North America

The Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but after 7.5 years as a family, we finally took our first family vacation! While we’ve traveled often, it’s always been with friends and family members. We had never taken an out-of-state trip just the three of us, so this was pretty special.

We picked Asheville as our destination since it’s close enough that we could drive, and we’d never been to North Carolina, so we’d get to mark a new state off our list! Asheville is full of fun things to do and see. Over our short, three-night trip we could never cover them all, but we picked our top favorites and managed to do nearly all of them.

We woke up early Wednesday morning to get on the road. The drive to Asheville would take us five hours, plus we’d lose an hour entering eastern time, so we wanted to get going as soon as we could. We only made one stop for lunch at Cracker Barrel (because where else would we stop on a road trip?) and then drove straight to the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville.

The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

I’m normally not a big fan of zoos or anywhere that holds animals captive, but Lexie loves seeing animals and it was only $20 for all of us to go, so we went.

The Western North Carolina Nature Center is fairly small since it only houses animals that are native to the region. They have a petting area and lots of animal habitats for reptiles, otters, bears, wolves, and other animals. The only ones we missed getting to see were the red wolves because they had that area closed off for the day.

Lexie’s favorite part was the petting area. (Don’t worry – we were careful around the donkeys.)

The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

It was mating season, so we got to see a lot of that going on – ha! Lexie caught a pair of wolves in the act. We just told her they were “wrestling”.

The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

We also got to see an otter show. That part was my favorite – those little guys are so playful!

They’d swim right up to the window of the tank and look at us. Their trainer would throw grapes into the water and they’d go nuts trying to catch the grapes and eat them. I wish I had a better camera so I could have caught more cute moments.

The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

Apparently, even the peacocks in Asheville are environmentally-conscious. This guy was such a show-off, strutting around like he owned the place. (He was the only one uncaged, so I suppose that contributed to his ego.) I’m glad he kept his feathers out long enough for me to catch a pretty good picture.

The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

After we left the Western North Carolina Nature Center, we drove to our hotel and got settled in. We decided to stay at SpringHill Suites because it was newly renovated and only two miles from downtown. Because Cory has done so much traveling lately for work, we were actually able to stay all three nights for free (minus a $12.50 fee) using reward points.

When we arrived, I was excited to see the hotel looked exactly like the pictures I had found online. Our room was comfortable and plenty large for the three of us. They also served a free buffet breakfast every morning – me and Lexie’s favorite.

The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

We were pretty hungry, so as soon as we got settled in, we left for downtown Asheville which was only about five minutes from our hotel. We were getting down there pretty late, so most of the shops were already closing. I still managed to look through a couple stores for something unique to add to our travel collection. With a town as charming and eclectic as Asheville, unique isn’t hard to find.

One of my good friends from high school, Christina, lives in Asheville now, so her family met us for dinner at Asheville Pizza & Brewery downtown. The kids had a blast playing outside while we ate on the patio. It was the only day of our vacation where it was warm enough to do that, so I’m glad we took advantage of it.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel – we would be leaving early to see the Biltmore Mansion the next morning!

Western North Carolina Nature Center: Website
Address: 75 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28805

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The Western North Carolina Nature Center In Asheville

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  • Hannah
    March 31, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    This looks like so much fun! Otters are Stuart’s favorite animals.

  • Laura Starnes
    March 30, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    Have fun in Asheville! So glad you are blogging now! I LOVE it!!