Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina, is a vibrant city that’s bursting with history, culture, and natural beauty. Known for its eclectic arts scene, farm-to-table cuisine, and breathtaking scenery, Asheville is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a unique and unforgettable vacation experience. With so much to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top-rated attractions and things to do in Asheville, so you can make the most of your time in this incredible city. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie, Asheville has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your sense of adventure, and get ready to discover all that this amazing city has to offer.
The Biltmore Estate
One of Asheville’s most iconic and historic attractions is the Biltmore Estate. This sprawling estate was built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s, and it’s still owned by his descendants today. The estate is an architectural masterpiece, featuring a 250-room mansion, beautifully landscaped gardens, and a winery. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the mansion and learn about the Vanderbilt family’s history and lifestyle. The gardens are also a must-see, with over 8,000 acres of manicured lawns, beautiful flowers, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
For those who are interested in wine, the Biltmore Estate Winery is a must-visit. The winery produces a variety of award-winning wines, and visitors can take a tour of the winery and participate in a wine tasting. There are also several restaurants on the estate, including the Bistro and the Stable Cafe, which offer delicious farm-to-table cuisine.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is another must-see attraction in Asheville. This scenic drive spans 469 miles through North Carolina and Virginia, and it’s known for its stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The parkway is a popular spot for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife watching. Visitors can also stop at several overlooks and historic sites along the way, including the Folk Art Center and the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.
One of the most popular sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Pisgah National Forest. This forest covers over 500,000 acres and is home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic drives. The forest is also home to several campgrounds and picnic areas, making it a great spot for a day trip or a weekend camping trip.
Downtown Asheville is the heart of the city, and it’s a must-visit for anyone looking to experience Asheville’s arts and culture scene. The downtown area is filled with art galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants. Visitors can take a stroll down Lexington Avenue and explore the many shops and galleries, or they can visit the Asheville Art Museum to see works by local and regional artists.
One of the most popular spots in downtown Asheville is Pack Square. This public square is home to several historic buildings, including the City Hall and the Vance Monument. It’s also a popular spot for outdoor concerts and festivals throughout the year. Visitors can grab a coffee or a bite to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants around the square, or they can simply relax and take in the beautiful scenery.
The River Arts District
For art lovers, the River Arts District is a must-visit. This district is located along the French Broad River and is home to over 200 artists and studios. Visitors can explore the studios and galleries and watch artists at work, or they can take a class and learn a new skill. The River Arts District is also home to several restaurants and breweries, making it a great spot for a night out on the town.
One of the most popular spots in the River Arts District is the Wedge Brewery. This brewery is housed in a former warehouse and features a large outdoor patio with beautiful views of the river. Visitors can sample several of the brewery’s award-winning beers and enjoy a meal from one of the food trucks parked outside.
Asheville’s Craft Brewery Scene
Speaking of breweries, Asheville is known for its craft beer scene. The city is home to over 30 breweries, making it one of the top beer destinations in the country. Visitors can take a brewery tour and learn about the brewing process, or they can simply sample a variety of beers at one of the many taprooms around the city.
One of the most popular breweries in Asheville is Wicked Weed Brewing. This brewery is known for its creative and experimental beers, as well as its beautiful outdoor patio. Visitors can sample beers like the Pernicious IPA and the Freak of Nature Double IPA, or they can enjoy a meal from the brewery’s restaurant.
Outdoor Adventures in Asheville
Asheville is also a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The city is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to several parks and hiking trails. Visitors can go hiking, mountain biking, or rock climbing, or they can go fishing or kayaking in one of the many rivers and streams in the area.
One of the most popular hiking trails in Asheville is the Appalachian Trail. This trail spans over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, and a section of it runs through North Carolina. Visitors can hike a portion of the trail and take in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The trail is also home to several shelters and camping areas, making it a favorite spot for backpackers.
The Folk Art Center
The Folk Art Center is a unique attraction in Asheville that’s dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Southern Appalachian crafts. The center features a museum with exhibits on Appalachian crafts and history, as well as a gift shop with works by local artists. Visitors can also watch artists at work in the center’s studios and take a class on a variety of crafts, including pottery, weaving, and woodcarving.
Asheville’s Food Scene
Asheville’s food scene is another must-experience for visitors to the city. The city is known for its farm-to-table cuisine, with many restaurants sourcing their ingredients from local farms and producers. Visitors can enjoy a variety of cuisines, from Southern comfort food to international flavors.
One of the most popular restaurants in Asheville is The Admiral. This restaurant is housed in a former gas station and features a menu of creative and innovative dishes. Visitors can try dishes like the pork belly with kimchi or the lamb shank with fennel and olives. The restaurant also has a bar with a variety of craft cocktails and local beers.
Where to Stay in Asheville
Asheville, North Carolina is a popular tourist destination that offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different tastes and budgets. Here are some suggestions on where to stay in Asheville:
- Downtown Asheville: Staying in the heart of downtown Asheville is a great option for those who want to be in the center of the action. This area is home to a variety of boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals, many of which are housed in historic buildings.
- Biltmore Estate: For a more upscale experience, consider staying at the Biltmore Estate, which offers luxury accommodations in a stunning setting. The estate features several lodging options, including the Inn on Biltmore Estate and the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate.
- West Asheville: If you’re looking for a more laid-back vibe, consider staying in West Asheville. This neighborhood is home to a variety of affordable hotels and vacation rentals, as well as a number of independent shops and restaurants.
- The River Arts District: Another up-and-coming neighborhood to consider is the River Arts District, which is known for its artsy vibe and creative community. This area offers a range of lodging options, including bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals, as well as easy access to the French Broad River and its surrounding parks and trails.
- Blue Ridge Parkway: For a more remote and nature-focused experience, consider staying on or near the Blue Ridge Parkway, which offers stunning mountain views and access to a variety of hiking and biking trails. Accommodation options in this area include rustic cabins, campgrounds, and vacation rentals.
Planning Your Trip to Asheville
Asheville is a popular destination year-round, but the best time to visit depends on your interests. The summer months are great for outdoor activities, while the fall is the best time to see the changing leaves in the mountains. Winter is a quieter time in Asheville, but visitors can still enjoy holiday festivities and winter sports.
When planning your trip to Asheville, be sure to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel times. Visitors should also consider purchasing tickets for attractions like the Biltmore Estate and the Blue Ridge Parkway in advance to avoid long lines and wait times.
Asheville, North Carolina, is a truly unique and unforgettable destination. With its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and stunning natural beauty, there’s something for everyone in this amazing city. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or just a delicious meal, Asheville has it all. So pack your bags, book your accommodations, and get ready for an unforgettable trip to this incredible destination.