North Carolina

Signature City Asheville

Discover Asheville’s unique qualities as you join experts to explore Art Deco and Arts and Crafts architecture, delve into the arts district and learn the story of this American gem.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21758RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
11 meals
5 B 3 L 3 D
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation, Film
Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration 5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the hotel conference room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful, rewarding, and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will enjoy a tasty plated meal to welcome us to Asheville, North Carolina. Coffee, tea and water are included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. At the hotel, we will enjoy an informative video about the Biltmore Estate that will introduce the property and provide pertinent information for our field trip tomorrow. They say “a picture is worth a thousand words” and the beauty of this estate is a prime example of why such a saying is so accurate. We will engage in some group discussion after the film.

Asheville History, History Walk, River Arts District
Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles on paved city sidewalks with some slight inclines.

Breakfast: At the hotel, in a lovely private room for our group, enjoy a continental breakfast featuring oatmeal, assorted pastries, yogurt, fruit, coffee, tea, juice and water.

Morning: At the hotel with a local historian, we'll learn about Asheville's beginning as a crossroads for Native American Indians and its progression as it grew into one of the highest ranked destinations in the country. We'll review its history and how it became a storehouse for music, culture, arts, crafts and other treasures. Called the "Paris of the South," we'll hear about the boast-worthy collection of art deco architecture Asheville hosts. Our expert will share with us about the coming of the railroad and its role in the city’s history as well as how it was affected by the stock market crash in 1929. Over 200 years of history will be condensed into a single morning session to help us gain a greater understanding of Asheville before we set out and explore! We will leave the hotel with our local expert on a walking field trip to see the architecture of Asheville and to learn more about this city of art. Our field trip will end up at Pack's Tavern for lunch.

Lunch: At Pack's Tavern, we'll enjoy a wonderful plated meal from a select menu featuring regional specialties. The structure was built in 1907 and was originally known as the Hayes and Hopson building of Pack Square Park. In the earliest years, there was an underground passage that led from the building's basement to other buildings in the vicinity. During this time the building was used as a means of distributing illegal "moonshine" to people who didn't respect the dry laws. Today the building has been beautifully restored to its "Prohibition-Era Grandeur." Pack's Tavern boasts excellent service, the best drinks in town and a large eclectic menu.

Afternoon: Board your trolley after lunch for the River Arts District. Visit The North Carolina Glass Center to experience a glass blowing demonstration by one of their in-house artists. There is a special viewing area with benches. The galleries and studios run along a one mile stretch of the French Broad River. Because of the distance between venues and individual browsing time differences, we have left this exploration for you to return on your own during any free time in the program.

Dinner: Dinner on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

Biltmore Estate & Gardens, Antler Hill
Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles at the Biltmore Estate and grounds over uneven terrain and standing up to 2 hours while going through the Biltmore Hose with audios.

Breakfast: Hotel breakfast.

Morning: After transferring from the hotel via motorcoach, we will visit the beautiful Biltmore Estate for a self-directed field trip to the 250-room Vanderbilt home. With the help of individual audio guides that will bring attention to special features and furnishings, we’ll meander through the halls of this American fairy tale manor admiring the interior. We'll get a glimpse into the luxurious living areas of the Vanderbilt family, lovingly restored to the grandeur of Vanderbilt's time, and still filled with priceless, carefully preserved artworks and furnishings.

Lunch: We will have a plated lunch at the Biltmore Estate serving coffee, tea, and water.

Afternoon: Our visit will continue into the afternoon with time to visit the Estate Gardens and Conservatory. The gardens, both formal and informal, were designed by landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted designed many parks throughout the United States including Central Park in New York City. The gardens at Biltmore are a living tribute to Olmsted, and the estate's horticultural experts work diligently to preserve his original vision for the gardens and grounds. The Conservatory is described by the Biltmore Company as an "architectural treasure, almost as beautiful as the Biltmore House. The Conservatory, designed by Biltmore House architect Richard Morris Hunt, was built to provide Biltmore House and the gardens with flowers and tender bedding plants. Today, more than a century later, it still fulfills that role. Carefully placed at the lower end of the garden, so as not to obstruct the view from Biltmore House, the Conservatory consists of four main rooms. The central room is a "Palm House," which contains a large collection of palms, ferns and other foliage plants. The annexes include a cool house, hot house and orchid house. The total heated space under glass in the Conservatory is over 7,000 square feet, making the structure an exotic escape in cooler months. Leaving the gardens, we will board our motor coach for a stopover at the Biltmore Estate Winery and the Antler Hill Village. Antler Hill Village is adjacent to the winery and we will have some time allotted there for independent exploration. This area includes numerous agricultural and historical exhibitions.

