Asheville has come full circle: fashionable at one time, and then a forgotten, disillusioned city, it has returned to glory, and now it is one of the most desirable locations in the US again.
Text and photography: Jonas Henningsson
Where to Stay
Grove Park Inn
Fantastic historical accommodation just a small distance from downtown. Was built by Edwin Wiley Grove, who was the mastermind behind much of Asheville’s early growth.
90 Macon Ave.
Hilton Garden Inn Asheville
Most things are within walking distance, and they have a nice roof top bar where they often have bands and DJs playing.
309 College Street
A great hotel in an excellent downtown location.
151 Haywood St
Where to Eat
White Duck Taco
Great tacos and beers in their sunny outdoor seating in the River Arts District.
1 Roberts Street
The Rhu and Rhubarb
Perfect breakfast, coffee, and fine dining, all under one roof. Rhubarb chef John Fleer’s vision for the restaurant is for it to be a meeting place for local produce. They have a bakery and a deli that sells local specialties. They also offer a fine selection of beers and frequent beer events.
10 S Lexington Avenue
The Bull & Beggar
A rustic and cozy atmosphere, down in the River Arts District near the Wedge Brewery. They serve first-class Sunday brunches, which lend themselves to long conversations and good company.
37 Paynes Way
Early Girl Eatery
Our favorite breakfast joint. Early Girl is a great example of downtown Asheville’s transformation from a sleepy and uninviting area to a trendy, inviting one. There is always a long line waiting outside the door.
8 Wall St
Our favorite out of all the city’s restaurants. Great tapas and a wonderful list of beers to go with them. Don’t miss their cheese platter, which is wonderfully matched to various local beers. A great place where the kitchen has taken over the spot where the bartender would usually be working.
13 Biltmore Ave
Music and Crafts
For the great vibe, the occasional gigs and the handful of local beers that they always keep on tap.
81 S Lexington Ave
Isis Music Hall
One of many great places offering a combination of food, beer, and music.
743 Heywood Rd
The Crow & Quill
A members’ club (you can buy a membership at the door) and semi-secret speakeasy with awesome live music, often jazz. They also offer a great selection of beers and fine cocktails.
106 N. Lexington Ave
River Arts District
The River Arts District consists of a vast array of artists and working studios in 22 former industrial and historical buildings, which are spread out along a one-mile stretch of the French Broad River. More than 200 artists work here in paint, pencil, pottery, metal, fiber, glass, wax, paper, and other media. Galleries Worth a Visit:
Cotton Mill Studios
122 Riverside Drive
6, 9, 12 Riverside Drive
Pink Dog Creative
342 Depot St.
Jonas Gerard Fine Art
240 Clingman Ave.
North Carolina Glass Center
140 Roberts St.
Breweries, Brewery Pubs, and Beer Bars
An excellent selection of local beers, with about thirty on tap and many more available in bottles, and a great, relaxed atmosphere.
777 Haywood Rd
A small brewery that runs a brewery pub, the Funkatorium, and a brewery, all in different locations around the city. Thirty or so of their own beers on tap or bottled, and an exciting menu which has its pages sorted by style, like The Funkatorium and Wicked From the Wood. Brewery tours and tastings are available, of course.
91 Biltmore Ave (Pub)
147 Coxe Ave (Funkatorium)
Asheville Brewing Co.
With three locations in the city, this is every bit as much a community center as it is a brewery. They screen films, offer activities for children, and a full schedule of fun events in their own restaurant and pizzeria. Brewery tours and tastings.
77 Coxe Ave
Twin Leaf Brewery
A cozy tap room with fussball, Ping pong, and shuffleboard tables–and most importantly, a bunch of exciting beers on their menu. The flight offers the greatest variety of flavors.
144 Coxe Ave
A nice, welcoming, and spacious brewery pub with a dozen or so intriguing beers on tap. They brew about fifty different beers each year, and keep a handful of beers in stock permanently, as well as a few recurring seasonal brews.
32 Banks Ave
Wedge runs two bars in the trendy River Arts District, and is a local brewery without any distribution–the only way to get their beer is to go to their brewery pub.
37 Paynes Way
5 Foundy St
If you head out to Biltmore, which really is worth a visit, you could swing by Highland Brewing, which is based in the mountains outside of Asheville. Highland was the first brewery to open after the end of prohibition, in 1994.
2 Old Charlotte Hwy
New Belgium is perfectly located down by the French Broad River. They opened their extremely popular tasting room, The Liquid Center, last May. Brewery tours and tastings.
21 Craven St
One World Brewing
The One World Brewing nanobrewery runs one of the nicest little waterholes in town, in the basement underneath the Farm Burger diner. The homey vibe and the great list of beers on tap makes this the kind of place that you’re likely to end up staying at until late.
10 Patton Avenue
Biltmore is a must! It was created by George Vanderbilt in 1895 as a retreat reminiscent of the grand castles and estates of France and Britain. Vanderbilt fell in love with the North Carolina mountains after a visit with his mother in the late 1880s, and he soon began planning his dream project. By late 1889, he was ready to start realizing it. Vanderbilt brought in Richard Morris Hunt as architect, and Frederick Law Olmstead, the father of American landscape architecture to work on the grounds. You should expect to spend at least 3–4 hours exploring this fascinating place.
1 Lodge St
Leaving Asheville–Blue Ridge Parkway
When you’re ready to explore the surrounding area, make sure not to miss the Blue Ridge Parkway! Densely forested hills with just enough room between them for a small road to be carved out. Follow that road! Thick bands of fog roll down the hillside in the mornings, and when it clears, the views are amazing.
If you head south, stop off at:
Pisgah Inn (Milepost 408)–great views and hiking trails to Mt. Pisgah.
Skinny Dip Falls (Milepost 417)–a refreshing swimming hole and soaking spot with cascades and pools.
Graveyard Fields (Milepost 418.8)–Beautiful, large waterfalls near the road, and another just an easy hike away.
Black Balsam (Milepost 420.2)–a relatively short hike to a great view.
Devil’s Courthouse (Milepost 422)–hike just one mile each way for awesome panoramic mountain views.
Richland Balsam Overlook (Milepost 431.2)–the highest point on the Parkway.
Or, if you’re heading north:
Craggy Gardens–just a .7-mile hike to the Pinnacle, which is a great spot to see rhododendron in mid-June.
Mt Mitchell (Milepost 355.4)–the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are the easternmost range of the Appalachians. They reach through the states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. In the last two states, the mountains are called the Kittatinnies and the Shawagunks, respectively.