Romantic Long Weekend Getaway in Asheville
Food & Wine
Asheville is a great place to explore a fun culture, beautiful surroundings and unique foods during any season. It is known for its weird, eclectic vibe and is a vortex that keeps people coming back again and again. Whether you like to shop, eat, hike, be outdoors or just relax, Asheville has something for everyone. Read on to find out which places should be at the top of your list to visit when you spend three days in Asheville!
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Where to stay in Asheville, NC
Kimpton Hotel Arras
Set in a former bank building, this refined hotel boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and a Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Asheville.
$50 hotel / resort credit.
2pm late check out.
Upgrade whenever possible.
Omni Grove Park Inn
Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown, an IHG Hotel
Contemporary hotel with chic rooms in downtown Asheville.
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Day 1: Explore Downtown Asheville in Asheville, NC
You will likely arrive mid-day on your first day. You will want to take all opportunities to eat out in Asheville. There is never a shortage of great food options. Start with lunch at Salsa's or Chai Pani. Salsa's is a Mexican & Caribbean bistro that serves up large plates of authentic Latin food. Chai Pani is Indian street food and is a James Beard Foundation Award winner.
Next, I recommend exploring downtown Asheville. The walkable downtown is vibrant and full of boutique shops, restaurants, buskers and much more. Wear your walking shoes as some of the streets have hills and cobblestone paving. The center of town is Pack Square. If you stay at Kimpton Hotel Arras, you will be in the center of all the action. Grab a treat and something to sip on at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge or Asheville Chocolate.
Shopping is primarily located along Lexington Avenue, Broadway Street, and the intersecting Patton Avenue and College Street. Watch glass blowing in action at Lexington Glassworks. If you enjoy history, you might like to walk the Urban Trail as you wander around town to learn about Asheville.
Head down to the South Slope to check out the numerous craft breweries. Be sure to visit Wall Street to enjoy its unique feel and cobblestone streets. Linger and enjoy the buskers along the sidewalks, and be sure to stop by Pritchard Park to catch the Friday night drum circle which is very popular amongst locals and tourists alike. There, you can dance, people-watch or even borrow a drum and participate!
If you can't get enough of the drum circle, dine al fresco at Tupelo Honey just across the street. It is a twist on classic southern cooking, and there seems to be something on the menu for everyone. My favorite is the Pimento Cheese & Pickle Burger. If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, try dinner at Zambra. It has an underground, hidden feel and a romantic vibe. It is a great place for the adventurous foodie because there are always new menu items to try.
Another great option for dinner is Cúrate, but this one needs a reservation well in advance. James Beard Award-nominated Katie Button from Magnolia Network is the chef at this Spanish-style tapas restaurant and bar. There are so many unique and different things to try on the menu. Plan to try something new and be pleasantly surprised.
You also can't go wrong with two of my favorite restaurants, Strata Italiano and Bouchon. The Tortellini Alla Vodka at Strada is my go-to, and the Poulet Cordon Bleu or Steak Frites are my favorite French comfort dishes at Bouchon.
Before turning in for the night, stop at the hole-in-the-wall shop with fancy desserts called Old Europe Pastries.
Day 2: Visit Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC
Grab breakfast at City Bakery or The Rhu and then head over to Biltmore Estate. It would be very easy to spend the majority of a day there as it is America's largest home. A tour of the home interior takes about two hours, and the gardens could take an hour or more depending on how much you want to see. The house and gardens are often decorated for various seasons or themes depending on when you go.
After touring the house interior, there are several places to eat lunch in the estate courtyard such as the Stable Café. The property is extensive, and your ticket even includes on-site wine tasting at Antler Hill Village Winery. The grounds have paved walking paths and hiking trails throughout, and there are various other activities and tours available for an additional fee.
Make dinner reservations at Cedric's Tavern at Antler Hill Village and follow it up with some ice cream from The Creamery next door. Hike up the hill to The Inn on Biltmore Estate to watch the sunset over the mountains in one of their perfectly placed Adirondack chairs. If you choose to leave the estate before dinner, check out Biltmore Village just outside the entrance gate and grab dinner at Corner Kitchen or head over to the Omni Grove Park Inn for dinner and drinks on their spectacular sunset terrace.
Day 3: Blue Ridge Parkway and Comedy Tour in Asheville, NC
Start your day with a fancy pastry or a quiche from Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe in the Grove Arcade. A 15 minute drive from downtown is access to the Blue Ridge Parkway with an endless number of hiking trails for mountain and waterfall views. Cruise south down the parkway, roll down the windows and enjoy the fresh air.
Stop at Skinny Dip Falls at milepost 417 for an easy 1-mile out-and-back trail to waterfalls and a swimming hole. Alternatively, cruise north on the parkway to Craggy Gardens or Craggy Pinnacle at mileposts 367.6 and 364.1. Be sure to bring extra layers to stay warm at the higher elevation. Park at the picnic area to hike Craggy Gardens. It is about a 1.5 mile out-and-back trail with Rhododendron tunnels and a pavilion to reach a clearing with some look-out areas with mountain views. Craggy Pinnacle is about a 1.5 mile steeper round trip, but the mountain views are well worth the effort.
Upon returning to Asheville, grab lunch at the renowned Buxton Hall Barbecue.
Book a LaZoom Comedy Tour for the afternoon to round out the quintessential Asheville experience. This tour hits the highlights of everything that is funny and weird about Asheville all while riding on a big purple school bus around town with a craft beer in your hand.
Before leaving town, grab some treats to bring home at Morsel Cookie Company. Swing by the double-decker red bus-turned coffee shop called Double D's Coffee & Desserts to pick up a coffee to-go, and hit the road. You will leave town feeling like there is still so much more you could do in Asheville, but you'll be back... blame it on the Vortex.
Looking to maximize your trip to North Carolina? Check out my guide to the Quaint Little Mountain Town of Highlands, NC.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out this guide by Fora Advisor Carleigh Tully: Local's Guide to Hotels & Restaurants in Charleston.
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