Asheville North Carolina, the good, the bad and the, oh wait, there is no bad or ugly
You know what I totally hated about our vacation to Asheville? Coming home. We were only there for six days, and it was wayyy too short. So if you’re thinking about going to Asheville, here is some awesome shit to do there. And if you’re not thinking about going there, you crazy. And no, that’s not a typo, that’s me trying to sound cool. And failing miserably.
All the kickass stuff we did in Asheville:
1. Ziplining at the Adventure Center of Asheville
Holy crap! As in holy crap, that was AMAZING! As in holy crap, you want us to jump off WHAT?! As in holy crap, I paid a lot of money for that! But it was worth every penny. Eleven ziplines, including one that was six stories high!
They also have a kids’ ropes course and dirt-biking class that looked like so much fun. Ask for Colin and Richard because they’re the best guides they have (I’m making that up because they’re the only guides we met, but they were awesome).
2. The Biltmore Estate
Holy crap! Oh wait, that was the subtitle of my last one, wasn’t it? But seriously, holy crap, again. This crib is the shiznit.
The only downside is that the Biltmore is a small fortune to visit. Seriously, a family of four was $222. That’s a lot of dough to go walk around someone else’s house. But, and this is a big BUT (much like my own), it was very worth it if you ask me. You definitely want to get the self-guided audio tour, and they have a separate one for kids that’s narrated by the Vanderbilt’s dog. So cute!!!
And you’ll absolutely spend a lot of time looking at the gardens that are to die for. You’ll also spend a lot of time annoying the crap out of your kids while you make them picture after picture after picture.
FYI, we went to Antler Hill Village which is a part of the estate where I totally F’ed up and never reserved a free wine-tasting. I wasn’t that excited about Antler Hill Village (overpriced crappy food), but the wine-tasting probably would have made it worth it.
3. Whitewater Rafting down the Nantahala River
This might have been my favorite day of all! I have to admit that I’m scared shitless of whitewater rafting, especially when my kids are with me because I’m constantly picturing them flying out of the boat, but we did it with this company called WildWater and they were awesome. Our guide Robert was quite possibly the biggest badass I’ve ever met.
Since I couldn’t take my phone with me, I don’t have pictures of Robert purposely helping us SPIN down one of the rapids (so fun!), or of the time we had to save a man who fell out of another boat. I shit you not, his family decided to do it without a guide, and he flew out of his raft, and my hubby had to heave this huge guy out of the water and into our boat. Hellllllooo, this is why you get a guide, people.
Anyways, I do have these pictures that someone takes from a deck overlooking the last rapid. It’s a Class 3, and in case you’re wondering, this is what the different classes mean.
Class 1= oh, isn’t this exciting?!
Class 2= butterflies in your tummy
Class 3= get ready to crap yourself
Okay, this is gonna sound crazy, but I actually was less in love with the hiking around Asheville than I am in some other places. The first hike we did was in the DuPont State Forest where we got to see lots of AMAZING waterfalls. AND we got to wade in a beautiful pond below the waterfalls. AND we got to see where they filmed Hunger Games.
I know what you’re thinking. How come I wasn’t in love with this? Don’t get me wrong, the waterfalls were incredible. The trails were just a little too crowded for me and it was less strenuous than I like. Warning, get there early because the parking lot fills up!!
The second hike we went on was the Mountains to Sea Trail from the Folk Art Center. You could literally hear the highway the entire time, so about 10 minutes in I told my hubby we should cut our losses and drive to a different hike. And he looked at me like I was insane (which I am), but we went with my decision (because duhh). Seriously, do NOT do this hike, it was loud.
So we drove allllll the way to the Mt Pisgah Trail instead (worth it!), where we saw a young bear at the beginning of the hike, so we spent the first half of the hike singing at the top of our lungs. But seriously, this hike was almost perfect!! It was super strenuous with a crapload of stone stairs.
And at the top of it, we got 340-degree views. No, that is not a typo. Part of the view is obstructed by a huge, ugly-ass radio tower, but 340 degrees of the 360 degrees had beautiful mountains.
5. Where we stayed!!
Okay, so people keep asking me where we stayed. We stayed in Black Mountain at an awesome place we found on VRBO. FYI, Black Mountain was beeeautiful and a super cute tiny town.
We even had some houseguests!!! More opportunities to crap myself.
But in all seriousness, we saw 5 different bears while we were in Asheville. FIVE!!!! Absolutely INCREDIBLE! I just wish I’d brought some bear spray (I’m an Amazon Affiliate, so I can earn from qualifying purchases) that I would hopefully never have to use, but just in case.
