Editor's Note: We are introducing a series of posts with local recommendations by the people who know our area best – our team members! Jenna Carter, Front Desk Supervisor at the Hampton Inn & Suites shared this ambitious 48-hour itinerary that includes many of her favorite Asheville locations. If you follow her route, make sure to use the hashtag #BiltmoreFarmsHotels and to tag us on Instagram at @hamptoninnbiltmore for a chance to win an Asheville item from the Hampton Inn's gift shop!
Moving to this quirky mountain town 15 years ago was a drastic change from the large cities where I grew up. The most common question guests ask me is, "What is so special about Asheville?" Looking at this town from an outsider's view, maybe all one would see is a small town compiled of microbreweries on each street and the grand Biltmore Estate. However, if you immerse yourself in Asheville, it is a beautiful city, abounding in diversity and people who cherish a rich love for the land. I have compiled a list of things that will fill a span of 48 hours in this unique town for anyone who wants a true Asheville experience.
Awake to fresh mountain air and cup of coffee in our Lobby, then wander just two miles to Over Easy Café for breakfast. Your breakfast will be cooked to order, in a small but magical kitchen, with fresh local ingredients. The Over Easy Café team not only serves a hearty meal to start your day but shows support to local artists by showcasing their art on the Café's walls.
After breakfast, it is time to explore Downtown. A street to the west, Lexington Avenue is home to a unique collection of locally owned boutiques, restaurants, and galleries. Lexington Avenue serves as a creative corridor, something of a distilled version of the city itself. Dobra Tea is an amazing refuel spot for your morning of shop hopping with its diverse menu of teas from all over the world. Close to Dobra is a shop called Royal Peasantry, one of a kind with a true Asheville vibe. On the other end of the avenue is Lexington Glassworks. Walk into their open door of culture, and drink in exquisite hand-blown glass.
Before exploring more, stop in for lunch at Wicked Weed Brewing for an elevated pub lunch, full taproom on the lower half, and plenty of outdoor seating area.
Finish your afternoon by visiting the Grove Arcade offering shops that embody the city's character through unique, quality crafts. Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar is an enchanting stop, whether for a minute or an hour. Across the way from the Grove Arcade is Street Fair, a true Asheville tend shop.
You will have endless restaurants to choose from when planning dinner downtown. Curaté, an Asheville must, brings the vibrant essence of Spain to our small mountain town. Chef Katie Button works closely with local farmers to bring jamón Ibérico, vermuterías, and a lively tapas experience to every diner.
The perfect nightcap on your first day in Asheville is a stop at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge for fair trade, locally crafted chocolate – as beautiful as it is delicious.
After a full day spent at shops and restaurants, it is time to explore the organic beauty of Asheville and its surrounding area. I recommend starting with a smoothie-to-go from our own fresh Hampton menu, then heading east on Interstate 40 to your first stop in Old Fort – Catawba Falls. This three-mile round-trip hike is not too strenuous, just a steady and slightly uphill path ending at a 100-foot waterfall. What better way to start your day?
Continue east to visit Linville Caverns. Explore the splendor and wonders Nature created inside the caverns, a true hidden gem of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You might want to bring a light jacket as this underground adventure will be a refreshing 52 degrees Fahrenheit, year-round.
Now it's time to jump on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head south.
About an hour and a half down the Parkway, you'll find the perfect lunch spot at Pisgah Inn. Here, you will enjoy a delicious lunch with a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The fish and chips are my personal menu favorite! Close by Pisgah Inn is Mt. Pisgah, an almost three-mile round trip hike that is well worth the views from the top.
Continuing south on the Parkway, you will get off at the Brevard exit (US-276) and make a quick stop at Sliding Rock, a natural rock water slide. The river is fueled by 11,000 gallons of water per minute flowing down the rock and is a popular attraction during the hot summer days for guests and locals alike.
A few miles past Sliding Rock is Looking Glass Falls. Looking Glass Falls is one of the most popular and accessible waterfalls Western North Carolina has to offer. You are able to park at the top of the steps that lead to the bottom of the falls. You can even take a refreshing dip in the swimming hole at the bottom!
Before heading back to your room, stop for dinner at The Square Root. Located in a charming alley in Brevard, The Square Root is as well known for its architectural and artistic decor as it is for its fabulous food.
Getting back to your comfortable bed is easy. Follow 280 NE all the way back to Hendersonville Road. Turn left on Hendersonville Road, and continue straight to get back to the hotel. You will be ready for a good night's rest!
Asheville is so much more than what the city limits can hold. It is a vast expanse of rolling mountains and breathtaking views. Whether you sit shoulder to shoulder with locals at Dobra Tea Room or take to the winding roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will treasure your Asheville experience.