Upon entering this unique space you are surrounded by tons of large salt crystals, 2 waterfalls, awesome lighting, and soft music. You can relax in a zero gravity chair or on the salt covered floor that has numerous pillows. This space is so tranquil. You can fall asleep almost instantly and completely relax for 45 minutes. When you exit the cave you feel calm, relaxed, refreshed and energized. Breathing in the pure clean air filled with important trace elements for our body brings about the calm feeling. 45 minutes is like a breath of fresh air....this is a must not miss experience. SolA Therapeutic Salt Cave is located in downtown Asheville. Great way to take a break from hectic site seeing, festival or just to unwind and regroup.
I love promoting the Blue Ridge Parkway but it is hard for me to do in this context because it is spread over nearly 500 miles in two different states. In North Carolina alone it stretches over 250 gorgeous miles from southwest of Asheville to the Brinegar farm and cabin near my hometown of Mount Airy in the northwestern part of the state. At milepost 238 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Brinegar cabin and farmstead are preserved as they were in 1880. A plot containing tomatoes, squash, and flax are still cultivated there each year. Standing near the garden, peering into a seemingly endless valley below, you will not want to leave. I selected Asheville for the site of this Tip because of the new environmentally friendly Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center near Asheville – a 12,800-square-foot facility, built to the latest energy-saving standards, and containing the answers to nearly any questions you might have about the history, construction, views, and services available on this one of a kind Parkway.
We didn't really get to spend very much time in the actual city of Asheville itself, but during the mid point of our 2 hour La Zoom Tour we stopped for about 15 minutes at this very eclectic and funky combination book store/cafe called the Firestorm Cafe.
If you go to their website you'll be able to get a little more background about the establishment which opened up back in 2008.
To Sue and I it appeared to be a throw back to the late 1960's or early 1970's. The crowd inside that weren't tourist on the bus tour were very much in their late teens, early 20's and if I had closed my eyes for about 40 years and opened them again I could have sworn I had taken a trip back to my college days and into similar environs around the college campus where I went to school.
I took a couple of pictures while Sue browsed the few book shelves and bought a small pastry. A couple of my pictures didn't really turn out because I was trying to get a couple of the people in the store quietly and didn't focus in properly.
For hundreds of years, that might have involved liquid moonshine. During the last half of the 20th Century, it might have meant illegal drugs. Today, it doesn't have to involve either. It might mean just a lot of hot air.
Despite their glamorous appeal, hot air balloons were once used morstly for military purposes, as shrewd generals flew them over enemy flanks to get a leg up in battle, but today the only thing you will be battling is the urge to scream, "I'm on top of the world!" Reserve a sunrise flight over western North Carolina through Asheville's R.O. Franks Aviation Company for just about $250 per person. Let pilot Addison Brown flex his 15 years of flight experience as he points out historic landmarks and provides insight into the state's ancient topography. Join three other passengers as you meet in the early morning, taking off to reach an altitude of 500 to 2,000 feet above ground, in time to see the sun spill over the mountains. Depending on weather and available landing sites, each flight lasts 45 minutes to an hour. It'll be an unforgettable experience
This 90-minute tour takes you through Asheville's neighborhoods, providing some historic information along with a lot of silliness. It ended up being a lot of fun. As you go along, you meet a variety of characters ranging from a levitating swami to a ghost with a lemonade stand.
The tour runs from May to October, Tuesday-Saturday, at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Adult tickets are $22 (on line) to $26 (by phone) Discounts for seniors and kids.
