Asheville makes my list of the 5 best US travel destinations and is the perfect place for a spring escape. With a small town feel, there’s something for everyone from the beer lover to the nature enthusiast. If you’re headed that way or need a weekend trip idea, here’s what to do during a weekend in Asheville, NC.
A WEEKEND IN ASHEVILLE
Unless you get lucky, it’s not likely you’ll be able to find a direct flight into Asheville at an affordable price. We found flights into Charlotte and then rented a car to get to Asheville. The drive wasn’t too bad – it was under 2 hours and it was smaller roads so traffic wasn’t crazy like we are used to being from Los Angeles. You can also fly into Greenville or Raleigh but that drive is a little longer. Charlotte was the most affordable on Southwest for us!
After you get to Asheville, check into your hotel. We didn’t stay anywhere fancy. We found that most of the hotels in the area are part of the major chains – Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, etc. There are a few boutique hotels like the The Windsor and Princess Anne Hotel but as long as you don’t mind, I’d recommend staying in one of the bigger chains. You’ll end up saving yourself a bit of cash plus breakfast is most likely included!
Once you’ve had a chance to relax and refresh, head downtown for the night. I’d recommend making a dinner reservation at Curate well in advance. We tried to walk in and they couldn’t even put us on the waitlist for the whole weekend! It’s Spanish cuisine with quite a few unique menu options and vegetarian friendly meals. After dinner, walk around town. It’s surprisingly lively for a small town and it seems to be growing in popularity for weekend trips. There are a bunch of cute shops including a hot sauce shop (I love hot sauce!) so just browse at your leisure.
One of my favorite brunch spots (if you’re skipping the free breakfast at your hotel) is Tupelo Honey Cafe. It’s a quaint little restaurant right in the middle of town and you better bet there will be a wait if you get there any time after 10AM. I first went here almost a decade ago and the fact that it’s still at the top of the list speaks for itself. Try the banana pudding layered pancakes, the avocado toast points, or the sweet potato pancakes! Another great option is Sunny Point Cafe. With an equally delicious menu and cute vibe, it’s about a 7 minute drive from downtown.
After breakfast, you might want to try going on one of the many hiking trails in the area. If you’re a morning workout person, you can do this before breakfast and catch the sunrise. Asheville is surrounded by nature so there are a lot of beautiful things to see! You can even hike a piece of the Appalachian Trail!
If you’re looking for a few good murals for photo opportunities, try stopping by Pink Dog Creative or Short Street Cakes. There isn’t much to do other than stop and take a photo but it’s definitely a great Instagram opportunity.
Breweries are a big part of Asheville so I’d recommend you plan to block out the afternoon to do a brewery tour. We did a self-guided one and loved the places we went. At each brewery, we would ask for recommendations on where to go next and the recommendations were solid! We started out at New Belgium and it was probably my favorite one. There were a few food trucks outside so if you get hungry or want to eat lunch there, you can. This brewery is pretty large and has a lot of patio space as well as a deck off the back. It’s not necessarily near anything else so plan to have a designated driver!
We also visited Green Man and Burial which are within walking distance of each other. Green Man had a very cool hippie vibe and some good music. There was a smaller patio outside and the walls were decorated with some very unique artwork. Burial was more mainstream and also had outdoor picnic tables out back. You could order food there too! In between the breweries we made a stop at French Broad Chocolates for a little snack. We sampled a bunch of their chocolates and they were all really delicious. This chocolatier is located right in between the breweries so it’s an easy stop!
If you’re not into breweries, another option is to visit Asheville when there is a festival. There are quite a few that happen in April and May so be sure to do a Google search and check for anything that catches your eye! They seem to have everything from food and beverage themed events to nature events. I really want to go back for the Biltmore Bloom Festival!
I’m going to throw a curveball at you and suggest that you try Plant for dinner. It’s a short drive outside of downtown and it’s vegan but it’s one of the top rated restaurants in Asheville. Asheville is very vegetarian and vegan friendly (almost every restaurant has that called out on TripAdvisor) so they know how to make delicious meals that taste good. So good, you wouldn’t even know there was no meat most of the time! Matt surprised me by making a reservation here and it did not disappoint. It was a romantic vibe too so it was perfect for date night. If you’re strongly against meatless options, try The Admiral or Chestnut. Both feature American food and offer classic dishes with a southern flair.
Treat yourself to breakfast at Biscuit Head. The name speaks for itself. There isn’t anything quite like a good southern biscuit, right? They even have a vegan biscuit! Biscuit Head is located near Sunny Point Cafe and they don’t take reservations so if you wanted to head over to that area and see which restaurant has the shorter wait, that might be another option. Generally speaking, getting up earlier is better! However, if you are a late sleeper or have a husband that is, like I do, you know the struggle!
After breakfast, head over to the Biltmore Estate. This was the part that I was most excited for and the reason I wanted to go to Asheville. We visited in February and my recommendation would be to go a little later in spring so you can see the flowers blooming here. Try April or May. Even though the grounds were still beautiful, I would love to go back when everything is in full bloom! There’s quite a bit to do at the Biltmore Estate so you can spend anywhere from a morning there to a full day. We ended up spending almost a full day there! In the morning, we toured the exhibit happening inside the actual home on the estate. I’m not one for tours typically but it was interesting especially since it was about fashion. The exhibit changes every few months so check what it is in advance and see if the topic interests you.
After you’re done with the tour comes my favorite part. The photo at the top of this post was taken on the lawn in front of the Biltmore. The view is absolutely stunning and we spent a good 30 minutes just walking around outside the main property. You can’t take a bad shot! There is quite a bit of ground to cover and some great views around the back so be sure to check them out!
Next, we hopped in our car and made the short drive to the Botanical Gardens which are on the property. We explored the indoor gardens and it was so nice to be inside and out of the cold! There were beautiful tropical flowers all around and the indoor greenhouse was quite expansive. There was even a little orchid garden! It was so picture perfect and made for some great photos. If you go later in spring, there are also outdoor gardens outside these botanical gardens. When we were there, they were mostly dead so we didn’t spend too much time there but I can imagine how beautiful they would be later in the year!
By now, you’ve probably worked up an appetite so I’d recommend heading to the Antler Hill Winery. Grab a glass of wine there and some light bites to nosh on while you enjoy some of the flavors. If you want, you can eat lunch here. Otherwise, try Cedric’s Tavern. I would recommend checking the wait time at Cedric’s first and then waiting in the winery. Chances are good that there will be a long wait for lunch especially on a weekend so plan ahead! There are a few shops here but not that many so your best bet is to wait in the winery (which also has a shop attached). If Cedric’s isn’t an option, try the Library Lounge in the Inn on the property. If you can find a decent priced rate for the Inn, stay there! I’ve heard it’s particularly magical around the holidays.
After lunch, we just walked around the grassy pastures. The weather was good and we saw a few horses behind the winery so we just enjoyed the peace and quiet. You can make your tour of the Biltmore as long or as short as you want – it’s up to you!
If you’re flying out on Sunday, hop in the car and make the drive back to the airport! If you’re looking for more weekend trip ideas, take a peak at the other posts in my A Weekend In series!