The mountains are calling and you and your girlfriends must go! Asheville, North Carolina is a quirky town tucked into the valley between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Pisgah National Forest. Perhaps the most notable reason visitors flock here is for Biltmore Estate, the nation’s largest private home, but the craft beer industry is quickly becoming a secondary reason. Independent breweries pop up regularly and major companies have opened East Coast operations here, including New Belgium and Oskar Blues. This itinerary is best suited for travelers who have been to Asheville before but want a relaxed experience with their friends.
The restaurants include international flavors as well as Southern favorites. You might be surprised to find some of the country’s best chefs in this town. The hippie town even has vegetarian and vegan establishments.
Sunny Point Cafe– It’s not uncommon for this West Asheville restaurant to have a wait as soon as they’ve opened. They’re open all day, but it’s weekends for brunch that is the full experience. Grab a breakfast burrito or the organic carrot hot cakes.
Early Girl Eatery– They pride themselves on the farm-to-table experience at Early Girl, which makes a mean breakfast, which is served all day. For the decadent, go with the biscuits and gravy, but for the light, there’s the vegan tofu scramble.
Tupelo Honey Cafe– While there are now locations throughout the South, this is where it all began. The shrimp and grits are tasty, but be sure to try one of their biscuits with a mimosa on the side.
Lucky Otter– Funky burritos and strong margaritas are the main draw to this West Asheville establishment. Fillings include jerk chicken, satay tofu and pulled pork, depending on your preferences.
White Duck Taco Shop– A similar restaurant is White Duck, which makes unique tacos in the River Arts District. Selections include banh mi tofu, Korean beef bulgogi, and buffalo chicken.
Universal Joint– Sit outside here for the best people watching in the neighborhood. The draft beer list is full of local and regional selections and the burgers are hearty. They have non-meat options as well.
Cúrate– Gather the girls together for a trip to Spain, or as close as you’ll get in Asheville. Share some tapas, like the albondigas and patatas bravas, and indulge in a bottle (or two!) of their Spanish wine.
Laughing Seed Cafe– You might not even know that what you’re eating is meat-free at this Asheville staple, which has been open for over twenty years. They use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Try the beet tartare or the harmony bowl.
Chai Pani– Indian street food finds a home in the comfortable restaurant setting downtown. Choose from traditional thalis or modern interpretations like masala fries. Specialty cocktails are also inspired by the subcontinent.
Beer is the name of the game in Asheville, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find other options if it’s not your thing. Asheville also boasts wineries and distilleries as well as cocktail bars.
Highland Brewing Company– Influenced by the Scottish Highlands, this brewery is tucked into the mountains outside of Asheville. Enjoy samples from the taproom or go on the full tour.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge– Get your sweet fix in just about any form at this dessert spot. Close out the night with a coffee or hot chocolate.
Battery Park Book Exchange– What’s better than books and champagne? Browse the thousands of editions on the shelves with a glass in hand.
High Five Coffee Bar– When you need a jolt, visit this coffee shop, which sells North Carolina’s own Counter Culture coffee.
Asheville Distilling Company– Do you require something stronger? Troy and Sons is run by one of the few female moonshine distillers in the world. Visit the tasting room, next to highland, for samples.
Relaxing, Beauty and Fitness
Pamper yourself in between breweries and hikes while in Asheville. There are plenty of yoga studios that offer drop in rates and one of the top spas in the country.
The Spa at the Grove Park Inn– The world-class spa is something you can experience even if you’re not a guest. The Spa at the Grove Park Inn boasts 43,000 square feet of amenities and treatment rooms. Complimentary lockers hold your electronics as they are not allowed within the spa.
Asheville Salt Cave– Seek out the city’s most unique treatment, a salt cave used to treat a variety of ailments. It’s not like your average spa, as you can do it in normal clothing. Treatments last 45 minutes.
Asheville Yoga Center– The yoga studio that teaches countless instructors also offers drop-in classes for only $8, which is perfect for visitors. There’s a class for every skill level.
Wai Mauna Asheville SUP– Head down the French Broad River by renting a stand-up paddleboard. Rentals cost $35 and include gear, transportation, and a brief lesson. You can even paddle to a brewery!
Nourish & Flourish– Wellness is key at this spiritual center and juice bar. You can take classes on mindfulness and other aspects of positive living.
Browse the shops downtown and find something to wear for your night out. You’ll find both big box stores and unique, local stores.
Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe– Independent bookstores are hard to find and this one is the best around. Browse the selections and check out their regular author events and signings.
Grove Arcade– Developed by E.W. Grove, the man behind the Grove Park Inn, the Grove Arcade is the city’s oldest shopping plaza. Peruse the art galleries, clothing stores and flower shops inside
River Arts District– Businesses in a formerly industrial area have banded together to form the River Arts District, which has shops, galleries, restaurants and breweries along the French Broad River. Over 165 artists work in the repurposed buildings. You can check out their regular art walks through the district.
J Crew Outlet– Outside of town, you’ll find the J Crew outlet, which has shelves and sometimes boxes, of discounted apparel for men, women, and children. You might even find a wedding dress!
Minx Boutique– Vintage-inspired women’s clothing and accessories makes Minx a favorite of shoppers. The upstairs section sells home decor and gift items.
Asheville doesn’t have as many traditional tourist attractions as other cities, but there is plenty to see and do during a weekend visit.
Asheville Art Museum– In case of a rainy day visit, head indoors to the local art museum, which features a collection of American art, including paintings, sculpture, and more.
Biltmore Estate– Easily the top attraction in Asheville, the Biltmore Estate was the home of the esteemed Vanderbilt family. Admission includes entry into the winery, where you can get free tastings.
The North Carolina Arboretum– Admire the natural scenery at the state arboretum, which is more than just gardens. It also boasts walking trails, bike paths, and artwork along the way.
Blue Ridge Parkway– One of the most scenic drives in the country goes through Asheville, so spend a few hours driving its winding paths through the mountains.
There’s no shortage of places to sleep around town, but you’ll want somewhere with all the amenities and proximity to restaurants. Below are just a few that we recommend.
The Omni Grove Park Inn– Asheville’s most famous hotel is atop the hill, dating back over 100 years. You can get rooms in both the old section of the hotel and the newly remodeled section.
Biltmore Estate– The property has three different accommodation options, ranging from the moderate Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate to the expensive Inn on Biltmore Estate and the Cottage on Biltmore Estate.
Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown– While it is a chain, each Indigo is different. This one is inspired by the mountain vistas and is conveniently located within walking distance of all downtown has to offer.
Asheville Glamping– For a unique stay, opt for glamping, which might include sharing a yurt, permanent tent, geometric dome, or an Airstream trailer. Each has their own bathroom facilities.
AirBnB– You can also rent out a house to share amongst yourselves for a more local experience. There are rental options around downtown and in the surrounding suburbs. Get a discount on your first stay by using our link!
All photos property of the author unless otherwise credited.