Archive for Asheville adventures

Lovers’ Loop Retreat August Muse-letter

August in the Asheville, N.C., area explodes in activities. We’re talking the nation’s longest-running folk festival Aug. 5-7, the annual antiques fair, an annual quilt show, one of the bigger crafts fairs in the area, dance concerts, dulcimer workshops, a carpet of flowers, an Olympiad, an Afro-Caribbean fest and more! What bounty for a small city! Come and indulge yourself. 

Guests at our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an affordable Asheville bed & breakfast alternative here in western North Carolina, pursue with gusto these opportunities, some of which are FREE things to do in Asheville. For more free activities in Asheville, check out our June 21 blog (at

Make Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville vacation rental, your place to stay when you explore Asheville, NC recreation, arts, restaurants and festivals. Events are posted and updated through the year on Visit the site to see what’s going on whenever you plan your trip. You can link to our blog,, on the home page, and we’re also on Twitter! Our Web site features a link where you can contact us for a list of many FREE things to do in Asheville.

You’ll find some awe in August in Asheville, starting with the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival Aug. 5-7 at Diana Wortham Theatre downtown. The festival, in its eighty-third year, features bluegrass and old-time music, clogging and other mountain dancing and ballad singers.

Speaking of longevity, one of the oldest antiques fairs in the Southeast is the Asheville Antiques Fair Aug. 6-8, a busy weekend that also brings the annual quilt show at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville Aug. 6-8, and the Village Art and Craft Fair Aug. 7-8, one of the most popular, and free, such fairs in the area.    

The Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance will perform in downtown Asheville Aug. 12-14. That same weekend, Aug. 13-15, will be the Asheville Wine and Food Festival. You can perfect your dulcimer-playing at workshops Aug. 14 at Chimney Rock Park just east of Lovers’ Loop Retreat, and it’s a lovely drive to the park from our guest suite.  

Water lovers should check out the River Fest Aug. 14 in Asheville on the French Broad River, which winds through Asheville on its determined way to Tennessee. Aug. 14, Aug. 21 and Aug. 28 offer Shindig on the Green, a laid-back evening gathering outdoors with free music in Asheville.

Here’s a carpet you can’t walk on, but it will dazzle you. The Flower Carpet at the Biltmore estate will be on display Aug. 20-Sept. 12. The design this year is a stained-glass window. The carpet will be on display during the day and illuminated at night.

A signature event in the area for the adventurous and those who like to watch them is the Hickory Nut Gorge Olympiad Aug. 26-29. This takes place just east of Asheville, and it’s an easy, beautiful drive from Lovers’ Loop Retreat. It’s one of the biggest such happenings in the Southeast.     

Aug. 27-29 is Goombay!, one of the FREE street festivals in Asheville. Enjoy music, vendors and food that represent Afro-Caribbean cultures. It’s a hopping, joyful gig.

Early September brings one of our favorite events. The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Fest (LAAFF) will be Sept. 5, so you can attend the festival during the big, fat Labor Day holiday weekend. Check out the funkier side of Asheville. It’s one of the free things to do in Asheville on Labor Day.    

All of these events and activities and more are listed on our Web site. Please pass along our muse-letter to your friends. Want to receive our full color monthly museletter with photos? Just let us know and we’ll add you to the list. And join us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat. See you in Asheville!


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Troll around on trolley tours in Asheville

When you see the white trolleys in downtown Asheville and elsewhere in town, catch a ride to get a guided glimpse of the city. Asheville Trolley Tours operates March through December, and it’s a great way to learn about Asheville history with a locally-owned company. When you stay at our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an affordable Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, you’re an easy 10 minutes from downtown, where you can pick up the trolley at multiple locations. We may soon offer our guests trolley tickets at a discount.

            Grove Park Inn

            Some of our recent guests took the tour and loved it. It’s no wonder. On the 17-mile loop, you’ll drive by the historic Montford area with varied architectural styles from the 1800s and early 1900s. You’ll pass the former mental health hospital where novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, died in a fire. You’ll see the storied Grove Park Inn, where President Obama and his wife stayed in the spring, and the house where author Thomas Wolfe lived with his mother at the boarding house she operated.          

            Biltmore estate         

            As you cruise through Asheville’s streets, you’ll pass western North Carolina’s first skyscraper, known as the Jackson building; the condominium downtown that director Steven Spielberg owns; the basilica of St. Lawrence; Biltmore Village south of downtown, developed by railroad magnate George Vanderbilt for employees at his estate; the warehouses-turned-art-studios of the River Arts District and more.

