We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving 4 1/2 hours south of Charleston brings you to Asheville, the dreamy city woven around the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville is chock full of fantastic food, delicious craft beer, boutique shopping, and the Biltmore, one of the country’s most visited attractions. Here’s what to see and do on your weekend getaway to Asheville.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN ASHEVILLE
The Biltmore Estate, the southern home of George and Edith Vanderbilt, is the grande dame of this beautiful mountain region, and a guided tour will easily take up most of your day; it is worth it. Besides visiting the actual three-story Biltmore estate, you can also shop, sip, and unwind at the Biltmore Village. You will also find plenty of spots for hiking, photography, and sightseeing. Tip: First timer should plan their visit as many of the roads inside the enormous gated property are one way.
There are many places to shop in Asheville, but one you cannot miss is the nearly 150+-year-old Mast General store, featuring men and women’s clothing, gifts, outdoor gear, food, and retro toys. Then, stop by Rocket Fizz, a fun old-school candy store with a wide array of classic sodas, great for the old and the young.
The historic Grove Arcade is another Asheville treasure trove full of shopping, dining, and an excellent photo ops spot. Battery Park Book Exchange is well worth a visit, with thousands of titles, live music on weekends, and an impressive wine and small bites menu.
Mural hunting is fun in Asheville and a great free thing to do. The adorable Dolly Parton mural (783 Haywood Road) was my favorite, but a few to add to your driving list are Lou Reed, Stay Weird, and Chicken Alley. For those seeking more art and culture, the Asheville Art Museum in the center square of downtown with American art from the 20th and 21st centuries.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Indulge in billowy biscuits, a gravy flight, pimento cheese grits, and fantastic Southern fare at Biscuit Head. Or, if you dare, try the Filthy Animal, a buttermilk biscuit with fried chicken, pimento cheese, bacon, scrambled eggs, and smothered in gravy.
I love Cedric’s Tavern at Antler Hill Village for lunch or dinner, with indoor and outdoor seating, live music nightly, and sensational craft cocktails. The ham and cheese white cheddar fondue with sourdough toast is unbelievably good. If you venture over to visit the Grove Arcade, stay for a customized burger, hot dog, or chicken sandwich and milkshake from Burgerworx, or takeout from Baba Nahm, a Mediterranean joint.
A super affordable and delicious place to eat in Asheville is White Duck Taco Shop, and there are three locations to visit. Choose from various street tacos, soups, chips and salsa, and white or red sangria. Standard Pizza Co. is another yummy option with mouth-watering pizza and calzone creations.
Asheville offers dreamy desserts, such as a pie flight from Baked Pie Company or affogato, a slice of Highland Mocha Stout cake, chocolate bonbons, or creme brûlée from French Broad Chocolate Lounge in the heart of downtown.
Asheville is a craft beer mecca, with more than 100 kinds of local beers and more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the country, 38 to be exact. Find Catawba Brewing Company in the South Slope neighborhood or enjoy the beautiful river views at New Belgium Brewing.
WHERE TO STAY IN ASHEVILLE
The Grove Park Inn is a 513-room historic hotel with excellent restaurants, shops, and a wealth of understated elegance. Rooms come in several price points, but the views from them all are sensational. You may want to sit by the stone fireplaces and sip a glass of wine or watch an incredible sunset from Sunset Terrace, Grove Park Inn’s premier restaurant. Grove Park boasts a 43,000 square-ft subterranean spa, one of the best in the world, and a championship Donald Ross golf course.
If you’d prefer a bed and breakfast experience, Carolina, Pinecrest, and Cumberland Falls are great choices.
Asheville: A Bucket List Destination
Asheville, North Carolina, offers a laidback getaway with loads of indulgences to enhance your trip and make it most memorable. From the live music options to the blue-green-hued majestic mountains, craft breweries to foodie-worthy restaurants, and historical sites to jaw-dropping art installments, Asheville is a bucket list destination everyone should check off.