Is Asheville, North Carolina Worth Visiting? (Find Out Why It Is!)

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Looking for great reasons to visit Asheville, North Carolina?

The first main stop on our little southeast road trip was Asheville, North Carolina.  It was also pretty much the only place we definitely knew we were going, but we didn’t know how long we would actually be there.  

It turned out to be two days and that’s just not enough, especially when it’s pouring rain one of the days. That said, I still loved it there and think you should probably visit soon, too. 

And don’t worry, it’s an easy weekend trip from Raleigh (just four hours) if that’s where you’ll be and you’ve got a couple days to spare.

Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
America the Beautiful – The national park pass is essential. – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
Enterprise – This is my rental car recommendation.
See all my resources here.

Reasons to visit Asheville

There are so many reason to visit Asheville, North Carolina. It’s one of my favorite cities and even the area I want to end up eventually.

It’s home to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore Estate, the French Broad River, breweries, a booming art scene, and so much more.

It has amazing food, awesome hiking, the Blue Ridge Parkway, a great art scene, and so much more you’ll find out below!

It’s got an awesome downtown

It’s not even that intimidating.  It has the feel of a big city downtown, but it’s not quite as overwhelming.  It still has big buildings, but less traffic.  Cute shops, but not so many, or any that I saw, chain stores.

I’m sure they exist, but I didn’t see anywhere we were.  There are great restaurants, like really good, and they are all within walking distance of each other and the shops.  It’s just an awesome downtown to wander around for a day.

Tips for visiting downtown Asheville:

  • There is parking along the streets, but we parked in the Civic Center parking garage and the Rankin Street parking garage.  Rankin street is cheaper and right across the street.
  • The majority of the downtown area we explored was right in the area of these two parking garages.  They are pretty centrally located.
  • On weekends in the fall it is going to be way crazier than during the week, so I would advise a weekday visit if possible.  All those leaf chasers are in town on the weekends.
  • Definitely go Asheville Bee Charmer to get awesome honey and Malaprops!

The River Arts District is 10/10

The River Arts District is just a short drive from downtown and has a brewery and is a great place to get to know the local art scene.

There are tons of galleries and studios/shops all within walking distance of each other right along the river (hence the name).

A loot of the studios are open for you to walk through and see the artist at work and also buy their work, which I think is so fun!

Next time I go I said I want to just have a giant budget to buy all the things just in the River Arts District.

They have a hostel

We didn’t stay there.  We didn’t know it existed until our last night.  AND it’s right downtown.  Like, right there, as in right across from the parking garage we used and next to an awesome coffee shop, High Five.  

It’s just down the hill from the bookstore and up the hill from delicious food and more coffee. It’s a really great location.

I would definitely consider staying here the next time I visit for two reasons: I’ve only stayed in one in the US and would like to see more and it’s convenience to everything I want to do in Asheville.  

Sweet Peas Hostel is $32 for a dorm, $40 for a pod, $75 for a private room, and $105 for a studio. Not bad for where it is!

The food is wonderful

I think I liked everything I ate here.  Like, really liked it.  Except for the first place, but it still wasn’t bad.  I tried fried okra for the first time (middle picture below) and it was delicious.  

I had the best bacon at Over Easy.  Old Europe has the best Americano’s.  It’s not food, but that’s fine. Tupelo Honey was just the best.  There was a lot I wanted to try there, but I can only eat so much at once.  

We wanted to try Biscuit Head for breakfast but that was the day it was pouring and there was a huge line outside and of course, we didn’t have an umbrella.  

I just wanted to eat everything in Asheville and I made a small dent, but I’ve got a ways to go. Both downtown Asheville and West Ashevile have tons of great options.

Where to eat in Asheville:

These are just a few of the restaurants in Asheville we went to on our first trip but I can’t remember any we went to on our second trip.

  • Tupelo Honey (we ate here, it’s fantastic)
  • Over Easy Cafe (we had breakfast here both days, it’s wonderful)
    • Stop by Old Europe for coffee if you have to wait!
  • Green Sage Cafe
  • Biscuit Head

You can go on a blind date with a book

How cool is that?  Malaprops Bookstore has a section of books that are wrapped up and have short descriptions like outrageous, romantic, or nature strikes back.

This way you don’t judge the book by the cover and you’ll get something you’ve probably never heard of.  And I say probably because I picked a book about nature striking back because it sounded awesome.

I opened it at the hotel and it was Into Thin Air, which I’ve already read.  I thought that was pretty funny how it worked out.  

Thankfully if you’ve already read it you can return it for a different book.  I did that and got Kraken on my second try.  I haven’t read it yet, but I look forward to it!

They have delicious fancy local sodas

I’m actually drinking the lavender lemon from Waynesville Soda Jerks as I write this!  The first I had was the Apple Rosemary at Tupelo Honey and it was so good I had to try more!  

That didn’t happen but we did make it to the bottling location where they have a little store attached.  It’s a little pricey, but it’s totally worth it and fun to try!

Where to buy Waynesville Soda Jerks in Asheville:

  • The Rhu
  • Soda Jerks bottling location in Waynesville outside of Asheville
  • Tupelo Honey has them on offer with dinner

It’s perfect in the fall

There’s a reason it’s so busy in October.  This is one of the best places to see fall foliage in the US.  It did rain all day one day, but the temperatures were ideal, usually in the high 50’s or 60’s.

It was the perfect escape from the Florida heat and humidity and I finally got to wear a jacket without overheating.  While it may get crazy on the weekend, it is an awesome time to visit. Fall is my favorite reason to visit Asheville.