6. Where we ate!!
Asheville was FULL of totally kickass restaurants… that we mostly didn’t eat at because A. my kids aren’t very adventurous eaters and B. We’re only eating outside these days since Holden isn’t vaccinated yet. Here were a few of our favorites.
Biscuit Head served breakfast that was to die for. The location we went to was all outside and you just ordered at a little pop-up tent.
Mellow Mushroom is super fun and right across the street from some cute shops. This was Holden’s favorite because they served pizza. Lots of outdoor seating!
White Duck Taco. We went here twice. I HIGHLY recommend the Bangkok shrimp tacos and the Watermelon sangria. Plus, the outdoor picnic tables make it super casual and fun for kids.
Black Mountain Bistro had a beautiful porch to eat on and an adorable garden. Plus, it had one of those awesome menus that makes it so hard to decide what to get! I went with the turkey dinner and it did NOT disappoint.
Salsa’s. I am literally drooling on my keyboard as I type this remembering our dinner here. OH. MY. GAWD. The bartender made me one of the most delicious margaritas I have ever had, I had an empanada that was the most delicious empanada I’ve ever had, and my husband says his dish (lobster and shrimp enchilada) was the best dish he’s ever had. F VRBO. Next time we’re not renting a house and we’re just going to camp out at this restaurant.
Sadly, there were plenty of places we didn’t get to visit because we ran out of time. Oh well, reasons to go back! Because we will definitely be going back to Asheville someday. And if you’ve been to area, please leave any other suggestions in the comments! And if you haven’t been yet, did this make you want to go?! Hopefully!
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A suggestion for Biltmore… look at buying a season pass. Even if it’s your only trip. With a season pass kids under 16 are free. You also get discounts on dining and wine. But I highly recommend coming at Christmas! Did you visit the petting zoo at antler village? It’s always a favorite stop for my kids. The wine tasting is totally worth it too. Bryson City is another place to visit that’s close. If you do come at Christmas you can ride the polar express! They have other train rides all year, but the polar express is my personal favorite. Darnell Farms is also in Bryson City and they are always doing something great.
Yes! We live about 30 minutes west of Asheville. There’s so much to do! You’re spot on with your review.
I’ve never wanted to visit Asheville, but now it’s on my bucket list. Thank you so much for giving “real” details that are useful. Where to eat, where to stay and what to avoid are really important. I’m so glad you had a great time.
Great review next time make time for grandfather mountain and chimney rock oh and take a boat tour of lake lure next to chimney rock you know (dirty dancing was filmed there and if yo6ur really clever come when the dirt dancing festival is going on if covid doesn’t kill it you’ll thank me, you’re welcome, Google those
Whaaaat I was literally just there a couple weeks ago. I went to college in Asheville and it is legit the best. Next time, I would highly recommend checking out a few things..
1. Eat at Moose Cafe. Food is decent, but the sweet tea is to die for. Also, it’s next to
2. The farmers market. It has all kinds of awesome local goods, including unique jams and spice mixes.
3. Mt Mitchell. It’s a bit of a drive, but it has amazing views and is so worth it.
4. Check out Grandfather Mountain. It has AWESOME views, and a long, slightly terrifying swinging bridge. Plus a cool little zoo with pumas and bears.
5. WNC Nature center is small, but it has white tail deer, which I rarely see outside of brief glimpses in the woods. There’s also otters, eagles, owls bears, foxes.. basically. It’s a neat little zoo.
6. Next time, make sure you check out Sliding Rock. Yes, waterfalls are cool. Sliding rock is a natural waterside which is a pretty unique experience.
7. If you want a chill day- go tubing down the river. We like Zen Tubing but there’s a ton of different companies.
8. If you like chocolate GO TO THE CHOCOLATE FETISH. Don’t let people fool you with their talk of the French Broad Chocolate Lounge! It is NOT as good. Chocolate Fetish has the best truffles, chocolate rounds, chocolate frogs… you can’t miss it.
9. If you go downtown Friday evening, there’s a drum circle. Every Friday. It’s a blast.
10. Check out the Woolworth Walk. It has local art and an original soda fountain with great food and awesome milkshakes and drinks.
11. If you like ribs, go to 12 bones. Go early, lines are long and they WILL sell out.
12. For people with youngish kids (5-10ish), there’s also a (very small) science museum. It’s cool, but keep your expectations low and save it for a rainy day.
13. Grab a copy of the mountain express when you get there- it has a weekly calendar.
14. If you’re there in the summer, check out the Montford Park Players- they perform plays outside at a park. It is often kid friendly, and a really nice experience.
Asheville is basically one of my favorite places. I highly recommend it to everyone.
