wish list for a long time. I had heard wonderful things about Savannah and really really wanted to go. When we pulled my Savannah suggestion out of a hat (we draw every year from multiple ideas), I practically had my bagged packed that minute.

If you are thinking of a Southern getaway, I highly recommend Savannah. Below are some iPhone photos (hence the blurrier quality) and suggestions of what to see and do.

 

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First stop on any Savannah trip: Any of the numerous squares to relax in and view the gorgeous trees. The trees have Spanish moss growing off of them and are dreamy.

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Next go visit W Broughton Street. This street houses a variety of cute shops and restaurants. Among my favorites were, Paris Market and Savannah Bee Co. . Paris Market has neat treasures from around the world. Savannah Bee Co. has a large variety of honeys, sauces, and toiletry items for people to try and buy. There is also a darling kids area that looks like a beehive playhouse.

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Want to go look at Paula Dean’s restaurant or find taffy? Look no further than the City Market Area. This area is a bit more touristy, but has some fun shops to pop into. Following checking out City Market, go visit River Street.

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River Street has a bunch of shops, bars, and art vendors. So, as you can probably imagine by the name, River Street runs along the river. I didn’t know Savannah had a river until I got there. But what a nice surprise!

Looking for a little break and a place to eat? Kayak Cafe is a great bet. We hadn’t heard about this small lunch spot before our trip, but I saw it while shopping in Broughton Street. While it was very busy, the food was so good. I had the curry chicken-salad. I don’t typically like curry, but this salad made me a believer. I would eat it for every meal. There are also a lot of great vegetarian friendly options there.

After lunch, you can go on a graveyard tour. I realize that sounds morbid, but there is such great history in Savannah’s graveyards. Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the most beautiful cemeteries you can visit. There are many notable individuals buried here but beyond that it is just so gorgeous. Everything is intricately carved and the trees cascade in a beautiful way.

After a little checking out history, Forsyth Park is a nice way to relax at the end of the day. It is a large park with a fountain and grand stand kind of area. The homes surrounding the park are so neat to look at.

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There is a great restaurant on the edge of the park called 700 Drayton. We decided to celebrate our anniversary early by having dinner here.

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While eating dinner, you can look out onto the park. It was so fun to see the sun setting on the trees.

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Post dinner, we took a walk around a nearby square. We grabbed a coffee and sat on a bench. You know that feeling where you feel like you have complete privacy but there is so much happening around you? That is what sitting in the square in Savannah at night feels like. Everything seems nice in the world. I think that something special that only a few places have – Savannah being one of them.There are classic lantern street lights and ghost tour trolleys going by. There is even a group trolley where you pedal the trolley and drink. Next time we will do that for sure.

If you know a little bit about Savannah, you may know it is said to be one of the most haunted cities of the south. Naturally, that peeked my interest. That’s how we ended up staying at a haunted bed and breakfast. The Foley House Inn is said to be haunted. Though we didn’t have an experiences, it was such a nice location along one of the city’s squares. Additionally, the inn had a darling courtyard where you could eat breakfast in the morning. There were grits. It was wonderful

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Though we only spent a day in Savannah, I would list it in my top five favorite places to visit. The architecture is interesting to look at, the people are kind, and it has that nice vibe of feeling like you are in a story.

If you are ever visiting Savannah and would like any more suggestions, leave a comment and I will be happy to answer your questions.

What places would you suggest others visit?

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