One of the first things we look into when going to a new town is a map. Who has time these days to just wing it. On a recent visit to Asheville we found several maps. The one that captured our attention the most however, was the one called "The Best of Asheville" by Resort maps. We had a great time referring back to the map every day. It highlited great Restaurants, Shopping, and points of interest. Best part was ...it was free! We saw them everywhere, so you will too. Don't miss out when you visit Asheville...look for the map.
the grove arcade covers a city block in downtown asheville. the grove arcade was built in 1929 in the tudor gothic revival style. today the grove arcade has a collection of shops, restaurants and bars. for those interested in architecture and shopping the grove arcade is worth a stop in downtown asheville.
the blue ridge parkway runs through the asheville area just east of downtown. this national scenic highway is 469 miles long and runs through the blue ridge mountains from western north carolina to northern virginia. work on the blue ridge parkway began as a WPA project in 1935 and was not completed until 1987. along the route are numerous historic sites and hundreds of scenic mountain views. from asheville you can take the parkway south to the pisgah national forest or north to the great smokey mountains national park. for those interested in natural beauty the parkway is great side trip when in the asheville area.
the vance memorial is a massive granite monument located at pack square in downtown asheville. the monument was built in 1897 and honors governor and U.S. senator zebulon b. vance. zebulon vance (1830-1894) was a confederate captain during the civil war and in 1862 he was elected govenor of confederate north carolina. during his tenure as confederate governor he was a proponent of jewish civil rights. after the end of the civil war vance was to be marched 35 miles to a train depot for a trip to washington and a prison sentence. a jewish hat maker named samuel wittkowski intervened and persuaded the union officer in charge to let vance ride in his carriage to the train depot. this act of kindness made vance a life long supporter of tolerance towards jews. in 1870 vance was elected to the U.S. senate but radical republicans refused to seat him. for the next several years vance went on a lecture tour around the country in support of jewish rights. later vance returned to the U.S. senate and finished his political career as a post civil war governor of north carolina. zebulon vance is a very interesting character in U.S. history.
the asheville visitor center is a good first stop on a visit to asheville. at the visitor center you can learn about the historic and natural attractions of the asheville area. also at the visitor center you can take a trolley ride around downtown asheville.
Drive to Tryon, NC taking the back roads (by way of Hendersonville & Flat Rock) then head up to Lake Lure... and then back track to Asheville by way of Chimney Rock (Lake Lure) & Bat Cave. This is a drive you can do in 5 - 6 hours if you stop along the way in Hendersonville, Flat Rock, Tryon, Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, etc.
Maybe on another day you drive from Asheville to Boone via the Blue Ridge Parkway.
You can even go to Johnson City, Tennessee (less than one hour from Asheville) and drive around the Cherokee Forest.
If you are in Asheville in the Fall months (October!) you will even be in more joy!
There are some really neat mountain resort spots in those Smokey's along the Blue ridge Parkway. I used to travel up here on business and was part of takeover of projects at Suger and Beech Mountain. It was tough times in the 1970's. Winter sports and skining are the big thing and man made, or natural. Summer is not as demending, but it still has a fair share of tourists. The foilage is the best aspect in fall.
Shoji is a Japanese style Spa that offers Private Hot Tubs before your massage. The Spa is nestled on the side of a mountain with the tubs being a short walk down from the main building. All of the hot tubs are walled on three sides with an open side looking out over the side of the mountain. It is absolutely the best hot tub experience I've had. You can lay in the tub and look out over the forest or up at the sky. I wish it were raining so I could have had the cold rain to counter the hot tub.
Usually the tub is a prelude to a massage and they offer about every type you can think of. We opted for a couple massage but there are a variety of techniques to choose from. There is a cold plunge for the truly daring and also a sauna.
The Staff at the Albemarle Inn recommended Shoji to us. The natural environment and outdoor tubs are what make this spa really special. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and would not hesitate to return.
Because we were able to check in early when we arrived we were able to go outside and see several nice displays in quaint little buildings. They had a nice antique auto museum, a yarn and fabric place and a woodworking shop.
No time on this brief stopover to visit Asheville's Art Museum but my guess is the artsy town has a decent one. At only $6 it sounds like a bargain but with the sun shining there was little that could bring us indoors. Well, except maybe another IPA at the Wood. ;)
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