Yes, you read this right- we didn’t say Nashville. We’re heading to North Carolina, people! Nashvegas may be the bachelorette central of the universe, but Asheville is actually a close contender, plus a family destination for the books. With the amount of breweries, amazing food options and plenty of outdoor adventures awaiting you, we know you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as we were by this city. We strapped on our Chaco’s for this guide to curate a mix of the emerging art and cultural scene to couple with the local southern classics.
9am | We opted to stay at the world’s cutest vintage RV campground called JuneBug Retro Resort. This husband & wife team created one of the most unique stays we could’ve imagined. Immersed inside of the gorgeous nature that makes up Asheville’s backdrop, this campground gives you that “removed from the craziness but just close enough to civilization” feeling. Each RV has their own bathroom and kitchenettes, and the campground has a brand new bathhouse. There’s plenty of activities and nature to explore around the campers, so make sure to spend some time exploring the outdoors!
355 Clarks Chapel Rd
10:00 am | High Five Coffee knows the best beans to serve their carefully crafted latte art atop. We realized extremely quickly who the go-to coffee purveyors were in the area. Counter Culture Coffee was one of the most common names we saw at each cafe, and for good reason! High Five Coffee serves classically prepared espresso drinks as well as house-made syrups for all of the sweet-tooth coffee lovers. This was the perfect first stop to get ourselves in motion for our Asheville adventure ahead. Pro Tip: There are multiple H5 coffee locations around the city, so find the one closest to you!
190 BROADWAY ST.
11:00 am | OWL, or “old world levain” bakery really transports you to a Parisian cafe where you could spend hours cozying up to a good book while sipping on your cappuccino. Each pastry is so carefully crafted- and it shows. Not only physically gorgeous, each bite is as buttery and as flakey as the last. Sweet or savory, there are no wrong choices. If you’re seeking a lighter choice, the salads are also extremely fresh and satisfying!
295 HAYWOOD ROAD
1:00 pm | We had no idea what was in store for us as we boarded the trolly from the parking lot to the Biltmore Estate (no cars are allowed on property). We all felt like we were in some sort of old world fairy tale in this magical-feeling castle. There is so much history embedded in these 1889-built mansion walls. You could spend days soaking up all of the stories and memories throughout the walking tours provided on the gardens and grounds. If you have the extra time, we definitely recommend checking out the village and winery, too.
One Lodge Street
3:00 pm | As I type this I am already craving the cinnamon rolls at BimBeriBon all over again. Seriously. This gluten-free and vegan friendly joint is out of this freaking world. A mixture of full-service restaurant, bakery, barista and bar, we could’ve eat every single meal here our whole trip. Our favorites (although it’s so hard to pick just a few), are the vegetable kafta or bibimbap bowl, and literally anything from the bakery. Do you think they’ll delver a box of cinnamon rolls to Detroit?
697 Haywood Rd
4:15 pm | You know those ice cream shops you walk into and can automatically tell how fresh the sweet, cold dairy is? Ultimate Ice Cream gave us all the feels as we walked in to find the sweetest smells imaginable, with a list of unique flavors taller than Nancy! Pro Tip: As if eating these delicious treats didn’t make us happy enough, Ultimate Ice Cream’s mission is to donate to a different non-profit every month. Cookie dough is always our go-to, but we love eating for a good cause!
195 Charlotte St
6:00 pm | Standing outside, you couldn’t imagine the cultural ambience hidden behind the front doors of Zambra. The interior finishings pair perfectly with the Spanish inspired wines and tapas to fill your heart and stomach. This is a local staple that’s been around for years and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. While you relax in Head straight for the Spanish octopus and the “cosmo” drink and never look back.
85 W Walnut St
8:00 | When someone thinks southern cooking, vegan doesn’t always top their list. Plant surpassed every amazing thing locals (and national publications) had warned us about. Seeing the line form outside well before the restaurant opened for business each day, we could see the loyalty this 3 year old outpost has cultivated. We had to start with the “cheese” board featuring aged cashew and almond ricotta substitutes that may be creamier than the real thing. We also may have ordered the Ceaser salad with tofu chicken twice, but we can’t confirm or deny these accusations. But the real star of the show here was the seitan chile con queso, with a stuffed tamale and grilled romaine lettuces. We know you’re stuffed, but you cannot leave without ordering dessert. Any of the options are life-changing, but our palates were calling for the ice cream trio. Calories don’t count when it’s vegan, right??
165 Merrimon Avenue
10:30 pm | Little Jumbo was everything we could have wished for in a cocktail bar, and then some. Every cocktail has 5 ingredients or less to expedite the process, but don’t worry, the flavor is not compromised. We were totally impressed by the Manhattan service for Two, which was presented on a silver platter with necessary accompaniments- including a bowl of cherries! That, along with the magical carrot cake that came out from behind the bar, we were happy campers. Pro Tip: Check the online schedule for the live music showings! Definitely makes the outing that much more special.
241 Broadway St.
8:00 am | Katie button has created a name for herself in Asheville food scene. The first of her concepts we visited was Button & Co Bagels. Walking into this tiny outpost made us feel all the cozy vibes we needed to start our day. A plate of lox and a box of bagels are the perfect pair. Pro tip- gluten free options are available (and equally as delicious!)
32 S. Lexington Avenue
9:30 am | High above the forests that surround the mountain, Looking Glass Rock has become the city’s iconic lookout near the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. Large, curved walls of granite and drop-offs make this hike literally breathtaking. Rumor has is that the Hunger Games were filmed around these parts, and we can see why. We actually felt like we were on the set of a movie as we took in the breathtaking views surrounding us.
