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. Even with our time cut a little by the rain, 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.
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:
- 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!
There is an up and coming art scene
We didn’t make it down there, but 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. I wish we got to spend more time there. We drove through when we got into town, but we didn’t really know where to go so we figured we would go back. We never did. Next time!
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. Just down the hill from the bookstore and up the hill from delicious food and more coffee. 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.
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.
Where to eat in Asheville:
- 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
- The Bier Garden (We ate here, it was alright)
- There are tons more obviously, but I would check here for more suggestions.
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 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! The Rhu was closing by the time we finished dinner, but we planned to stop on our way out in the morning. 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
- Let me know if there is somewhere I should add!
Waynesville Soda Jerks Flavors (as of October 2017):
- Blueberry basil
- Strawberry Rhubarb
- Concord grape
- Raspberry cream
- Lemon lavender
- Apple rosemary
- Sorghum cola
There’s a reason it’s so busy in October. It’s to see the leaves change in case you didn’t know. The weather leaves aside, is also perfect. 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.
Tips for visiting 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.
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?