Unlocking Asheville: A Resident’s Insider Guide To North Carolina’s Soul

Asheville Blue Ridge Parkway

Having lived in a popular vacation destination, I thought it was time to write a blog post about traveling to Asheville, NC. Asheville is a unique small city in the Appalachian mountains. There is something for everyone in Asheville. 

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville: The sun sets behind rolling mountains, casting a golden glow over the lush landscape.
Sunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway

River Arts District

To start, Asheville has a thriving arts scene. Walk along the River Arts District to see numerous murals and art galleries. After taking in the local art, grab a bite at the Chop Shop food truck. A delicious option for a burger made with locally served ground beef. Do you want something more upscale? Conveniently also in the River Arts District, a fancy Hawaiian restaurant named RosaBees is fantastic. I enjoyed the poke at RosaBees for an anniversary dinner. It was delicious! After eating, stroll along the river along the path to finish an enjoyable day.

Asheville Shows

In addition to visual art, the region has a lively music scene. Consider perusing the concert schedules before you come, or look into a LaZoom tour. See a show at the Flat Rock Playhouse, or attend a Brevard Philharmonic concert to hear my husband and me.

Brevard Philharmonic: The orchestra stands for a standing ovation, musicians set against an elegant organ, with an enthusiastic audience.
Brevard Philharmonic

Hiking Near Asheville

Before attending the Philharmonic, consider exploring the beauty of Pisgah Forest. There are numerous hikes in the area of varying difficulties. Looking Glass Falls and Looking Glass Rock are two especially popular trails. In peak times, weekends, and warm months, arrive early to procure a parking spot. It can fill up pretty quickly! Maintain awareness for any bears and snakes that may be in the area. Grab an ice cream at Dolly’s following your hike for refreshment. Look into campsites in Pisgah Forest if you are considering driving to immerse in the outdoors and save some money! It is probably best to book in advance. 

While we are on the subject of hiking, there are some other great spots worth mentioning. DuPont State Forest has some beautiful waterfalls and was one of the filming sites for the Hunger Games Movie. Chimney Rock has stunning views, a waterfall, and an elevator inside the mountain. This park was also the site for filming The Last of the Mohekins. The Blue Ridge Parkway has several beautiful hikes, my favorite being Black Balsam Knob. Craggy Gardens is also very popular. 

Lake Lure

Another scenic spot to check out is Lake Lure. Pictured in a famous Dirty Dancing scene, this mountain lake is breathtaking. It is a beautiful spot to visit while in the Asheville area. 

Asheville Food Scene

Moving away from the outdoors and into the city, Asheville is known for its craft breweries and restaurant scene. There are so many incredible options for both. To name a few, Sierra Nevada has a location in the Asheville area, Bold Rock Cider and New Belgium are fun breweries to visit. There are many to choose from beyond these options, and most have food available. Regarding restaurants, in downtown Asheville, some of my favorites are Strada Italiano, Shanghai Dumpling House, Rhubarb, Mamacita’s, Wasabi for lunch, the Dessert Bar, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, and Curaté. There is truly something for every flavor profile.

Mushroom rice dish at Rhubarb in Downtown Asheville: A beautifully plated dish featuring earthy mushrooms atop a bed of savory rice, garnished with fresh herbs and a drizzle of sauce.
Rhubarb: Mushroom Dish

While downtown, peruse some shops, and you will see many unique goods. You might find something fun to take home as a souvenir. Sometimes street festivals or other unique things are happening, so keep an eye out on the city schedule of events. 

In surrounding areas, there are still many great restaurants. Our favorite BBQ place is Okie Dokies in Black Mountain. We also love Wild Ginger, Post 25, Nine Mile, Fahrenheit Pizza, Rocky’s Hot Chicken, and La Rumba. Venture out to the Grove Park Inn for several fantastic restaurants and to see a beautiful property. The historic hotel is impressive and has a golf course and spa. It is worth going to see the grounds and architecture. They also host a famous gingerbread competition curing the holidays and have other events throughout the year. There are many other restaurants in the Asheville vicinity, and the vast majority are delectable. It is a miraculous food scene for such a small city. 

Biltmore House

No visit to Asheville is complete without seeing the Biltmore house. The admission cost is expensive, but the property will consume most of your day. The estate has restaurants where you can only eat if you are visiting. My favorite one is The Stable Cafe. The house itself is spectacular, but the grounds themselves are beautiful as well. Make a point to leave time to see the gardens. 

Asheville is a lovely place to visit, and tourism is one of its top industries. There is an abundance of activities within the area. Plenty of experiences to keep you busy, entertained, and satiated. I would recommend staying anywhere from just a weekend to a week. Ideally, you will want a rental car to access the hikes. There is not much in the way of public transit, and it would not be practical to Uber everywhere. I hope you consider Asheville for your next Non-Rev adventure and enjoy these suggestions! 

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