12:00 pm | The Rhu, a sister restaurant of John Fleer’s Rhubarb, is part cafe, bakery and pantry that offers local foods by producers from the community. Serving breakfast and lunch, The Rhu is the perfect place to come after a beautiful hike. With enough menu items to please even the pickiest of eaters, the Rhu is your one-stop-shop for all things tasty. We were huge fans of the gluten free offerings, too!
10 S Lexington Ave.
1:30 pm | If you thought your morning hike was breathtaking, just wait until you’re soaking in the middle of a mountain. That’s right, Shoji Spa & Lounge is a Japanese inspired outdoor spa that is perched perfectly atop a beautiful rock overlooking a seemingly endless forest. Try getting a massage anywhere else after you’ve gotten one at this altitude! We had no idea what was in store for us after we left the dry cedar sauna area and headed into our private salt tub house. This was truly an experience of a lifetime and something we all still talk about today! If there’s one thing you absolutely have to do while in Asheville, it’s this. Pro Tip: Didn’t bring a robe or sandals? Don’t worry! Shoji offers these complimentary during your visit.
96 Avondale Heights Rd
3:30 pm | You may find that French Broad Chocolate logo looks a bit familiar to you, and that’s because they’re pretty darn famous! Sold in many places around the U.S., these chocolates all started in Asheville- and you can experience the process of how they’re made! The factory offers tours that dive into the sweet details with one of their staff members. Don’t forget to grab some goodies on the way out. Trust us, your loved ones will be happy you got them these instead of a keychain!
10 South Pack Square
5:00 pm | Chai Pani is one of the locally classic joints that we had to give a try. We asked every uber driver (as we always do) what one place we needed to taste while we were in town, and they all mentioned Chai Pani. This Indian street food joint was created by four-time James Beard nominated chef Meherwan Irani. Chai Pani is slang in India for going out for a snack or “little something”. We stopped in for an afternoon snack of kale fritters and fried okra so perfectly salty and sweet and tangy and juicy and every other tasty adjective your head can dream up. After indulging in these traditional snacks, take a walk downtown to shop around some of the unique offerings you won’t find anywhere else. Some of our favorite local treasures were Old North, Villagers, Virtue, and the Asheville Bee Charmer.
22 Battery Park Avenue
6:30 pm | First thing’s first with this restaurant. We were calling it the wrong name the whole time we were in town and we don’t want you to do the same. Curate is pronounced cure-at-tay. You’re welcome. The word means “cure yourself”, and that’s just what this place is set to do to your tastebuds!
Okay, now to the real goods- the FOOD. We walked into a two part restaurant that had a great vibe on either side. This Katie Button tapas bar is an all-day feel good spot focusing on authentic Spanish cuisine and all-Spanish wine list. You can’t leave without at least one order of the sangria and a few of the small hot plates to share. They’re known for the meat selection but the migas con verduras (roasted charcoal grilled vegetables with a yogurt mousse) is sure to please your veggie friendly companion.
13 Biltmore Ave
7:30 pm | The Admiral is the newest American classic diner-style restaurant in West Asheville. With all of the visual aspects of a timeless joint, The Admiral offers some very unexpected dishes that will surprise and delight any palate. We cozied up next to the outdoor fireplace and started our meal with some of the creative and beautiful cocktails that instantly brightened up our evening. As each dish came out from the kitchen, we were even more blown away than from the one before. We had to order the smoked swordfish belly and duck liver mousse just to try the unique flavor combinations listed on the menu- and let me tell you, we were so happy we did!
400 Haywood Road
8:30 pm | Asheville has more breweries per capita than any US city, and Green Man Brewery is definitely a local staple among these. The city has over 100 local brews so there are tons of options to choose from. We sat ourselves on the rooftop of Greenman and watched the sunset as we played some of the board games and sipped on our IPAs. Not a bad end to an evening.
27 Buxton Ave
9:45 pm | Catawba Brewing has 2 locations in Asheville, so if you’re popping around the Biltmore Village you can stop in for a drink, or head to the South Slope location before your end-of-the evening BBQ at Buxton Hall. We opted for the latter, as our thirst was high after consuming every sauce off of the “sauce bar” inside of the locally famous BBQ restaurant. The large, cafeteria style atmosphere took us straight to our roots as we sat down to enjoy what may have been the best southern cuisine this side of the Mississippi!
32 BANKS AVE
8:00 am | Whether you have a green thumb or low caffeine levels, Flora Cafe is here for it! This part-flower-shop-part-coffee-shop is not only aesthetically pleasing, but does wonders for the tastebuds!
428 B Haywood Road
9:00 am | We needed something quick and yummy before we left and Green Sage Cafe covered all the bases. No wonder we loved the food so much- they recently teamed up with the PLANT founder and chef, Jason Sellers. Seriously though, the BEST gluten-sensitive blueberry pancakes we’ve ever had. We ate breakfast there and grabbed a bunch of stuff for the plane-ride home. We were extremely happy with our decision nibbling on our tofu scramble wraps. Ugh. Now we’re craving a short-stack.
5 Broadway St.
Thank you to the teams of: Plant, Little Jumbo, OWL Bakery, Bim Beri Bon, French Broad Chocolates, Chai Pani, Ultimate Ice Cream, Curate, Green Man Brewery, Zambra, Buxton BBQ, Rhu, High Five Coffee, Green Sage Cafe, and the Shoji Retreat Spa for hosting us these past 48 hours.
Onto the next city!