48 Hours in Asheville, NC
April 2, 2019
Planning on traveling to Asheville, North Carolina for a vacation destination? Nowadays Asheville is one of the hottest travel destinations in the Southeast. CNN Travel listed Asheville as one of the “18 Best Places to Visit in 2018” (Jan. 2018). It is a quick four hour drive from Charleston which makes it the perfect weekend getaway. This mountain-nestled city offers art, farm-to-table food, plenty of breathtaking views and outdoor activities. Long home to a thriving music and art scene, Asheville has lately also become a hotspot for food, local beer and fashion. This 48-hour itinerary includes the iconic Biltmore Estate along with beautiful scenery and delicious food.
In terms of accommodations, there’s a little something for everyone in Asheville — from budget-friendly hostel bunkbeds to a luxury mountain retreat in a AAA Four Diamond hotel. We decided to stay at the Hyatt Place Downtown Asheville and we absolutely loved it! It was clean, modern, the rooms were spacious, and it had a great central location. It was a quick walk to all the restaurants, shops, and breweries. This hotel exceeded our expectations and I highly recommend it!
Have Breakfast at Vortex Donuts
Vortex uses local ingredients, down to the flour, which is sourced right in North Carolina. We feasted on several flavors, including a classic chocolate and rainbow sprinkle and a delicious coconut covered doughnut. The doughnut varieties change with the day – that’s part of Vortex’s philosophy. Brewing 1000 faces coffee from Athens Georgia, Vortex offers a classic menu of espresso drinks alongside a signature drink menu as well as great drip and pour over style coffees.
Have Lunch at Buxton Hall Barbecue
Buxton Hall Barbecue is hog heaven. It features pasture-raised pigs from local farmers and a full bar with a wall of taps for local beers, a slate of signature cocktails, and a freezer machine turning out Cheerwine bourbon slushies. The building housed a roller skating club back in the 1930s, it still has the original maple floorboards from the rink along with faded murals of polo players and skaters on the cinderblock walls. Some barbecue joints specialize in big trays of banana pudding, others homemade pies. Buxton Hall’s pastry chef, Ashley Capps, has rolled the two traditions together to create banana pudding pie. Y’all this pie is FREAKING AMAZING!
Cider Tasting: Urban Orchard Cider
Asheville also calls itself “Beer City USA” and it’s hard to argue the point. It has more breweries per capita than any American city. Many of the best small breweries are within a few blocks of one another on the South Slope. Western North Carolina is quickly becoming a cider hub thanks in part to Hendersonville County’s rank as the top apple-producing county in North Carolina. Urban Orchard Cider has the advantage of using local apples from Hendersonville and being able to forage straight from their garden for ingredients like herbs, spices, muscadines and persimmons. The ciders go through an aging process that lasts at least eight months. Billed as “one of only a handful of True Cider Bars in the nation”, they serve up craft ciders in a fascinating range of flavors – dry, sweet or sour, and brewed or infused with the likes of strawberry, basil, blueberry, ginger and habanero. The second location of Urban Orchard Cider Co. is now open in downtown Asheville and I had to check it out. This new expansion space underwent a seven-month buildout within the 20,000-square-foot building and WOW the space is beautiful! It has a ton of ciders and some beer on tap at the tasting room.
Have Dinner at Chai Pani
Chai Pani is an eclectic restaurant that serves Indian street food with a twang. Some of the best food of any country is its street food, and Chai Pani specializes in chaat – crunchy, spicy, sweet, tangy, brightly flavored Indian street snacks. By using fresh, natural and local ingredients they’ve been able to craft a menu that is healthy, affordable and inviting to fans of ethnic cuisine. I was completely smitten with the crunchy okra fries and the juicy Butter Chicken Thali. Check out the recipe for the okra fries HERE!
Wind down at MG Road
It’s not all breweries in Asheville. MG Road Bar and Lounge in Downtown Asheville is a fun-loving cocktail bar decked out with Christmas lights year-round and a menu full of spiked slushies and draft cocktails. It is in the same building as Chai Pani so after dinner I stopped in for a nightcap. I loved the fun vibe and tasty drinks!
Visit the Biltmore Estate
Head to the Biltmore Estate and enjoy a self-guided tour of the grounds and mansion. Arguably Asheville’s most renowned landmark, the Biltmore Estate is expensive to visit but you can save $10 by purchasing your tickets in advance HERE (Tickets: $80 for adults at the gate, youth and children 16 and under enter free during the summer. Discounts available for AAA members). The main house, a 250-room limestone marvel inspired by French Renaissance chateaus, was designed by Richard Morris Hunt for George Washington Vanderbilt, the scion who fell in love with the mountainous countryside and, in true Vanderbilt fashion, bought 125,000 acres of it.
Lunch at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack
I has SO many Asheville locals tell me to hit up Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack. Always listen to the locals people! This place is AMAZING. There’s more to Rocky’s than just hot chicken. It is one of Asheville’s locally owned, independent restaurants and they make classic American recipes from scratch daily. They pay homage to “Nashville style” hot chicken and southern soul food. It was voted Best Fried Chicken 4 years in a row! The chicken comes in varying degrees of heat with the plain and honey style bringing no heat at all. We tried the honey chicken with waffles and it was insanely good. I am a huge chicken pot pie fan so when I saw that on the menu I had to give it a try too! It was one of the best pot pies I have ever had. The pie is served in a generous portion with a beautiful buttery golden crust. The filling is comprised of the usual: carrots, onion and peas in a well-seasoned cream sauce with perfect bite-sized pieces of tender chicken. I finished my meal with Rocky’s Ultimate Ice Cream shakes. I went for strawberry and it did not disappoint.
Sunset at The Montford
Grab a cocktail and enjoy unobstructed panoramic view of the mountains on The Montford Rooftop Bar. Visit for the views. Stay for the seasonally driven craft cocktails and small bites thoughtfully prepared with local ingredients. Located atop the Hyatt Place Hotel, it offers a sleek, chic lounge space for catching the sunset and checking out views of the Grove Park Inn and the surrounding mountains.