A Tourists’ Guide to Asheville NC

Sharing my recommendations on the best places to eat, fun things to do and best places to shop in Asheville, NC!

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I cannot be more excited to be sharing today’s post with y’all! As you may know, a few weeks ago the fella and I spent a few days in Asheville, North Carolina celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary, sans kids! I am not exaggerating when I say that we ate our way through downtown, and we still didn’t even hit all the spots that got recommended to us. But we made sure to hit all the must-visit places and captured a few sunsets along the way. All in all, Asheville was far and wide one of the most beautiful and interesting places I’ve ever gotten the chance to visit. Kevin and I are already plotting our next trip to the charming city, and are even considering taking the kids with us. We’ll see, but until then read on for my recommendations on where to eat, what do do and where to shop in Asheville, NC! You can also find my post on the 20 Instagrammable Murals in Asheville!

Before I jump into to the good stuff, I want to give a few notes regarding transportation around the city. If you’re staying in downtown, which I highly suggest, you won’t really need a car as there are plenty of restaurants and shops to get you through a weekend. However, if you are driving, the parking garages are really affordable and there are plenty to choose from. There is also street parking available but that could get really crowded depending on the time of day. Otherwise, Uber and Lyft do operate in the city if you want to venture out to the Biltmore or any of the surrounding areas.

 A Tourists’ Guide to Asheville, NC

First things first, let’s start with the food because if we’re going to be real here, the best part about any trip is the food! Y’all, Asheville did not disappoint in the food department.

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Where to Eat

Early Girl Eatery – This is a must when you’re in town! I highly recommend visiting EGE for breakfast; I ordered the fried green tomatoes napoleon with home fries and coffee and the fella got the porky’s BBQ breakfast bowl. Both plates whipped clean!

City Bakery – This cafe was located right across the street from our hotel (Aloft Downtownso it became a staple in our morning routine! The honey lavender latte was delicious and become a staple when we stopped in; I also recommend trying the avocado melt, the ham & Swiss croissant and the Hawaiian sandwich. If you’re looking for sweet treats the cinnamon roll was amazing and so was the sweet potato cupcake with cream cheese frosting!

Double D’s Coffee and Desserts – This place was soo cool! A cafe housed within a double decker bus, hell yes! I’m still kicking myself for stopping in on the very last day of the trip, but I would suggest grabbing a cup of their creme brulee latte!

Chestnut – This restaurant was by far my favorite from the entire trip! The lobster bisque is to die for but the pork belly torta with pimento pasta salad is where it’s at! I also suggest ordering an alcoholic beverage from their extensive list. My husband orders the Cuban sliders and gave them two thumbs up.

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White Duck Taco – Come on, you know this place would be on the list if you’re a local! Yaaass to street tacos, always! We got to taste many of the taco options available including Korean bbq, Thai chicken, pork belly (my favorite!), black bean, bbq carnitas and the duck taco.

The Black Bird – This was another winner in my book! I highly recommend stopping by for brunch and ordering the huevos rancheros and the avocado toast. Oh and don’t forget a glass, or two, of the crowbar mimosa!

Tupelo Honey – Instead of a bread basket upon your arrival, this place serves warm biscuits with blueberry jam and honey. Praise be is that a warm welcome! The fried chicken sandwich was good but the blackberry jam ribs are where it’s at!

Curate – Looking for tapas, this is the place for you! The pan de tomate was a favorite for both myself and my husband, and the jumbo garlic prawn was good too. Their wine selection is top notch!

Red Stag Grill – Located within the Grand Bohemian Hotel, Red Stag Grill is a must if you like meat and want a fancy dinner. I started off with the squash bisque and it did not disappoint! For dinner I had the jumbo scallops and my husband ordered the bison steak – we both ate every last bit. For dessert I recommend the white chocolate challah bread custard or the apple strudel.

Strada Italiano – Italian food is a must on all vacations, am I right!? They use all locally grown ingredients and produce and the food is made by scratch as it’s ordered. The short rib gnocchi could feed a village. I would definitely say this is a meal to share! The chicken piccata was really good, too. But you have to start off with the arrenccini and a glass of the house red.

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Lobster Trap – Make sure to add this to your list when heading to Asheville! Another bowl of the lobster bisque for us and this one was a winner. I’d also recommend the lobster newberg and the whole steamed lobster. They also give offer a smoked trout dip with crackers for starters which was soo good, and you’ve gotta try a glass of the Bold Rock Carolina hard apple cider.

