I was thinking the other day — you know, James and I travel a lot for work, and we’re always looking for things to do when we’re in a new city. So, why not blog about the things we find?
Over the past couple years, we’ve fallen in love with a handful of cities — places we want to keep coming back to again and again. Asheville, NC is one of those gems.
We’ve only been there three times now, but I want to tell you all about our favorite things to do in Asheville, that way when you plan a trip (which you totally should!!) you’ll have some ideas to get you started.
(If you’re also an Asheville lover, then comment below with your favorite thing to do!!)
When I think of Asheville, I think…
- Freakin’ AMAZING food
- Eco-friendly (see picture below)
Our favorite places to eat:
Anytime we’re planning to go to Asheville, we immediately start salivating. The food here is just INCREDIBLE. You’d never guess how many delectable and ethnic restaurants dot the city! Here are a few of our favorites:
- Tupelo Honey. If you haven’t eaten here, this is a MUST — and something Asheville is known for! My hubs and I actually visited a Tupelo Honey in Nashville, and were blown away by the food — let alone the 700-degree Himalayan sea salt bricks brought to our table on which we cooked our filet minion appetizer!! Guess what? The original Tupelo Honey is right in downtown Asheville!! (There are now a handful of these restaurants in different parts of the country…along with tempting cookbooks!)
- Chorizo‘s counterparts. During our first trip to Asheville, we had some of the most incredible Latin food we’ve ever tasted! (And my hubs traveled around South America for a year…I’ve stayed with host families in Costa Rica & eaten street food in Mexico…So I’m just saying, this was GOOD.) We haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since that trip a year and a half ago!! Sad news though: Chorizo’s closed down … apparently due to a staff member leaving the gas stove on overnight and the landlord kicking the restaurant out. *gasp* Yeah, scary. So until they reopen, which supposedly they plan on doing, we’ll have to suffice with other options. We learned that the same owner also runs Modesto (more Italian fare I believe; though the Yelp reviews aren’t nearly as good) and Bomba’s (casual fare; great reviews on Yelp – our go-to app when traveling), but we haven’t tried either of these yet.
- French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Oh. My. Word. We go here every time. They serve fabulous truffles, hot chocolates, coffee, and gelato. Great place to sit and work, or take it to go and walk around downtown.
- Salsa’s. This is a more casual dining experience with outdoor seating and DELICIOUS Mexican food.
- Sovereign Remedies. This farm-to-table(?) restaurant made with local ingredients is simply fabulous for weekend brunch. I got the Basic Breakfast while hubs got the Carnitas Fry — best bacon & pork we’d ever had in our lives! Also super cute ambiance & excellent, friendly service – not just from our waiter either! PLUS, they make a homemade spicy ginger beer (non-alcoholic) that my hubs just LOVES.
- Green Sage Cafe. Not only is it a certified green restaurant, but it’s also a great place to park yourself and work for awhile online — especially if you’re gluten-free and looking for delicious, healthy lunch & breakfast options!
- The Hop. Super creative, weird ice cream flavors that actually taste good! (James got blueberry kale ice cream.) A creative vibe too with lots of seating (and it seems like a popular teen hangout).
- Cúrate. This tapas bar is well-known in Asheville, although more on the expensive side. We haven’t been here yet, but have heard great things!
- Nine Mile. My hubs went to this Jamaican place and said it was so unique and incredibly good. He had ginger chicken on a bed of tortellini & nachos…and loved every bite. I’ll have to try it next time!
There are SO MANY MORE great food places though!! The food is one of the first things we start thinking about when we know we’re going to Asheville. There are tons of vegan & gluten free options as well (heaven for GF people like me).
Where we like to stay…
Even after all this talk about food — and our excitement at trying new restaurants each time we’re in town — James and I are all about saving money where we can. So honestly, we’ll often eat lunch out and buy salad stuff at Trader Joe’s to eat on our own for dinner. When we have a fridge anyway. Which brings us to lodging…
We’re huge fans of AirBNBs!! Hotels are fine and there are plenty of those (and some cool-looking hostels) in Asheville, but personally, we think there are just so many great AirBNB options in Asheville — many of which come with kitchens! We also went camping at a KAO during one trip to Asheville, which was a ton of fun.
