Asheville, North Carolina holds a special place in my heart because it’s where Gerald and I got engaged — but even if that hadn’t happened on our recent trip, I’d still love the city and highly recommend it for a visit. We’re trying to start a tradition where we go on a long weekend trip in the fall to a city that neither of us have ever been to, or somewhere we haven’t been since we were children. Last year, it was Savannah, GA, and we were contemplating Charleston, NC for this trip, until a friend who had grown up in Asheville suggested we head there instead.
After looking up plane tickets, we decided we’d take a road trip instead (it’s about seven hours from DC but since I have a bladder that’s the size of an infant it took us around nine…sorry babe!) The drive is actually gorgeous — through the Shenandoah Mountains and Cherokee National Forest — and even though it wasn’t peak foliage when we drove down, it was still beautiful. To break up the drive on the way home, we made a pit stop four hours away in Lexington, VA for the night, which was a nice way to squeeze some extra time out of the trip.
Without further with adieu, read on for where to stay, drink, eat, and what to do in the land of breweries and the Biltmore.
Aloft Asheville Downtown: this is where we stayed (and ultimately where Gerald proposed!) and we loved everything about it. I’m a big fan of boutique hotels and this one checked everything off my list. The property is pet-friendly and they even sponsor a foster dog, like come on. Aside from the fun decor, there’s a beautiful pool patio, a bar that has live music, and it’s situated smack dab in all the action. We were able to walk to all of the breweries we wanted to check out in less than eight minutes.
Hotel Indigo: this was our second choice, and it’s also a boutique hotel, but a bit further away from the downtown area than we wanted. Gerald’s family has stayed here and it came highly recommended, but we opted for walkability. Still definitely worth checking out!
Grove Park Inn: first off, this is an Omni Hotel, so you know it’s going to be good. Second, it’s literally like something out of a fairy tale. I didn’t know it even existed until my dad got us a celebratory dinner there (more on that later), but a few of my colleagues have stayed here and loved it. Do yourself a favor and Google it, the view is insane.
The Biltmore Estate: I know, I know, the tickets are pricey, but I promise it is worth every single penny. The Biltmore is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my life. The historic mansion was built in 1889 and officially opened in 1895. The amount of detail that went into this project is absolutely insane — I’m not even a designer but I was freaking out. While the historic section is unbelievable, skip out on the wine tasting at the estate winery that comes with your ticket — your time is better spent exploring breweries downtown. (PS. these photos were taken in the gardens!)
Hike Looking Glass Rock: this was a bit of a fail on our part (and actually where Gerald was planning on proposing), because we counted on having cell phone service in the mountains to find the trail opening. Do your research before, fam. We missed the entrance to this trail RIGHT at the bottom of the mountain and couldn’t find it and were pretty bummed. However, the falls we did see in the Piscah National Forest were beautiful! The trip is about 45 minutes away from downtown Asheville, so make sure to do your homework if you’re planning on going out there!
Catch a Show at The Orange Peel: this music venue reminded me a bit of the 9:30 Club, but without the second level. We caught a Chris Knight show for a mere $25 a ticket, and it had the intimate vibe that we love so much about the 9:30 Club, not to mention a great craft beer list! If you’re into live music, it’s definitely worth checking out for a fun night out.
Get Drinks at the Grove Park: we’re suckers for a piano bar, so after having dinner at the Inn we headed to the amazing outdoor patio (it looks straight out into the mountains) while we waited for the dueling piano show to start. Even if piano bars aren’t your thing, the view from the patio is worth it to make the seven minute Uber ride up to the hotel.
Asheville Brewing Company: pizza and craft beer pitchers — you can’t ask for more. The pizza slices here are HUGE, and delicious. The brewery has a massive outdoor patio and we loved sharing a pitcher while
dog people watching. Not to mention, we got an app, a pitcher, and basically two pizzas for $45 — Toto, we’re not in DC anymore.
City Bakery: usually, I make a point to not visit the same place twice in a trip, but this bakery was so good (and right across from our hotel) that we ended up grabbing breakfast there two mornings in a row. They have some amazing breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast — all on homemade bread —, and a huge selection of pastries at extremely fair prices.
Farm Burger: well, this nearly broke my heart when I went on the website to link it and found out this was a chain, but whatever. I’m a vegetarian, but I’m always down to go to a burger joint that has solid french fries and a decent salad. The salad I got at this spot was on par with what I get at vegetarian spots and the fries were everything I wanted. Gerald got a burger that looked freaking amazing and was sustainably sourced which is always something that makes me happy as a veg.
Green Man Brewing: I can’t really put my finger on why, but this was my favorite spot we went in Asheville. I think it was a combination of their innovative IPAs, spot-on branding, and super nice bartender, and I would go back in a heartbeat. We hung out on their second-story patio and loved being able to take in the mountain views while trying their different beers.
Wicked Weed: this is probably the brewery you’re most familiar with in Asheville and it’s definitely worth going to the source. They have a fun fire pit, brewpub fare, and of course — delicious beer.
Burial Brewing: this spot is small and off the beaten path, but has some top-notch brews. I had a coconut IPA and it was insanely delicious! Super casual vibe, great prices, and it had an amazing looking BBQ food truck around the back of the brewery.
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