Asheville & Hendersonville – As COVID-19 restrictions ease, more activities are available for fun in Western North Carolina. Friends can once again meet in public places and socialize, per capacity, mask-wearing and sanitation orders.
There are many tours available in this area—this is a great way to try new activities. Some tours are self-guided; others offer transportation and/or a guide. Here are a few to consider.
The WNC Cheese Trail
The WNC Cheese Trail is a self-guided tour so that locals and visitors alike can explore some of the best artisan cheese made in the South. In Fairview, you will tour the Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery, Looking Glass Creamery and Hickory Nut Gap Farm. In Marshall, there is Three Graces Dairy and Spinning Spider Creamery. By going to their website, www.wnccheesetrail.org, you can find a map and information for visiting. They host a variety of events throughout the year, including pairings with wineries, breweries and cideries.
Asheville Free Walking Tours
Asheville Free Walking Tours began a River Arts Tour this week. The afternoon tour allows one to learn about an artist’s particular style and see glass being blown in the District. There’s a stop at the Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall, which hosts thousands of well-known bands and musical artists, and has been allowed to open its doors again. While walking through the River Arts District, the tour group stops to taste some coffee from the Grind, as well as to sip some wine or beer from Pleb Urban Winery and the
Asheville Free Walking Tours also offers a tour of Downtown Asheville, which essentially follows the urban trail with stops for tastings of free donuts and spirits on the way. Guides provide a history of buildings, architecture and famous individuals who have lived and visited Asheville, including the Vanderbilt family and Thomas Wolfe. In addition, they offer advice and tips on the many cultural events in the area, festivals and restaurants. These are both tip-based walking tours, allowing tour attendees to pay what they think it is worth. Scan QR or call 828 419-0295 for more information.
Both Asheville and Hendersonville have Pubcycle Tours downtown. They’re considered to be highly amusing rides as you pedal your way through the streets. Surprisingly this is a BYOB (beer, wine, cider or soft drinks).
Adam Justus owns and operates HVL Pedal & Brews in Hendersonville. This is a 14-person pedal-powered (electric motor-assisted) vehicle with 10 peddlers, four non-peddlers and a conductor who navigates downtown Hendersonville with a healthy dose of humor, style and entertainment. There are three possible tours: 1) Pedal to the Pints Tour; (2) Pedal Your Hendo Off!; (3) Pedal Backwards Tour, a history tour offered only on Saturday and Sunday mornings and a non-alcoholic tour. For further information go to www.hvlpedalbrews.com or call (828) 233-5606.
The concierge of the Asheville’s Amazing Pubcycle, Steven, said, “The riders ‘have a ball,’ and there are always a lot of bachelorettes and bachelors thoroughly enjoying themselves. Because of Covid 19, we have had to make some changes. The Pubcycle holds 13 people with three in the back on the bench. Now we cannot have a large cooler for everyone; we cannot make two stops on the PubTour, only one-stop, not two, at a ‘cool bar;’ the days and hours have also changed. Last year we were shut down, so it is great to be back open again.”
Cycle Tours start at the Aloft Hotel on Biltmore Avenue or the Urban Orchard Cider Company at 24 Buxton Avenue in their South Slope location. There is a Nomad Tour for $18 a person, which is 40 minutes, and a PubTour for $28 a person, which is an hour and a half. Go to www.amazingpubcycle.com or call (828) 214-5010 for more information.
Gray Line Trolley Tours of Asheville
Although they had to pare back on capacity seating and postpone the Hop-on/Hop-off Tour until July, Gray Line is now offering a couple of their tours today. The 90-minute 15-mile city tour of Asheville and the Ghost and History tour are open today. It is a great introduction to Asheville, which has opened the door for visitors who later decided to move here. The trolleys drive through downtown Asheville, Montford Historic District, The Grove Park Inn, the Grove Park Historic District and Thomas Wolfe District. Pack Square and Asheville Art Museum, Grove Arcade, River Arts District, and Biltmore Village. The trolleys leave from the Visitors Center throughout the day from 36 Montford Avenue and cost $27.
For a few thrills and excitement, the Ghost and History Tour is one to try. This is a haunted history and murder mystery tour at a limited seating capacity and lasts 75 minutes. Who wouldn’t want to find out about the ghosts and goblins in this area, like the Pink Lady at the Omni Grove Park Inn or the Killing spree of 1906? Could this be true? All you have to do is make a $27 reservation and hop on board a trolley in the evening, wearing your mask, at Pack’s Tavern in Downtown Asheville to hear some exciting tales. Off you go.
Craggy Mountain Line Trolley
Step back in time for a ride on the only section left of the second-largest Trolley system in the country. The Craggy Mountain Line Trolley in Woodfin was once a part of the Asheville Trolley system that extended from downtown Asheville to Sunset Mountain to Weaverville at the turn of the 1900s. Now, all that’s left is three and a half miles of the system in Woodfin, which runs trollys on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays three times a day. The trolley runs to Woodfin’s Riverside Park where riders can get off it and enjoy a picnic before heading back to the yard or onto the end of the line where Woodfin’s new Silver-Line Park is being built.
The Craggy also has a yard full of train cars for exploring. This includes a safety caboose, a freight car with a timeline of the system along with historical pictures, a car with a model train and games for kids and a 1950s diesel engine. Reservations are required ahead of time; you can call them at 828.808.4877.
Throughout Western North Carolina there are a myriad of tours available that are certainly worth considering. The Hendersonville Visitors Center can give you more information on The Cheers! Trail, Pubcycle Tours of Downtown and Guided History Walks. There are tours to find waterfalls, take interesting hikes, backpack in the mountains, bike on trails, tour downtown on a Segway, view migrating birds, visit local vineyards, breweries, distilleries, visit art studios, learn about local architecture and history or even laugh out loud on a comedy bus. The list is endless. As North Carolina finally allows the public to begin socializing, perhaps this is the fun you’ve been missing. Look online to learn out about any adventure that suits your fancy. It’s a new day.
Editor’s note: Clint Parker contributed to this article.