Category Archives: North Carolina

Christmas in Charlotte, North Carolina: What to See and Do During the Holidays

Charlotte, North Carolina, is a welcoming city with a plethora of activities especially during the holiday season. Here are my picks for the best things to during Christmas in Charlotte.

 

  1. Christmas in CharlotteStroll through Charlotte Christmas Village, a European-inspired Christmas Village CharlotteChristmas Market located in Romare Bearden Park. You’ll find an array of vendors selling crafts, clothing, jewelry, and other gifts for everyone on your holiday list. While shopping, you can nibble on German glazed nuts and sip mulled wine, cider, beer, wine, or the traditional drink called Glühwein. Hungry? There’s a variety of foods available, but I highly recommend a German bratwurst or knockwurst, with or without sauerkraut. For dessert, head on over to Helmut’s to savor an Austrian strudel. Whether you choose apple, cherry, cheese, or apricot and almond, you’ll be in holiday heaven! Admission to the village is free, and this little piece of Europe in North Carolina is open from just before Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve Day. For more information, head on over to their website.

 

  1. Christmas in CharlotteSee the lights at “Holidays at the Garden” in the Daniel Stowe Botanical GardensChristmas Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens.   Located just 30 miles outside of Charlotte, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens puts on a dazzling display that’s fun for the entire family. Stroll through the gardens to see over 600,000 holiday lights.   Be sure to check out the conservatory to see towering fanciful seasonal displays, tropical plants, beautiful orchids, and a fairy village.   Inside, marvel at the huge white orchid Christmas tree and the model train displays. Children will enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride and a variety of activities scattered throughout the gardens.   Holidays at the Garden runs from mid-November to New Year’s Eve. For exact details, visit their website.

Christmas in Charlotte

  1. Take a spin around the ice rink at the annual “Holiday on Ice” rink located on the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza.

 

  1. See a Singing Christmas Tree in an hour-long presentation put on by the Carolina Voice Choir and other local singing, dancing, and puppet groups.

 

  1. Check out Christmas Town USA which features over 375 trees, 200 wreaths, and a 46 foot image of Old Man Winter blowing snowflakes. The town of McAdenville has been attracting visitors to its holiday displays for over 60 years!

 

  1. Sing along to holiday songs with animatronic bears at Founders Hall in the Bank of America Corporate Center. The 45 minute performances are free and run every hour on the hour.

 

 

Locations for Christmas in Charlotte

Click on the name to get specific driving directions.

 

Charlotte Christmas Village is located at Romare Bearden Park at 300 South Mint Street in Charlotte.

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens are located at 6500 S New Hope Rd in Belmont.

Hoilday on Ice is located at 400 East Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard in Charlotte.

Founders Hall is located at 100 N Tryon St in Charlotte.

 

 

Latta Plantation: Early Americana and 300 Years of Christmas

Latta PlantationLatta Plantation is a historic home and living history site located Latta Plantationapproximately 30 minutes outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Guides and re-enactors portray life in the Carolinas from 1800-1865. The site features a Federal style house, built in 1800, a detached kitchen, a farm with animals, a slave cabin, a log cabin, and several other outbuildings.

Latta PlantationWe visited during their annual “100 Years of Christmas” event. The house andLatta Plantation Christmas its outbuildings are decorated for the holidays, and costumed interpreters are on hand to demonstrate historical crafts. Each building is decorated in a holiday style specific to a different time period in history, including the Colonial times, the Victorian Era, and the Regency Period, and rooms contains placards explaining period holiday traditions. Re-enactors from local Colonial militias and civil war companies are encamped onsite in order to show you what life was like for a soldier or camp follower. You’ll also be able to peruse the booths of local craftspeople and vendors. I particularly enjoyed the wares from a Scottish trader from who I purchased some scones and decorations for my UK-themed Christmas tree.

 

Latta Planation is located at 5225 Sample Rd, in Huntersville, North Carolina.  Click on the map below for specific driving directions.

Latta PlantationLatta Plantation

Christmas at the North Carolina Arboretum: Winter Lights!

Christmas at the North Carolina ArboretumIf you love Christmas as much as I do and are in the Asheville area during theChristmas at the North Carolina Arboretum holidays, you and your family will love seeing Christmas at the North Carolina Arboretum.  It’s called Winter Lights, and you don’t want to miss it!

Bundle up and head to the arboretum, located just 20 minutes outside Asheville, to wander through an amazing display of over 500,000 holiday lights scattered throughout the gardens. Enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, cider, or beer, while you walk through this outdoor winter wonderland. I particularly Christmas at the North Carolina Arboretumenjoyed the enormous Christmas tree and light display that dancesChristmas at the North Carolina Arboretum to holiday music, while my fiancé showed off his skills at playing the whimsical games of snowflake tic tac toe and wreath Simon. Where else can you do that?!? If you’re vising on a Friday or Saturday night, consider taking a Winter Holiday Lights Tour. A trolley will pick you up and drop you off at a specific location in Asheville or Hendersonville. Upon arrival at the gardens, you’ll Christmas at the North Carolina Arboretumreceive a complimentary cup of hot cocoa to enjoy as you see the Christmas at the North Carolina Arboretumlights. Admission is included. For more information see the botanical gardens’ website.

 

Christmas at the North Carolina Arboretum: Winter Holiday Lights is held in the evening from mid November to the end of December. Check out their website for exact details and to purchase tickets.

 

The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way in Asheville, North Carolina.  Click on the map below to get specific driving directions.

 

Pair a night at Christmas at the North Carolina Arboretum with a day trip to Christmas at Biltmore.  For more, see my blog post “The Biltmore Estate: How to See It at Christmas and All Year Long”.

