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Travel: 10 Things to do in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Biltmore banquet hall

Everyone knows that if you’re going to Asheville, a visit to the mind-blowing Biltmore Estate is mandatory, but did you also know that Asheville also offers a thriving arts and crafts community, a plethora of restaurants offering a cornucopia of international cuisine, a shopper’s paradise filled with various indie boutiques-many located in a beautifully restored Woolworth’s and a gorgeous walkable downtown filled with outstanding Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Neoclassical buildings?

 

Here are 10 favorite “must do and sees” recommended by Asheville insiders:

 

1. Take a stroll through the River Arts District Artists (RADA) a hip, resurrected warehouse district filled with 150 artist work studios and galleries. It’s great fun to watch the artists in action and buy straight from the creative source.

 

2. Grab some take-out (and plenty of napkins) at 12 Bones Smokehouse, the President Obama’s favorite local “Q” stop. Must order: Blueberry Chipotle Ribs, Smoked Potato Salad and Sweet Vinegar ‘Slaw. Note: They are open for lunch only.

 

3. Guided tours run the gamut from a walking tour of the Montford Historic District, a zany LaZoom Comedy Tour bus, or the truly brave can join the Haunted Asheville Ghost Tour, which includes a stop at the old jail and gallows.

 

4. More the independent type? Follow the self-guided 1.7-mile Asheville Urban Trail map. Highlights include beautiful Art Deco buildings, 30 bronze outdoor sculptures and local writer; Thomas Wolfe’s neighborhood.

 

5. Downtown may be small but it offers a wealth of night time entertainment. Culture lovers can get their fix by catching a live performance at the Community Theatre, the Contemporary Dance Theatre, the Lyric Opera, or Asheville’s Symphony Orchestra-marking it’s 50th season.

 

6. The Friday night drum circle at Pritchard Park has been a town tradition for the last decade. Dozens of enthusiastic drummers provide a throbbing beat that will get you up and dancing in no time.

 

7. For breathtaking views drive, hike or bike a patch of the magnificent Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive”, winding through the Southern Appalachians.

 

8. Wind down at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, which houses the world’s largest collection of arts and crafts furniture. The award-winning 43,000 sq. foot spa’s main feature is a spectacular subterranean Grotto Pool Area with underwater music, waterfalls and a cooling lap pool.

 

9. Recently voted Beer City USA, Asheville offers more breweries per capita than any US city. Asheville Brews Cruise offers a behind-the-scenes tour complete with designated driver. Try Highland’s Brewing’s unique Mocha Stout Ice Cream.

 

10. The piece de resistance still has to be exploring the 250 rooms of the Biltmore House, America’s largest home. You can easily spend the whole day spending the day touring the home (don’t miss the servants’  domain, complete with a gigantic rotisserie kitchen, canning room, bakery, etc.) extensive gardens, and Antler Hill Village, which encompasses a farm, barn, kitchen garden, award-winning winery, Mrs. Vanderbilt’s 1913 car and other historical exhibits.

The Doubletree Biltmore is located right next door and makes a dandy headquarters for your stay-particularly if you opt to upgrade to their tastefully appointed new Vanderbilt Executive Tower. This wing is loaded with amenities such as their cloud-like bed, indoor saline pool, full breakfast with omelet station and those hot chocolate chip cookies.

About Janice Nieder

Janice Nieder
Janice Nieder could be the love child of Indiana Jones and Julia Child. Previously a specialty food consultant in NYC, Janice is currently a SF-based culinary tourism writer who has wined & dined her way through 80 countries

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5 comments

  1. Neo Cantino is the coolest restaurant ever! And the smartest! They are hosting the Money Academy Summer Camp, new in Asheville this year. Check it out at: http://www.themoneyacademy.net

  2. I have doen all 10 and could add 10 more but these are great

  3. When I planned my recent vacation, I alloted one day to tour the Biltmore. It is so vast with so much to do, that you could spend a few days there. Other than the tour there’s Antler Villiage, as well as a really neat restaurant in the carriage house. While there take advantage of the many walking trails around the ponds, and walk through the garden.

    I did the walking audio tour of the house and it was full of information. I was already on information overload so I didn’t take the other guided tours. It was more than enough for me.

  4. I think the important thing here is not just to be a “sightseer”: you can do that anywhere. GO to the drum circle, sit down in a pub and chat with someone, go for a hike. Stop by the Firestorm Cafe and Books, an underground anarchist’s employee-owned collective which is full of harmless weirdos and makes good sandwiches. Avoid chain restaurants at all costs, instead go to local places and ask, “Is this organic, local, vegan, and gluten-free?” Actually, you won’t have to ask. Every place prides itself in the quality of its food and has it explained on the menu. Don’t just observe Asheville; immerse yourself in it. It’s like noplace else.

  5. I just met a colleague from Charlotte who was told me the Biltmore
    and Asheville should move to number one on my vacation list!
    I am going to plan a trip soon and take my mom…so easy…I can
    just follow the 10 impt. to do’s in your article and euraka! sightseeing
    planning is done/
    thx!

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