Asheville is one of our favorite cities in the USA, and this itinerary for a weekend in Asheville comes from a collection of several trips we’ve taken and includes our favorite things we’ve done.
Tucked in the North Carolina mountains, Asheville is a perfect city for just about anyone to visit. It has a lively arts scene, some of the best dining in the Southeast, is full of history (hello Biltmore Estate!), and is just steps away from amazing hiking trails.
Gerrit and I first went to Asheville for our honeymoon in 2010, where we stayed in the most adorable cottage and had a great time exploring the city, seeing the Biltmore, and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since then, we’ve returned several times and every time we find something new to enjoy. It really has become one of our favorite destinations and it’s a perfect romantic getaway.
This 2 day weekend in Asheville itinerary will take you through some of the best sights, including experiencing so much of Asheville’s wonderful food, touring the Biltmore, and more!
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How To Get to Asheville, NC
If you’re within driving distance, I definitely recommend you drive to Asheville. You’ll find it so convenient to have your own car because it will allow you to do things like drive the famous Blue Ridge Parkway and explore some of the spots outside the city center. Plus, since Asheville is located right along I-40, it’s so easy to get to.
If you can’t drive though, there is a regional airport in Asheville that offers flights from a variety of cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., and more. And of course, once you fly into Asheville you can either rent a car or take an Uber/Lyft into the city center.
Getting Around Asheville
You’ll find most of downtown Asheville extremely walkable. And if you aren’t staying downtown, there are several parking garages throughout the city where you can park for a day of exploring.
If you flew into Asheville and didn’t rent a car, you will need transportation (like Uber/Lyft) to get to some destinations like the Biltmore Estate. Note that if you take a rideshare to the Biltmore, you may have to pay for a day ticket to use their internal bus system. You also won’t be able to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway or access many of the hiking trails without your own car. (Although you can book guided tours of the Blue Ridge Parkway.)
2 Day Weekend in Asheville Itinerary
We’re going to assume you’re getting to Asheville on a Friday night, and while we won’t really count this as a “day” in our Asheville itinerary, you should still get out and enjoy the city a bit.
Our favorite thing to do is find a great restaurant and then walk around downtown for a bit. (If you’re looking for restaurant recommendations, we have a list at the bottom of this post.)
There are also a lot of great bars and breweries in Asheville, including some rooftop bars where you can see the city skyline while enjoying a drink. Some options include:
Weekend in Asheville: Day One (Downtown Asheville)
For our first day in Asheville, we’ll mostly focus on exploring all downtown Asheville has to offer. There are an endless amount of shops and restaurants to explore. Also, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the food options in Asheville, we’ve got a solution!
Stop One: Brunch
Our meals are going to be a bit weird today, so start your day with a big brunch at a downtown restaurant. There are so many great restaurants offering brunch, but our perennial favorite is Tupelo Honey Cafe. This popular restaurant has spread across the Southeast USA and beyond, but the downtown Asheville restaurant is the original location. Their menu is all about the best Southern cooking, with brunch items like fried chicken & biscuits, buttermilk waffles, and more.
Some other delicious brunch options if you can’t get into Tupelo Honey:
Stop Two: Downtown Shopping
After a hearty brunch, spend the afternoon exploring all the lovely shops in downtown Asheville. There are clothing boutiques, funky gift shops, furniture stores, art galleries, and so much more. You’ll also want to be sure to check out the shops (and the architecture) inside the Grove Arcade downtown.
A few shops we always make a point to stop by:
Malaprops Bookstore — A book mecca of the U.S. South. This store is always one of my favorite independent bookstores to visit. They have a fantastic selection, great staff picks, a solid local authors shelf, and they have a café attached if you need a drink.
Malaprops Bookstore is located at 55 Haywood Street.
L.O.F.T. — This quirky gift shop is so much fun. Just a selection of things I saw on my most recent visit: an entire shelf of products dedicated to Dolly Parton, a huge selection of witty coffee mugs, candles poured into soda cans, and a cat scratcher that looks like a DJ station.
L.O.F.T. is located at 53 Broadway Street.
Stop Three: Food Tour
If you are overwhelmed by the selection of foods in Asheville (so many restaurants and so little time!) a food tour is likely the perfect solution for you. And that’s how we recommend you spend your afternoon.