For hiking trails, Asheville just doesn’t have it as good as Burnsville. We’re close enough to Asheville that you can drive there in 25-30 minutes, but if you venture up towards the Mt. Mitchell area, there are trails-a-plenty that will meet your needs better that some traffic sounding stroll. Go up to Mt Mitchell State Park for the highest peak east of the Mississippi, some wonderful trails like Camp Alice & Cattail, there’s a restaurant, a primitive camp site (no room for RVs), if you go during the right season, you can pick mountain cranberries & blackberries to snack on, there’s wildlife unique to that particular mountain…much better than Asheville, in our opinion.
I live in the Asheville area!! I wish I’d have run across y’all on your adventures! I’m glad you enjoyed our beautiful neck of the woods!
My son just committed to UNC Asheville as a baseball player!! We already love visiting and now we’ll spend a lot more time there. Thanks for the ideas – hope to run into you someday!
No ugly ??!!?? Traffic. Homeless. Overrun with tourists. I used to love it. Now I avoid it. Hotels being built on every corner. I moved north 20 miles to get away.
So true born and raised here it’s awful for the locals my entire family relocated due to high property taxes, traffic, and tourist!
Absolutely love Asheville. Used to go at least once a year when I lived in NC. Blowing Rock is a very cute town not far away and home to Appalachian State Univ. Also, the Grove Park Inn is magnificent overlooking the city. Pricy to stay, but you can just visit their amazing 2 fireplace lobby and outdoor patio dining overlooking Asheville. A bit costly, but worth it is to book half a day in their underground Cavern Spa. The pools, jacuzzies, saunas, steam rooms and outdoor river spa are awesome.
No ugly? You need glasses bad. Oh yeah I’m a native of 52 years
The Grove Park Inn is a “don’t miss” visit! Between Thanksgiving and Christmas you can see the gingerbread houses from the HGTV competition (in non-COVID times). Tubing on the Green River (south of Asheville) is class 1 and 2 rapids! Lake Lure (Dirty Dancing filming location) and Chimney Rock are a cool trip. And for pizza, My Father’s Pizza is to die for!!!
I enjoyed a wildlife ctr called Farmony. In
Asheville is to crazy not my cup of tea ?
Gotta say you’re wrong about the Mtn to Sea trail. One of the best trails in the area. Very well maintained with some of the best views the area has to offer.
I’ve never gotten on it by the Folk Arts Center. I’d say you could logically expect to hear the road from there being that it’s sandwiched between 2 highways. The good news is the trail itself is 1000 miles long, with lots of places to jump on and off.
The Mtn to Sea trailhead by Rattlesnake Lodge is one of the most popular hikes for families in the area. Absolutely no highway sound as you’re miles from a highway. It’s been my go to hike for over 15 years.
Please stop. Asheville is at its worst between the plague of tourists, invasion of Floridians and the sawing off/whoring out of our beautiful mountains. The airbnbs, endless cafes and hotels have killed the residential rental market as well as market housing. Its terrible. The traffic on the Blue Ridge Pkwy and the litter. The homeless that have flocked here. Where has all the trash come from. It keeps trickling down 74 thru Lake Lure. I dont know where or how everyone found Asheville but please go home. We are at full capacity. Our school systems are showing it.
Please stop yourself
To all the people that left negative comments about being a local and the area having ugly because of traffic & homeless people & too many tourists. What a joke & may I say foolish. I’m a local to western NC, having grown up in Murphy NC & living in Asheville for 20+ years now. It’s a beautiful place. What you locals don’t realize is that our touristy town keeps this place alive & flourishing. I’m a business owner and I’m grateful for visitors. Families like this are welcomed & accepted here so keep coming to our wonderful Asheville ❤ And everywhere has homelessness. We should open our hearts to helping others & not being judges of those who are down on their luck. Sending Love & Light to you all, Locals & Visitors ❤?????
I am a native of Asheville and it is a beautiful place but our communities are experiencing gentrification at it’s best. When people come to Asheville please support our minority businesses. People of color are still here. It is not many of us but we need be supported better in this community. Asheville is like a tale of two cities. Everything you explained but what you don’t hear is the racism people experience in this city, the achievement gap between white and black children, and there is an increase of violence in our community. When you bring your family again enjoy yourself but be careful, go through our urban trail, go to BC special collections to hear the true history of Asheville, not only brace yourself with the physical beauty but know the true reality of the place you are visiting.
I use to live there a year ago. I had a beautiful home in black mountain just outside Asheville. It has become a liberal garbage dump. Hostile homeless, which seem to be a younger crowd, crime and drugs. I’m part Cherokee so yes this was actually my home, but had to move I could not take it anymore.