So far this year I’ve taken you to England and Ireland, but now we are going to travel a little closer to home. In fact, this month’s Literary Wanderlust destination is just an hour’s scenic drive from Building Book Love headquarters. 🙂 Let’s hit the road and discover bookish things to do in Asheville, North Carolina! From fine dining to the best breweries around, Asheville offers everything along with being a very pedestrian friendly city! You will find multiple parking options and your destinations will be within a quick walk. Along your way you will be entertained by street performers, local artworks and galleries, places to shop, and you all know my personal favorite, coffee shops! Asheville invites people from around the world with its rich history and beauty and I am sure your literary heart will be full if you decide to go. Here are some of my suggestions for your next adventure in this magical city.
Bookish things to do in Asheville, North Carolina
Stay at or visit the Grove Park Inn where F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed
Add the Grove Park Inn to your list of bookish things to do in Asheville! Though we did splurge on a stay here once for our anniversary, most of our time spent at the Grove Park Inn is just to stop by for a visit. We especially love going to see the National Gingerbread Competition but you can drop in any time of year to take in the views, grab a drink, and go on a scavenger hunt for the Fitzgerald memorabilia. Every year near F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday, September 24, the Grove Park Inn has a weekend celebration to commemorate the two turbulent summers he spent there in 1935 and 1936. As you explore the magnificence of this hotel, you will see areas that pay homage to this Jazz Era giant. The sitting area with a typewriter and some info about the author is sure to make for a good photo op and you will learn about his time there. Fitzgerald suffered from tuberculosis and hoped that the fresh mountain air would bring some relief while also being close to his wife, Zelda. Upon your visit, you will be able to see why he chose this as a place of respite, and if you pass by rooms 441 and 443, you just might hear the rhythm of his typewriter trying to reclaim his fame and notoriety.
Sip champagne at the Battery Park Book Exchange
Asheville offers a wide range of eclectic bookstores, but one my favorites is the Battery Park Book Exchange. The aesthetic of this bookstore, which is in the famous Grove Arcade, will spark the imagination like no other. Offering an outdoor patio and many well decorated sitting areas within, you can order up a literary themed cocktail or tea as you browse their extensive collection of new and used books. If your visit falls Wednesday through Saturday, you will more than likely have the soft melodies of a local jazz band playing in your ear as you cozy up with your favorite book! I will toast to that!
Tour George Vanderbilt’s library at the Biltmore Estate
No trip to Asheville is complete without visiting the Biltmore Estate. After taking in the beautiful châteauesque design of the mansion and strolling through the gardens, you’ll be overwhelmed as you enter into the literary mind of George Vanderbilt’s home and library. Vanderbilt was an avid reader, logging over 50 books a year and then cataloging them in his journal titled “Books I have Read,” which you will be able to see in his library! Inside the library you will gaze upon a grand spiral staircase and a wraparound catwalk with andiron rails encompassing the vast collection of classical literature that George Vanderbilt curated throughout his life. While you are there, it will be easy to imagine yourself by a roaring fire with a book in the lap of literary luxury, never wanting to leave.
Hike on trails from the Hunger Games setting
There are many trails around the Asheville area if you are looking to get into the mountains and shed some cafe calories 😉. If you are a fan of the Hunger Games and looking for bookish things to do in Asheville, take a short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head toward the Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Center and view the North Fork Reservoir where the crescendo cornucopia scene was filmed! There is an established trail here and you will also be able to take in breathtaking views of the Great Craggy Mountains. Your hike will definitely work up a “hunger” and you’ll need to head back to Asheville and eat where the actors of the movie often dined to complete your Hunger Games adventure. The cast and crew were frequently spotted having lunch at the Laughing Seed Cafe on Wall Street where you will also find the Early Girl Eatery which I highly recommend for breakfast before you head out for the day. Here is to your happy hunger games outing and may the odds be ever in your favor! For more Hunger Games sites, check out this post: Go Behind the Scenes of the Hunger Games
Explore the Thomas Wolfe Sites
If you are wanting to “look homeward” for Thomas Wolfe sites, Asheville is where you need to be. Those who have read his first novel Look Homeward, Angel, will be able to recognize many of the places around Asheville that Wolfe refers to in his novel. Also, for more bookish things to do in Asheville, be sure to visit the Thomas Wolfe Memorial at 52 N. Market Street to see his childhood home and learn more about this literary genius. Many fans of the author make their way to the Riverside Cemetery in the Montford Area Historic District to pay their respects and leave pencils and pens by his grave- the beautiful Queen Anne and arts and crafts homes in this area are also worth the walk! If you have time, you can take the 15 minute drive over to Hendersonville to see the statue of the Angel that Wolfe refers to in his book!
If this post has sparked literary wanderlust in you and you want to travel more with points, I’m going to share my favorite travel credit cards. I use my travel credit card like a debit card and pay the entire balance each month. As always, please protect your finances and make the best decision for your spending tendencies. For me, this has proven to be a fantastic way to travel more for free because I’m usually able to cover the flight costs using only points.
These are my favorite cards because of their SIMPLICITY. To use your points, all you have to do is purchase a hotel, flight, or anything travel related on any site you wish then log into your CC account and click “erase my purchase.” Magic!