What we like to do…
There are so, so, so many things to do in Asheville, and we’ve only gotten to explore a few!! Here are some we’ve loved:
- Drive & hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can easily hop on the parkway just outside of Asheville and take it in either direction. We found that driving into the Pisgah National Forest was simply breathtaking. There are also about 400 miles of trails, and we loved hiking along some of the ridges that followed the road. Note: Sections of the road can be closed seasonally. There’s an interactive map where you can see road closures.
- Hike to Triple Falls in Dupont Forest. This is a beautiful, moderate (for people like us, anyway) hike that takes you past waterfall after waterfall. My favorite part was the colors in the rocks!!
- Off the Wagon Dueling Piano Bar. Oh my word. This was SO FUN. You’re seated at long tables full of strangers, and the people we sat next to were so kind. We had great fun with them! Plus the dueling pianists were incredibly talented, played requests, and got the crowd involved. Plus, the drinks are cheap ($4 draft beers & $8 delicious martinis). PLUS, one of the staff members brings his parrot and you can pay $5 for a few pictures with the parrot!! (Which we totally did.) Note: Some nights they have a cover charge. Other note: I believe the Omni Grove Park Inn also has a dueling piano night, which looks really cool!
- Kress Emporium. This is really fun to browse – like a huge, all-year art fair, with little spaces from different artists. We found a gorgeous bowl here which gets rave reviews from all our dinner guests.
- Malaprop Book Store & Coffee Shop. This book store is adorable and so fun to browse. Plus they have cute little giveaways and a coffee shop that’s highly rated on Yelp.
- Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar. We didn’t get to visit this place yet, but it looks SO cute. It’s a book store, but with a champagne bar! Next time.
- Simply walking around downtown. Asheville is just so cute & colorful, with eye candy everywhere you look! We love shopping here and have gotten some fun Christmas gifts (and clothing for yours truly) in the different boutiques.
- YMCA Classes. I know this is super random, but we like to stay active while on the road. Because we’re YMCA members back home, we can visit the downtown Asheville Y up to 12 times a year at no charge! And they have FABULOUS classes. It’s a hopping place. We’ve done the “Functional Strength” and “Tabata” classes, which draw so many guys & girls, they’re almost too full! Great workouts too & the people are so friendly & invite us to join them for outings.
- Drum Circle on Fridays. Apparently there’s a huge drum circle that starts around 5 on Friday nights and goes until 9 or 10pm (on nice evenings in winter and most Fridays in summer, is my understanding). It’s right in downtown (can’t remember exactly where), and is a whole bunch of people from all walks of life who bring their drums & dance. Sounds awesome! We want to check it out one of these times.
- Biking along the river. We rented bikes at the Asheville Outdoor Center & took them along the beautiful French Broad River Park trails. (Of course we stopped regularly for pictures. This is us we’re talking about.)
- The Biltmore Estate is also a HUGE attraction here! We haven’t gone yet simply because…well…I’m cheap in some ways and just don’t want to pay to walk through someone else’s house. But one of these days, we may do it anyway. We keep hearing it’s more than worth it.
Where we like to park in downtown…
- Depending on what time of year you visit, street parking isn’t too hard to find, and it’s only $1.25 an hour (typically pay by phone or with quarters). But check the times before paying. We found many of the meters were enforced until 6pm each day, but were free after 6!
- We also have parked in the Civic Center Garage. We went there on a Saturday, and it had the first hour free, followed by $1.00 an hour after, up to $10.00 a day. Because we were downtown just under 4 hours, it only cost us $3.
- That being said, if you’ll be there most of the day, there are some church lots just off the beaten path in downtown (including Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church & First Presbyterian Church – if I’m remembering correctly) that offer $5.00/day parking (cash only). We’ve parked in these church lots when we plan to be downtown for the majority of the day, since it seems to offer the best deal.
I love getting to share one of my favorite US cities with you all, and I hope you fall in love with it as much as we have! Comment below YOUR favorite places to eat and things to do in Asheville so James & I can try them out next time we’re in town!