Weekend Getaway: A Guide to Asheville, North Carolina

Welcome to our Weekend Getaway series! While it’s our preference to discover a country slowly and thoroughly, realistically time often only allows for a long weekend of exploring. Each week we’ll focus on a different city and highlight how to get the most out of a 2-4 day stay. Sometimes we write about the city ourselves, while other times we’ll have awesome guest bloggers giving us the low-down.

If you’re interested in guest blogging on this series, shoot us an email!  

Welcome! Tell us a little bit about yourself (don’t be shy), your blog and where you’re currently traveling.

We’re Josh and Liz, a married couple who decided to live an unconventional life for a few years.  We sold it all back in the States, quit our jobs, and took off at the end of July 2014 to explore the world, living and working along the way.  We’re always up for laughter, a good adventure, and a bit of Geocaching!  Being the curious people that we are, we love learning new things, exploring new places, and meeting new people.  For us, we felt like now was the time to live the life we wanted…instead of waiting until we are old to travel the world.

After months of traveling through Hawaii, New Zealand, and South East Asia, we decided to spend a year living and teaching English in China — where we are currently.  We now live in Guangzhou, the southern part of China, just a couple hours from Hong Kong.  It’s been quite the experience being in China, but we really have loved every minute of it.  And although we sometimes miss the comforts of home, there’s nothing that compares to the daily adventures of living in such a foreign land, as China is.

What makes Asheville a good place for a weekend getaway?

Asheville is a small city with a big personality, nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. It is easy to travel between Asheville and major cities in the South such as Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, and many other cities from the north.
Asheville has a little something for every type of traveler. It is a very outdoor friendly town. It has loads of personality and culture, great food, awesome beer, and it is very family oriented too. If you are looking for adventure or just some relaxation, Asheville is the perfect place.

What’s the best way to travel to Asheville? 

Most travelers come to Asheville, North Carolina by car. Being a small city, it’s easy to navigate around town and there is plenty of parking.

There is a small airport, if you are coming from far away, but it’s expensive if you are flying a short distance. However, even if you arrive by plane you will want to rent a car. While there are some taxis, there isn’t any major form of public transportation.

Plus, a lot of what you will want to see is outside of town in the beautiful mountains. So having a car is a must!

Do you have any recommendations on a luxury or boutique hotel in the area?

While Asheville has a variety of accommodation options at varying price points, the town is well-known for its luxury accommodations. In fact, this mountain town is the perfect spot for romantic weekend getaways.

I (Josh) spent years working at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa. The Grove Park has a 5 star spa along with a couple of 4 and 5 star restaurants. A historical icon in the area, the Inn is actually open to the public. So visitors can just walk around to soak in the history and enjoy some of the amenities (including a day visit to the spa).

In fact, making a trip to the Grove Park Inn to have a cocktail at the Sunset Terrace Lounge is a great way to enjoy an evening. It is the best place in town to watch the sunset in Asheville.

How about those looking for a more budget friendly option? 

Asheville can be expensive; however, there are budget-friendly alternatives. In addition to many mid-range hotels, Liz and I found a great budget hostel located in the heart of downtown Asheville.

The Sweet Pea Hostel is the perfect budget place to stay while visiting this beautiful city. It is in a key location, within walking distance to everything downtown — and there is parking right across the street. Plus, it’s easy on your wallet! There are many perks to staying in a hostel.

The hostel actually has many different types of rooms available, so it’s suited for most types of travelers. They have open bunks, private “pods” and even private rooms, if you would prefer. There is also a great lounge with comfy couches, tons of maps and guides to help plan your trip, and a useful kitchen.

One of our favorite things to do while exploring a new city is to take part in the outdoors scene. What are some adventure and/or outdoors activities (such as hiking, biking, waterfall rappelling, skiing, skydiving, etc.) to enjoy here?

Asheville, North Carolina is an outdoor paradise! You can find just about anything that you want to do just outside the city. From hiking trails, biking, climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, etc. So it really depends on what you are looking for.

Our favorite way to get to know a new city is go Geocaching. Geocaching is an international treasure hunt game where you are searching for hidden objects with a log sheet. Once you find the “cache” you log it on your Geocaching profile.

This is a great way to get familiar with a new city or area. Caches are hidden and maintained by locals. You will find that they are mainly hidden by locals at places that you will find are off the beaten tourist paths.

Are there any local entertainment events that we should know about when planning a trip to Asheville (such as South By South West in Austin, a Football match in England, or running with the bulls in Spain)?

There is an array of local entertainment in Asheville. In particular, Asheville is known for it beautiful mountains, local craft beer brews, and music. So once you are finished exploring the outdoors, just stroll around town and you will find any number of places to hang out.

Local entertainment is everywhere, especially in the form of live music. You can walk into nearly any pub, restaurant, or bar and find live music playing every night of the week. So be sure to take advantage of this great music scene!

Lastly, Asheville has become one of the top craft beer towns in the States. So if you love some craft beer, be sure to check out this town! With more than 30+ breweries in the area, there are even beer tours that you can take, which will drive you all around.