            Asheville ghost tours and Asheville discounts            

            If you prefer a little fear with your tour, Asheville Trolley Tours runs a ghost tour April through November. The company also offers patrons discounts for other businesses in the city.

            Step aboard to enjoy a jolly Asheville trolley ride when you stay at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an affordable Asheville vacation rental.

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Cycle and recycle yourself through Asheville

One of the best ways to see the Asheville area is on a bike, and Asheville is a huge draw for people who enjoy using pedal power to have fun. Whether you’re into competitive events or leisurely recreational biking, there are lots of opportunities in and around Asheville.

            When you stay at our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, you’ve got the famous Blue Ridge Parkway at the end of the street. The parkway, a beautiful scenic road through North Carolina and Virginia with headquarters just up the road from Lovers’ Loop Retreat, is extremely popular among cyclists nearly year-round. The parkway is a great choice for Asheville cycling.

            A handful of annual cycling events attract cyclists from far and wide. The Town Mountain Hill Climb on May 21 in Asheville is a five-mile ride that’s been offered for 28 years.

            Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville vacation rental, also is a great base for other cycling events, including the springtime Tour de Lure, Lake Junaluska Duathlon and Assault on Mount Mitchell – the highest peak in the eastern U.S.

            Get your wheels on in Asheville at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, where we safely store bikes for our guests.

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Asheville’s French Broad River revealed by bus or on foot

The long and mighty French Broad River, which cuts through Asheville and much of western North Carolina on its way to Tennessee, is popular with kayakers, canoeists, fishers and others. It’s one of the world’s oldest rivers. The nonprofit RiverLink, based in Asheville, works to preserve and clean the river and to support responsible economic development along the river.

RiverLink sponsors monthly bus tours throughout the year. Having been on the tour, we know that it’s packed with interesting information about Asheville’s history that you might not learn elsewhere. The tour leaves from downtown Asheville, just 10 minutes from Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our Asheville vacation rental.

RiverLink also sponsors walking tours along the French Broad, and the organization has developed a greenway for biking and walking that goes through several Asheville parks.

When you stay at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, make a point to find the French Broad for birding, water sports, biking, hiking. And bring your toys with you. We have plenty of room for kayaks, canoes, fishing gear, bikes and other equipment.

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Ten things to do in Asheville this weekend, October 9-11

Spend your big, fat holiday weekend in Asheville.

OK. You’re one of the lucky ones with a lovely holiday on Monday, Oct. 12. There are lots of fun things to do in Asheville when you make our cozy and convenient Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, your base.

1) Check out Fiesta Latina on Saturday, Oct. 10. This annual event has tons of energy with dancing, food, music and all other things Latin. You’ll love it.

2) Catch Travis Tritt at the Asheville Civic Center downtown on Friday, Oct. 9. Lots of people dig him.

3) Play hooky on Tuesday, Oct. 13, and be blissed at the Bonnie Raitt concert at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville.

4) Relive your younger years and feel like a table tennis legend by playing pingpong at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, where we have all the equipment you need to do your best.

5) Do yourself a big autumn favor and take a car ride, a hike, a bike trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is practically right outside the door at Lovers’ Loop Retreat. This scenic highway is off limits to commercial vehicles, and it’s one of the most visited segments of the National Park Service, especially in the fall leaf season.

6) See a flick at Asheville Pizza and Brewing Co., which offers movies for $3 and beers made in Asheville.

7) Listen to someone sing your heart out at the Asheville Lyric Opera’s season opener, “Marriage of Figaro,” Friday, Oct. 9 and Saturday, Oct. 10.

8) Bring your own kayak or canoe, which can be stored safely at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, or rent a vessel at one of the outfitters in town, and take a cruise down the French Broad or Swannanoa rivers, which cut their mighty way through Asheville.

9) Be one of the happy people at Asheville’s first Oktoberfest, a downtown event on Saturday, Oct. 10 that will feature five Asheville breweries with their best beers and some good music, too.

10) Stretch your legs and maybe your mind at the North Carolina Arboretum, which will host its annual exhibit of bonsai (miniature plants and trees) on Saturday, Oct. 10 and Sunday, Oct. 11. Get small at this fascinating display of miniatures and while you’re there, walk or bike the nice trails at the arboretum.

When you visit Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville vacation rental, you’re within minutes of all of these pleasures. Say yes!

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LaZoom to You!

           We took a magical mystery trip of downtown Asheville recently, a comedy journey that flexes your laugh muscles. LaZoom Comedy Tour offers a 90-minute trip through town to various points of interest.

