While I’m no longer an Asheville resident (I moved to Raleigh a few months ago), Asheville will forever be home. I popped back over for just a quick trip to see my old studio mate/BFF artist Ellen Catlin, and we hit up all my old favorites. As a previous local, let me tell you, there is sooo much more to Asheville than just the Biltmore. While it’s certainly stunning, allow me to share some of my OTHER favorite spots in this quirky little mountain town that holds a special piece of my heart.
Ellen lives over in the River Arts district so we began our morning at PennyCup Coffee Co. They have a location in the heart of downtown, but I’m partial to their original roastery for it’s unrefined charm. Also, they recently started carrying Taco Billy tacos (my favorite tacos in AVL), so needless to say, I was in heaven.
Next on my list, of course, was my favorite spot to shop for clothing and accessories: Bette Boutique. Tara and Dede have impeccable taste and are so kind to shop and work with (they are the one and only retailer for me in Asheville so you know the selection is top notch ;). They even dressed me for my first TSC summit back in 2015 – these ladies are my go-to when I have an event and cannot figure out what to wear.
After Bette, I popped over to my old stomping grounds turned new pop up: Duncan & York. D&Y (or Dandy as they sometimes refer to themselves) began in a teensy spot downtown before quickly moving to a bigger location on busy Lexington Ave and thriving. I mean, THRIVING. Their gift, children’s, and card selections cannot be beat. In fact, their downtown location is so popular that they opened a pop up on Tunnel Road for the holidays. They also carry locally made Asheville t-shirts and stickers so you can take a piece of the mountains home with you.
Other favorites shopping destinations in the area: Southern Highland Craft Guild and Porter and Prince luxury linens are both right across the street from Bette in Biltmore Village; East Fork Pottery and Minx Women’s Boutique are both down the street from D&Y’s original Lexington Ave location; and my favorite spot for buying glass in Asheville is a tiny shop in the River Arts district called the North Carolina Glass Center. More often than not, you can watch a glass blowing demonstration while you shop. They even offer classes where you make a piece and they ship it to you once it’s cooled. Their prices and selection are the best in town.
Because the views are stunning and the hot chocolate is to die for, Ellen and I scooted over to the Grove Park Inn to relax for the afternoon. There is nothing like this mountain view and the massive indoor fireplaces that flank the lobby. And, during the winter months, they have a gingerbread house display that makes for a fun family-friendly afternoon activity.
Of course, in Asheville, you’ve got to have a pint or two of local beer. There’s more than I can count to choose from, but I’ll let you in on my favorites. And honestly, I cannot come to Asheville without visiting them, even on this short trip.
The first brewery that my boyfriend Hobbs and I fell in love with when we moved here over three years ago and that remains our favorite despite all the others that have popped up over the years is Burial Beer Co. They’re right in the heart of the South Slope district downtown and they make my absolute favorite beer on the planet: Skillet Donut Stout. In this picture I’m drinking their seasonal Tin Cup Camp Stout which was a perfect alternative. Coming to Burial I’ve learned feels like coming home. So, after our Grove Park Inn jaunt, we headed to Burial for a sunset brew with friends.
Other favorite breweries to keep on your beer hopping tour list: New Belgium and the Wedge, both best when the weather is nice and you can sit outside. There’s a ton more in the area, but I’d narrow your list to 3 for an attainable afternoon.
Now, if you’ve read this far you’ve noticed I haven’t mentioned my lunch spot for the day. I’m not one who typically skips a meal, but for our dinner selection, it was necessary. One of my absolute favorite go-tos when I come to town is Nine Mile. They have two locations, one is West Asheville and the other in North Asheville’s Montford neighborhood. After Burial, we met friends for dinner at Nine Mile and feasted on the best Jamican food I’ve ever tasted.
However, if you’re not into a huge meal for dinner, I recommend Taco Billy, Asheville Sandwich Company, or 12 Bones for lunch. And if you’re not into Jamaican food, my other favorite dinner spots are En La Calle downtown (incredible Spanish tapas and cocktails are amazing), All Souls Pizza for farm fresh specialty pies in the River Arts district, and Ghan Shan Station who has a location in North Asheville just 5 minutes from downtown and also just opened a location in West Asheville.
Lastly, my favorite spots for after-dinner (or pre-dinner, no judgement here!) cocktails are Sovereign Remedies, Top of the Monk, and 5 Walnut Wine Bar, which are all downtown. 5 Walnut even has an added bonus of live music often. It’s a perfect girls night out while the other two spots are usually great for romantic date nights.
A few other favorites to note: I’ve never stayed at the Windsor downtown but it’s a gorgeous boutique hotel in the heart of it all – walkable to over half the places I listed above. Other accommodation recommendations are the Biltmore and the Grove Park if that’s within your budget. Asheville also has an amazing Airbnb community. Shoot for a house in West Asheville and you’ll truly stay like a local.
If you’re ever on the hunt for small venues for live music, keep an eye out on the lineups at the Mothlight and Isis Music Hall in West Asheville, the Grey Eagle in River Arts District, and Jack of the Wood downtown.
On my way out of town, I grabbed the best donuts in town at Hole Doughnuts, who makes them fresh right in front of your face the minute after you order it.
Thanks for following along on my little jaunt back to my favorite little mountain town. I can’t wait to hear about where YOUR favorite spots are next time you visit!