Asheville, North Carolina is the very definition of a “breath of fresh air.” The city, tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, delivers on southern hospitality in droves. With stellar views, cultural attractions, a long summer season, plentiful accommodations, and multiple breweries to kick back a pint, it’s where every kind of traveler can find their slice of paradise.
Asheville is a destination that perfectly blends a city feel with country roots, a sense of old meets new, and a welcoming feel that envelops every guest in a warm embrace, making it an easy place to fall in love with. Here’s what you need to know to plan the perfect little getaway in Asheville, North Carolina.
Related: The 12 Best Small Towns in North Carolina
What to Know About Asheville
Asheville has an identity all its own. It’s eclectic and fun, vibrant and creative, and a place where tradition still exists in all the best ways, including the preservation of its historic buildings and through its long-running events like Shindig on the Green, a free concert series celebrating mountain bluegrass music. Come here ready to indulge in plenty of art, including the kind made by man and the kind made by Mother Nature, thanks to the town’s easy access to the mountains.
When to Go to Asheville
While we’d never say there’s a bad time to go to Asheville, there may be better times than others, depending on your tolerance for cold weather. There are four very clearly defined seasons in Asheville, but its warm season, Weatherspark reported, typically runs from late May through mid-September, when temperatures hit at or around 76°F. The warmest month is July when temperatures hover around 82°F.
In contrast, its winters are short but biting. Weatherspark added that the cold season usually falls between late November and February, with temperatures rarely going above 54°F.
One benefit of visiting during the colder months is that you’ll usually find thinner crowds. It’s a time when you may be able to find reduced prices on accommodations, shorter lines in local attractions, and reservations at area restaurants more easily accessible.
That said, there’s a reason summer and fall are so popular here. First, the glorious weather in the summer allows for endless adventure in area attractions, which is then followed by a spectacular fall kaleidoscope of colors with the changing of the leaves. Its prime leaf-peeping season, Explore Asheville explained, is the first week of November, making a late fall visit a must.
Things to Do in Asheville
Explore the Blue Ridge Parkway.
You may not be able to drive the entire Blue Ridge Parkway on your visit (it does snake through both Virginia and North Carolina for some 469 miles, making it America’s longest linear park), but you can at least get a taste for it as it passes right through Asheville. Stop at the visitor center at milepost 384 in Asheville and meander through the drive, stopping at as many viewpoints as you’d like to take it all in. There are plenty of trails available for those who want to get out and stretch their legs. Find a host of options organized by mile marker here.
Soak in the culture at the River Arts District.
The River Arts District is a booming neighborhood absolutely brimming with talent. Several hundred artists show off their goods across the industrial and historical buildings, including painters, ceramicists, jewelry makers, potters, antique dealers, and so much more. The district is worthy of planning an entire day around, and luckily you can, as it’s also home to copious coffee shops, restaurants, and bars, making it possible to nibble all day in between viewings.
Stop and smell the flowers at The North Carolina Arboretum.
Want even more fresh air? Stop in at the North Carolina Arboretum, a more than 400-acre park located just minutes from town. Here, guests will find a variety of flora and fauna, including a gorgeous Bonsai exhibition, as well as 10 miles of hiking and biking trails that can be used all year long. Don’t miss the garden’s art, culture, and science exhibitions so you can walk away both refreshed and a little more educated than when you started. (Daytime admission is free, however, there is a $16 parking fee.)
See the Biltmore Estate.
Thought there weren’t any castles in the U.S.? Think again. The Biltmore Estate is a fairytale home built in the late 1800s by George Vanderbilt and is still owned by his descendants today. The family maintains the home’s classical charm, its perfectly manicured gardens, and a vineyard, all dotting the 8,000-acre estate. Guests are welcome to come to enjoy it all with various ticketing options, and children under nine can always visit for free.
Take a brewery tour.
Asheville is home to a great brewery scene. In fact, according to Explore Asheville, it’s home to “more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S.” There are dozens of breweries worthy of your time, which means it may be best to experience them all on a brewery tour. Asheville Brewery Tours offers several options, including a three-hour downtown walking tour that visits three breweries for three tastes. But if you’re looking for more, you can always book the private tour option and craft a four-brewery tour for you and your friends too.
See the best craftwork in Appalachia at the Folk Art Center.
Get one more taste of local life at the Folk Art Center. The center is the home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which aims to highlight local artisans from Southern Appalachia. At the center, guests can explore three fine galleries and browse the exhibitions or find the right souvenir to take home with them. And, guests visiting from March through December can also take part in a daily craft demonstration to learn something new.
Hotels in Asheville
The Omni Grove Park Inn
Get a taste for true luxury at The Omni Grove Park Inn, a hotel that prides itself on its “tradition of southern hospitality” that also happens to come with the stunning backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Guests here may never want to leave as this Asheville hotel comes with a stellar subterranean spa, has four different locally-sourced restaurants to try, and is home to its own Donald Ross-designed course.
The Biltmore Estate
Oh, you need even more grandeur? Then book a stay at the aforementioned Biltmore Estate. The Inn at The Biltmore allows guests to live just like the Vanderbilts in three distinct accommodation options; Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, The Inn at Biltmore Estate, and Cottages on Biltmore Estate. While every choice is excellent, the cottages afford a bit more space to spread out with family and friends and come with cozy furnishings that will make you feel right at home.
Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph Collection
For a more boutique-style stay, check into Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph Collection. The hotel, located next to The Biltmore Estate, comes with equally grand aesthetics, including a common sitting area that resembles a hunting lodge, and rooms boasting large soaking tubs and plush bedding to truly allow guests to relax away their every care. It doesn’t hurt that it also comes with a full-service spa to work out any remaining knots.
How to Get to Asheville
Those looking to get as close as possible can fly into the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) with direct flights on Delta, Allegiant, American Airlines, and United, from cities like Atlanta, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, and more (Jetblue also flies seasonally to the airport).
Travelers from further away can also find flights to either Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) in Charlotte, North Carolina or McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville, Tennessee. Both airports are about 125 miles away in either direction. It’s best to rent a car for your stay in Asheville, even if you’re flying into the regional airport, as some attractions are a bit out of town, and the Blue Ridge Parkway is ideal for scenic drives.