Some of them are outside the city, while others are right in the middle of town. Our favorites include, French Broad Brewery and Wicked Weed. But there are SO many others that we love too – it’s hard to decide where to go.

Name one phenomenal museum that shouldn’t be skipped.

If you are a history nut, you can find some small local museums in Asheville, and the Grove Park also has a number of artifacts and historical information too. But as far as iconic sights to see, the Biltmore Estate is the most popular attraction in the area.

This house is one of the most recognizable houses / modern castles in America. Dating back to the Vanderbilt days of our country, this house is full of history and a must see while visiting Asheville. They have a number of different ticket types and tour options available.

Where should we go if we want to blend in with the locals?

The bars. The craft brew industry in Asheville is at all time high, and everywhere you go you can get local brewed beer. Even if you go out for a hamburger at a local restaurant, more than likely you can wash it down with their own style of brewed beer.

Another great place to chill on a beautiful afternoon is the Bywater…this is where you will find the locals! This area is located outside of downtown, next to the river. It is part park, and part bar.

You can spend the day relaxing in a chair by the river, playing lawn games, having a beer and chilling with loved ones. It is a family friendly place, so yes, kids are here too! You can bring food to have a BBQ, and just hang out. It’s really a great way to spend a summer day! Ashevillians love this place…and who wouldn’t?

Let’s talk about an important aspect of travel: Food. What are your absolute favorite restaurants in the area?

Brunch is always the most important meal in Asheville, especially on Sunday. While you will find amazing brunch spots all over town, two of our top places to go include Early Girl and Tupelo Honey. Both are located downtown and are a must try while visiting. But either way you go, plan on arriving early and be ready to wait upwards of over an hour to get a seat. Is it worth the wait? HELL Yes!!!

What’s one local dish you’d recommend someone to try while they’re here?

The Southern Smothered Chicken and Biscuits at Tupelo Honey is a must. This is so hard to write because it is making my mouth water just thinking of it. In this way, Asheville is a very southern city. Who doesn’t love anything that is smothered in homemade white gravy?

We’re from the US where waiters and waitresses make a living solely from tips. What is the tipping etiquette in asheville?

People live for their tips in Asheville. Your waiters and waitresses will be from all walks of life. Be fair when tipping and it is usually around 20% or so based on the service.

If we’re craving a night out on the town, what are some cool local spots we should check out?

The Orange Peel is the main music venue in Asheville. It has housed an array of musicians from Ice Cube, to Mike Gordon of Phish. Make sure to check out the schedule to see if you can catch some great music while in town. If it is sold out, then you can still find live music at almost any other bar/ pub in town. Next to Nashville, Asheville is known for its brews and live music. It’s a can’t miss.

Anything we should know about the local culture and customs (so you don’t offend people, or get offended by something!) 

Asheville is widely known to be a very liberal town, in just about every way. The city warmly welcomes anyone, and everyone — from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and sexual orientation. 

From high end shops and beautiful art, to vegan restaurants and nomadic musicians playing on the street or in the park. There’s a lot of contrast in Asheville — but that’s what makes it so great. This diversity is embraced by Ashvillians. So just be courteous if you see something that is not your thing. Tolerance is important in Asheville.

What is the currency here and how much would a typical pint of beer or glass of wine cost?

We love our craft beer — and Asheville is the place to get it! Asheville uses USD, and a pint of beer can vary based on type, but locally crafted microbrew will cost around $6-$7 a pint.

Where should we go for the city’s best photo op?

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs right through Asheville, and is easy to access. It is a great place to cruise around during the day, and there are a lot of great photo spots along the drive. But, as I mentioned earlier, my favorite sunset photo would have to be Sunset Terrace at the Grove Park Inn (photo above).

Written by Josh and Liz from Peanuts or Pretzels

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Did you enjoy this weekend getaway guide? Let us know in the comments below or by sharing it on social media! We love hearing from you 🙂 

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Jimmie & Shelly

3 comments on Weekend Getaway: A Guide to Asheville, North Carolina

  • Liz Smith

    Thanks so much for including our post about a weekend in Asheville! We love Asheville so much and have had so many great memories there. Josh lived there for many years, and after we met while living in Atlanta, we would travel to Asheville often to visit friends and soak up the amazing atmosphere, and natural setting. It’s a fabulous place for a weekend getaway.

    We are so glad to be able to share what we love about Asheville with your readers. Cheers to you and thanks for having us!

    – Liz and Josh
    Peanuts or Pretzels
    Liz Smith recently posted…Pinterest Inspiration: Hong KongMy Profile

    • Shelly Borga

      It really does look like a fantastic place to visit! You’ve got us wanting to plan a trip there ASAP 🙂 Thanks for contributing and best wishes on your continuing travels!

  • April Yap

    Wow, you guys are a great couple. It would be seldom for people to take the risk and leave their jobs to take a great adventure. I am inspired with you guys, I also want to try and travel together with my husband while we are still young.

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