Dinner: Dinner on your own.

Evening: Evening at leisure.

Cherokee History, Basilica, Blue Ridge Parkway, Music
Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville

Activity note: Walking to Basilica is .2 mile from hotel, with some moderate inclines on sidewalks.

Breakfast: Hotel breakfast.

Morning: We'll begin our morning with a long-time resident of the Southern Appalachians who is a folksinger/folklorist for over 30 years. He'll present the Cherokee and Appalachian history and culture as it relates to Asheville and the area. Afterwards, we will leave our hotel walking to the Basilica of St. Lawrence for a docent-led field trip. The Basilica was designed by Rafael Guastavino (Valencia, Spain, 1842 – Asheville, North Carolina 1908). Rafael, being commissioned for work by George Vanderbilt on the estate, settled in the Asheville area and designed the basilica in 1905, a structure completed shortly after his death. The Basilica of St. Lawrence boasts the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America measuring a span of 58 by 82 feet.

Lunch: Lunch is on your own in downtown Asheville.

Afternoon: We'll meet up in the hotel lobby to prepare for our afternoon on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Boarding the motor coach, we'll travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway, America's longest and most narrow national park. 469 miles long. It connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. On a short stopover at the Visitor's Center, we will see a film on the history of the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The last thing we do before returning to the hotel will be to stop at one of the Parkway's overlooks to see the beauty of the mountains and learn why they are called "Blue" in the name Blue Ridge.

Dinner: At a restaurant one block from our hotel we will enjoy a plated dinner with tea, coffee and water. Other beverages will be available for purchase.

Evening: Our final session on the Southern Appalachians will be with our expert who plays several instruments, including the fretless five-string banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, Cherokee flute, rattle, and water drum, in addition to the guitar and mouth bow. He plays traditional Appalachian and Adirondack mountain music, but he often sings the traditional songs a cappella. He has performed at Carnegie Hall and has earned a reputation among folk music performers for his authentic style and traditional rhythms.

Thomas Wolfe Home, Omni Grove Park Inn
Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville

Activity note: Thomas Wolfe home is historical and does not have an elevator to the second floor. The Thomas Wolfe museum is HC accessible as is Grove Park Inn. Walking down ~15 steps to get to dinner location.

Breakfast: Hotel breakfast.

Morning: We'll start the day by boarding our motor coach for a docent-led field trip to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. "Considered by many to be one of the giants of 20th Century American Literature, Thomas Wolfe immortalized his childhood home in his epic autobiographical novel, ‘Look Homeward, Angel,’” states the museum’s website. “Wolfe’s colorful portrayal of his family, his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, and the Old Kentucky Home boarding house earned the historic Victorian home a place as one of American Literature’s most famous landmarks. Afterwards, we will make our way by motor coach to the grand Omni Grove Park Inn. This beautiful hotel has captured the hearts of many travelers that sought the peace and tranquility of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Grove Park Inn has withstood time to secure a permanent spot as a landmark in history. We will enjoy a leisurely self-exploration of the Inn's historic displays.

Lunch: Enjoy a plated lunch at the Omni Grove Park Inn with coffee, tea, and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we'll take a short walk down to the Grovewood attraction located behind the Grove Park Inn for a docent-led walk through their classic car and textile museums. Returning to our hotel, enjoy some down time and take advantage of your centrally located hotel in the heart of downtown Asheville.

Dinner: For our final evening together we will dine at a popular local restaurant downtown just steps from our hotel. We'll enjoy a wonderful plated dinner from a select menu with coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase. We will walk down a flight of approximately 15 steps to get to the street level the restaurant is on.

Evening: Upon our return to the hotel mid-evening, be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

Program Concludes

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 pm

Breakfast: Hotel breakfast.

Morning: This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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