Just five days after the First Family left Asheville, we drove to the charming North Carolina town. While we missed out on the Blue Ridge Mountain hike that the Obamas apparently took, we managed to walk the town’s hilly streets, admire the mountain view, and watch an impressive game of hacky sack in Pritchard Park.
It felt like a small slice of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury — and not just because of the footbag kicking game. Young people lounging in the park, strumming guitars and chatting, give the city a laid-back feel. Art studios dappled throughout Asheville showcase paintings, jewelry and other offerings from local artists.
I do not believe that any Asheville micro breweries decided to brew a beer in our honor, as one did to mark the President’s visit. But my husband did enjoy his taste of a local beer. Our waitress looked downright thrilled when he ordered an Asheville, rather than imported, drink (and boy was it strong).
Thanks to the early May sunshine and wide sidewalks, we were able to walk from one end of town to the other. We bought treats from the Marble Slab Creamery, which served massive, made-to-order tubs of homemade ice cream.
The small, independent restaurants were a welcome departure from the chains we tend to frequent. Locally grown, organic food seemed to be the pride of these places. I liked the Fried Green Tomato Napoleon at the Early Girl Eatery, a cheery diner tucked down a narrow side street.
While we didn’t stay at the posh Grove Park Inn, where the Obamas stayed, we did stop by. We asked the host standing guard outside the famed Sunset Terrace, where the Obamas are said to have dined, if we could sit and drink coffee with our two toddlers.
He responded that he would like to invite us to sit inside instead, in a dark and empty area. It would appear that toddlers are not encouraged admire the breathtaking mountain view from the Sunset Terrace.
But youngsters seem to be welcome almost everywhere else in Asheville. When we visited the highly recommended brunch spot, Tupelo Honey Cafe, the waitresses and patrons laughed and smiled as our kids threw crayons and raisins. I loved the goat cheese grits that came along with the special omelet. And of course, I bought a jar of Tupelo Honey as a souvenir.
We realized that Asheville is a lovely town, filled with friendly people, charming local restaurants, shops, and art studios. It is certainly worth a visit if you’re in the South, and if you’re the President, it is worth flying to from DC.
Especially if you get a beer named after you.