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How to Do a Weekend in Asheville, North Carolina

SmarterTravel

Nestled in the haze of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a city bursting with independent spirit. This unique town emerged after the building of the Biltmore Estate, one of the most famous homes in the country, and continues on as one of the quirkiest cities in the South. A weekend is hardly enough time to see all Asheville has to offer from its 30+ breweries to the cornucopia of intrigue that is downtown Asheville’s shopping spread. Not to mention the beauty of the nearby Appalachians and historic homes and hotels burrowed among them.

How to do a Weekend in Asheville, North Carolina

Friday

Once you check into your hotel (we recommend the Hotel Indigo if you’d like to stay close to downtown and the Omni Grove Park Inn if your budget can swing it), dive into Asheville for a night on the town. You can grab dinner at Gan Shan Station, a former gas station and now delicious Asian-inspired restaurant, before heading downtown to check out the traditional Friday Night Drum Circle in Pritchard Park, which gets started around 6. After you’re all drummed out, explore Asheville’s many breweries or grab a craft cocktail at Top of the Monk, a quiet spot that embraces speakeasy culture.

Saturday

Once you’ve recovered from your night on the town, grab brunch at the local favorite Early Girl Eatery for solid Southern fare. This spot is located right downtown and makes a perfect launching point for exploring and shopping Asheville’s unique shops like the Battery Park Book Exchange, Asheville Bee Charmer, and more. Saturday is also a great day to check out the farmer’s market or peruse the artist’s shops and studios in the River Arts District.

After exploring the extremely walkable downtown on foot, take a break to see the rest of the city with LaZoom. These unique city bus tours are not only a great way to get to know Asheville’s history and varied neighborhoods, but they’re also a lot of fun and come in many different flavors. We recommend the raunchy and wild Comedy Tour or the Band and Beer Bus Tour to make the most of the city’s many breweries.

Unwind from the day with a visit to the Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville’s most historic hotel, for dinner out on the famous Sunset Terrace. This is a great opportunity to explore the grand stone hotel if you’re not staying there and to take in the gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains over dinner. Make sure to make your reservations in advance and plan to arrive for the famous sunset view.

Sunday

Now that you’ve seen the town, it’s time to visit the Biltmore. This massive estate built by the famous and very wealthy Vanderbilt family is an all-day event. Arrive early to avoid the crowds while touring the estate. Tours are self-guided, and while there is plenty of information available in the brochure, we recommend opting for the audio guide to make the most of the experience. Once you’ve explored the house, make sure to take a stroll in the nearby botanical gardens.

You can grab lunch nearby at Cedric’s Tavern at the Biltmore Village, a casual-but-sophisticated restaurant named for the Vanderbilt’s beloved Saint Bernard. Next door, you’ll also find the Biltmore winery, which is a great opportunity to taste some of the local wine or pick up last-minute gifts before heading home.

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Jamie Ditaranto visited Asheville as a guest of Explore Asheville. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto. 

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