These tours walk you through downtown Asheville, taking you to sample food and drinks at a handful of different restaurants. Plus, the tour guide often offers a bit of history of the city and explains the architecture of Asheville’s art deco buildings.
We’ve done a food tour through Eating Asheville before and absolutely loved it. We had everything from pizza to Ethiopian cuisine to arepas. The restaurant selections change from time to time, but I’m sure no matter what restaurants you get to visit it is always a blast.
Be sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time. These afternoon tours (they usually start around 2:00 p.m.) often sell out, especially on the weekends.
Stop Four: River Arts District
We’ve spent all day in downtown Asheville, so you might be ready for a little change of scenery. If so, you can hop in the car and head 5 minutes down the road to the River Arts District. This area of town was once an industrial area (and definitely still has traces of this), but it being transformed into an area housing artist studios, restaurants, breweries and more.
You can stroll through artist studios here, enjoy outdoor murals, and find an early evening drink or light dinner (if you can manage it after your food tour).
One tip for visiting the River Arts District: there are several different sections of this district, so you will want to look into the places you most want to visit and park near there. You can see a map here. While you can walk between the areas, it can be a bit of a distance if you are going from one side to the other.
Stop Five: Dessert at French Broad Chocolates
I won’t lie. One of my ABSOLUTE favorite things about Asheville is getting dessert at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. This chocolate company sources their own chocolate, processes it in a nearby factory, and turns it into the most delicious desserts.
You can get dessert at their downtown location at 10 S. Pack Square. And come prepared: there WILL be a line out the door. But it is 100% worth it.
They also have their Chocolate Boutique next to the Chocolate Lounge downtown, where they sell a smaller selection of their goods: bon-bons, ice cream, and pre-packaged chocolates (perfect if you need to grab a gift). The Boutique is open until 8:00 p.m.
Bonus Tip: If you don’t want to wait in line, you can go get dessert at their factory, where they also house a small café that offers almost all the same things as the downtown location (I believe they sometimes don’t have quite as many cake options, but that’s the only noticeable difference to me). The factory is open until 7:00 p.m. and is located at 821 Riverside Drive, about 5-10 minutes from downtown.
Have more fun in North Carolina with these kid-friendly hikes near Highlands, NC!
Weekend in Asheville: Day Two (The Biltmore and The Blue Ridge Parkway)
For day two of our weekend in Asheville, we’re going to focus on The Biltmore Estate. This majestic home and estate offers tours, gardens, and food, and you can easily spend most of your day there. Also for breakfast today, we recommend just grabbing something quick at a convenient place to where you are staying, because you’ll want to get to The Biltmore as early as you can!
Stop One: The Biltmore Estate
We’re going to spend most of the day at The Biltmore, so it’s going to get it’s own mini itinerary here. There is SO much to see here, so this is a good basic plan to go by.
If you want more details about spending a day at the Biltmore, see our Guide to Visiting the Biltmore here!
See the House
Start out by seeing the house. This is a self-guided tour (most people choose to get an audio guide, which is free). But definitely purchase your tickets ahead of time and choose your house entrance time. Try to select the earliest entry time possible. Plan to arrive at The Biltmore at least 30 minutes before your house entrance time so you have plenty of time to park and walk or take the bus to the house.
You can also use your time right before you enter the house to schedule your complementary wine tasting at Antler Hill. You’ll want to do this early in the day and staff near the Biltmore House can help you.
Have Lunch in a Stable
After you see the house, have lunch next door. Just to the left of where you exit the house on the tour, there is a courtyard next to the stable with eating options.
You can sit down and eat at The Stable Cafe (reservations recommended) or you can grab a to-go option from The Courtyard Market. There is also a bakery and ice cream shop here.
Explore the Gardens
After lunch, take some time to explore the grounds and gardens of The Biltmore. Near the house you’ll find the Italian Garden, Shrub Garden, Walled Garden, and Rose Garden all leading to the Conservatory.
We truly cannot recommended getting tickets for the Backstairs Tour at The Biltmore enough!
On this special tour, you get to see rooms not included on the public tour (like the servants quarters, kitchens, and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s closet), and the tour guides tell absolutely fascinating stories about what life was like at The Biltmore, including details about the relationships between the Vanderbilts and the people who worked in the house.
Book your tickets for this one ahead of time! The tour lasts 1 hour, and I think the 2:00 p.m. tour is the perfect option for our itinerary. (You could definitely do the 11:00 a.m. tour though and then switch your house entrance time to the afternoon.)
