From Biltmore to the Forests: Your Guide to the Serafina Experience
Plan an escape that will bring the best-selling novel series to life
In the cavernous basement of the Biltmore Estate and in the magical forests surrounding Asheville is a mythical protagonist, 12-year-old Serafina, who has captivated the attention of the nation’s readers. The first chronicle of her daring quest to solve mysteries, Serafina and the Black Cloak, has enjoyed an extended stay atop the New York Times Bestsellers list.
While Serafina’s story is a figment of Asheville author Robert Beatty’s imagination, the setting for her adventures is very real. As Beatty prepares for the first public release of his newest novel, Serafina and the Twisted Staff, you can walk in Serafina’s footsteps to truly bring her story to life.
Watch the trailer for Serafina and the Twisted Staff:
The Grand Bohemian Hotel, (you’ll spot the lobby and ballroom in the book’s video trailer at 0:29 and 0:41), wants to serve as your home base and is offering a special Serafina-themed travel package. That package includes accommodations, breakfast, and several of the experiences we detail below. Check into your room, then stop by the Asheville Visitor Center to pick up the “Serafina Adventure Map” and bring along these suggestions to guide you on your very own Serafina exploration.
Right at Home
A natural start to a Serafina itinerary is her home: the historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville. As the largest privately-owned house in the United States, Biltmore offers more than 8,000 acres to explore. Roam the elegant halls and gardens on your own or take a specialty tour that will give you a behind-the-scenes immersion in the history of the Vanderbilt family’s way of life, and even into Serafina’s basement abode.
Beatty’s novel is set in 1899, just four years after builders completed construction of Biltmore. At that time, the estate encompassed 120,000 acres, including the land that would later become the Pisgah National Forest. Take to those woods like Serafina. To the north explore favorite sunset spot, Craggy Gardens, or the fragrant balsam forests of Mt. Mitchell State Park where you’ll the highest peaks in the east. To the south, you’ll encounter the thundering waterfalls of DuPont State Forest, featured prominently in the book trailer’s waterfall scenes.
The Animal Instinct
Mountain lions, owls and other animals native to western North Carolina are among the key characters throughout Serafina’s tale. Come face-to-face with these wonders of the wild at the Western North Carolina Nature Center. Or, have a personalized hands-on experience with falcons and other birds of prey with the expert guides at Curtis Wright Outfitters.
A Unique Flavor
The Hop ice cream shop in Asheville has developed a cool new flavor to capture the essence of the story. Try “Serafina Dark Forest,” a dark cherry base swirled with house-made cherry preserves, whipped cream and flecks of hardening chocolate.
In downtown Asheville, you can devour a savory crepe at author Robert Beatty’s favorite eatery, Twisted Crepe. It’s directly across the street from Malaprop’s, a cozy independent bookstore that is another of Beatty’s favorite spots. There, you can pick up a copy of his newest novel and dive into the next chapter of Serafina’s tale while sipping a coffee in the bookstore’s café.
Malaprop’s will host a book signing on July 31, just one of several Asheville-area book launch events. The party gets started on Saturday, July 9 at the Barnes & Noble at Asheville Mall. A tea party, live animals, a costume contest, and special giveaways will lead up to midnight book sales – two days before Serafina and the Twisted Staff is available nationwide.
Photos by Destinee Blau