For our fifth anniversary my husband and I visited Asheville, North Carolina. It has a quaint, mountain-town feel with fun eateries and sights to see. Every building had its own character, and we enjoyed quite a few of the wonderful restaurants and local cafes. Since we stayed in the heart of downtown, most places were within walking distance.
There are many places to stay in Asheville, but we chose the Haywood Park Hotel for its location and cool aesthetic. The hotel sits atop multiple shops and cafes below which gave us serious city vibes while maintaining a serene view of the surrounding mountains.
Favorite Restaurants, Cafes and Bakeries in Asheville
The Chocolate Lounge has very chill vibes with every type of chocolate you could want. They offer hot chocolate as well as chocolate bars from around the world, which we bought to take home to family and friends. Highly recommend and it's within walking distance in downtown.
We wanted to sample a few of their signature tacos, so we got the lamb gyro, banh mi, fish, and Korean beef bulgogi. All of them were pretty tasty but my favorites were the fish and lamb gyro.
If you've never been to a Brazilian steakhouse, you're in for a treat. They offer a full salad bar and buffet first that you can make your rounds on. Then, you have a little coaster on your table that has a green side and a red side. Gauchos (Brazilian cowboys) then come around to your table as many times as you'd like with incredible cuts of meat. That is, of course, until you flip your coaster over to red. My absolute favorite cut of meat of all time was the picanha, a brazilian specialty. They also offered beef tenderloin, brazilian pork sausage, chicken wrapped in bacon, filet mignon, flank steak, lamb chops, and more. Some small touches I loved were the cinnamon-coated plantain they give you before your meal, as well as bbq'ed cinnamon pineapple. Yum!
This was a local fave that everyone raves about. The food was scrumptious and satiating before our long day at the Biltmore. It was jam packed and they only seat you if your whole party is there, but it's worth it!
Tupelo was in the perfect downtown location to people watch. It was quaint and had a mid-century modern, European feel to it. The food was good as well with typical southern cuisine, but I think I would want to try other places.
We went to First Watch in Biltmore Village on our way out and I have to say, they have it down. First Watch is a chain of restaurants, but they still manage to make you feel special with everything they offer. They have gluten-free and vegan options, and I especially loved their fresh juices. The Kale Tonic was delicious and refreshing! I would go again any day.
This cute little cafe has some serious history to it (and multiple locations). It's situated in the Grove Arcade, an indoor shopping area that has adorable shops and gorgeous architecture. It's a must-see while you are in Asheville if you like shopping and meandering.
This is the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. This is where Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe were located as well as the Wake Foot Sanctuary.
Other Notable Restaurants we'll be visiting next time:
We just didn't have enough time! In a Victorian house, their brunch looks incredible.
We love a good coffee shop, so we will definitely be checking this one out next time.
The Biltmore estate is one for the books. It is the largest privately owned estate in America, and originally occupied 125,000 acres. You can read all about it online, but I would recommend actually taking a tour yourself. You park in the upper parking lots, in which a free trolley ride escorts you to the estate. All the staff was very kind and accommodating for all kinds of needs, and they even have a separate viewing room for those who are unable to climb stairs or reach the more remote parts of the house. Also, the gardens and conservatory were absolutely STUNNING.
After we made our way through the estate and gardens, we decided to eat lunch in the courtyard next to the estate. I can only imagine how beautiful everything is during Christmastime!
Other Fun Things to Do
Whether you want to pamper yourself or do something fun with your best friend or significant other, Wake Foot Sanctuary was surprisingly awesome. When you walk in to the storefront, it seems like your typical spa store to buy natural skin and body care products. It's calm, peaceful, and welcoming. But it gets even better.
You can book a foot soak with massage! Better and cheaper than an expensive spa day, each person books a foot soak with the essential oils of their choice (the foot soak is $40 for 45 minutes, and massage add-ons are $45 for 20 minutes). I chose the "good vibes" option with scents of vetiver, patchouli and added coconut oil, while my husband went for the "tea tree and mint" (tea tree oil, peppermint, avocado oils and green clay). At the beginning of our appointment, we were each given a pair of slippers to wear (we got to bring them home too). We were then guided to the back by our massage therapist where we were offered cold water to drink and comfy chairs to relax in. Soon after, our massage therapist came out with beautiful copper basins filled with our foot soaks. The water was hot and she was very attentive to adding more hot water as needed. Then she began on a head, neck and shoulder massage for my husband, followed by a hand and forearm massage for me. This was an excellent introductory step into the world of spas and was very "accessible" for people who don't feel as comfortable in a spa setting.
The River Arts District is a short drive from downtown Asheville and it has very unique vibes. Eclectic graffiti paints the walls of abandoned buildings, yet right next door is a coffeeshop or brewery that every cool kid knows about. It's where old meets new, broken down meets freshly renovated, and no one bats an eye at the paradox of it.
Honestly, we didn't get to spend much time here, but it wasn't because we didn't want to. The coffeeshop we wanted to spend time at unfortunately was closed for renovations. However, there are amazing walking trails, art galleries, and breweries that are situated in old factory buildings that we will definitely be spending more time at in the future.
On our way home, we of course had to see some of the majestic nature that Asheville is known for. We drove through Craggy Gardens and all the way up to Mount Mitchell, where we saw incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We went in September, and I was so pleasantly surprised at the adorable little flowers that lined the highways. I could've stayed on those mountains for hours and hours.
Overall, Asheville is one-of-a-kind. It has a chill, California feel to it while being distinctly mountainous and southern. The town felt small and large at the same time, like a vacation destination while also feeling like you could make it your home. If you're a foodie, this is the scene for you. If you love nature and also spending time in town, Asheville is where you want to be.