Traveler: Danielle Gervalis
When: July 2018
Overall Experience: Asheville, North Carolina is a funky town nestled in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a perfect mini city to experience the creature comforts of a downtown area with lots of restaurant options, expert and unique breweries and pristine outdoor recreational areas.
Welcome to Asheville!
Logistics: Sometimes it helps to randomly check Kayak for flight prices. I was sipping a happy hour rosé at Tyber Creek when I saw weekend, direct, round trip flights to Asheville, North Carolina were $100! I immediately booked it via Allegiant Air and all that was left to do was to find a reasonable Airbnb.
Let me tell you, they are a dime a dozen in Asheville! I found a large quiet space in West Asheville, walking distance to a few bars and restaurants for $120 a night. They are everywhere in the city so you should have no issues finding a place which meets your needs.
Things to Do in Asheville and Surrounding Area
Hiking at Pisgah National Forest
Just a scenic 40 minute drive from downtown Asheville is Pisgah National Forest with numerous hiking trails, several of which lead to picturesque vistas. We tackled the 5.5 mile Looking Glass Rock Trail loop. It’s a dog friendly, heavily shaded hike making it enjoyable even in the summer heat. Just follow the yellow rectangles until you get to the peak! Once there, you’ll find a steep bald rock face with 180 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you stick to the top, you can sit in the sun and enjoy a snack while reveling in your hike accomplishment! Here’s the breakdown on what to expect during your trek to the peak:
Mile 0-1 – Leisurely trail
Mile 1-2 – A little more of an incline, starting the switch backs
Mile 2-3 – Strenuous! Watch out for tree roots and rocks to climb over. You’ll reach a large clearing and then start a short decline path to the rock face.
Views from the Top
Next up, head to the Looking Glass Waterfall
and cool off in the frigid pools at the base. It’s a popular spot due to its proximity to the road, viewing point and easy steps to get down to the water. There aren’t convenient parking spaces, so as soon as you see a line of cars, just park behind the last one. I loved hanging out here, wading in the water and sitting on the rocks admiring the massive falls and the roaring noise of the water.
Looking Glass Falls
The creme de la creme of sprawling mansions, Biltmore Estate does not disappoint. It was finished in 1895 as a 250 room home for George Vanderbilt’s family. It was opened to the public in 1930 as a way to increase tourism in the area and raise money to maintain the estate.
The ticket price includes a self guided tour to the Gardens, Mansion, Antler Hill Village and a wine tasting! Ticket prices range from $55-$85 depending on the day of your visit, with weekends being more expensive. You can save $10 on the steep ticket price by reserving at least seven days in advance.
Welcome to Biltmore!
This is a wonderful place to spend a weekend. The mountain views are incredible, it’s no wonder the family treasured their time here. The mansion tour is extensive and while there is no air conditioning it’s still fun to look around.
The gardens are impressive. We got very lucky and ended up visiting during a Chihuly exhibit. The wine tasting is the cherry on top! You can sample over 10 different wines in the artsy tasting room.
Wine Tasting Room
Additionally, there is a brewery, multiple restaurants, stores, ice cream shop, live music and a farm where you can pet goats! There is something for everyone here.
You can’t visit Asheville and not check out their famous brewery scene! Even if you aren’t a beer drinker, the atmosphere at these places is relaxed and welcoming and most feature great artwork!
Catawba Brewing Co
Located in the South Slope neighborhood, Catawba Brewing Co
. started as a Christmas Gift brewing kit in the early 90s and has since expanded to multiple locations throughout North Carolina. Their tasting room in Asheville has tons of space and TVs so it’s perfect for large groups and sports fans! They have a wide selection of beers that run $9-$10 a flight. Best of all, the art work on their cans is hysterical, particularly the King Don and Hooligan.
Wicked Weed’s – Funktorium
Also located in South Slope, Wicked Weed’s Funktorium
is dedicated to sour and funky beer. They have some of the most incredibly fragrant beers I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. As far as taste goes, I enjoyed the Uncle Rico on a hot summer day. Finally, the Funktorium has an a great patio that is dog friendly where you can enjoy your tasty beverages.
Green Man Brewery
The Green Man Brewery
opened their Green Mansion Brewtique in 2016 and was the most architectural modern brew pub we visited during our trip to Ashville. It’s one of the city’s oldest breweries and this location has a bar on the third floor which overlooks their production room and the mountains!
The Legendary Green Man
Possibly the most divey of the breweries I visited, Burial
has a to die for outdoor area, the BEST MURAL of all time, and some serious beer and food chops. Their menu is designed by James Beard Nominee (like the Oscars for food), Brian Canipelli. Additionally their cans and t-shirts feature some bad ass artwork. Two thumbs up for this brewery!
The BEST mural of all time!
My favorite brewery in all of Asheville, Bhramari
is the word for black bees and the Hindu Goddess of Bees. The best beer I tried was the Painted Fortune, which is made with sweet corn! While there is a huge outside deck, I recommend heading to the bar inside to check out, once again, the art!. I was blown away by the talented artists in this city! It’s absolutely fantastic, it’s like drinking in a museum.
Artwork at the brewery
Places to Eat
There really is nothing like a tasty biscuit in the morning. Biscuit Head
has a cult following in the city and there is often a line out the building at ALL of their locations. However, you can call in an order (you really only need 1 dish of gravy, they are generous portions) and skip the line to pick up your breakfast!
Ben’s Tune Up
Not only a great stop for lunch, Ben’s Tune Up
has an eccentric beer garden, restaurant and a beer and sake brewery. They had multiple tasty flavors of home-made sake on tap. My favorite was the strawberry, it was a perfect summer treat. The beer garden has a dreamy feel maintained by some talented gardeners.
Located in downtown Asheville, this cocktail bar and restaurant
has the best shrimp and grits of all time! I enjoyed the pleasant ambiance sitting in the window and people watching. Most of the entres run between $20-$30 and they also have medium plates for smaller appetites.
My favorite restaurant in Asheville, Zambra
celebrates their Morrocan-Spanish influences with killer design and comfortable furniture. They serve farm to table small plates so you can try lots of different dishes.