Summer Vacation Series: Asheville, NC
Oh Asheville, how I love thee. Let me count the ways...brunch, beer, mountains, quiet, retreat to name a few.
Asheville is one of my favorite cities. It's by far our favorite drive-able weekend getaway. Only 3.5 hours from Atlanta, it's a beautiful drive there, and if you're anything like me and love to eat and drink your way through new cities, this is the perfect place.
Can we all agree that brunch is the best meal of the day? Asheville has so many great brunch spots that if we're only there for a weekend, we have to strategize which ones to visit, because it's a really hard decision! Sunny Point Cafe has the BEST Huevos Rancheros and makes their own jam for their biscuits (a must try!). Biscuit Head has biscuits that are literally (said in a Chris Traeger voice) almost the size of your head with all kinds of toppings (the brisket one with goat cheese and hollandaise sauce is my favorite!). Early Girl Eatery has a pork hash breakfast bowl that will make you want to punch someone in the face it's so good (Ryan and I normally share meals when ordering out, but this one I have to keep for myself). Tupelo Honey Cafe has a fantastic fried chicken bowl and great biscuits with a homemade blueberry compote, but they've recently added a few locations around the south (Atlanta included) so we don't make as much of a point to visit when in Asheville.
There are so many breweries in Asheville that I don't even know how to narrow it down. With 30 breweries within the city limits (which the city of Asheville really isn't that big), you can find a new brewery each time you visit! Some of the breweries we make a point to visit each time are Green Man (European-style ales, and if you like porters you will LOVE theirs), Burial Beer Co. (they have the best saison I've ever tasted), Archetype (relatively new and lots of solid beers), and Sierra Nevada (it's so glorious it gets its own paragraph later).
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
If you're a home-brewer, love beer, and/or are interested in the brewing process, Sierra Nevada is beer Mecca. It's no wonder that they've earned the name "Malt Disney." They have a gorgeous property, where the driveway is lined with bronze hop flowers on the fence. When you pull up to the building, you see solar panels and one of the most impressive brewhouses you've ever seen. Fermenters and brite tanks raise above the roof (they had to build the roof around the tanks), which goes to show the sheer amount of beer they brew to supply the east coast.
Originally out of Chico, California, Sierra Nevada is family owned and focuses their efforts on making outstanding classic beers in a sustainable way. Complete with a brewpub offering beers from their in-house pilot system and farm-to-table food from local vendors (the pimento beer cheese is reason enough to go there), you can spend an entire day touring the facility and enjoying a meal with a beer in their backyard area. It's truly a stunning facility and such a great place to enjoy a beer, some food, the great outdoors, and good company.
Food Other Than Brunch
For meals other than brunch, there are a ton of great options. The good thing about Asheville is that you can go get a really nice meal without having to get all gussied up. Asheville dressy is at most business casual, which is refreshing if you're out and about all day. The Bull and Beggar is a fantastic European restaurant and a great option for a special occasion. Rhubarb has incredible farm to table cuisine and is right in the heart of downtown, and their goat cheese burrata is to die for. Storm is a great place with an in house rhum bar, and I highly recommend a rum/rhum flight. If you're looking for a more low-key setting, Pack's Tavern has a great rotating beer list (like Bourbon County on draught good beer list) along with modern pub fare. White Duck Taco Shop may be one my favorites. There are two locations in Asheville (one downtown and one riverfront) and a third location in Arden, NC. These are some of the most flavorful and creative tacos I've ever had, and you can have a filling dinner without breaking the bank. Always a good quality in my book.
For after-desserts and coffee, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge is a must during your visit. Ryan and I make a point to go every time we're in Asheville, and there's always a rotating counter of various desserts, truffles, and gelato. Again, Ryan and I usually share when we eat out, but not here. There are too many good things to only choose one. Located in downtown, it's a great place to wind down for the night while enjoying desserts, some of which are infused with local beers. :)
Things to Do & Places to See
There are so many options for every kind of traveler going to Asheville—hiking, culture, farmer's markets, food, beer, wine, and coffee to name a few. The French Broad River Park is a great place to go for a walk that's right in the city, and the scenery is just beautiful (especially in the spring or the fall).
Battery Park Book Exchange in downtown is probably one of our favorites. Ryan and I love to go do coffee and play cards, and this combo coffee shop/champagne bar/book shop is a great place to sit and hang for a while. With big leather chairs and marble tables, it has a quint but regal feel. Not to mention you're steps from a myriad of local shops and restaurants.
If you've never been to the Biltmore Estate, it's a fantastic sight to behold. The house is huge and immaculately decorated, with rotating exhibits throughout the year. If you can, book a guided tour with them. We've done the Rooftop Tour and the "Behind the Scenes" Tour, where we were able to see the grounds from the roof of the building, see the rafters and how the slate shingles are attached, and see the servants' hallways and quarters not accessible with a regular walkthrough of the house.
The gardens are beautiful to visit in the spring and the fall. Biltmore Blooms is an event usually April-May each year, where there are more than 130,000 flowers in bloom, and some of the most beautiful colors of tulips I've ever seen.
Antler Village is home to the farmstead and the winery, and a general admission ticket entitles you to a wine tasting. Walking trails and fields full of sunflowers line the drive from the house to Antler Village, and if you have time, walking the property is a great way to explore the Biltmore's backyard and take in the beauty of Asheville.
So, if you're visiting Asheville, there's something for everyone. Whether you enjoy the great outdoors, history, culture, or food, there's no shortage of options to enjoy your stay.