Asheville, North Carolina is a beautiful mountain town cradled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville offers unique art, great food, breweries, and pretty gardens. Not to mention world-famous historic attractions such as the Biltmore Estate and Thomas Wolfe Memorial. Additionally Asheville offers something for everyone. Not only will families love Asheville, but those that love history, art, food and spirits will too!
A note regarding COVID-19 – Due to concerns of the spread of Coronavirus, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice, this includes restaurants, hotels and bars. Please check ahead on websites, social media and/or call ahead to confirm locations are open.
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Sites to See in Asheville, North Carolina
Let’s begin our tour with the great sites to see on your trip.
The Biltmore Estate
To begin with, the Biltmore Estate is the number one tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. Not only can you tour the largest private home in America, but you can also stroll through Biltmore’s charming Antler Village and winery. Additionally, the estate offers a self-guided tour that spans three floors and basement of this luxurious home. This tours make you feel like a guest of George and Edith Vanderbilt. You also have access to the gardens and grounds, wine tastings, shopping, hiking, biking, and the Biltmore Gardens Railway as well.
Still owned by the Vanderbilt family today, the mansion and its spectacular gardens continue to be a tribute to George Washington Vanderbilt’s commitment to excellence.
Travel Tip – Plan to spend a full day of your trip to to visiting the Biltmore Estate. You can combine the day with the Biltmore Village.
Historic Biltmore Village is a lovely little shopping area with numerous restaurants to enjoy. The tree-lined streets, brick sidewalks and period architecture, such as the Cathedral of All Souls, make the area a delight to stroll and explore.
Biltmore Village was originally modeled after a small English village. The look and character make the village especially charming. It is located across from the main entrance to the Biltmore Estate.
North Carolina Arboretum
Another great thing to do in Asheville, North Carolina is the NC Arboretum. Everyone will love it here, especially families. You will find acres of cultivated gardens and groomed trails. Many of the trails are great for hiking and biking. Plus meandering creeks, forest coves, and gorgeous vegetation. During the Christmas season they host the Winter Lights, which is a special treat as well.
Western North Carolina Nature Center
If you are visiting Asheville with kids, this is another great place to go. This 42-acre zoological park of the WNC Nature Center is home to over 60 species of animals. Some of the animals you will see include black bear, cougars and red wolves. Additionally, they not only have a variety of reptiles and amphibians, but also small mammals. There is also a cool exhibit of North American river otters and several species of aquatic turtles in their Otter Falls section. Not to mention, they have a Hellbender!
Thomas Wolfe Memorial
The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is located in historic downtown Asheville at 52 North Market Street. The memorial is in the home of the 20th-century American literature giant, Thomas Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe is best known for his novel about his beloved childhood home in Asheville, ‘Look Homeward, Angel’. The Thomas Wolfe Memorial Angel can be found in front of Packs Memorial Library.
Asheville Art Museum
Asheville Art Museum is a must for the art lovers. The museum features a collection of American art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Additionally you can discover the richness of Western North Carolina’s unique artistic history.
Walking Tours of Asheville
Of course, I believe walking tours are one of the best ways to experience a new city. Asheville, North Carolina has plenty to choose from. As a matter of fact walking tours are a great way to get your exercise. Plus they also allow you to immerse yourself in the city culture. Free Walking Tours offers one that includes free tastings of donuts, gin, and honey from local businesses.
Another great self guided tour is the Asheville Urban Trail. A good starting point is to begin at Pack Square in the heart of downtown. Then you can stroll on and enjoy. To complete the entire tour takes about 2 hours. You can download the printable map here. Similarly is the Asheville Architecture Trail which highlights the exquisite buildings of the 1920’s, miraculously saved by the Great Depression. Access the printable map here.
Gray Line Trolley
Asheville, North Carolina also features a historic trolley tour. Gray Line Trolleys is currently offering a 90 minute City Overview and Ghost Tours due to COVID-19. The nostalgic red trolleys offer a narrated journey where you can learn all about the history, heritage and architecture of the city as well. Not to mention you can grab some great pictures too.