Christmas at the North Carolina ArboretumChristmas at the North Carolina Arboretum

 

 

The Biltmore Estate: How to See It at Christmas and All Year Long

Ever since I was young and my mother and I watched the TV special “Christmas at Biltmore”, I’ve wanted to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. As an early gift for my birthday, my fiancé surprised me with a trip to Christmas at Biltmore.  In this blog post, I’ll fill you in on how to get the most out of your time at the Biltmore Estate during the holidays and the remainder of the year

Christmas at the Biltmore Estate

Christmastime is a truly magical time of the year to visit the Biltmore Estate, and you must experience it at least once in your Biltmore Estatelifetime. During the day, the house is decked out with more than 55 Christmas trees decorated in the Victorian tradition and with evergreen wreaths and garlands, incredible floral displays in the conservatory, and a gingerbread house in the main kitchen.   At night, you can visit the Biltmore Estate for a Candlelight Christmas Evening.   Upon enteringBiltmore Estate the gates, you’ll be confronted by an enormous Norway spruce covered in giant white snowflakes and glittering lights.  Make your way towards the mansion on pathways lined with holiday luminaries. Inside, you’ll find each room aglow with candles, roaring fireplaces, Christmas trees, and early 20th century lighting.  To add to the holiday spirit, a choir in the Winter Garden and musicians scattered throughout the house perform holiday classics for your enjoyment.

Biltmore EstateIf you’re planning on experiencing Christmas at the Biltmore Estate, I have three pieces of advice for you. First, you need to book as early as possible. Dates sell out quickly.  We visited the day after Thanksgiving, and my fiancé booked in April!  Second, I highly recommend going to a Candlelight Christmas Evening Tour. There are a great deal less people at nighttime, so you’ll get to enjoy your time and see all of the details in each Biltmore Estateroom.   Third, you may want to consider seeing the mansion both during the day at night. If you wish to do so, book the Candlelight Christmas Evening Tour, and during checkout, you can upgrade your ticket to allow you to see the house during the day as well, at significant savings. Christmas at Biltmore and the Candlelight Christmas Evenings run from the beginning of November through early January. Check their website for exact dates.

 

Tips for Seeing the Biltmore Estate All Year Long:

 

  1. It takes a while to actually get to the mansion, so arrive at the main gate with at least 45 minutes early. There’s a significant drive from the main gate to the parking lot.  From the parking lot you have to wait for, board, and take a shuttle to the house. If you miss the entry time on your ticket, they may not be able to accommodate you.

 

  1. Book your tickets for an early morning entry time. The crowds arrive in the late morning and early afternoon, so you’ll want to get there early.

 

  1. Purchase tickets and an audio guide online at their website. You’ll save time by not having to wait in line, and the audio guide will enrich your experience by providing information about the history of the house, its decoration and contents, and life on the estate.

  1. See the mansion first and then tour the gardens and the conservatory. The gardens are truly amazing, but even if you visit in winter, the huge conservatory is alive with magnificent tropical plants, it’s specially decorated for the holiday season. Don’t miss the gardener’s store located on the lower level (down the steps) behind the conservatory.

 

  1. Check out the wonderful gift shops located inside the former stables.   You’ll have an array of shops to choose from including a Christmas store, candy shop, gift shop, bookstore, and toy shop. Each have their own array of goodies, so be sure to leave time to check them all out.

 

  1. There are many options for dining on the Biltmore Estate, but I recommend eating at the Courtyard Market.  Right in the middle of the former stable compound is an outdoor (but covered and heated) café. We found the food there to the yummiest and cheapest. We enjoyed a Bavarian pretzel and German knockworst and brawtwurst. However, there are also other travel options including a full service restaurant, bakery and sandwich shop, and ice cream shop.

 

  1. If you’re so inclined, the Biltmore Estate also features a winery in Antler Village.  There’s more information about the winery and Antler Village on their website.

 

Add-Ons to Your Visit to the Biltmore Estate

 

  1. Stay in the nearby city of Asheville which is full of quirky shops to explore and a plethora of restaurants to dine in. While in Asheville, check out:
  • Loft of Asheville – a quirky gift shop where you’ll find unique and hilarious items that you never even knew existed!
  • Perfect Gifts – another gift store full of fun products and cards for all occasions
  • Old Europe Pastries – a cafe featuring coffee and gourmet European pastries that taste as good as they look!
  • Rhubarb – a farm to table restaurant featuring a variety of small plates and larger dishes; reservations recommended
  • Pack’s Tavern – a modern tavern serving a wide variety of dishes – We enjoyed an amazing Thanksgiving buffet dinner there!

 

  1. Explore the shops in Biltmore Village. Located just outside the main gate of the estate, the village was designed by the same architects as the mansion and built as a place where estate workers could live with their families. It originally included rental cottages, a post office, shops, a school, a doctor’s office, and a church. Today, Biltmore Village features shops and restaurants for both tourists and locals to peruse.

 

  1. Visit the North Carolina Arboretum, and if you’re in the area during the holidays, experience their Winter Lights outdoor holiday light display!  See my blog post: “Christmas at the North Carolina Arboretum: Winter Lights!”.

 

Locations of the Biltmore Estate and Add-Ons:

 

  • The Biltmore Estate is located at 1 Lodge St. in Asheville.  Click on the map below for specific driving directions.
  • Loft of Asheville is located at 53 Broadway Street in Asheville.
  • Perfect Gifts is located at 8 Biltmore Ave in Asheville.
  • Old Europe Pastries is located at 13 Broadway Street in Asheville.
  • Pack’s Tavern is located at 20 South Spruce St in Asheville.
  • Rhubarb is located at 7 Southwest Pack Square in Asheville.
  • The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way in Asheville.