Travel Guide

President Obama's Asheville Vacation Itinerary

Vacation Like a President

Presidential Motorcade

Plan a getaway worthy of the leader of the free world. Here's the inside scoop on President Obama's Asheville vacation.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle became honorary Ashevillians during a romantic spring getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their vacation itinerary was filled with Asheville hallmarks: natural adventures, rich history, scenic beauty, farm fresh cuisine and rejuvenation.

This wasn't the President's first visit to Asheville. Prior to their arrival, the White House issued the following statement: “The president first visited the Asheville area during the campaign, and he liked it so much that he vowed to take his family there. The president and first lady are planning to spend a quiet weekend enjoying some of the many things this beautiful part of the country has to offer.”

And, they did…

  • Day One

    Obama Tastes Asheville's BBQ

    Video shot by Pattiy Torno, Curve Studio, River Arts District

    After a grand entrance via Air Force One to the Asheville Regional Airport, the Obama motorcade surprised everyone by making a bee-line to Asheville's famous 12 Bones Smokehouse for lunch.

    A laid-back BBQ joint in Asheville's River Arts District, 12 Bones is a local favorite known for creative flavors like chipotle-blueberry ribs. Apparently, 12 Bones is an Obama favorite, as well…

    The President tasted their famous barbecue back in 2008 on the campaign trail and seemed eager to share this delicious dive with his wife. The couple joked with customers and staff as they ordered ribs, mac-n-cheese, greens, baked beans, corn bread and 12 Bones' addicting corn pudding.

    Asheville's River Arts District

    12 Bones is located in Asheville's colorful River Arts District along the French Broad River, where surviving structures from Asheville's industrial age provide a haven for hundreds of artists from potters to painters to glassblowers to sculptors.

    Music venues, eateries and even a micro-brewery have moved in amongst the artist studios to make this warehouse district an ideal place to stroll through studios and get a sense for Asheville's bohemian spirit.

    Obama Checks into Historic Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa

    The Obamas checked-in to historic Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, which is no ordinary hotel. Built in 1913 from granite boulders hewn from Sunset Mountain, Obama is the tenth U.S. president to soak in the resort's sweeping mountain views and bask in the glow of the inn's massive 14-foot fireplaces.

    The Obamas are in good company at Grove Park; throughout its history the majestic inn has hosted a long line of American luminaries including George Gershwin, Thomas Edison and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    President Obama Hikes the Blue Ridge Mountains

    The Obamas hike along the Blue Ridge ParkwayThe Obamas hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway

    Making the most of the daylight, the Obamas hit the trail for a hour-long hike on the Mountains-to-Sea trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Craven Gap (milepost 377.4). With mountain views and wildflowers blooming, the couple reconnected with nature (and surprised some unsuspecting hikers) as they took a scenic jaunt on a lush mountain trail.

    President Obama has Dinner in a Foodtopian Society

    Obamas at The Grove Park Inn Resort and SpaThe Obamas and the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa's culinary team

    Back at the Grove Park Inn, the President squeezed in a round of golf before a lavish dinner at Sunset Terrace, so named for its westward views of Asheville's downtown skyline and surrounding mountains.

    The culinary team at Grove Park Inn pulled out all the stops with dishes that showcased the best of Asheville's local, sustainable, farm-fresh epicurean culture. A true farm-to-table meal, ingredients were sourced directly from area farms and tailgate markets.

    The Presidential menu featured artisan goat cheese from Three Graces Dairy, bacon from Hickory Nut Gap Meats, micro-greens from Jolly Farms, veggies from Carolina Organic Farms, smoked mountain trout from Sunburst Trout Farm, and an array of jams and local honey from the WNC Farmer's Market.

  • Day Two

    President Obama Golfs and Relaxes in Asheville

    On day two of their romantic getaway, the Obamas made ample use of Grove Park's rolling Donald Ross-designed golf course and sports complex. While the President hit the links with some close friends, the First Lady had a tennis lesson at the Grove Park Inn Sports Complex.

    It is also rumored that the President played some basketball before joining his wife at The Spa, a 43,000 square-foot subterranean facility complete with mineral pools, massaging waterfall pools, sauna, exhilarating hot-cold plunge pools and an eucalyptus-infused steam room. The Spa at Grove Park is ranked thirteenth in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine.

    President Obama Visits Biltmore House

    The BiltmoreThe Biltmore

    After a rejuvenating day of play and relaxation, the First Couple got a private tour of Asheville's most famous historic attraction, Biltmore, the largest private residence in America. Amidst a world-renowned art collection including Napoleon's chess set, President Obama took particular interest in an old globe from the late 1800s in George W. Vanderbilt's library.

    The Obamas marveled at the majestic view from the logia at Biltmore, an expansive back porch with views of rolling fields, a lagoon, layers of purple mountains and the peak of Mount Pisgah in the distance.

    The President Dines in Biltmore Village

    The Obama's stopped for dinner at one of Asheville's original farm-to-table eateries, Corner Kitchen, located just outside of Biltmore's gates in Historic Biltmore Village. In season, chef Joe Scully and chef de cuisine Josh Weeks regularly feature ingredients from their own farms and gardens.

    The President and First Lady enjoyed corn and crab chowder with fresh cilantro and corn-fried oysters with arugula, tomatoes and mustard drizzle, and the presidential sweet tooth was satisfied with peanut butter banana soufflé with chocolate and white sauce, and forest berry sorbet from Asheville's Ultimate Ice Cream (known for slow food ice cream flavors using local ingredients).

    Tree-lined streets and historic architecture make Biltmore Village a romantic spot to stroll in and out of galleries, boutiques and independent eateries. Designed in the 1890s, the historic community is full of history including the Cathedral of All Souls Church where George W. Vanderbilt's only daughter Cornelia was married.

    Asheville Creates a Beer for Obama

    Home to more micro-breweries per capita than any city in the nation and known as Beer City USA, it wouldn't be an Asheville vacation without a sudsy sample from the one of local watering holes.

    Brewer Mike Rangal at Asheville Brewing Company took the President's impending visit to heart with a limited edition President's Spring Break Ale. Reportedly, the secret service was sent to investigate.

  • Day Three

    To wrap up their weekend of relaxation, the Obamas had a delectable Sunday Brunch delivered to their suite at Grove Park Inn.

    Before leaving town, the President paid a visit to Reverend Billy Graham, spiritual advisor to numerous past presidents, at his home just outside of Asheville near Black Mountain. The charming town of Black Mountain is a “main street town” where you can visit crafters and talk to locals in a charming setting known as the front porch of Western North Carolina.

    President Obama Leaves Asheville

    Asheville would like to think that President Obama had a spring in his step and a romantic glow as he waved goodbye to his spring getaway destination.