What To Do: Touring Asheville On A Rainy Day

Asheville is a great city to tour, especially if it is not raining! Of course, sometimes the rain is just wonderful, when we have that perfect Spring or Fall weather, just a few drops lightly misting and falling on us, birds chirping, music playing, and romance in the air. But that is rare. The usual result from rain is that we end up getting wet. We have all experienced it, and getting drenched is no fun at all.

We have put together a list of many places to go and things to do in the area if you ever find yourself in an Asheville downpour:

1. Biltmore Estate – a rainy day in Asheville is the perfect opportunity to spend a few hours on the Estate. You can tour the house, go to a wine tasting, and experience several other activities that are not outdoors. They are located in Historic Biltmore Village, which used to be part of the Estate.

2. Grove Arcade – located in the downtown area of Asheville, this place is the perfect spot to hide until the storm passes over. Shopping, restaurants, wine and more located inside of this historic building. 

asheville fun depot

3. Fun Depot – got kids? Or maybe you just want to act like a kid again, escape the rain, and enjoy plenty of indoor activities that they have to offer. They are located up the road from Biltmore Village.

4. Grove Park Inn – this resort located on the north side of town features restaurants, shopping and are always decorated and themed for the holidays. They are located in north Asheville, minutes from downtown.

5. East Asheville Bowling or West Asheville Bowling – there are two bowling alleys, one located on Patton Avenue in west Asheville, and the other on Kenilworth Rd in east Asheville, right off of Tunnel Rd.

6. Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria – located in downtown Asheville, they have pool tables and dart boards on the top level; plus pizza and lots of beer, of course.

7. Double Decker Bus – and right across the street from Barley’s is this landmark bus, which has an upper level that is a great spot on rainy days. Bring a chess table, get some coffee and cake, and listen to the raindrops on the roof in downtown Asheville

8. Bus and Van Tours – there are several fantastic buses and vans in the area that can take you on everything from a history tour, to a brewery crawl, to a bachelor party!

asheville brew beer bus

9.  Asheville Mall – of course the mall has lots of indoor shopping, fun, games and food for your enjoyment. They are located on Tunnel Road in east Asheville.

10. Asheville Pizza Brew & View – on the north side of town on Merrimon Avenue, this establishment is the perfect spot to spend a few hours, with lots of food, beer, movies and a game room.

11. Asheville Art Museum – this place is decked out with 20th and 21st Century American art, and is a one-of-a-kind museum that provides education and culture representative to a 24 county region. They are located in downtown Asheville.

12. Chuck-E-Cheese – this is a spot where the kids like to spend an hour or two playing video games, dancing with that giant mouse, and grabbing a quick bite to eat. Located in east Asheville, right off of Tunnel Road.

13. US Cellular Center – located in downtown Asheville, this venue holds many of the larger events in the community. Wonderful shows, concerts and performances every month.

14. The Orange Peel – the premier music venue in the area, located in downtown Asheville. There are always great shows happening here, and a great place to escape wet weather.

15. Riverview Station – located in the River Arts District, this building is full of artists and crafters who create beautiful handcrafted art, jewelry and more. Several of the shops are open on weekends too, and a great spot to spend a couple of hours indoors.

riverview station river arts district

16. Arts & Entertainment Options – there are several Performing Arts venues in the Asheville and WNC area to enjoy plays and skits from wonderful performers.

17. Mountain Play Lodge – a great place to take the kids and spend a couple of hours. Located in the south Asheville area.

18. Movie Theaters – there are several movie theaters in the area including the Fine Arts Theatre in downtown Asheville. In East Asheville on Tunnel Road there are 2 other commercial theaters to choose from. Cinebarre in west Asheville is also a discount movie theater that serves beer, wine and food. There is also the Biltmore Grande in south Asheville.

19. Thomas Wolfe Memorial – take a tour of this historic property, and learn about this home written about in the book Look Homeward, Angel.

20. Smith McDowell House Museum – this is Asheville’s 1st mansion, and the oldest surviving structure in the city limits, and listed on the National Registry.

21. Buy an umbrella and walk around Biltmore Village or Downtown Asheville. I know that the Mast General Store on Biltmore Ave has a nice supply of umbrellas waiting to be sold, and it is also a good spot to spend an hour browsing and shopping their big selection.

Do you have some more great ideas for touring Asheville in the rain? Comment and let us know below…

The Grander Roar

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pulled up to 265 Charlotte Street this past Friday night. I knew a little bit about the building, a little bit about the event, and an even littler bit about the hosting organization. I blushingly admit I was skeptical about the “Diamond Ball.”  I was coming in as an outsider to a soirée thrown by a very reputable league, sponsored by a patriarchal business that has perhaps the strongest back bone in Asheville, even surviving the Great Depression.  The Junior League of Asheville was founded in 1925, and Wick and Greene Jewelers in 1926.  The two have been leaders in the community, often rubbing elbows, and taking charitable journeys together ever since.  I knew I was entering a world of great successes Friday night, but also a world of strong community presences that reach back decades.  Truth be told, I was nervous.  However, I’m always looking for a reason to discover…and to wear a pretty dress, of course, so I went.