            When you stay at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, get on the bus for this fun ride.

            Along the way, Babs, the tour guide, gives you a refreshing dose of irreverent commentary about Asheville’s history, its dids and didn’ts, presented with some heart and even more funny bone. You’ll learn about the craziness of kudzu, the River Arts District, Bob Hope’s appearance at the Asheville Civic Center, Charlton Heston’s theatrical contributions to Asheville and the unending construction projects known lovingly as “performance art” in the annals of local legend.

            Tour operators Jennifer and Jim Lauzon keep you guessing with a revolving cast of characters that includes Sister Bad Habit, a River District artist and a healer. Bemused onlookers will return your waves as the brightly painted purple bus makes its zany way through downtown and beyond.

            To keep you on your toes, Babs gives out prizes at random during the ride. Stay tuned to receive such delicacies as a can of tuna or cat food or a bag of gourmet chocolate pretzels.       

            LaZoom operates from April through October and at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Put the tour on your itinerary when you visit us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, a vacation rental in Asheville.

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Lovers’ Loop Retreat May ’09 muse-letter

It’s a colorful spring here at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our Asheville, N.C., vacation rental: azaleas in white and several shades of red, pink and pinker rhododendrons, lacy white dogwoods. The backyard is filling in with foliage. Our tomato and pea plants are humming along, and little basil plants are starting to grow. A thrill of our spring so far was seeing five finches, including a goldfinch, on the feeder at once, afeat unrepeated since, alas (but we keep looking).

            All of this is yours to behold when you stay at our Asheville bed and breakfast alternative. Many guests enjoy sitting on the porch to commune with the squirrels and birds that own the trees and air space here. As usual, there’s a range of activities happening in the area in May, too. Visit our Web site at to see a list of events we update regularly. We have events posted all the way to December, so you can see what’s going on whenever you plan your trip to Asheville. You can link directly to our blog at, or from the home page. There is also a link to another Asheville blog on the home page with YouTube links to videos about Asheville.

            This spring, we’ve done some of our favorite activities — hiking at Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River, just 30 miles from Lovers’ Loop Retreat — and some things we haven’t done before — taking a women’s history (herstory) tour of downtown Asheville and taking a wild ride on a zany, purple bus called LaZoom, a comedy tour of downtown Asheville. All of this is good stuff, and you may want to explore these activities when you visit.          

            The banquet of events in May includes rhododendron (May 2-3) and rose (May 30-31) shows at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, always a pretty place to visit. For more flowers, the Biltmore estate’s annual Festival of Flowers lasts through May 17. More rooms at the estate, the home originally of George Vanderbilt, have been opened to the public this year. 

            The annual Asheville Wordfest, April 30-May 3, is a poetry festival that includes internationally known and regional poets. Another literary event is the Blue Ridge Book and Author Showcase May 8-9 in nearby Hendersonville with workshops and talks by authors, sales and book signings.     

            One of the area’s biggest events is the Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), held twice a year in Black Mountain, just east of Asheville. LEAF, May 7-10, features a slate of international dancers, musicians and visual artists.

             For sports enthusiasts, a popular annual event in Asheville is the Mountain Sports Festival May 29-31. The festival has demonstrations, clinics and competitive events in rock climbing, kayaking, running, cycling, disc golf and backpacking.                   

            A two-for-one comedy show May 30 in Asheville features Vickie Shaw and Jennie McNulty. And for a different type of comedy, not to mention lots of bravery and just sheer strength and stamina, there’s the Blue Ridge Roller Girls, Asheville’s roller derby team that has a bout May 30 at the civic center downtown.

            Early June brings the second art gallery walk of the season June 5, a glimpse into the many art galleries in downtown Asheville. And June 5 is the season debut for the Montford Park Players, North Carolina’s oldest Shakespeare company. These are both free things to do in Asheville! The Montford Players appreciate donations, though, of course.

            All of these events and more are listed on our Web site. And for Indigo Girls fans, the duo has rescheduled its April concert in Asheville to Sept. 17 at the Orange Peel downtown. We hope to be there. 

            Please pass along our muse-letter to your friends. And join us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat! See you in Asheville!

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Mount Mitchell beckons you!

 We celebrated a birthday last week by hiking to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi River. What a glorious day, beautiful enough to fall in love with.

Mount Mitchell is about 30 miles north of our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville bed and breakfast alternative. It’s a lovely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mount Mitchell State Park. There are no entry fees.  Because of the particular geography and elevation, the flora and fauna at Mount Mitchell are akin to those found in Canada, a sort of alpine environment.

