An art deco jewel shimmering amid the misty Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Asheville once attracted Jazz Age luminaries like F. Scott Fitzgerald. Today, the city hosts a delightful mix of wealthy second home owners, bearded outdoorsy types, artists and vacationers on getaways from the big city. Long home to a thriving music and craft scene, Ashville has lately also become a hotspot for food, local beer and fashion.
Downtown Asheville is compact and easily stroll-able, its streets lined with boutiques, bars and art galleries set inside historic buildings that retain their 1920s glamour. A short drive away, West Asheville is an up-and-coming ‘hood where hipster hair salons (free beer with your trim!) abut auto body shops and old-fashioned dollar stores. Wherever you are, the dense blue-green mountains never look far away.
While many travellers use Asheville as a home base for camping and hiking trips, here’s a more urban itinerary for a perfect in-town weekend. We’ve included some of the top eating, drinking, shopping and music spots, both classic and cutting edge.
Fuel up at Asheville’s quintessential downtown brunch stop, Tupelo Honey. This cozy New Southern bistro is beloved for its sweet potato pancakes, goat cheese-spiked grits and biscuits with whipped peach butter.
Stomach full, spend the morning poking around the nearby boutiques and vintage shops. Downtown, College and Patton Streets are the main east-west drags, while Lexington and Broadway run north-south. In a renovated mechanic’s shop on Lexington, Garage 34 has a slick mix of jewelry, art and gifts made by local artisans. For local lit, head to Malaprop’s Bookstore to pick up the newest North Carolina fiction and poetry. If vintage is your thing, Hip Replacements will hit the spot.
A hotbed of music and microbreweries, Asheville allows you to combine the pleasures of live bands and cool brews. So leave your car keys in the hotel to sample the local product, starting at Jack of the Woods, a friendly Celtic pub featuring local Green Man Ale and live music ranging from classic bluegrass to gypsy-folk-funk-punk. Nearby, Lexington Avenue Brewery is known for live music and comedy acts, and beers like the spicy Belgian White. South of downtown, the French Broad Brewery (named for the city’s French Broad River) specializes in live folk music and imaginative brews like their chocolaty Anvil Porter. Soak up all that beer with a ‘soysage’ wrap or a fully-loaded veggie burger at Rosetta’s Kitchen, a late-night vegan joint that’s always packed with Asheville’s dreadlocked set.
Read more: Lonely Planet