Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Do you travel for the holidays?

Buy The Great Oudoors HERE!

by Becky Moore

I like to travel for Thanksgiving, and during the weekends leading up to Christmas since we like to be at home for Christmas Eve and Day. And regardless of the season, one of our favorite locales is Asheville. It’s nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the Swannoa River meets the French Broad, and a hop, skip and jump away from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain and Linville Gorge. The rolling hills and mountains call to us with their Siren’s song, but we keep our beloved outdoorsy stuff for the spring and fall.

Christmas trips to Asheville are made specifically to visit the Biltmore Estate, and the Grove Park Inn. Did you know the Biltmore Estate has a table where Napoleon’s heart once sat? Or that it has the nation’s first indoor bowling alley? It took six years to build the house (our nation’s largest house), which is modeled after a 16th-century French chateaux. It has 4 acres of floor space, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. CNN’s Anderson Cooper has a connection: his mother is Gloria Vanderbilt, and I believe it’s still owned by one of Vanderbilt’s descendants (though, it’s neither Gloria nor Anderson) … but I digress. George Vanderbilt had the estate built, and opened it officially to guests on Christmas Eve 1895. They welcomed countless dignitaries, including Edith Wharton, President Teddy Roosevelt, Henry James, and President Woodrow Wilson. And, sigh, it has a two-story library that is truly spectacular. There’s an enviable Tiffany glass collection, an indoor swimming pool, elevators, and an intercom system. The Vanderbilt’s weren’t messing around, I tell you. The estate is lit by candlelight during Christmas, and every room is awe-inspiring. The tree on the front grounds is larger than the one at the White House, and is lit like a beacon on the mountain.

The Grove Park Inn has a wonderful history, as well. It was built in 1913, and counts Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and President Woodrow Wilson among its distinguished guests. The first time I stayed was with my mom, the summer between high school and my freshman year at college. She won an award at work, a long weekend at the Inn with tickets to the Biltmore Estate. Since times were super lean when I was a kid, that award was like getting the keys to the castle. The stone fireplaces are so huge that we could stand fully upright inside of them. We spent our money sparingly, and saved enough to order room service the day we left: pancakes, sausage and freshly squeezed orange juice. Heaven. I’ve stayed twice more, with my husband, since then. Though, when we stayed for our first anniversary, we were in one of the historic rooms and when my husband opened a bottle of champagne, the cork flew into the ceiling and chipped out a good wedge of plaster [sheepish grin]. During the holidays, they host the National Gingerbread House Competition. I watch it on television, but we never manage to get there to see it.

So the next time you’re planning a trip to Asheville to see the leaves changing in the fall, put it off for a couple of weeks to experience the quaint town, and its two historic landmarks, decked out in Christmas regalia. It’s worth the wait, and sure to become a new family tradition. Whatever your plans for the holidays, I hope you are warm and safe, and spending them with friends and family who love you as much as you love them.

Tallulah Murphy is a busy woman. As the newly appointed Director of Education for the Atlanta Art Museum, she has a thousand and one things to do on any given day. Dating is not high on that list; in fact, it’s not even on the radar.

Three hundred miles away in Charleston, South Carolina, Lieutenant Mitchell Weaver is gearing up for his promotion to be the youngest police chief in the city’s history. And unfortunately, as a prominent city official with all eyes watching his every move, a quality date seems untenable. But when good friends and good fortune set Tallulah and Mitch on a fateful adventure with Madame Evangeline’s high-end dating service, 1Night Stand, they may find a little matchmaking magic can reset their spirits of adventure and open their hearts and minds to the possibility of love.


  1. We don't travel anymore, we let people come to us, LOL. But I've been to the Biltmore and yes, that library is something out of every reader's fantasy. I could spend days in there just browsing the titles, not even reading. Oh, to dream that dream! LOL

  2. I know. And I do like the idea of people coming to us ... that's how we roll on Christmas Day now, which is wonderful. Thanks for sharing, Valerie!

  3. That sounds a lovely place to visit. We go where the family goes so this year, we're in London with our daughter. I suspect next year we'll be in Texas with our son. I can't remember the last Christmas we spent at home. My decorations will be gathering inches of dust.

  4. Was looking for the decadent publishing blog hop but didn't find it. Your post was interesting though I have never been to Asheville I'll have to look up more info on it, my husband loves historical locales. michelle31071 at suddenlink dot net

  5. Barbara: wow, London! We lived in Germany when I was a kid (my dad was in the Army), but we never went to London. Michelle, we like visiting historical locales, too. If you're ever on the east coast, it's worth a visit.

  6. I never travel on the holidays but wish I could. I've seen the Biltmore on TV and it looks gorgeous. I also wish I could be at Disney World for the holidays as I've heard they go all out for the holidays.