Asheville is much more than your typical mountain town. Sure, it may look like those out west, tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, and may also have some of the hippie tendencies, but also has the unique Southern hospitality.
In recent years it has become known as “Beer City USA” for the booming craft beer industry. New breweries are popping up regularly. The city is also known for Biltmore Estate, the largest private home in America, where the Vanderbilts once spent their summers.
What to Do
Biltmore Estate– Easily the top attraction in Asheville, the Biltmore Estate was the home of the esteemed Vanderbilt family. While admission can be a bit steep, it gains you entrance into the sprawling manor and most of its rooms, the gardens, and a free wine tasting at the Biltmore Winery, which can’t be missed. You can easily spend the entire day walking the grounds, shopping and grabbing a bite to eat at Antler Hill Village and going for a horse ride. 1 Lodge Street
Basilica of Saint Lawrence– You don’t expect to find a historic basilica in downtown Asheville, but St. Lawrence is just that. Built in 1905 and named a minor basilica in 1993 by Pope John Paul II, the church is a place of worship for the city’s Catholic community. It reportedly has the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America. 97 Haywood Street
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. Riverside Drive
Grove Arcade– Developed by E.W. Grove, the man behind the Grove Park Inn, the Grove Arcade is the city’s oldest shopping plaza. Built in 1929, it served as the commercial hub for the city before the government took it over during World War II. Today, you can peruse the art galleries, clothing stores, and flower shops inside. 1 Page Avenue
LaZoom– Asheville is no ordinary city, so it’s fitting that there are not ordinary tours. On the City Comedy Bus Tour, you’ll ride around on a purple school bus touring the city while also enjoying a live comedy show from the crazy cast of characters. 90 Biltmore Avenue
Zipline adventures– Navitat is just one of the companies near Asheville that has zip lines and ropes courses for team building and family fun.
Kayaking and paddleboarding- Spend time on the French Broad River that runs through town. There are a number of outfitters. Book your French Broad River Kayak Tour or Half-Day Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour through Biltmore Estate before you go.
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.
Breweries- You’re never far from a craft brewery, especially in the River Arts District. But if you’re going to more than one, go with a tour to avoid driving. AVL Beer Bus Tour is one of the operators.
Where to Eat
Table Asheville– Jacob Sessoms, the chef who’s New American style has become a staple in Asheville’s ever-changing food scene has created something truly special at Table. The name comes from the, in Chef’s words, overused phrase “farm to table.” Although perhaps stereotypical in use, Table truly exhibits the principles of farm to table produce. Sessoms sources every ingredient from a friend or acquaintance. The entire menu is a rolling based seasonal affair. 48 College Street, (828) 254-8980
Tupelo Honey Cafe– While Tupelo Honey has recently expanded to locations throughout the South, the downtown Asheville location is the first and, undoubtedly, the best. Everything is made from scratch, from the sweet potato pancakes and fluffy biscuits to the “Moonswine Mary” moonshine Bloody Mary cocktail. 12 College Street, 828-255-4863
Sunny Point Cafe– If locals had to pick one favorite brunch spot in town, it may just be West Asheville’s Sunny Point. You’ll have to wait for a table at any time of day, but if it’s nice outside, you can sit on the patio. Items like the Mighty Good Breakfast, Huevos Rancheros and French Toast keep people coming back for more. 626 Haywood Road, (828) 252-0055
White Duck Taco Shop– White Duck is to tacos as Lucky Otter is to burritos. Located in the River Arts District, this unassuming spot offers cheap and unusual tacos, so order at least two. The jerk chicken and banh mi tofu have great flavor, so pair them with a half pint of local beer. 1 Roberts Street, Suite 101, (828) 258-1660
Biscuit Head– This popular breakfast restaurant has a few locations in town serving their delicious and flaky biscuits, which can be topped with items from their “jam bar.” They even have vegetarian options. 733 Haywood Road, (828) 333-5145
Cúrate– Perhaps the best restaurant in Asheville, this eatery serves Spanish-style tapas including Iberico ham, paired with an all-Spanish wine list. Make a reservation if you want to dine here! 13 Biltmore Avenue, (828) 239-2946
Where to Stay
Omni Grove Park Inn– This property is one of Asheville’s oldest and most beloved hotels, once hosting legends like Dwight Eisenhower and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It has multiple restaurants and an award-winning spa. They also host the annual Gingerbread House competition. 290 Macon Avenue
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. 11 Boston Way
The Inn on Biltmore Estate– This is one of Biltmore’s onsite accommodations offering rooms with balconies overlooking the grounds. They also offer free WiFi, a fine dining restaurant and bar, a spa, and an outdoor pool. 1 Antler Hill Road
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. 51 S Market Street
Camping- If you’re looking to camp in a tent or RV, there are sites nearby in Pisgah National Forest.