Say you’re visiting Asheville, NC and you have 24 hours (or less) to see the city. Where do you start? What can you cover? Is it even worth it? This is what my friend Jen was facing when she visited Asheville a few months ago. Off the top of my head, I could think of a dozen things to do in downtown Asheville. So don’t think I didn’t quickly tell her I would be the best tour guide for her and George. And after what seemed like the fastest day ever, I’m sharing all of the places we checked out.
They arrived in Asheville on a Sunday afternoon, and we set out around 2pm. They hadn’t eaten lunch, and they wanted something healthy to eat (and we know that healthy food isn’t always easy to find when you’re traveling!) We ventured over to Laughing Seed Cafe which is all vegetarian. They offer a great selection of vegan and gluten free items. (I totally splurged on a cinnamon bun. I ran a half marathon a day earlier and I was still in “recovery mode,” which means my appetite hadn’t quite gone back to normal.)
Looking for different food options? Might I suggest:
- Tupelo Honey
- Early Girl Eatery
- Farm Burger
- Twisted Laurel
- Pack’s Tavern
After a late lunch, we walked down Wall Street. Wall Street is a cute street with very little traffic, so it’s not uncommon for people to be walking down the middle of the road. It’s quaint with its local shops and restaurants, and on one end you’ll find the Flat Iron (and the Flat Iron building, which is currently in transition – at the moment, plans may or may not be turning it into a hotel.) When on Wall Street, you’ll notice that much of it is yarn bombed at various times, and we caught it on a good day. There were pigs flying, and a lot of the posts were covered in yarn creations (thanks to Purl’s). I love this about Asheville!
Jen basically told me that they were the types of people who enjoyed meandering, finding local artists and live music. Not a problem. I took them to Woolworth Walk, which is booths of local artists’ works. We only did the top level (I couldn’t handle stairs – see the half marathon I mentioned above.) Woolworth Walk is in the old Woolworth’s building, and is still home to the soda counter. It’s cool to see this piece of history still in action.
Other places nearby you should check out:
- Malaprops (local bookstore)
- The Basilica (home of the largest, freestanding, elliptical dome in North America)
- Pit of Despair (also known as the empty parking lot across from the U.S. Cellular Center, or 68 Haywood St.)
- the Asheville Pinball Museum
We walked by Pritchard Park (check out the drum circle on Friday night) and then down College Street towards the City and County buildings because I wanted them to see some of our buildings, and we were able to rest a minute in Pack Square Park. (In the warmer months, this houses Splashville, which my kids adore.)
Before we left downtown, we stopped by the Sky Bar, which is sadly closing after this season.
I drove them up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is easily accessible from east Asheville, and we stopped at one of the first overlooks. Keep in mind, this was late May (and I’m posting in October), so everything was very green! But I actually have photos from October 2007 and the views from anywhere along the parkway are beautiful (and generally very colorful in October.)
Monday morning we had a short window of time to do one last thing (and included my husband and kids!) so we chose to check out the Grove Arcade, and have brunch at Early Girl Eatery, which I can’t recommend enough. I’ve written about the Grove Arcade recently, and it’s such a great space for everyone to find something they like. Early Girl is great because while they are popular, their wait times aren’t usually outrageous and you can wander around close by before your meal. (Also, my kids love their menu and happily played with toys while we waited on food.)
I’m obviously only hitting some minor highlights of this city. What questions do you have about visiting Asheville?