The writer in me took in the atmosphere first: the smells, the sounds, the ambiance.  I got the warm fuzzies immediately.  My high heel shoes clicked delightfully against the hardwoods that I knew had experienced history itself traipsing all over them.  I could tell already that this was a building that knew things.  The Manor Inn served as an upscale resort in the early twentieth century during Asheville’s wellness heyday.  Naturally, dwarfed in size by the nearby Grove Park Inn, this building had much to prove…which it did.  Architects from across the country added bits of flavor to the structure that ultimately took on a tudoresque and colonial revivalist feel.  Surrounding cottages followed suit, and so did Asheville.  Buildings all over downtown would idolize such architectural tastes and make for a beautiful “lost generation” stomping ground. 

I felt like I opened the front door to this magical place Friday night and became whisked right into that roaring era that no one can seem to forget.  I was surrounded by newsboy hats, flapper’s dresses, sequined headbands, and vibrant bow ties.  I could hear big band music in the back, but with a fiddle player touting a specific style that reminded me I was in The South indeed. A genuinely-dressed flapper carried the sought after single-carat, 15,000 dollar diamond around for all to admire (donated to be raffled by Wick and Greene Jewelers).  It took about fourteen seconds for me to realize these women could throw a par-tay.

I’m a huge advocate of the idea of “work hard and play hard”.  I think people who give such large amounts of their lives and energies to charity and voluntarism should know how to have a ball, and do so with the community who supports them.  I just wasn’t sold yet.  I wanted to know how I would be received in this prestigious group, and I wanted to get to know these women on a more personal level.  I was by no means trying to hold them under a microscope, yet human nature left me slightly guilty of doing so.

I set out to meet Keri Wilson, the Asheville chapter’s president.  I thought I would have to ask around and seek her out.  I pictured her to be surrounded by important people, finding it difficult to get away.  However, I would soon find out that the bubbly brunette who ushered me in with a smile not even an Oscar winner could fake would turn out to be her.  I’d never gotten such a warm greeting.  She was eager to welcome me in personally, as well as the askasheville organization.  She directed me where to find food and beverages, without forgetting to give Wick and Greene jewelers a chorus of praise for all they’d done. She was the first representation of the Junior League I’d ever encountered and the impression was a breath of fresh air. I wanted to meet more of these women.

junior league asheville diamond ball

 A group of J.L. members with the diamond courtesy of Wick and Greene Jewelers (Keri Wilson, president on far left)

After mingling a bit I came across J.L. member, Melissa Kledis.  This charismatic woman had a huge energy about her that lured me in quickly.  After talking for a few minutes I learned that this Edward Jones advisor, school volunteer, wife, and mother of three was one of the co-chairs of the event.  I had trouble imagining how such an incredibly busy woman had so much stamina left in her, but I realized after talking with her it was because she believed in every single thing she did.  In that ten to fifteen minutes we talked, she spoke passionately about her job, her children, her wonderful husband, the terrific family she had married into (who introduced her to the league), and the tremendous opportunities to serve her community she would not have had without the Junior League.  This woman’s busy schedule truly was her reward, and I could see her wearing it as plainly as the feathers in her hair.  This woman felt empowered by her efforts, but was focused most on empowering others.

melissak  Melissa Kledis and her husband.

By the end of the night I sat thinking in a beautiful wing-backed chair by the door.  I could feel the air conditioning getting fresh with my leg from the antiquated vent beneath me.  I noted the air conditioner had a certain smell, like the one in the house I grew up in, which was coincidentally was built circa 1920.  I felt so at ease now, with the skepticism erased, and a sense of community embracing me.  I’d had a magical night escaping to my favorite era, but the bigger roar came from within the passions of the incredible women I had the pleasure of meeting.  The Junior League’s Mission Statement reads, ” “The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.”  I found it to be more than accurate.

I will gladly support The Junior League of Asheville in any way I can.  Their current missions have focused on helping those falling below the poverty line, which in today’s economy is far too many.  Most days it is people in need that these women care about becoming important to.  They have been working closely with the Homeward Bound project to put an end to homelessness in the Asheville area.  They have also been cooperating with the ABCCM and Children First organizations.  When the community supports the Junior League at fundraisers like the Diamond Ball they are really supporting the faces they see everyday, and making far-reaching contributions to those who need it most.  These are the fruits of the grander roar these women create every day.

For more information on the Junior League of Asheville, please visit http://www.juniorleagueasheville.org