Good food, good drinks, and lots of rest. These are the pillars of a great vacation, and exactly what Matt and I experienced in Asheville, North Carolina.
When I read that one of my favorite magazines, Travel + Leisure, named Asheville as one of the Best Cities in the U.S., I added it to my never-ending list of places to visit. Luckily, Matt and I were planning on attending a dear friend’s wedding in nearby Lake Lure, so we decided to make Asheville our home for a few days.
Asheville is a vibrant mountain city, surrounded by the gorgeous Blue Ridge mountains, and offers a blend of arts and culture, outdoor adventures, and plenty of gustatory gems. Every single person we met was warm and helpful, brimming with Southern charm (not the Bravo show! I mean the real deal, friendly and polite). We can’t wait to come back again someday. In the meantime, I put together a quick list for those of you who might also be planning a trip to this thriving city.
Things to do in Asheville, North Carolina
1. Visit a brewery (or two or ten)
Asheville has more craft breweries per capita than any other U.S. city, so my beer-loving boyfriend was in hops heaven. Lucky for me, every brewery we visited not only offered plenty of beer options for me (fruity beers, cider, even sparkling wine), but also boasted some of the best foods in the city.
The beer flights and the magnificent cake above are from Bhramari Brewhouse, located right in downton Asheville. They have a wide beer selection, live music, and a fun and relaxed vibe. They also have one of the best cakes I’ve ever had, which was called “That’s a Stout… Cake!” – it’s a beautiful layer of chocolate stout cake (made with Bhramari beer, of course), elderflower cheeesecake, chocolate mousse, panna cotta, drunken strawberries, and hazelnut crispies. Yes, all of this in one cake! It was delicious, and I paired it with their featured champagne. They also have a kombucharia. That’s right, they make their own kombucha.
The top picture on this blog post, and the picture below is from Wedge Brewing Company. This brewery is located near the art galleries and had a very low-key, artsy feel. We met up with a couple of friends at Wedge, and we sampled the fare from one of their regular food trucks, El Kimchi Food Truck.
We had a bulgogi torta, a taco sampler, spicy pork bibimbap, and chicken bibimbap. I never would’ve thought that Mexican food and Korean food would go so well together, but they do.
Kombucharia? Fusion food truck? The breweries were so trendy and on point, it’s apparent why they usually take the number one spot on places to visit in Asheville.
2. Stay at Abbington Green
Matt and I stayed at a luxury bed and breakfast inn called Abbington Green and we had such an incredible experience. First of all, they serve a lavish multi-course breakfast every morning in the dining room, served in crystal and china, made with local and substantially organic ingredients. We tried yogurt and berry trifles, homemade croissants, the most perfect poached eggs in Eggs Benedict, bacon with veggie frittata, blueberry banana bread, and many other mouth-watering offerings. Everything was fresh and tastes like it came out of a gourmet kitchen. I also very much appreciate the little details and personalized touches (they served me sweet tea every morning, and gave Matt coffee, after they asked us about our preferences). Plus they host happy hour every day!
Second, the entire place is beautiful. Even the bathroom light fixtures look like art, and every room, every corner, every nook and cranny is bursting with elegance and Colonial-Revival style. Abbington Green is listed as the Jackson-Peyton House on the National Historic Registry, and the house was designed by the chief architect of the Biltmore House. The inn is fully refurbished and is located in the historic Montford district in Asheville.
Last but most memorable are the people and their impeccable service. We were personally attended to by one of the owners and innkeeper, Nick Poulos, and we also had some very nice interactions with the rest of the staff, particularly Carey and Zack. We felt very welcome and nurtured.
I want to point out that our stay at Abbington Green was on our credit cards and had nothing to do with my blog or blog perks. I was not given any special treatment, as we can clearly see that they treat each and every guest with the same class and care. I am so impressed with the rooms, the food, and the service at Abbington Green that I highly recommend it as a “must” when you go to Asheville.
3. Take a day trip to Lake Lure
(photo taken by Matt)
We went to Rumbling Bald resort for two nights, for my friend Beth’s wedding and rehearsal dinner. Quick trivia: Rumbling Bald is where a lot of the Dirty Dancing movie scenes were filmed! (PS – there’s an annual Dirty Dancing festival in Lake Lure where you can relive Baby’s first dance.) There’s a lot of outdoorsy things you can do in Lake Lure, and even the view going down from Asheville is breath-taking, and you can take in the beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains and Chimney Rock.
(pic stolen from my friend Amy’s instagram)
As for the wedding, we had a blast! Beth got married to a wonderful man named David, and the Supper Club ladies were there in full force. Long time readers of this blog might remember that my girl friends and I are in a Supper Club where we visit a Boston restaurant each month. I love these ladies and I was so happy that Matt and I were able to celebrate Beth with all of them <3
4. Visit the Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore is America’s largest privately owned house, and it is magnificent. George W. Vanderbilt created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life for his family and friends. The house, gardens, and winery sit on a 8,000-acre estate, and remains a sterling example of the Gilded Age.
I’ve seen other Vanderbilt mansions in Newport, Rhode Island (on a side note, I love going to the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival, and I’m bummed I missed it this year) but the Biltmore sits on a vastly massive piece of real estate. I loved looking at the Winter Garden with its glass roof and lush greenery. I was also enthralled by the banquet hall, which gave me all the Game of Thrones feels.
We unfortunately did not make it to the winery because we had to catch our flight (no other excuse was acceptable) but we are definitely coming back here to explore more next time.
5. Relax and enjoy your trip
Do you think Matt looks like a politician here and I’m the politician’s wife and we are welcoming you to our home/Abbington Green? Okay, thanks.
It should go without saying that the point of a vacation is rest and relaxation, but sometimes we (I) tend to overplan and stuff our scheduled with back-to-back activities. But not for this trip. In Asheville, we slept in, had languid meals, met up with friends, and really felt well-rested. We had some really good drinks and ate a lot of delicious food, and this was our last meal before we went to the airport:
The seasonal salad with fried chicken from Chestnut. After all, I can’t go to the South without eating some fried chicken. I couldn’t get enough of this salad, with heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, toasted pine nuts, a salami crisp, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil from the store next door, Olive and Kickin’. It was the perfect ending to the perfect vacation.
We’d love to go back and visit more breweries, art galleries, see live music, and try many more restaurants. I highly recommend that you do so, too. It’s a great city to have the time of your lives (sorry, couldn’t help the Dirty Dancing reference!)
Do you have any travel plans in the near future? I’d love to hear it!