Oh Asheville. You are what weekending dreams are made of. With your easygoing vibe, artistic flair, and all encompassing beauty, in the world of ideal weekend getaways, you are pure perfection. Nestled between the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, Asheville is a cultural haven defined by its vibrant music and arts realm, delicious micro craft breweries, thriving restaurant scene, and of course the infamous Biltmore Estate. While there’s certainly enough to see, do and eat to entertain you for weeks, we found that a long weekend allowed us an adequate amount of time to soak up many of Asheville’s gems while still leaving us craving for more–this is a place that we would love to return to someday.
Here’s how to make the most of your long weekend in Asheville:
Beer lovers, rejoice! This small mountain town boasts more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city and many are centrally located in the downtown area, making it easy to visit multiple breweries without having to worry about drinking and driving. Here are two that we really enjoyed:
Wicked Weed Brewing Pub
Located in downtown Asheville, Wicked Weed Brewing Pub offers a convivial vibe with a wide variety of beers. Many of us opted for beer flights, so we could sample as many beers as possible. They specialize in hoppy ales, fermented Belgian beers, and barrel aged sours. A great brewery that is within walking distance of many downtown attractions.
Green Man Brewery
Right down the street from Wicked Weed is one of North Carolina’s original breweries, Green Man Brewery. They’ve recently built a three-story, 20,000 square foot taproom that’s adjacent to their production brewery and it’s the perfect setting to enjoy some of their iconic ales.
As America’s largest private estate, the Biltmore is exactly what you think it is: lavish, opulent, stunning, and luxurious. Each of the mansion’s rooms is more impressive than the last and the glimpse into the Vanderbuilts’ staggering wealth and splendor is mind-blowing. The perfectly manicured grounds and gardens are equally magnificent, as is their winery, which is situated in the heart of Antler Hill Village. Buy a bottle of wine along with accompaniments to enjoy outside.
Note: If you’re visiting the Biltmore on a high volume day (i.e., during a holiday weekend), purchase your tickets online to reserve your entry time ahead of time since tickets to tend to sell out. There’s a lot to see and do at this expansive property; expect to spend a full day here.
WHERE TO EAT
Luckily for us foodies, Asheville isn’t just for beer lovers. Food fanatics are flocking here too, and with very good reason. Asheville’s burgeoning food culture is exploding and is becoming more and more recognized as one of the country’s top small cities with a world-class food scene. So many fantastic restaurants, not nearly enough time…below are my picks:
Conveniently located in the heart of Asheville, Mayfel’s boasts a fun and inviting spot that’s great for brunch. Proudly touting Bringing the Bayou to Blue Ridge, Mayfel’s specializes in Louisiana-inspired fare and offers one of my favorite things on Earth: a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar! Stick-to-your-ribs comfort food reminiscent of New Orleans and DIY Bloody Mary’s?! How could that not be a winning combination?
For seasonal southern cuisine, look no further than The Junction, located in the River Arts district. We enjoyed a creative and delectable farm-to-table brunch. The service was friendly and attentive and the setting was modern and warm. Worth the five minute drive from downtown!
The Market Place Restaurant
The name of The Market Place is somewhat misleading as it denotes a sense of casualness–quite the contrary–this local and seasonal fare restaurant is a more refined white-table-cloth kind of establishment than its name may suggest. The food, service, and ambience were all excellent.
An awesome tapas restaurant in a lively and stylish setting. As with most tapas spots, Curate is the perfect choice for a group as it offers a wide variety of delicious options that appeals to most diners. Their extensive menu has something for everyone and is perfect for sharing and sampling. Curate’s central location and outstanding service round out a wonderful dining experience.
*We found flights to Charlotte to be considerably more affordable and easier (there are direct flights from D.C. to Charlotte while Asheville requires a layover) than Asheville. Since we needed a car anyway, we didn’t mind driving the two hour trip from the Charlotte airport. Of course both have their advantages and disadvantages, so pick whatever better suits your travel needs.
*If you are traveling with a group, you might want to consider renting a house outside of downtown Asheville. We rented a beautiful cabin through Carolina Mornings, a vacation rental company in Asheville. Of course, there are pros and cons with renting a house outside of the downtown area. Pros: plenty of space for everyone and stunning views of the mountains. Cons: needing to drive everywhere.
*There are few things I love more than a good bookstore/cafe. Malaprop’s is a wonderful place to stop in, peruse the aisles, and grab a coffee and locally made treat.
*Take the time to wander and explore the quirky goodness that is Asheville. You’ll be greeted by lively music and lovely artwork on nearly corner and will have no problem fulfilling your foodie and beer-loving needs.