When June 11 rolls around it is time to celebrate our wedding anniversary again. We had a delightful trip to Asheville, North Carolina and Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to celebrate our 47th anniversary. The weather was cool, the accommodations good, and the sights fun, educational, and exciting. Come along and check it out.
After flying a good part of the day we arrived at the charming 1891 Cedar Crest Inn on June 10. It is one of the largest and most opulent residences in Asheville perched on the hillside on 3 acres of garden paradise.
Our room, the Serenity Suite, was on the garden level and our own little hide-away. It would be a dream come true for a honeymoon couple, but we enjoyed it just the same.
Our suite had its own little private veranda on which we enjoyed reading and relaxing in the afternoons. We also enjoyed a three course gourmet breakfast every morning on the house’s wrap around veranda on the second level overlooking beautiful green grounds.
After settling in we spent some time investigating Asheville, a lovely town of art, shopping, and dining. The Grove Arcade, which is one of the last shopping arcades constructed in the United States in 1929, is a beloved downtown landmark.
The Biltmore Estate, which is on 8,000 acres, was just a mile from our Inn and where we ventured the first full day of our vacation. We are fans of Downton Abbey and as we approached the estate we felt like we were stepping into the setting for a Downton Abbey production.
We spent most of the day at the Biltmore House where we could only imagine what it was like to be a guest of the Vanderbilts. We chose to do the audio tour and it was a perfect way to visit George Vanderbilt’s 1895 home and learn about the families who lived and worked there. It was amazing how much of the house we were allowed to see going up and down opulent flights of stairs from the nursery to the library to the formal dining room to the indoor pool…it went on and on.
We loved it and then treated ourselves to afternoon tea in the Library Lounge at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. It was lovely seated at the window overlooking the grounds and seeing the Biltmore House far off in the distance on another hill.
The grounds of the Biltmore Estate was reason to go back a second day which we did. Frederick Olmsted, whose designs also include New York’s Central Park, took on the monumental task of planning the estate’s gardens and grounds.The gardens went on and on and we, or maybe I should say I, wasn’t up to doing it all. There were acres of beautiful gardens and a grand conservatory.
In the afternoon we took an historic Asheville trolley tour on the Red Trolley. Our driver was entertaining as he drove us through the Montford Historic District, Art Deco downtown, River Arts District, and Biltmore Village. We ate bar b q at a restaurant he recommended and then Tommy went to see the McCormick Field while I relaxed on our veranda. McCormick Field is where Bull Durham was filmed and is perched up on a hill in the middle of town. He loved it.
On our fourth day, after a little shopping and sight seeing in Biltmore Village, we headed for Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Smoky Mountain Resort. We checked into a nice, new suite in the middle of downtown and made reservations to see a couple of shows in Pigeon Forge.
Both days we were there we spent time off the highways in the Smoky Mountains National Park. We took the Roaring Fork tour where there were many tiny waterfalls along swift flowing streams. We opened our windows to hear the beauty of the sound in all the greenery. Tommy wondered if the trees in our backyard are as tall as the ones we saw. I don’t think so. Funny boy.
We stopped at Ely’s Mill and had a delightful time talking with the owner who when she was a little girl sold lemonade at that same location. The shop had spinning, honey, weaving, local crafts, books, and antiques for sale. I had a little shopping spree right there in the middle of the woods. Tommy enjoyed it, too.
Never in a million years would I think I would enjoy the Smoky Mountains Opry, but I did! We attended the variety show on our first night in Tennessee. It was as good as or better than any Las Vegas show with gospel, patriotic, pop, blues, Broadway, jazz, and country music. Seriously, it had a talented cast of singers, dancers, comedians and musicians. I was so surprised to see it complete with lasers and giant video screens, dazzling costumes, special effects and high-tech visuals. I highly recommend it to everyone.
The next day we saw the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show. It was entertaining, but nothing compared to the Opry. We did have some laughs.
After the dinner show we toured the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge. Now that was well worth the two hours we spent there. We saw over 4 million dollars of real artifacts, 22,000 square feet of history, and walked the full scale Grand Staircase. We received a passenger boarding pass when we entered and then could see the fate of our passenger as we finished the tour. It was a sobering experience, but so well done and a tribute to the ship and its passengers and crew.
That about finished up our vacation trip. We had ice cream (when in doubt have dessert first), then hamburgers in our room, and packed for an early flight home. It was a special trip in many ways. Tommy did a great job planning just the right vacation for our celebrations. Happy Anniversary, my sweet husband, hope we have many more.