Basilica of Saint Lawrence
The Basilica was built in the early 1900’s. Designed by Rafael Gustavino and Richard Sharpe Smith, renowned architects on the Biltmore House. In addition to being one of Asheville’s architectural treasures, it has the largest freestanding elliptical dome in the U.S. Due to COVID-19, currently there are no tours being held. That being said, it is still worth a visit just to see its glorious beauty from the outside.
River Arts District
The River Arts District is made up of 22 former industrial and historical buildings near the French Broad River. This unique area keeps the art scene alive in Asheville, North Carolina. Guests can stroll around the district to meet artists and enjoy works from more than 200 artists in various mediums like textiles, ceramics and paintings, as well as photography and jewelry. It’s also a great place to pick up a unique souvenir from your time in the city.
Tour Asheville’s Breweries
Did you know Asheville has more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the United States? As a matter of fact they do and sampling pints from the numerous options is a favorite among locals and tourists.
For this reason we want to share the ways to enjoy Asheville’s distinct brews. To begin with, you can take a self-guided walking tour from the Appalachian Ale Trail. Alternatively you can pedal your way around with Amazing Pubcycle. Of course, the best option may be to let someone else do the driving all together with Asheville Brewery Tours.
Downloadable Map of Sites to See
Great Bites to Eat in Asheville
Next, we suggest some great places to eat in Asheville, North Carolina.
Tupelo Honey Cafe
Of course North Carolina is known for good old fashioned home cooking, and Tupelo Honey Cafe has created a perfect experience. They have scrumptious made from scratch, responsibly sourced food. Certainly you will love their homemade biscuits that literally melt in your mouth. If you’ve never tried fried green tomatoes, then you must try theirs. In fact they have something for everyone including sandwiches, fried chicken, farm fresh vegetable plates and pancakes! My personal favorite is the Tupelo Shrimp & Grits.
With locations in Downtown and South Asheville, Farm Burger is a great place to have a great burger. They are committed to using 100% grass-fed beef with no antibiotics or hormones. Additionally their menu is seasonal and sourced from local farms. The Farm Burger lunch special for $9 is perfect if you’re on a budget.
Biscuit Head is an Asheville favorite and their motto is “Put Some South in Your Mouth”. If you’re not familiar with the popularity of biscuits this place will help you understand. You can order your biscuit with meat or without, or try some of their unique gravies. Regardless of your decisions you will have numerous jams and butter to choose from at the bar after ordering.
Buxton Hall Barbecue
If you’re looking to try authentic North Carolina cuisine, then you must try some Carolina barbecue. Buxton Hall Barbecue offers traditional whole-hog bbq, Eastern Carolina style, cooked over wood. They do offer other options like delicious fried catfish, saucy chicken tenders, and sandwiches.
How about some authentic Indian street food. Chai Pani offers just that and is a favorite because of it! Chai Pani features chaat – crunchy, spicy, sweet, tangy, brightly flavored Indian street snacks, as well as thalis – traditional family meals.
If you’re in the mood for some Spanish Tapas, then Cúrate (pronounced COO-rah-tay) is the place for you. Cúrate is a celebration of authentic Spanish cuisine and includes an all Spanish wine list. Due to COVID-19, you must have a reservation to dine in the restaurant.
White Duck Taco Shop
As you can see there are many options to choose from in Asheville, North Carolina for good food. At White Duck Taco the menu is simple, just great street tacos. You also have the option of a few sides, dessert and drinks. Their menu is seasonal and subject to change.
French Broad Chocolate
At French Broad Chocolate you can relax and enjoy a lovely dessert in their lounge. Or you can grab some goodies or gifts to go at their adjacent Chocolate Boutique. Of course if you’re a true chocolate connoisseur, then you can plan a visit to their Chocolate Factory. They offers tours at 2 pm and 4 pm daily and you can make a reservation here.
Just imagine a donut made to order and served piping hot for you to enjoy! Hole Doughnuts does this for each and every customer. They only offer four flavors, but there is never a shortage of folks waiting to have one.
Downloadable Map of Bites to Eat
In conclusion, I do hope you found this Asheville, North Carolina post enjoyable. Additionally, if you’re ready to plan that road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, check out these great deals here.
Furthermore, if you liked this post you might also like a few other posts on North Carolina. Such as Awesome Outdoor Activities at W. Kerr Scott Dam and Blue Ridge Photo Inspo from Wilkesboro to Linville Falls.
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