Travel Like A Local: Asheville, North Carolina

Travel Like A Local: Asheville, North Carolina


Words by Jennifer Stewart Kornegay

If you’ve heard the phrase, “Altitude affects attitude,” and weren’t sure of its validity, visit Asheville, North Carolina, where you’ll find it to be fact. Once bathed in the city’s fresh mountain air and its relaxed, open-mind-ed atmosphere, your outlook on all things, big and small, is changed for the better.

Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, abundant outdoor pursuits in and around Asheville make up a large part of its appeal. Hike one of the myriad trails leading to breathtaking  vistas; cast a fly into the swift, sparkling current of a cold mountain stream in pursuit of a trophy trout; or simply roll down the windows and cruise the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway that runs along the edge of town.

Keep more to the indoors with an exploration of Asheville’s lively art scene. Experience a diverse range of works—from folk art and crafts to fine art—in curated gallery spaces, in working studios, or with a simple look around Asheville’s charming downtown, where vibrant public art brightens walls and other surfaces.

Any of these activities will work up your appetite for the city’s countless culinary delights, including those redefining the common notion of Appalachian cuisine. And then there’s the beer (so much of it) to wash it all down. The number of breweries in the city has earned it the nickname, “Beer City USA.”

Anchored by stunning scenery and a creative spirit, this mountain town’s tranquil allure has long attracted those looking for an escape, including George Vanderbilt, who in 1895 was inspired to build the grand Biltmore Estate as a playground for his family and guests. Today, Asheville’s options for fun and food beckon visitors still. Whenever you go and whatever you decide to do, you’ll leave with a discernible altitude and attitude adjustment.


The Foundry Hotel: Built into the shell of a former steel factory, this property holds onto the site’s industrial history and aesthetic (with artifacts from its hard-working past preserved throughout), while adding warm hospitality and refined touches. Don’t pass up the opportunity to relax on its back patio, take in a game of bocce, or enjoy a cocktail in the airyWorkshop Lounge before retiring to one of its comfy rooms—some with mountain views—that mix yesterday and today to elegant effect.

Omni Grove Park Inn: A historic and luxurious stacked-stone structure atop SunsetMountain serving guests for over a century, The Omni Grove ParkInn welcomes you with classic comfort and modern convenience.Relax in the unique subterranean spa or enjoy a round of championship golf on their Donald Ross-designed course. When it’s time to dine, enjoy one of four locally-sourced restaurants. Then, retreat to stylish rooms with stunning views and plush bedding.

The Inn on Biltmore Estate:On the grounds of the magnificent Biltmore property, this property has earned a reputation for stellar service and luxurious amenities making it an ideal choice to round out your visit to the Estate.


Buxton Hall Barbeque: Stop here to fill up on eastern North Carolina-style barbecue staples executed to the highest standards, including whole-hog pulled pork, chicken bog, and silky, smoky green beans cooked to tender under the pigs.

Cúrate: Chef Katie Button’s flagship restaurant features small plates of Spanish-influenced dishes. Think crispy potato chip-wrapped chorizo and shrimp sautéed with garlic, sherry, and chilies. Snag a seat at the bar to watch the kitchen at work.

Benne on Eagle: Onsite at The Foundry Hotel, this eatery from renowned chef John Fleer pays homage to its neighborhood’s once prominent place in Asheville’s African-American community with dishes from its chef de cuisine, rising star Ashleigh Shanti, that deliciously blend West-African and Appalachian heritage and flavors.

White Duck Taco Shop: Taste some tacos gone wild with creative twists such as Bangkok shrimp tacos, lamb gyro tacos and Thai peanut chicken tacos.

Vortex Donuts: Fuel up right at this funky spot with a mango-cranberry cake doughnut, an apple fritter, and a Purple Rain (iced Earl Grey tea latte with blackberry puree and milk).

Eda Rhyne Distilling Company: Find small batch spirits made from locally sourced and foraged ingredients that harness the medicinal properties of native botanicals in fernet, amaro, and more.

Ginger's Revenge: Sip on some craft-created ginger beer at this brewery and bar.

Breweries: Be sure to check out Green Man Brewery, Burial Beer Co., Eurisko Beer Company, and Hi-Wire Brewing.


Biltmore Estate: The magnificent 250-room Biltmore mansion offers a glimpse back in time to a world of opulence, beauty, and prestige. More than 90 rooms have been preserved with the original furnishings, and lovely gardens, gift shops, restaurants, and a winery complete the estate today.

Mt. Pisgah: Drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Mount Pisgah Trail. This moderate trek winds for 1.6 miles up to the summit of majestic Mount Pisgah, the highest point on the Parkway, and offers soul-replenishing views of the French Broad River Valley and Shining Rock Wilderness.

French Broad Chocolate Factory: Don’t miss the French Broad Chocolate Lounge downtown, but take the time to pop into the factory too. Take a free tour to see how the company carefully transforms cacao beans into rich, sweet treats.

River Arts District: Wander through the studio spaces and galleries of hundreds of artists and watch many of them at work, putting brush to canvas, making jewelry, carving wood, throwing pottery, and more.

East Fork: This company’s versatile stoneware made with regionally sourced clay and colored with glazes inspired by nature is beloved for its simplicity and durability.