According to many Asheville residents, the best place to propose marriage is about a mile above the trees, with mountains in the background and a good grip on the ring. Such engagement flights might even lead to a midair wedding party comprising four colorful balloons all tethered together as they ferry well-wishers through the clouds. When the baskets touch down, a traditional champagne toast pays homage to the journey and the bond shared by its passengers.
Asheville Hot Air Balloons' pilots also helm more casual sunrise flights seven days a week. Each expedition takes them over Pisgah National Forest according to the whims of the breeze and the severity of the moon's allergies. The wind's unpredictable path ensures that the last leg of the trip is always exhilarating—"chasers" must tail and land the balloon in the nearest suitable space by securing ropes thrown from its basket. Spring, summer, and fall flights all arrest riders with their own brands of scenery, from woodland greenery to fiery tableaus of autumn leaves.
More than 500 feet in the air, a climber pauses atop Looking Glass Rock, taking in the scenic views of North Carolina that stretch for miles in every direction. The AMGA-certified guides at Appalachian Mountain Institute aim to help climbers reach these elevated vantage points. Their guided trips range from beginner lessons to more advanced multipitch climbing, which exercises techniques that can be used to scale the peaks of Table Rock. As winter brings colder weather and more embarrassing pajamas, ice climbing beckons groups to tackle vertical flows of ice.
AMI also sponsors the Adventure for Kids Program, an outreach initiative designed to take local kids climbing. Additionally, they lead camps for teenagers and retreats that fuse climbing with yoga.:m]]
Tropical Gardens Miniature Golf strips away the cartoonish aspects of the game found on many courses, instead situating its 18 putting greens amid a diverse landscape of ponds and blooming floras. As a waterfall trickles nearby, a flamboyance of fake flamingos perches under the shade of a tree, silently observing golfers' mannerisms to use in their upcoming novel. Aside from navigating the miniature fairways, players can swing at baseballs in the batting cages or reunite quarters with their captive brethren in the video arcade.
Cinebarre merges the excitement of moviegoing with the satisfaction of a full stomach, with the full-service restaurant and bar’s menu of hearty American favorites complementing a lineup of new releases. Moviegoers settle into plush seats or sprawl out in spacious aisles in front of the big screen while chowing down on mounds of fries ($6) or sextets of fried green tomatoes dunked in ranch ($7). Homemade pizza dough showcases pepperoni, canadian bacon, and sausage in the Bull Durham pie ($12.50), or a hearty Blue Velvet burger ($11) packs a half-pound Angus beef patty beneath layers of buffalo hot sauce, blue cheese, and smoky chipotle mayo. As they enjoy current offerings such as The Grey and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, patrons can cast new orders—such as for a slice of cheesecake ($6) or a glass of sauvignon blanc ($7)—by scribbling their comestible choice across an order form or a companion’s forehead, then waiting for a waiter to deliver it to their seats.
Bob Plyler holds the distinction of the first hunter to earn the NRA's Triple Distinguished Expert award, a commendation recognizing proficiency in pistol, rifle, and shotgun shooting. At Acumen Arms, Bob combines this award-winning expertise with an instructional certification from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and his experience as a Vietnam veteran. This echoing expanse of knowledge comes in handy when he teaches classes that range from basic marksmanship to concealed-carry qualification. Bob takes an especial interest in tactical training, operating a partner business called Acumen Arms Tactical Academy where he and his fellow instructors teach skills such as shooting with your nondominant hand while patting your head at the same time. As an avid outdoorsman, he also tailors services for hunters, including sport shooting, clinics in turkey and whitetail-deer hunting, and guided hunts on controlled preserves for deer and game birds using trained dogs.
The idea for an annual barbecue expo began slow-cooking in 2010 at a family lunch. The Boyds thought about organizing a little barbecue competition and ended up luring 8,500 barbecue enthusiasts to their "small" cook-off and fundraiser. Now in its third year, the charitable event continues to develop flavor and raise money for local schools while packing bellies with some of the area's best barbecue recipes.
With napkins in hand, attendees can follow the smoky scents and sounds of sauce-splattered high-fives from the tents of a variety of vendors. Ten teams of grilling gurus face off in a whole-hog cook-off, with the winners earning a cash prize and a spot in the state championship later this year. A new Chick-fil-A sauce competition sifts through the day's top toppings until a winner is crowned. Between bites, guests can also savor the festival's many attractions, including a police dog demonstration, a petting zoo, and a BMX bike show, where riders wow onlookers by performing tricks and bunny-hopping over smokers.