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.
Eating in Asheville
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.
Biscuit Head– With two locations in Asheville, biscuits are the main draw for breakfast and lunch, topped with fried chicken, homemade jam, poached eggs, and everything in between.
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.
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.
Tupelo Honey Cafe– The original Asheville breakfast spot, this popular regional chain is sure to have a wait most times of year. But it’s worth it for the fried egg BLTs, biscuits, and fried green tomatoes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drinking in Asheville
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.
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.
Battery Park Book Exchange– What’s better than books and champagne? Browse the thousands of editions on the shelves with a glass in hand.
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.
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.
Trade and Lore– Grab a jolt at this trendy downtown coffee shop. It has both indoor and outdoor seating and is popular with the coworking crowd.
Relaxing, Beauty and Fitness in Asheville
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.
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.
Shoji Spa & Lodge– Indulge in hot pools overlooking the forest, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The spa also features inn rooms if you want to stay longer.
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.
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! Sign up for your Guided Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour in Asheville in advance.
Shopping in Asheville
Browse the shops downtown and find something to wear for your night out. You’ll find both big box stores and unique, local stores.
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
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.
Minx Boutique– Vintage-inspired women’s clothing and accessories makes Minx a favorite of shoppers. The upstairs section sells home decor and gift items.
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.
Sightseeing in Asheville
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.
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.
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.
Sleeping in Asheville
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 Residences at Biltmore.
Grand Bohemian Hotel– Located in Biltmore Village, this Kessler Collection hotel is decked out in artwork and brightly colored furnishings. It has a fine dining restaurant and a spa but is also close to a number of restaurants and Biltmore Estate.
The Foundry Hotel– Asheville’s newest boutique hotel is a part of Hilton’s Curio Collection and has modern amenities like free WiFi, coffee makers, flat screen televisions, and mini fridges. Suites are also available and rooms have either city or mountain views.
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.
Rentals– 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. This tiny house in Arden is just one of the fun places to stay. Get a discount on Airbnb for your first stay by using our link!
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Arin Hazeres says
Hey! We are heading to Asheville for a girl’s day Friday. We are trying to find a resonable spa treatment. Grove Park Inn is way over budget but the Japanese one seemed pretty good. Have you been for the soak and massage? The internet had mixed reviews for this place. Thanks.
Caroline Eubanks says
Yes I went to Shoji earlier this year and loved it!