Asheville, North Carolina is one of the best spots in the country for a weekend getaway. Between the historic hotspots, super shopping, and rocking restaurants, it’s easy to jam pack your itinerary. Asheville things to do are as bountiful as the ever-popular changing leaves in the Fall. So I’m narrowing it down a bit by sharing our “best of” Asheville activities and experiences, including places to eat, stay, and play.
Ah, Asheville…cozy mountain retreat with lots of fun activities and delicious places to eat. Leave it to me to rhyme about such an artistic city. Asheville packs a punch and offers more than most visitors have time for. So to maximize your experience, we’re sharing our favorite 10 things to do in Asheville.
10 Asheville Things to Do
1. Live the High Life
Biltmore Estate is the largest private residence in America and registered as a National Historic Landmark. Did you know: the house contains more than 11 million bricks, and the massive stone spiral staircase rises four floors and has 102 steps. Through its center hangs an iron chandelier suspended from a single point, containing 72 electric light bulbs.
Highlights include the library, kitchen, and bowling alley. Don’t miss the sensational gardens, which were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. I have a black thumb, but even I could appreciate their lushness and beauty.
One of the most popular events is the Biltmore Concert Series. This summer’s acts include Kool and the Gang and the Commodores, The Beach Boys, Newsboys with special guest Mandisa, Tony Bennett, REO Speedwagon, and the GooGoo Dolls with special guest Phillip Phillips. Ticket sales start on May 17.
And holidays at the Estate are incomparable. Candlelight Christmas Evenings and dinner packages are available.
Savings tip: Purchase your Candlelight Christmas Evenings visit by September 30, 2017 to save up to $15 per ticket on select dates. (Save $15 off Sundays – Thursdays, November 5 – 21 and November 26 – December 14, 2017; and Tuesday – Saturday, January 2-6, 2018. Save $10 on select dates Fridays & Saturdays, November 3 – 18 and December 1 – 9, 2017; and Wednesday, November 22. FYI: Candlelight Christmas Evenings is not offered on Tuesday, November 14, Thursday, November 23 or Sunday, December 24, 2017.)
Also on property, the Antler Hill Village and Winery is home to the Biltmore Winery, a farm, several restaurants, and one of the Estate resorts, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate.
2. Step back in time.
Omni Grove Park Inn dates back to 1913, and guests feel swept back into time at this
History: Four-hundred men worked 10-hour shifts six days a week. Granite boulders, some weighing as much as 10,000 pounds, were hauled by mules, wagons, and ropes to build the hotel.
Our favorite experience is the Sunday brunch at the Blue Ridge Dining Room. Any meal that starts out with a complimentary mimosa or champagne is tops in my book! Prepare to feast on comfort foods like shrimp and grits, eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy. Raw bar with shrimp, oysters and crab legs. Also boasts a carving station and omelet station. Save room for the desserts like Bananas Foster a la mode, bread pudding, and key lime pie.
You can walk the property afterwards to burn calories. Don’t miss the back porch–the mountain view is stunning. And go check out the 43,000 square foot subterranean spa.
3. Shop ’til you drop.
Downtown Asheville has some amazing shops that highlight the city’s bohemian vibe. My favorite stores include: Mast General Store; Olive and Kickin’ for olive oils and balsalmic vinegars; Honeypot Vintage Emporium; Malaprop’s Bookstore; and Desirant, a French inspired boutique.
4. Try the BBQ.
When in the Carolinas, you must have barbeque. It’s like a law or something. We loved Buxton Hall, and we’re in good company. Bon Appetit named it one of the 10 best new restaurants in America for 2016. The food is the bomb diggity. Get the hushpuppies and try the banana pudding pie.
5. Take a hike.
Asheville is nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains, so it’s surrounded by hiking spots galore. Here’s a wonderful list of hiking spots. We recommend DuPont Forest and Chimney Rock Park.
6. Grab a bite.
Nosh at some of the best fine dining around. My favorite: Cúrate.
The restaurant’s name is pronounced coo-rah-tay and means 1. cure yourself and 2. eat spanish tapas. I would say it also means 3. Dang delicious dining! Specializing in Spanish tapas, executive chef Katie Button’s pedigree is impressive: she worked at Jean Georges in New York and elBulli, Ferran Adrià’s world-renowned Spanish restaurant.
When I say this was the best meal we’ve had, I don’t mince words. Don’t worry: no calories for just looking! Best tapa by far were the shrimp and the squid/squid ink pasta. But everything we tried was delicious!
Celebrating a birthday or anniversary? Be sure to request the special dessert: a divine mixture of chocolate, raspberry, and pistachio. Sounds funky but tastes fabulous.
For lunch, try the White Duck Taco Shop. We like the River Arts District location for its artsy, casual vibe. Here’s the skinny: you can expect flavorful, fresh ingredients and an eclectic vibe. Picnic tables for outdoor seating adds to the low key, relaxed atmosphere. Jerk Chicken, Bahn Mi Style Tofu, Bangkok Shrimp are just some of the tasty offerings, which can be paired with chips and salsa 3 ways, the mint watermelon, and beer, margaritas, and sangria to wash the tacos down.
And best breakfast/brunch locations are any of these cafés: Sunny Point Café, Tupelo Honey Café and Over Easy Café.
7. Road trippin’.
“Life is a highway, I want to drive it all night long.” Or in this case, daylight is preferable to see the spectacular views. Plan your route using the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Directory and Travel Planner and then hit the road on this 469 mile long trek.
8. Make a beer run.
Take a side trip south of Asheville to Mills River for the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Do a beer tour and then stay to sample what’s on tap and enjoy the Taproom’s food offerings. The Brewhouse Tour is free, 90 minutes and concludes with a educational tasting for those 21 and up.
Other notable beer joints include: Wicked Weed Brewing, Burial Beer, Funkatorium and Wedge Brewing Company.
9. Try the chocolate.
“Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.” Unless you are getting chocolates at one of Asheville’s great chocolate stores, where you can get exactly the chocolates you want!
French Broad Chocolates and Chocolate Gems both serve up delicious morsels of cacao decadence.
10. Sleep on it.
We’ve had the good fortune to stay in Asheville at some fabulous accommodations. From hotels on the Biltmore Estate to a Parisian-inspired apartment stay, Asheville has some fun spots to sleep.
The Windsor Boutique Hotel oozes of elegance sprinkled with French whimsy.
Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate
So because we highly recommend Biltmore Estate, staying on property may be just the ticket. I’ll have to say, it sure made for a more enjoyable winery experience!
While we’ve also stayed at the Inn on Biltmore Estate and found it to be a full scale luxury hotel, I really appreciated the prime location of the Village Hotel in Antler Hill Village footsteps from the Biltmore Winery. We climbed on the shuttle transportation to and from the Biltmore House and didn’t have to touch our car again until we left.
There you have it…a Top 10 list if there ever was one for Asheville and its surroundings. Which one piques your fancy the most?