On the trail to the peak, cool, soft moss covers rocks and fallen tree limbs, and hikers follow a trail lined with rocks and tree roots. The scent of the spruce-fir forest is enchanting all along the trail, and much of the path is shaded. When the path opens to views, the vistas of the mountains are wonderful.

At the top of Mount Mitchell is an observation tower that’s worth checking out. On a clear day, the views are magnificent. You can hike or drive to the tower.

This is one of our favorite destinations in Western North Carolina, and we encourage our guests at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our Asheville vacation rental, to consider the trip.

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Asheville’s Herstory Story

Part of Asheville’s story is herstory, and there’s a new business that offers downtown tours which focus on the contributions of women. When you come to stay at our Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, Lovers’ Loop Retreat, you may be interested in getting some local history about the city’s herstory.

By the Elizabeth Blackwell memorial

By the Elizabeth Blackwell memorial

            Herstory Asheville,, gives glimmers about the lives of the funky and fabulous women who helped make Asheville what it is—and was. Enjoy the friendly tour guide Brenda Williams as she introduces you to Julia Wolfe, mother of author and Asheville native son Thomas Wolfe and a businesswoman who ran a boarding house downtown that’s now the Thomas Wolfe museum. You’ll learn about Lillian Exum Clement, who was a lawyer in Asheville and the first female legislator in the South. Clement joined North Carolina’s House of Representatives in 1921.



            And there’s Elizabeth Blackwell, who came to Asheville around 1840 and worked for a doctor in the city before becoming the first woman in the United States to earn a medical degree. Thelma Caldwell was director of Asheville’s YWCA for black women in the 1950s and helped integrate the city’s two YWCAs. She was the first African-American executive director of a YWCA in the South. You’ll learn about Lucy Herring, a beloved African-American teacher in Asheville. And Brenda will tell you about Edith Vanderbilt, wife of tycoon George Vanderbilt, who constructed the Biltmore estate for their home. Edith created schools and industries that helped the community.

            The tour is worth checking out when you stay at our vacation rental in Asheville.

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The F Month in Asheville

Welcome to the F Month. When we lived in Massachusetts in the 1990s [during a couple of their “worst” (that is, messy) winters on record], some residents fed up with snow and ice labeled February the F Month. That label doesn’t fit Asheville, N.C., where winters are much milder. If we lack some of New England’s snow, we sure don’t lack a beautiful wintertime mountain view here at Lovers’ Loop Retreat. The mountains are to the east, which means our sunrises are that much prettier when they spill over the hills.

            There are many activities and fun things to do here in winter. This month, the options include a Mardi Gras party and parade in downtown Asheville, a bluegrass festival, a Beatlemania concert and funky, improvisational comedy. Be sure to visit our Web site,, which contains lots of information, including a list of events in the area, and a few new photos of our Asheville bed and breakfast alternative. Our home page has a YouTube link to videos about Asheville.

             One fun pastime in winter is also free—gallery hopping. Asheville’s many art galleries offer an inspiring variety, and the Asheville area’s reputation as an arts destination brings many visitors. Most of Asheville’s galleries are downtown. But one of the best collections of art and crafts is at the Southern Highland Craft Guild gallery at the visitors’ center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The visitors’ center and guild’s gallery are a scenic five-minute drive along the parkway from Lovers’ Loop Retreat.

            Asheville’s history reputation is significant, too. Biltmore Estate, just 10 minutes from Lovers’ Loop Retreat, again was ranked as the most visited historic attraction in North Carolina in 2008. Biltmore is the historic home and grounds of George Vanderbilt. The house and gardens are amazing. Also ranking high on the state list of historic attractions for 2008 were the North Carolina Arboretum, 10 miles down the Blue Ridge Parkway from Lovers’ Loop Retreat, and Chimney Rock Park, North Carolina’s newest state park, a pretty 30-minute drive from our vacation rental.  

            Another outdoor activity easily accessible from Lovers’ Loop Retreat is the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, a state park that will encompass 1,000 acres across North Carolina when it’s finished. Land is still being acquired for the trail, part of which already is in place along the Blue Ridge Parkway a stone’s throw from Lovers’ Loop Retreat.

            We’re happy to offer an affordable bed and breakfast alternative that gives guests the option of preparing meals in the guest suite. Asheville has several independently-owned grocery stores and food coops with a good selection of organic foods, and many of our guests have shopped at these stores.

            Join us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat! Please pass along our muse-letter to your friends. And remember to visit our Web site to check out upcoming events. See you in Asheville!


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