Asheville, North Carolina has been on my radar for a long time now, and when we were looking for a place to celebrate our wedding anniversary this past March, we decided to switch it up and head to the southeast instead of the southwest like we had the previous 2 years.
I’m a big fan of hipster cities like Portland, OR and Austin, TX, and when I heard that Asheville was pretty much the Portland of the southeast, I was sold. Plus, any city within an hour or two of a National Park is ideal because my idea of a perfect vacation is eating amazing food, checking out local breweries/distilleries/wineries, and spending as much time as possible out in nature.
I was a little hesitant to visit in March, because well, March in a mountain town…but we decided to risk it and just have a solid Plan B lined up in case of rain—which we did indeed get a decent amount of. Moral of the story: I wouldn’t necessarily recommend visiting in March, but it’s totally fine if you set your expectations accordingly and don’t bank on glorious spring weather.
Another thing I was unsure about was which city to fly into. While Asheville does have an airport, there were no direct flights from DTW to AVL, so we decided to fly direct to Charlotte and just drive the 2 hours to Asheville, which totally ended up being the right decision. Not only did it save money, but the timing worked out to be the same because we skipped having to layover in Atlanta. Score.
Logistics aside, here’s a list of things we enjoyed while we were in town:
We went back and forth on whether or not to stay at a hotel in town or to get an Airbnb out in the mountains. There were pros and cons for both, but we eventually decided that we were looking for a little more peace and quiet on this trip, so we went with this place, which ended up being a nice spot for us.
Mountain View + Hot Tub = Happy Dans.
Plus, when we showed up we noticed that there was a cotton wreath hanging over the bed, which was perfect for our second wedding anniversary: the cotton anniversary. Awww…
I will start with beer because Asheville apparently has more breweries per capita than any city in the US. We went to…a lot of them. 8 in total in the 4 days that we were there. These were our favs:
Burial Beer Co. was our #1 and they had excellent food as well. Wicked Weed Brewing is an Asheville beer-scene staple and I loved their Pernicious IPA. Wedge Brewing Co. didn’t necessarily have my favorite beer, but I liked their space a lot and it was close to the River Arts District which made it a perfect spot post-art touring. Twin Leaf Brewery had some really interesting beers in a cool space and Catawba Brewing Co. was close by (also in the South Slope neighborhood) so it was easy to visit the two of them together. Last but not least, we were both pretty surprised at how much we enjoyed Sierra Nevada. While I tend to gravitate more towards craft breweries, this place was amazing. The grounds are beautiful (pictured below to the right), the food was A+, the Audition IPA I had was maybe my favorite beer of the entire trip, and at one point I looked at Dan and described our surroundings as “bucolic”, a word I had never before used in my life. It probably helps that we visited on a perfect 70-degree Sunday afternoon during golden hour, but wow, this place did not disappoint.
Fav. Food & Things To Do
Food: Asheville is a foodie mecca and we ate many delicious things while we were in town. Some memorable meals were at Cúrate, a tapas bar that was recommended to us by a friend and did not disappoint, brunch at Corner Kitchen (where I sat in the same chair that Michelle Obama sat in when she and Barrack dined there, so cool), and Sunny Point Cafe, where I ordered organic carrot hotcakes with cardamom cream cheese and black bean & sweet potato empanadas for breakfast because I couldn’t decide. Like I mentioned above too, Burial Beer Co. and Sierra Nevada both had great food as well.
Things to Do: In addition to eating and drinking (two of my favorite vacation activities), we did a bit of exploring as well. We spent an entire afternoon wandering in and out of dozens of artist’s studios in the River Arts District and I even ended up buying a hand blown lavender pint glass, which if I’m being honest, made me feel very middle aged (whatever, it’s cute). We also checked out Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar—that’s right, a gorgeous bookstore that is also a champagne bar (?!?!?!), and then Malaprop’s Bookstore which I also loved…even though they didn’t serve champagne. And no, we did not go to the Biltmore Estate, because as much as I love touring other people’s mansions, I don’t $50-a-person love it. We did however walk around Biltmore Village which had some nice restaurants and shops.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
And last but not least, we did manage to get a 60-degree-and-sunny day, so we drove out to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to do some hiking. It was only about a two hour drive from Asheville and we ended up doing the Chimney Tops Trail, which is apparently one of the most popular (and strenuous) hikes in the park (holy, uphill). That was all we had time for though, so I’d love to go back and see more, especially in the late spring or summer when everything is in bloom. Plus, we didn’t get to drive any of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is supposedly one of America’s most scenic byways. Next time!
Is that a lot for a long weekend? I’m not sure, but I do know that we only hit about half of the things on our list, so I’m sure we’ll be back for round two at some point. Gotta love a hip city with great food, beer, art, and nature. Thanks for the memories Asheville. ✌🏻