Judi Travel CaricatureI’m excited to tell you about my 2024 mother-daughter road trip home after my snowbird stay in Florida this winter. On the last day of March, my daughter A and I headed out on the open highways from the Sunshine State to the Garden State. This year we stopped in Savannah, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; and Charlottesville, Virginia. It took us a little less than a week to get back to New Jersey, driving five to six hours per day.

 

J and A in Charlotteville, VA

My daughter A and I went on our annual mother-daughter roadtrip earlier this month

In this post, I’ll give you a brief overview of our travels. In future posts,  I’ll provide more details about our foodie experiences in Asheville’s “Foodtopia,” and our visit to The Biltmore Estates which was well worth the $100 price of admission.

An overnight in Savannah

We left early on Easter Sunday for our drive to Savannah, where we spent an overnight. With sunny skies and no traffic we made it to our lodging in time for a 3:00 pm check-in. We stayed at the Andaz Hotel located on Ellis Square—close to City Market, River Street and lots of shopping and dining.

Fountain at Forsyth Park in Savannah

Forsyth Park fountain is one of Savannah’s most photographed landmarks

After a brief walkabout through a few of Savannah’s Square Parks (of which there are 22) we were hungry for dinner.

When I’m with A we eat well. She had booked an outdoor table at Collin’s Quarter, a popular restaurant known for its excellent Southern-style brunches. Our evening meal was Southern delish with a Whipped Ricotta with Honey appetizer followed by Crispy Chicken with White Beans and Collard Greens with Herb Pesto for me and Roasted Salmon with Mushrooms, Kale, Cipollini Onions, Porcini Cream and Thyme for A. Everything was so good, so good, so good.

Crispy Chicken from Collin's Quarter in Savannah

Crispy Chicken from Collin’s Quarter in Savannah

Driving through the mountains to Asheville

On Monday, we left for Asheville. A and I had always wanted to visit this mountain-vibe city in North Carolina. We had heard about its award-winning culinary community. Being foodies we both decided it was time to detour west and try it out. We were so glad we did despite all the traffic and winding and hilly roads to get there.

Downtown Asheville, NC

Downtown Asheville is host to the Appalachian Music Festival each summer

We were extremely tired and very happy when our wheels finally touched ground at The Foundry. Housed in a renovated steel factory, the hotel is located in the historically Black neighborhood of The Block and a close walk to downtown.

Retail therapy in Downtown Asheville

During our first full-day in Asheville, we spent the morning exploring the boutiques and eclectic shops. Our step counters were in full-gear and so were our shins and thighs from walking up and down all the steep hills. We definitely got our exercise. The town had a hippie-feel with spiritual shops on what seemed to be every street. A and I did find some trendy clothing stores for window shopping and retail therapy.

Downtown Asheville shopping

Shopping Daze sculpture represents the bustling cosmopolitan scene in the 1920s that led to the opening of many department stores and exclusive shops along three blocks in downtown Asheville

Visiting the Biltmore Estate

In the afternoon we took the car out for a short drive to The Biltmore Estate. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day. The Vanderbilt’s estate overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains is absolutely magnificent. It was a glorious time touring the mansion and walking through the gardens and grounds. I felt like I was transported into The Gilded Age.

The Biltmore Estate

We toured the Vanderbilt Mansion on the Biltmore Estate

Ooh, ooh, ooh, there is so much to show and tell about this visit that it’s worth a dedicated blog post. For now I’ll peak your interest with a picture of the tulip gardens.

Biltmore in bloom in Asheville, NC

The Biltmore Gardens were in full bloom in early April

Getting schooled on Asheville history

On Wednesday morning, we booked an Asheville Insider Walking Tour with Viator. It was $35 pp for the two hour tour. Our guide Sharon was well-versed about the history of the city and shared stories about how Asheville’s downtown developed.

Thomas Wolfe Memorial House in Asheville, NC

Our tour guide Sharon pointed out the house of the late Thomas Wolfe, a famous writer from Asheville

We learned that the city was established in 1797 and was difficult to get to because it is 2200 feet above sea level. When the railroad came in the late 1800s people followed for economic reasons. Others came for the healthy mountain air. The city deteriorated in the 1970s and came back to life in the 1990s thanks to a major philanthropist.

Art Deco buildings in downtown Asheville

Art deco buildings in Downtown Asheville

Sharon told us some interesting facts about Downtown Asheville: “Asheville has the largest number of art deco buildings next to Miami Beach. And it’s Basilica has the largest self-supported dome in North America,” she said. She also pointed out the museum building showcasing Black Mountain College, a progressive school for intellectuals and artists in the 1930s.  “Einstein came to study at BMC,” said Sharon.

A relaxing afternoon at Grove Arcade

Grove Arcade in Asheville, NC

Grove Arcade is an historic building filled with restaurants and shops featuring local crafts people

The Wake Spa

“Let’s treat ourselves to a foot soak and massage at the Wake Spa. My extra present for your bday,” I told A since it was coming up the next day. Lucky for us there were two available appointments at 2:45 pm following our champagne. A friend had told me about Wake and suggested we go. It was DIVINE and SO RELAXING.

We donned terry slippers and entered the spa. Soothing music, comfy chair, a big basin of warm water for achy feet — what could be better? A chose the Good Vibes Soak to “evoke calm and relaxation with scents of vetiver, patchouli, and coconut oil and topped her soak with a back and neck massage. I picked a sudsy, fragrant Lavender Chamomile Soak covered with dried lavender and added a foot massage. All Soaks are $40 for 45 minutes. Massage add-ons are $45 for 20 minutes.

We felt so good, so good, so good and our feet appreciated the treatments.

Wake Spa in Asheville's Grove Arcade

Wake Spa offers luxurious Soaks for a tourist’s tired feet

Onward to Charlottesville