Charlotte Agenda

ASHEVILLE, NC

 

Distance: 131 miles | Approx. driving time: 2 hours | Population: 89,121

Our Driving Distance series is proudly presented by CPI Security, providing innovative security and smart home solutions so you can go exploring, worry-free.

Asheville is a North Carolina destination that needs no introduction.

Equal parts funky urban center and majestic outdoor escape, the Blue Ridge Mountain city is easily the most popular and accessible non-beach weekend trip for Charlotteans. But a trip to Asheville without a game plan can be overwhelming.

With more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city, a nationally recognized food scene with a heavy focus on local sourcing and a thriving arts culture, Asheville offers more to experience than one weekend can accommodate.

So we’ve narrowed things down to a hit list of some of the very best Asheville has to offer. Here’s how to tackle it.

Follow us on Instagram for your chance to win a 2-night stay at the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown and a $75 gift card to its rooftop bar and restaurant Capella on 9. Contest closes at 9 p.m. EST Wednesday, March 28.

Downtown Asheville

 

Stay

In terms of accommodations, there’s a little something for everyone in Asheville — from budget-friendly hostel bunkbeds to a luxury mountain retreat in a AAA Four Diamond hotel. Where you choose to stay boils down to the end game of your trip.

To optimize walkability to downtown food and drink destinations, we stayed at the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown, a newly opened 132-room property with a 9th floor rooftop restaurant and bar. It’s conveniently located on the corner of Broadway and College with easy access to popular downtown draws like The Orange Peel and the South Slope brewery district.

Follow us on Instagram for your chance to win a 2-night stay at the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown and a $75 gift card to its rooftop bar and restaurant Capella on 9. Contest closes at 9 p.m. EST Wednesday, March 28.

Asheville hotels & accommodations

AC Hotel Asheville Downtown10 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – starting around $160/night

Windsor Boutique Hotel – 36 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – starting around $350/night

Aloft Asheville Downtown – 51 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 – starting around $350/night

Omni Grove Park Inn – 290 Macon Avenue, Asheville, NC 28804 – starting at $330/night

What about the great outdoors? This guide is focused on downtown Asheville but if camping is more your speed, Asheville Glamping is a unique offering where you can enjoy the outdoors without quite roughing it. Their campground is filled with whimsical, boho-chic Airstream trailers, tipis, yurts and geodesic domes that’ll rack up likes on Instagram.

 

Buxton Hall Barbecue’s original buttermilk fried chicken sandwich

 

Eat & Drink

Wear your stretchy pants. Asheville’s food scene is dense with more “must-try” downtown eateries than any one person can reasonably inhale in a two-night weekend trip. But don’t let that stop you from trying.

Rather than pace yourself for three square meals, plan on a cumulative all-day dining experience with a little bit here and a little bit there so you can hit more stops along the way.

Asheville Restaurants and Bars

High Five Coffee – 13 Rankin Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 | 190 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – Inviting craft coffee bar with multiple locations. Stop by for Waffle Wednesday if you’re in town mid-week.

Trade and Lore37 Wall Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – This popular craft coffee shop in NoDa has a sister in Asheville

Vortex Doughnuts32 Banks Avenue #106, Asheville, NC 28801 – Yeast, cake and vegan doughnuts in the heart of the South Slope brewery district

Forage428 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806 – Dreamy cafe dripping in plants located inside Flora flower shop

Flora flower shop and Forage cafe

Biscuit Head417 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 | 733 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806 – Long lines are worth the wait once you get your hands on these towering biscuit sandwiches. Can’t pick a dip? Go for the gravy flight to sample three. (Vegan and gluten-free options available)

Over Easy32 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – Tiny little farm-to-table diner with a rotating seasonal breakfast menu and a guaranteed wait to get in

OWL Bakery – 295 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806 – Quaint bakery and cafe specializing in European-style baked goods. Great stop for a sweet treat, breakfast sandwich or fancy toast.

Hole Doughnuts – 168 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806 – Wildly popular fried-to-order doughnuts with a wide open kitchen and counter seats overlooking the action. A mandatory stop.

Hole Doughnuts

The Admiral – 400 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806 – Unexpectedly refined food served in an unassuming old cinderblock building. You’ll be hard pressed to find an in-the-know traveler or local who doesn’t recommend this restaurant as a top Asheville stop.