Tips for visiting Asheville in the fall:

  • Go during the week.  It’s way slower than weekends.
  • If you’re on a budget, stay outside of downtown (or in the hostel) as it’s going to be less.  We stayed in Asheville West.  It was fine.  Easy to get downtown from there and it was I think $70ish a night compared to $150+ downtown.
  • If you want to stay downtown, book ahead.
  • If you do go on the weekends, you’ll need to book ahead, like probably more than three weeks ahead.
  • Take a drive on the Blueridge Parkway, especially if you’re going to Shenandoah or Great Smoky Mountains.
  • Get to breakfast early.  We went between 10 and 11 and had to wait at least 30 minutes, which wasn’t bad with coffee nearby.
  • If you plan on seeing a lot of waterfalls definitely do this during the week or expect to have to walk a mile just to get to the trailhead from parking.
looking glass falls asheville

It has great hiking

I absolutely love hiking in Asheville. There are tons of trails for all skill levels and the Mountains to Sea Trail even passes through the area.

Whether you want to hike in the city, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or just out in the mountains, there are dozens of trails to choose from, even more if you drive a little further. Here are just a few Asheville trails:

And the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best scenic drives in the US and part of it passes right by Asheville. Even if you’re not driving all 469 miles of the parkway, seeing at least part of it here is worth it.

There are some hikes along the parkway and tons of amazing overlooks around here that you don’t even need to hike to!

And SO many waterfalls

In the greater Asheville area and surround towns you’ll find hundreds of waterfalls. In neighboring Transylvania county alone there are more than 250 waterfalls while there are 350ish in the whole state.

I love hiking to all the waterfalls and while I likely won’t see them all, I’ll see as many as I can. I think the waterfalls are one of the best reasons to visit Asheville. Some I love in the nearby Pisgah National Forest include:

There are tons of cute towns nearby

I love all the small towns near Asheville in western North Carolina. They’re so cute and great to visit as day trips from Asheville or as part of a whole western North Carolina road trip.

They’re a great way to get out of the city without being off in the woods. But if you do want to hike or see waterfalls, there are plenty near all these towns.

  • Brevard
  • Highlands
  • Bryson City
  • Hendersonville
  • Maggie Valley
  • Waynesville
  • Franklin

It has plenty of breweries

There are about 50 breweries in Asheville so if you like beer and trying new breweries, you’ll be busy! Asheville has even been named Beer City four times! Here are just a few:

  • Highland Brewing Company
  • Dssolvr
  • Asheville Brewing Company
  • Twin Leaf Brewery
  • Green Man Brewery
  • French Broad River Brewery

And coffee shops if you don’t drink!

Don’t drink? No problem! If you’re like me you may prefer a coffee shop veer a brewery and Asheville has plenty of coffee shops to choose from.

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is visit new coffee shops. And little free libraries. And bookstores. But back to the coffee shops:

  • Summit Coffee
  • Rowan Coffee
  • High Five Coffee
  • Trade and Lore Coffee

The art scene is top notch

Aside from the River Arts District, the art scene in Asheville is booming. There are tons of art museums, live music, performing arts, theater shows, galleries, filming locations, and murals in Asheville.

I can’t wait to go back and see even more of the art scene, especially the galleries and murals. I think the art scene alone makes Asheville worth visiting.

So, is Asheville worth visiting?

If you haven’t figured by now, Yes! Asheville is absolutely worth visiting and one of my favorite places in the US. I want to live in that area eventually, after all.

Where to stay in Asheville

The Inn On Biltmore Estate – This is a beautiful modern but historic looking hotel on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate. There are two restaurants on site (casual and fine dining) and rooms with mountain views.

Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville – This one is in Biltmore Village (not on the grounds) and looks like a great modern option. There is a restaurant and bar with a full wine menu on site.

Princess Anne Boutique Hotel & Breakfast – I want to stay here so bad. They have a daily gourmet breakfast in addition too the original stone fireplace, patio, and garden for guests too enjoy in central Asheville.

The Restoration Asheville – This is a great modern option in downtown Asheville with continental breakfast. Some rooms also have balconies!

Blind Tiger Asheville – I would also love to stay here. This dark, moody, historic home is in central Asheville has a garden to relax in and is super convenient if you plan to be downtown a lot.

Blue ridge parkway in fall grandfather mountain

Visiting Asheville FAQ

Have a question about visiting Asheville? I might have answered it here! If not, ask in the comments and I’ll answer there!

How long do you need in Asheville? I would say no less than three days but the more the better!

Best time to visit Asheville? Summer and fall are the best times too visit Asheville but there is no bad time to go. It just depends on the weather you want.

Why is Asheville called Beer City? Asheville is called Beer City because of it’s beer history, microbreweries, beer shops, and related festivals.

Is Asheville, NC in the Smoky Mountains? Nope! They’re not far off but Asheville is in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Is Asheville, NC near the beach? Negative. At least not the ocean beach.

Does Asheville have an airport? Yup! AVL is the Asheville Regional Airport.

Does Asheville get snow? Yes! but not a whole lot. It gets about 12 inches of snow per year between December and February.

Have you been to Asheville?  What did you think of it?  What is your favorite thing about it?  What is your favorite place to eat there?

2 thoughts on “Is Asheville, North Carolina Worth Visiting? (Find Out Why It Is!)

  1. Asheville is an amazing place to visit especially in the fall. The foliage is beautiful and makes you want to stay forever. Thanks for sharing!

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