Asheville, NC (not to be confused with Nashville, TN)
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Background on Asheville
Asheville, North Carolina is the perfect spot for a long weekend trip. Asheville is located in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s known for the surrounding gorgeous mountains, the historic Biltmore estate & of course one of my personal favorites the craft beer scene!
Your weekend in Asheville: How to get there
Depending on where you’re coming from, Asheville does have a regional airport. Ashville, NC is located almost smack dab between Charlotte, NC and Knoxville, TN. It’s about 130 miles from Charlotte & 120 miles from Knoxville. So it’s a relatively easy drive from either cities. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located a little bit south between Knoxville and Asheville. (That’s definitely an idea to explore all of these areas if you have longer than a weekend!)
Where to stay
Where you stay also depends greatly on what you intend to do during your weekend in Asheville. Spending a weekend or long weekend there, staying closer to the downtown area would be my recommendation. That, or along tunnel road would be just a quick uber to a lot of local breweries and restaurants so you’re not spending a lot of time going back and forth.
I’ll be honest, we stayed in somewhat of a ghetto motel but it served the purpose for just a few days. When I return I would definitely stay downtown or even at the Biltmore (if I’m feeling bougie) where there’s an Inn, a hotel and a cottage depending on your budget.
What to do
Check out the brewery scene
Asheville is ranked in the top 5 cities within the United States for the most breweries. Coming in at number two with 17 breweries per 50,000 people of the population makes Asheville an amazing place for a beer-cation (beer vacation)!
A long weekend in Asheville would be incomplete without at least a few stops for some delicious local beer. More about the breweries we visited located below in the where to drink section.
I’ll get into my recommended breweries a little later, but if you’re not burning to visit certain locations and would even like a little more history about the brewing of beer, a beer walking tour might be something that you’d be interested in.
The Biltmore Estate is an attraction that Asheville is most known for. It’s America’s largest home that was originally built by George Vanderbilt in 1889. It took 6 years to build and it sits on a whopping 8,000 acres!
You literally could spend your entire weekend in Asheville just at the Biltmore estate. Every season, it seems there are different things to see: the gardens in the spring & summer, the Christmas decor in the winter. Year round it also offers shopping, wine tasting at the winery, the spa & dining.
There are hiking trails on the estate’s property. Keep in mind though, that you will have to pay for admission to the estate to hike here. But, once you’re on the estate, you can choose to start your hike from the house, the Lagoon, the Bass Pond, the Inn or the area near Antler Hill Village. Possibly the best option is to pick up a trail map from the Outdoor Center at Antler Hill Village if you’re planning on hiking on the estate property.
No matter what your style of hiking is, the Blue Ridge Mountains offer hundreds of hiking trails close to Asheville, NC. Whether you’re there just for a weekend or an extended amount of time, adding a hike into your things to do is a great way to experience the natural beauty of Asheville.
Hiking near Asheville, gives a different viewpoint of the nearby mountains. Depending on the hike, from summit hikes with an amazing views as the highlight to hiking trails with calming waterfalls to short day hikes that are easy enough for all ages, there’s a hike near Asheville for anyone.
Craggy Pinnacle Trail
Only 24 miles from Asheville this short just over 1 mile hike is easy to get to and offers you gorgeous 360 mountain views. This would definitely be a great spot to check out close to sunrise or sunset! It would truly give you a great view into Asheville’s beauty while being there just for a weekend.
This is located 37 miles from Asheville & there is a designated parking area, just follow the signs. It is a popular spot to view waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Second falls is a short walk from the parkway, while Upper falls is a 4 mile loop along the river.
Chimney Rock (at Chimney Rock State Park)
This was where we opted to take a morning hike while in Asheville. It was definitely an Instagram vs. reality moment as we hiked up to see the stunning views, and there was just fog, fog and more fog. It was a very beautiful park and I would definitely recommend it although our experience was a bit of a let down. But, you can’t plan weather!
Moore Cove Falls
Located 35 miles from Asheville and an easy less than a mile hiking trail. This is a fun location as you can actually safely walk behind the waterfall!
This trail is located 25 miles from Asheville. This trail is a 3 mile roundtrip passing through through the woodlands of Pisgah National Forest.
This National Park has free admission & is located 37 miles from Asheville (on it’s most eastern entry to the park.) If you’re only in Asheville for a weekend, this probably is a little far as you don’t want to spend all of your time in the car! It’s located in western North Carolina & Eastern Tennessee. You could spend an entire weekend (or longer!) just there as the park spans 522,427 acres (around 816 square miles.)
However, even though you’re in Asheville just for a weekend if you do decide to go for a day long adventure in GSMNP, here is a great resource to refer to for suggested itineraries if you’re going to make it a day trip from Asheville.