Village Social – I stopped by Village Social for apps while visiting the Biltmore and I’m so happy we did! The crab bisque was yummy and you’ve gotta try the prosciutto wrapped scallops.

Manicomio Pizza – This place was right by our hotel and we grab a couple pizzas for our drive back home. We got the Hawaiian which was good, but we also got another with sausage and black olives which was better.

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Marble Slab Creamery – Gah, so stinkin’ good! They have white chocolate waffle cones, y’all, white chocolate! You’ve gotta try the strawberry milkshake, simple but it hits the spot!

Sunshine Sammie’s – Handcrafted ice cream sandwiches my friends, and their as big as your face! I would recommend getting the snicker doodle sandwich or the salted caramel.

French Board Chocolate Lounge – Any sweet treat you want, you’ll find it there. They seriously had anything and everything chocolate!

Kilwins – We always hit up a Kilwins if there’s one in town, it’s tradition. Awesome fudge and salted caramel dipped rice crispy treats, nuff said!

What to Do

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Lexington Glassworks – This is a glassblowing studio and gallery located next to Sunshine Sammie’s. They allow you to view the glassblowing process from start to finish and have the most amazing pieces that can also be purchased.
Elk River Falls – Located within the Pisgah National Forest, Elk River Falls is about a five minute trail to a beautiful waterfall. There are plenty of flat rocks to sit and enjoy the view or partake in a picnic.

Blue Ridge Parkway – On our road trip to Asheville we made sure to make stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway. You want to get a good look at the mountainous beauty that Asheville holds, BRP is a must! It can be hiked, but if you’re not into that you can drive along side it and make stops like we did. My favorite spot was Mt. Mitchell at sunset.

Urban Trail Walking Tour – Explore Asheville with a walking tour around the city! This is a great way to not just get to know the history, but a great way to stumble upon shops and restaurants which was what happened to us. There are roughly 30 sculptural “trail stations” that you can find – from statues, to monuments, to plaques on the ground with historical facts about the city – the walking tour is a fun way to spend a few hours learning about Asheville.

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Mural Hunting – If this is not a thing, I made it one! Kevin and I had so much fun stumbling from mural to mural that we made an activity out of it! There are so much more murals that we didn’t capture, I could probably dedicate another post to the Asheville street art scene!

The Montford Rooftop Bar – Looking to get a killer view of the sunset and and an even better view of Asheville, the Montford Rooftop Bar let’s you do just that and they serve drinks!
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Biltmore Estate – No Asheville travel guide is complete without the Biltmore Estate. Gah, this was my favorite attraction of the whole trip! Built by the famous Vanderbilt family and dubbed America’s largest home, Biltmore is a must when visiting Asheville. You can tour the compound yourself or via their audio guides or behind the scenes tours – either way you’re in for an extravagant treat! The estate also offers wine tastings and outdoor activities like a Land Rover tour are available seasonally. While we were there a blown glass exhibit was being displayed by Dale Chihuly and it was featured throughout the outside and main level of the compound. All in all, the Biltmore was so beautiful to tour!

Nantahala National Forest – I would recommend doing this as a half-day activity for any Asheville itinerary. Apparently Nantahala National Forest is the largest national forest in North Carolina and spans from Asheville to a whole slew of other small towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We visited Dry Falls, Silver Run Falls and Whitewater Falls. There are a ton of hiking trails, camping grounds and outdoor activities like white water rafting, a zip line and paddle boarding. Be aware a car is needed if you want to go falls hopping like we did.

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Where to Shop

Asheville had so many cute shops, especially in downtown, I wish I was able to visit all the one’s I didn’t stop in to. Here are a list of my favorites from our trip. Some are higher end boutiques and others sold handmade goods. At the end of the day I spent far to much time in each, just ask the fella!

Hazel Twenty | Ten Thousand Villages | Union Boutique | Frock | Vagabond Trader | Kress Emporium | Curio Toy Store

I did also do some secondhand shopping as a fun way to get something to commemorate the trip! This is a new tradition I’ve started and loved stumbling around Asheville for thrifted treasures! Be prepared for some Wardrobe Diaries posts features some of my loot!

CarePartners Foundation Thrift Store – 75 Fairview Rd, Asheville, NC 28803

Rescue Mission – 1078 Tunnel Rd, Asheville, NC 28805

The Regeneration Station – 26 Glendale Ave B, Asheville, NC 28803

Second Chances Thrift Store – 49 Glendale Ave, Asheville, NC 28803

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