Weekend Getaway: Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, there is a quaint town filled with charming shops, hiking trails galore, winding rivers and beer - lots of beer.
Asheville is a dining destination, hiker’s paradise and quiet retreat. It’s a kind of place where everyone greets you with a smile and strangers make you feel welcome. The people are so nice, more than five strangers got their hands dirty to get our car out of the mud! Generosity at its core - that’s just the kind of place Asheville is.
This city exceeded my expectations and if you love barbecue and days spent relaxing at breweries after a day on the trail, then this city is for you.
When to Go
We took our trip to Asheville in the middle of winter and while we expected a winter wonderland, we were greeted with 60 degrees and sunshine. It was quieter during our visit (we went in offseason) which was nice to avoid the crowds.
While we had a great time in January, late spring and summer brings warmer weather to enjoy kayaking, tube floats, outdoor concerts and hiking. We’re even trying to map out how to kayak and bike from brewery to brewery.
We traveled from BWI Airport to Asheville, taking about four hours to get there. To get around Asheville, rent a car. It is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to explore the area. We made our way through downtown Asheville and down to a small town outside of the city called Brevard to explore breweries and trails.
Where We Stayed
Other Stays That Caught Our Eye
Day 1: Getting There & Downtown Asheville
Sights to See: Downtown Asheville
Where to Eat: Buxton Hall BBQ
Drinks to Clink: Greenman Brewery, Burial Brewery, Antidote
Arrival day. The Asheville airport is easy to navigate and we were quickly able to get our car. The airport sits about 20 minutes outside the city, so you have two options: (1) You can head out of town for a hike or (2) head downtown for a drink and get the party started.
Our flight landed in the late afternoon, and we opted to head downtown and tap into the local breweries. We stopped at Greenman Brewery first to get a pint and toast to our trip.
A short walk from the brewery brought us to dinner at Buxton Barbeque. It has some of the best barbeque I’ve ever had (and I grew up around some good, smoked barbeque). Paired with a casual, industrial ambience, hot sauce bar and strong cocktails, this was our favorite restaurant from the trip.
After-dinner drinks brought us to Burial Brewing, where the Skillet Stout caught my eye, and with the homemade donut hole they place on top, it won my heart. We topped off the evening at Antidote, where the speakeasy feel charmed us right away. We opted for old fashions and finished the evening on the rooftop to enjoy the city views.
Day 2: Hiking and Breweries
Sights to See: Looking Glass Falls, Cat Gap Loop Trail, Drive Blue Ridge Parkway, Sliding Rock Falls
Where to Eat: Biscuit Head, Curate, Oskar Blues Brewery, Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria
Drinks to Clink: Oskar Blues Brewery, Ecusta Brewery
Wake up early and make your first stop Biscuit Head. The biscuits are worth the hype and going early (and off season like we did) helped us avoid a long line (locals shared that the line can go around the building sometimes!).
After carb-loading, make your way out to Brevard to explore trails and see Looking Glass Falls. The waterfall is easy to spot, and if you get there early enough, you can park alongside the steps to the entrance. The steps down are short and easy, bringing you to the perfect photo-op of the waterfall.
Full Disclosure: We wanted to drive Blue Ridge Parkway, and I highly recommend exploring the views and trails the scenic road has to offer. When we went to drive through the park, we reached closed gates and realized it was because of the government shutdown. Sometimes you have to reroute your travel plans.
The Asheville area has a variety of hikes, and we opted to do Cat Gap Loop Trail for the day from a local’s recommendation. With this trail, you decide the difficulty level. We enjoyed crossing over waterways and taking the challenging hike to the top.
After you have your fill on the trail, head to Ecusta Brewery and Oskar Blues Brewery for pints and snacks. We made our way back to downtown Asheville afterwards to cleanup and get ready for dinner. We opted to relax in the evening with tapas at Curate and late night brews and bites at Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria.
Day 3: Gardens and Breweries
Sights to See: The North Carolina Arboretum
Where to Eat: Hole Doughnuts, Hillman Beer, Zillicoach Beer Co., Rhubarb
Drinks to Clink: Brouwerïj Cursus Keme, Hillman Beer, Archetype Brewery, Ginger’s Revenge, Zillicoah Beer Co.
Holey moley. You need to start your morning at Hole Doughnuts. Fresh and made to order, these doughnuts are so good, we came back here twice during our visit.
We made our way to the North Carolina Arboretum. With trails, art installations and gardens throughout, it’s filled with beautiful sights to take in. You could even explore the trails and have a picnic on the grounds.
After walking off the donuts, with more areas to explore, we headed out to test taste the breweries. Our first stop was Brouwerïj Cursus Keme. The secluded spot, great beers and incredible industrial craftsmanship in the building made it a great spot to relax.
Our next stop for more brews and lunch was Hillman Beer. We sat outside and had one of the best reubens to enjoy the day along the creek.
Detour: Whenever we travel, we commemorate the trip with a souvenir. This time, we decided to pick up a new vinyl from Harvest Records to add to our collection.
Next stop, make your way to Archetype Brewery before heading across town to Ginger’s Revenge for, yes, you guessed it, more beer. We were able to fit in one more stop at Zillicoach Beer Co. before our dinner reservations.
Settled alongside a river with firepits, friendly locals, great beer and a taco truck, this spot became one of our favorites in Asheville. It’s not the most glamorous spot, but it’s the kind of brewery where the locals go and you can sit back and watch the sunset disappear behind the mountains.
We ended the evening with a reservation at Rhubarb. Treat yourself to this restaurant if you can. The cocktails, charcuterie, farm fresh cuisine and cozy atmosphere made it a phenomenal dinner.
Day 4: Brunch and Brews
Sights to See: Downtown Asheville
Where to Eat: Tupelo Honey, Sierra Nevada Brewery
Drinks to Clink: Belgium, Wicked Weed, Sierra Nevada Brewery
Our flight was scheduled in the evening, so we took our time to enjoy our last day in Asheville.
First stop: Tupelo Honey. This is where you should start your day with homemade biscuits and the Smokey Mountain whiskey cocktail. Why? Because it’s the last day of your vacation and you deserve it.
Next stop, walk downtown Asheville to check out the shops, and then make your way to Wicked Weed Brewery and Belgium Brewery for some flights. The views from Belgium Brewery are beautiful, and if you like to bike, check out the bike path that runs next to it along the river.
Sierra Nevada Brewery was the grand finale of our trip. Located conveniently next to the airport, we took our time to have dinner and tap into their brews.
Travel Tip: Sierra Nevada Brewery tours book up months in advance. Make your reservations early if you can.
The brewery is massive and gives you the opportunity to do a self-tour. We took our pints, explored the grounds and cozied up to a fire pit. Not a bad way to end the trip.