Asheville was high on our must-visit list. Breweries? Check. Hiking? Check. Beautiful small town, gorgeous homes and great food? Triple check. We used Southwest points to book flights to Charlotte, Chase Sapphire points to rent a car and drove the quick one-hour drive to Asheville. (Many people choose to drive from the Mid-Atlantic, but hours in a car isn’t our idea of a vacation.)
We stayed in a really cute Airbnb in West Asheville. (First time Airbnb booking? Get $40 off your first stay if you click here!) The owner was really nice and teaches Spanish, which I loved hearing her speak from the screened in porch above us. It was a great price and really nice, but I would only recommend it if you have a car. (If you don’t stay in West Asheville, I recommend still spending a little time there. There are some beautiful murals, cute shops and great restaurants.)
Day 1: Exploring downtown Asheville
After the drive to Asheville, we were ready to take on the food scene. We started at White Duck Taco Shop, which came recommended by many people. It’s a pretty small space but there’s outdoor seating in the back. The tacos were good, but not the best I’ve had.
Asheville is known for its beers, so we hit the first brewery, One World. It’s in the basement and kind of grungy, but had good beers and the bartender was really nice. We drove to West Asheville to check in and get ready for dinner. The weather was perfect, so we went to Skybar to have a drink while the sun set. The views over the mountains were really gorgeous.
On Friday nights, downtown comes alive with an energetic drum circle. When I heard about it, I thought it sounded a little cheesy, but when you’re there and everyone is dancing, singing and just enjoying the night, I couldn’t help but dance a little. Dinner at Rhubarb and a quick dessert stop at French Broad Chocolate Lounge ended the perfect first day in Asheville.
Day 2: Hiking Asheville
Two things to know: 1. Most of Asheville’s really good hiking trails are are at least 45 minutes from downtown and 2. Steve and I hate driving places when we’re on vacation. We didn’t know how far the trails were and were a little bummed, but we picked the closest one that had good reviews, Catawba Falls in the Pisgah National Forest. We grabbed breakfast and caffeinated at a really cute coffee shop, Ultra Coffeebar, on the way and drove 45 minutes to the trail. (Quick facts: There’s a small parking lot, a bathroom and it’s only about a 2-mile loop.) It was a beautiful day for a quick hike like this.
After hiking, we were ready to take on more Asheville food, so we went to the very enthusiastically recommended Taco Billy in West Asheville. I loved the San Cris tacos with crispy pork and the space itself is highly Insta-worthy.
Since Asheville has so many breweries, we knew we had some ground to cover. We hit Wicked Weed and Green Man (I personally preferred Green Man because it was a little more modern and clean) before dinner at The Market Place (which was okay — I wouldn’t really recommend it), which is on the cutest street. Make sure to check out the shops around it!
Day 3: Blue Ridge Parkway and amazing tapas
We set out on Sunday to do another hike but decided to just drive a little along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We also stopped in a really cute town, Black Mountain, on the way back. (The mountain views were basically surrounding us everywhere we went.) We did a quick walk around the Botanical Gardens once we got back to Asheville and, of course, all of that scenery made us thirsty, so we hit our fourth brewery, Catawba. (This was my personal favorite because there were two bulldogs and I was obsessed.)
Vinegar-based barbecue is famous in Asheville, so we hit Buxton Hall for our fix. It’s a really beautiful space with an awesome sauce bar. I’m pretty sure it Steve’s happiest moment of the trip — in between breweries.
We went to another brewery, Hi-Wire, before taking a brewery break to walk around downtown. We found Chicken Alley, which has an awesome mural and a gruesome history. (Yeah, it’s where they killed chickens — and reportedly, people.)
We also walked through Grove Arcade, Woolworth Walk and all of the little shops in between. Shopping obviously worked up an appetite for more beer, so we went to Burial Beer Co., which was Steve’s favorite. (Don’t miss the random mural of Tom Selleck and Sloth. Confused? Let them explain.)
We walked through the River Arts District, a stretch of artists’ studios that are open to the public, before dinner at Curate, the famous tapas bar. I love tapas, so I really, really enjoyed this dinner and highly recommend it.
Day 4: Biscuithead and touring Biltmore
We saved the best for last. Biscuithead was by far the most recommended place to eat, but lines are crazy on weekends. We saved it for Monday morning and only had to wait about 15 minutes. We were treated to the hottest, fluffiest biscuits and an entire toppings bar. I’m not sure that I have the patience to wait an hour for anything, but I might for these biscuits.
Full and happy, we drove to Biltmore Estate for our last day in Asheville. The 8,000 acre home is America’s largest private residence, built by the Vanderbilts and tucked away in the mountains. It feels very European and is absolutely worth the trip. I’ll let the pictures do the talking for this one.
I don’t normally like paying for museums and things like this — I’ll just walk around outside — but I actually think Biltmore is completely worth the price. It’s so stunning and wild to think that people actually lived there.
- Know that the amazing hikes aren’t super close to Asheville. If you want to hike (or are staying outside of downtown), plan to rent a car.
- Eat the tacos. Eat all of the tacos. And eat everything else in between brewery stops.
- Check out all of the murals. There are so many and it’s fun to try to find them.
- Splurge for Biltmore! It’s worth it.
Would I go back?
Yes! Asheville is so beautiful and a quick flight from Baltimore. It’s an easy 3- or 4-day weekend full of good food, drinks and sights. (Carolina barbecue is my favorite, too.)
Have you been to Asheville? What are your must-see and must-do tips?