Asheville, North Carolina has become a very popular tourist destination, with craft breweries, outdoor adventure in the nearby mountains, live music, a funky vibe, and the art scene. Doug and I recently checked it out, and we highly recommend a visit.
But while we did considerable research before we went, we learned a few tips once we arrived. Here are five things to know about Asheville before you visit.
1. Give Yourself a Little Extra Local Travel Time
We opted not to rent a car since we were staying in the heart of Asheville with so much nearby. We also had been informed that parking was terrible.
However, since Asheville has become such a popular place, there aren’t enough rideshare or taxi drivers to handle the crowds. The situation is so bad that there are warning signs at the airport. After trying for a while to leave the airport, we finally ended up sharing a ride with a fellow passenger in a limo whose driver happened to be at the airport and had the time to quickly run us into town (and certainly didn’t mind making some extra cash). Getting rides within Asheville was easier, but getting from the Biltmore Estate also took longer than expected, and it’s only a few minutes outside of town.
2. Call the Biltmore; Don’t Rely on its Website
The Biltmore Estate, a historic museum, is definitely worth visiting. We spent an entire day there, and still didn’t see it all.
But when you’re planning your visit, you may get better results if you call directly. For instance, when I tried to order tickets online (you need to purchase them in advance), the earliest I could get for a tour of the house was 4:15pm, which is pretty close to closing time. So I called, and had no problem obtaining tickets for 11:15am.
Likewise, we tried to make an online reservation at the Biltmore’s Stable Inn for lunch, but the website said no tables were available from 11:30am to 4:00pm. Hoping the restaurant could squeeze us in, I again called and learned that the restaurant simply doesn’t take reservations anymore; the website was out of date. I was assured we’d have no problem getting a table, which turned out to be true. Had I relied only on the website we probably wouldn't even have tried to go to the restaurant.
The Biltmore’s telephone number is 800 411 3812.
3. Pay Attention to the Architecture
When we first arrived, I was so busy looking at the people that I didn’t focus on the buildings. That was a mistake. Asheville’s architecture is an interesting mix of styles and has an unusual history. I wish I had known more about the architecture before the visit so I could appreciate it better. Luckily we received a good education on the city’s history, including its architecture, from our guide Trebbe on an Asheville by Foot walking tour.
4. Make Restaurant Reservations Before You Go
The food scene in Asheville is incredibly diverse. No wonder the city calls itself “Foodtopia.” But since the city is so popular these days, a number of people who had not made advance reservations were shut out of some of the more renowned places. A few of the excellent restaurants we recommend include The Black Bird for Carolina cuisine, Bouchon for French (try to get a table on the secluded patio), and Cucina 24 for an unusual Italian tasting menu.
5. Check Out the Drum Circle
Try to schedule your visit on one of the Friday nights when the drum circle at Pritchard Park will be held. Drum circles aren’t unique to Asheville, but this city’s event was truly memorable. It’s mesmerizing in its own way. We watched for a while on the way to dinner, and when we passed by on the way back it was still going strong. We heard conflicting stories about how often it’s now held, so check on the timing before you visit.
We hope this information on what things to know about Asheville before you visit helps you plan your trip there. If you have any tips to add, please let us know!
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