This picturesque medieval city brims with warm character and wonderful restaurants less than 30 miles away. It is far enough away that it feels like an adventure, but close enough to visit in a day. Settle into a cafe off the main square lined by its distinctive changing balconies and order up orange juice for the kids and an aperitif the city’s signature anise liquor for mom and dad.
HISTORIC CHARM AS IT EXPANDS
Originally built between the late 1890s and early 1900s by Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted – the same architect and landscape designer Biltmore Estate owner George Vanderbilt commissioned for the family grounds – the collection of two-story English-style cottages connected by brick sidewalks now houses many independent businesses, such as Interiors of Asheville and Jazzy Giraffe; art galleries Bellagio and Bella Vista; and restaurants Rezaz Restaurant and Enoteca and Kismet Cafe.
“It really is a community of entrepreneurs,” says Stan Collins, president of Biltmore Village Association and the owner of a shop within the community, Once Upon a Time. “In every one of these cottages, the business is run by people who created it:”
For Laura and Hal Mahan, biologists and owners of The ompleat Naturalist, Biltmore Village was the only choice that made sense when they opened their store 16 years ago. The shop’s goods focus on the scientific and educational sides of nature and include geology tools, telescopes, binoculars and more.
“We chose this location for its proximity to the Biltmore Estate, which gets the largest tourist draw in Asheville,” Laura Mahan says. “But more than that, we wanted to be independent, and Biltmore Village certainly allowed that. It supports and encourages small business, which is what we wanted:”
Similar considerations led Kevin Westmoreland and his business partner, Joe Scully, to open The Corner Kitchen, a pan-American breakfast, lunch and dinner spot, in Biltmore Village five years ago.
“We like that it’s a historic district, and going into this 110-year-old building felt like recycling,” Westmoreland says. “We liked being around other locally owned small businesses.”