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A Perfect 24-Hours in Asheville, North Carolina

January 30, 2018

These days, it seems like Asheville is the top location on many American travelers’ lists. After visiting the bohemian southern city for myself, it’s easy to see why Lonely Planet named it the best U.S. destination to see in 2017. While the city, which boasts small town charm, has plenty to keep tourists busy for days, if you’re wondering what to do in Asheville to have the best trip, keep reading! Below I tell you how to best explore and enjoy the city if you have only 24-hours.

Check-In: There are many great hotel and home rental options in Asheville, but critical to me was the centrality of the location. With a mere 24-hours to experience this city that hosts so much culture and energy, I wanted to find a place to store my bags and quickly hit the pavement on arrival.

For me, the Renaissance Asheville Hotel was the perfect hotel. Given the hotel’s moderate price and sleek decor, I was nicely surprised upon arrival to realize how close it is to many of Asheville’s prime locations. The front desk staff was incredibly friendly, providing solid advice and opinions on how best to enjoy the city. My room was comfortable, quiet and clean, making for a wonderful getaway from home.

After Check-In: The best thing about staying at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel was being able to exit outside of the hotel’s back entrance and stumble upon a landmark celebrating one of America’s top authors.

The Thomas Wolfe House is the boyhood home of the author who wrote Look Homeward, Angel and other works.2E818911-83A1-403E-811D-D6BF0F67DBB4

For $5 on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. visitors can go inside the home that provided the scene for much of Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel. The experience is one that allows visitors to transcend time and get a glimpse into southern life in the early 20th century. Allow 45-minutes to one-hour to visit and tour the house.

Departing the Thomas Wolfe House, you will find yourself in Asheville’s eclectic downtown. Surrounded by the Appalachian mountains, downtown Asheville features a well-organized neighborhood of unique cultural cuisines, funky coffee shops and eye-catching shops. With each turn down a new street, you’re met with an opportunity to partake in a cultural and engaging experience. This journey makes one thing apparent: People in Asheville are friendly.

As a solo traveler wandering in and out of restaurants, coffee shops and stores, one thing was certain: I never felt lonely. Every location presented ample people–locals and tourists alike–willing and excited to strike up an interesting conversation.

Entering downtown Asheville, I set my sights first on shopping. The area’s shopping options present something for everyone–from the college student to the pet lover and the new mother to the retiree. My favorite shop, though, was Desirant. Aesthetically pleasing in interior design, Desirant’s shoppers are greeted with a note scribed on their window reading, “We believe in living life beautifully. Fall in love. Treat yourself. Get inspired. Be generous. Live in the moment. Surround yourself with beauty.” Inside, shoppers can do all of these things, selecting from beautiful clothing, personal care and home design items.

Tired for shopping, I decided I needed a treat. When in Asheville, there is no debate as to where to find one. French Broad Chocolate Lounge is the only place to go. Located in downtown Asheville’s Pack Square, the lounge is the dessert restaurant of chocolatier, French Broad. Don’t let the long line outside sway you away; the wait will be worth it. Inside, you can sample from the brand’s delicious chocolate offerings, homemade ice creams and delectable desserts. However, my suggestion is to enjoy some drinking chocolate. Think: hot chocolate made infinitely better. Grab a flavor of your choice and enjoy sipping it around the square as jealous passerby wish that they’d braved the line.


If you find yourself hungry after visiting the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, consider walking across Pack Square to enjoy a snack at Rhubarb. Rhubarb is the restaurant of award winning chef, John Fleer, a five-time James Beard award finalist. At Rhubarb, Fleer brings his unique take on American cuisine to the plates of patrons. Enjoy the southern experience by snacking on pimento cheese in a mason jar and seared royal red shrimp before heading on your way.


Exiting Rhubarb to your right, walk a mere 900 feet to enjoy a highlight of North Carolina’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Wicked Weed Brewery is the brainchild of Walt and Luke Dickinson and presents east coasters a chance to sip on west coast inspired brews. The brewery’s tappings range from sours to stouts and IPAs and pale ales and have amassed a following of dedicated beer drinkers. In fact, in 2017, the craft brewery partnered with the family of Anheuser-Busch craft breweries.


After wrapping up your shopping and sipping tour of Asheville, it’ll be time for dinner before heading to bed or stepping out to enjoy the city’s nightlife and life music scene. One restaurant stands out for those desiring vibrant tastes in a welcoming setting. Despite being thousands of miles east of California, Limones presents premier California cuisine with Mexican influence. Chef Hugo Ramirez hails from Mexico City and credits his mother for sharing the secret ingredients that make his dishes flavorfully impactful. Located inside of a former Asheville residence, the brick building is small, making dining intimate and reservations necessary. If you visit, be sure to order the carrot-habanero margarita and slow braised short rib nachos. You will NOT be disappointed!


Before You Leave: Experiencing all Asheville has to offer is impossible in 24-hours. Before you leave, though, there are two places you must visit.

For breakfast, drive a quick ten-minutes to Hole Doughnuts.


You’ve had doughnuts, and then you’ve had Hole Doughnuts. These doughnuts are on an entirely different level. For starters, they are made fresh to order in an open-aired kitchen. The doughnuts feature no gimmicks. Here, you won’t find doughnuts wrecked with globs of frosting or dollops of sugary cereal. In the world of doughnuts, Hole is a traditionalist. The menu is minimal, featuring three flavors and a seasonal option that rotates weekly. Come hungry and eat many, because you’ll search long and hard to find another doughnut this tasty. The space inside of Hole is small an intimate, with table seating and a counter customers can saddle up to to watch their doughnuts hit the fryer.


Prepare to stand in line and expect the preparation of your doughnuts to take some time, because good things take time. Savor the experience, though, by ordering and sipping on a coffee drink. Hole serves PennyCup Coffee, which is roasted locally in Asheville.


No trip to Asheville would be complete without a visit to the Biltmore Estate.

A93B9C53-01B4-4164-8148-1FAA273DB343Leaving Hole Doughnuts, drive 20-minutes to the estate built by George Vanderbilt, which is an eye-dropping example of American opulence. Spanning over 8,000-acres, the estate features a myriad of rooms filled with ornate furnishings, artifacts and art. With Renoir paintings gracing its walls and a library stacked with 10,000 books, Biltmore Estate visitors’ jaws have reason to drop at every turn. The price of admission may make some tourists balk, but at least once in life you must see how the “other side” lives.

Catching one last glimpse of the Biltmore Estate as you walk up its long driveway to leave, you’ll think to yourself that you’ve never found yourself more at home. Asheville is a city of charm and friendliness, culture and vibrancy, that everyone can find something they love in.


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