Buxton Hall Barbecue – 32 Banks Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 – The barbecue brain child of two James Beard Award nominated chefs — Elliott Moss, formerly of The Admiral, and Meherwan Irani, of Chai Pani. Eastern NC whole hog style barbecue; located right in the heart of the South Slope brewery district.

12 Bones Smokehouse5 Foundry Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – No frills barbecue shack in the River Arts District. Dine-in lunch only, no reservations, closed Saturday and Sunday. (Takeout available 4-6pm weekdays.)

Plant165 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 – Upscale, chef-driven, dinner-only vegan restaurant. Reservations strongly suggested.

Chai Pani – 22 Battery Park Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 – Indian street food from three time James Beard nominated chef Meherwan Irani

The Nightbell – 32 S. Lexington Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 – Cúrate’s sister restaurant located around back; features a similar tapas-style small plates dining approach but with a focus on Appalachian cuisine

Vivian348 Depot Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – This hot new restaurant from the team behind Burial Brewing’s popular Salt & Smoke food window is on the rise in the River Arts District

Cúrate – 13 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 – Buzz-worthy Spanish tapas restaurant from James Beard Award nominee chef Katie Button

Migas con verduras at Curate

Burial Beer Co.40 Collier Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 – This hip, gritty taproom feels underground in its industrial South Slope warehouse but it’s on everyone’s radar as a runaway favorite among Asheville’s stacked lineup of craft brewers. Hit up Salt & Smoke, their on-site food window, for snacks to pair with your beer. Brunch is particularly popular. (Looking for more breweries? Check out “Things to Do” below.)

MG Road Bar & Lounge19 Wall Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – Chai Pani’s quirky basement bar is dripping in tinsel and string lights. Hit it up while you’re waiting for a table upstairs or eat off the bar’s limited menu served straight out of the Chai Pani kitchen

MG Road

Top of the Monk92 Patton Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 – Casual rooftop craft cocktail bar where you unlock bar snacks with your own key to an antique post box

Sovereign Remedies29 N. Market Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – Apothecary-inspired cocktail bar and restaurant in an old pharmacy. Try the bone marrow tater tots.

Capella on 910 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28801 – Stop by for small plates and fireside sunset cocktails on the roof at the AC Hotel

 

 

Explore

Beer and food are major draws to Asheville but that’s not all it has going. Music, art and outdoor adventure abound in the area. Here are just a few ways to fill your time.

Things to do in Asheville

Take a self-guided brewery tour – Asheville, known as Beer City USA, is home to dozens of local breweries, making it impossible to explore them all in one weekend trip. South Slope, a downtown district home to a high concentration of breweries, is a good place to start if you want to tackle a number of top craft beer stops in a tight radius. Check out Burial, The Funkatorium (home to Wicked Weed’s sour and funky beer program), Green Man, Hi-WireBhramari (get a slice of cake, for real) and more in this area. Wedge Brewing Company is another stop that’s worth a trip over to the River Arts District.

Catch a show at The Orange Peel – The legendary live music venue has hosted performers like Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill, Ice Cube, the Beastie Boys and more. Check the current lineup.

Visit the Biltmore estate – America’s largest home is a stunning 178,926-square-foot mansion on a nearly 7,000-acre property. A must see.

Stroll the River Arts District – RAD is a one-mile stretch of 22 buildings along the French Broad River home to working artist studios, restaurants, Wedge Brewing and more. The second Saturday of each month features certain studios with refreshments, art demos, live music and more. Check the calendar.

Get lost in a combo used bookstore / champagne bar – Battery Park Book Exchange inside the historic Grove Park Arcade is a winding labyrinth of bookshelves. The best part? There’s a bar inside serving wine, champagne, coffee and sweets. Looking for new books? Head to Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe.

Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway – Start at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center at Milepost 384 in Asheville (map to 195 Knobhill Road) to get oriented and ask for advice on suggested itineraries.

Tour Sierra Nevada’s east coast brewery – The California-based brewer opened its second production site about 30 minutes south of Asheville in Mills River in 2015. It’s a popular stop for Charlotteans on the way to or from Asheville.

Ready to hit the road? Follow us on Instagram for your chance to win a 2-night stay at the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown and a $75 gift card to its rooftop bar and restaurant Capella on 9.

Contest closes at 9 p.m. EST Wednesday, March 28. See official rules.

Can’t wait to hit the road? Check out the rest of our Driving Distance destinations, presented by CPI Security.