Photo by Bridget Nurre Jennions
For breakfast, check out TacoBilly (pictured above), a hot new West Asheville spot that serves breakfast tacos all day. At less than $4 apiece, each taco is overloaded with local ingredients like veggie chorizo, goat cheese, avocado and more on your choice of a flour, corn, or plantain tortilla. One should be more than enough to prime your stomach for the next stop: the farmers market. With fresh produce and samples abounding, visit one of Asheville’s countless farmer’s markets to try anything from homemade kimchi to ghee. Don’t be surprised if you also find yourself being talked into joining a flash mob to counter deforestation. The Western North Carolina Farmers Market is one of Asheville’s largest and is open every day year-round.
Photo by Bridget Nurre Jennions
Before heading off to lunch, check out one of Asheville’s newest cultural attractions, aSHEville Museum. The museum, which opened in July 2014, tells stories of the triumphs and challenges of women and girls around the world. The permanent exhibit on the 16 women who have won the Nobel Peace Prize is particularly inspiring.
You’ll have a chance to discuss the feats you just learned about on the 20 minute walk over to Gan Shan Station where you will find the city’s best Asian fusion. Named for the Sunset Mountain neighborhood of Asheville where the chef was raised, the restaurant serves up a rotating menu of Asian classics like ramen noodles and Korean fried chicken. Go from Sunset Mountain to the Blue Ridge Mountains (you will need a car for the 20 mile drive) to take in some of the area’s best natural scenery. The Craggy Pinnacle Trail provides the perfect taste of what the Blue Ridge Parkway has to offer by way of a quick hike with rewarding late afternoon views.
You can’t leave Asheville without visiting one of city’s breweries (more than 20 to choose from), so grab a post-hike beer at one of our favorites: Burial Beer Co. Check out their take on your favorite traditional ale or lager, or simply work your way through our list of the brewery’s highlights. If you’ve gone for option two, you might be in need of a good burger. A 20-minute bus ride on the W1 or W2 away (plus a little walking), Smoky Park Supper Club, a restaurant housed in a shipping container on the French Broad River, serves a great burger, as well as a wide range of wood-grilled and roasted locally sourced meats. Definitely make this your dinner stop. From there, round out your time in Asheville by checking out the local music scene. The Orange Peel is one of the city’s mainstay venues where you can find a variety of artists from Henry Rollins to Matisyahu.
Asheville Regional Airport is located about 20 minutes south of the city (right next to the Sierra Nevada Brewery, just sayin’) and serviced by regular connections from Charlotte, Atlanta, Newark, and Chicago. The city is also less than a five-hour drive from major southern cities like Atlanta, Nashville, Charleston, and Savannah.
Where to Stay
For a taste of true southern hospitality, indulge yourself with a few nights at the five-room Bunn House or snag one of The Windsor’s 14 rustic modern suites. Both inns offer modern luxury while celebrating the turn of the century charm of the buildings in which they are housed.
For more affordable accommodations, try the quirky Airbnb rentals or the Sweet Peas Hostel, which boasts a central location on top of Lexington Avenue Brewery and clean, comfortable beds starting from $28 per night.
Breathtaking Balkans columnist Bridget Nurre Jennions is an Emmy-winning TV journalist and an international development specialist in Kosovo. Follow her travels on her blog, Bridgekrieg.