Your weekend in Asheville: Where to drink
Breweries are abundant in Asheville, NC. (And I’ll be honest most of the reason why we stopped in Asheville on our 2020 road trip, The Consolation Corona-cation.) What better activity to do during a weekend in Asheville? Many breweries are located in the South Slope neighborhood and it’s easy to get from place to place just by walking once you’re in the area.
Burial Beer Co. has taprooms in Asheville, Raleigh & Charlotte. The Asheville location is in the South Slope neighborhood. If beer isn’t your thing, they also offer wine & cider as well! The kitchen is available the same hours as the taproom and focused on the availability of local ingredients.
The beer and the vibe here was my absolute favorite out of all of the breweries we visited during our time in Asheville. Like many breweries, the beer on tap is always changing. They had so many great imperial pastry stouts when we were there! I was so sad I had to pick and choose only a few to try as this was our first stop of the day.
We also ate lunch here and I would definitely recommend it! We ordered sandwich boxes which came with fries or a salad. All in all we had an amazing experience at Burial and I really can’t wait to return. I would definitely add Burial into your Asheville weekend to-do list.
There was a wide range of different beers available, indoor & outdoor seating and awesome food as well! They also offer other cocktails, wine & cider if beer isn’t your thing. This is definitely a great spot to grab food and try some beer flights. They have a huge space both indoor and outdoor and they are pup friendly. (Barkley loved it there!)
This is a spin off from Wicked Weed focused solely on really sour funky beers. Almost vinegar like. (I just want to give that disclaimer because some sours are more fruity and this is like it’s name, very funky!)
We tried some flights of beer and Barkley was content to get all of the pets on the patio. They also offer food here so keep that in mind. We didn’t end up eating though.
Also located in the South Slope neighborhood, Catawaba Brewing Company. (There is also a Biltmore Village location in Asheville.) They had an expansive space and we were seated in the back area but it was a very chill vibe. I was only bummed that they didn’t currently have a variation of peanut butter jelly time on the tap list. (Small batch fruit/peanut butter beer that they change the jelly flavor frequently.)
I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this brewery. When we were there it was newer and had been recommended via a Craft Beer Girls group. I was really impressed! They had some very unique flavored beers and a milkshake IPA that I really enjoyed. Definitely check them out!
I enjoyed the beer here, but just our personal experience was somewhat frustrating. We could only get an uncovered table and it ended up raining. Again, you can’t control the weather and we made the best of it. I felt like truly getting a feel of the beer and venue was cut short but, I would definitely return. Another thing to mention is that they also have a food menu, wine and cocktails.
This was probably the brewery I was the most disappointed in. They have a few different locations in Asheville, Knoxville and other cities throughout North Carolina. I had always heard great things about their beer. We visited the South Slope location and waited in line for awhile outside as they have a really small taproom. So that and then the beer just being mediocre it definitely wasn’t my favorite brewery stop.
This brewery was on our list to go to, but we decided to skip it just due to where it was located & we had been to many breweries already. Plus, New Belgium is much more widely available to us at home vs. some of the more local craft breweries we visited.
However, they do have a vast outdoor space that allows dogs & daily food trucks. I definitely want to check out this spot at some point as their main locations are in Asheville & Fort Collins, Colorado.
Your weekend in Asheville: Where to Eat
See Wicked Weed, Wicked Weed Funkatorium, Bhramari & Burial breweries above.
All of those breweries offer food & I’m all for efficiency. Get your brewery hopping day off to a good start with some tasty food and brews to match wasting no time!
Other than eating at Wicked Weed & Burial, we also grabbed fast food just for sake of time and convenience so my food recommendations are definitely not as robust.
But, when I return, here some spots that are on my list to try out:
Scratch kitchen southern cooking. There are two different locations in Asheville (one being downtown and the other South Asheville.) Menu changes seasonally and bonus, some brunch items are served all day!
Serving both dinner & brunch as what’s considered “Appalachian cuisine”. So southern with a local flair.
I feel like this doesn’t need much explanation, good southern barbeque is a staple! Check the site, as they have shifted to only having take out and delivery available. However, this could change. Even if that’s the case, located in the South Slope neighborhood you could always get delivery to your hotel. Their menu is filled with many wood smoked meat options and delicious sides.
I love a good biscuit! I’m also all for creative twists on things I already love. Biscuit Head’s menu is focused on biscuits with different creative takes on the gravy.
Some days have more limited hours, but generally they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was the most consistently recommended restaurant when looking up places to eat in Asheville. So, I’d definitely add it onto your weekend to do list.
Who doesn’t love Tacos? I mean, that’s probably my favorite type of food to eat tacos/Mexican food. This establishment has breakfast tacos and more traditional tacos making it a great idea anytime!
Hole Doughnuts has won several awards. It’s also located close to Taco Billy so maybe logistically you could have a breakfast taco and then pick up a sweet breakfast dessert before heading to some breweries for the day, post hike? But seriously I don’t need much of an excuse to have a good doughnut/donut!