Stop Two: Antler Hill Village
Antler Hill Village on The Biltmore Estate features the Vanderbilts’ connection to agriculture while also providing shopping and dining.
This is also where the winery is, and a complementary wine tasting is included in your admission ticket. Just be sure to book your wine tasting ahead of time.
You’ll come to Antler Hill on your way our of the estate, so it’s the perfect way to end your day at the Biltmore.
Stop Three: Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
If you’re up for a bit more activity, spending the late afternoon driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is a great option.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is known for it’s scenic overlooks and winding roads. You can get on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of the Biltmore entrance, and take it as far north of Asheville as you like.
Pro Tip: There are no gas stations on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so make you’re car is filled up (and you’ve used the restroom) before you start your drive!
Stop Four: Dinner
To wrap up your last evening of your weekend in Asheville, head back downtown for dinner. There are so many great choices (see a few options below) or you may have discovered a restaurant during your food tour you want to revisit.
Another option would be to head to The Grove Park and have dinner at one of their many restaurants.
No matter where you choose to dine, definitely try to get a reservation! Asheville restaurants fill up quick!
More Things To Do in Asheville
Have more time than just a weekend in Asheville? We have a big list of 30 Things to do in Asheville here!
Here are a few of our favorites though:
- Visit the Grove Park Inn — This historic inn has beautiful views, and you don’t have to be staying there to enjoy their lobby or restaurants.
- Go Hiking — There are so many hiking trails near Asheville and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here’s a resource to help you find a trail.
- Take a Tour of the French Board Chocolate Factory — Monday through Saturday you can take a tour paired with a tasting, and on Sunday’s you can do a special chocolate tasting. A must-do for chocolate lovers!
Where To Eat in Asheville
There are SO MANY great restaurants in Asheville, and these are just a few of our favorites! You probably won’t be able to hit them all during your weekend in Asheville, but it’s just all the more reason to visit this city over and over again.
- Tupelo Honey Cafe — Southern cooking at their original Asheville location downtown.
- Early Girl Eatery — Another great option for Southern, local fare in downtown Asheville.
- Curate — Spanish style tapas. Located downtown.
- Asheville Proper — Woodfire meats and delicious appetizers and sides. Located at the Grove Arcade downtown.
- The Edison — A restaurant with gorgeous views and lots of drink options at the Grove Park Inn.
- Chiesa — Italian restaurant located just north of downtown in Montford.
- Jack of the Wood — Really we just love the Celtic feel of this pub and always try to stop in for drinks and music at least!
- French Broad Chocolate Lounge — We already covered this in the itinerary above, but you can’t miss this dessert spot!
Where To Stay in Asheville
As the popularity of Asheville as a tourist destination has exploded, so have the options of where to stay. Here are a few great lodging options for your weekend in Asheville sorted by location:
Downtown Asheville Hotels
If you want to stay in downtown Asheville where you can be in walking distance to all the downtown restaurants, here are some highly rated hotels. Note that you’ll still need transportation to get to The Biltmore or any other non-downtown activities you may want to do.
- AC Hotel by Marriott Asheville Downtown — This new Marriott hotel in downtown Asheville is in a central location, and it’s the location of the rooftop bar Capella on 9.
- Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown — Another hotel with great reviews and a great location. This is also a pet-friendly hotel.
- The Windsor Boutique Hotel — If you want a luxury stay in a historic building + more room to spread out, the Windsor Boutique Hotel offers suites in a variety of sizes.
Biltmore Village Area Hotels
Biltmore Village is a shopping and dining area near The Biltmore Estate and is another convenient option for lodging.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Asheville Biltmore Village — Hampton Inns are often a solid, budget-friendly option, and this one in particular has excellent reviews.
- Biltmore Village Inn Bed & Breakfast — If you want to stay at a cozy bed and breakfast, here’s one near The Biltmore Estate with fantastic reviews on TripAdvisor.
- Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville — This hotel is located right in the middle of Biltmore Village and offers lovely rooms within walking distance of all Biltmore Village has to offer.
Other Asheville Lodging
- The Omni Grove Park Inn — The Grove Park Inn is an icon of Asheville, and offers mountain views with beautiful grounds, a spa, and great restaurants. (It’s on my bucket list to stay here one day!)
- Bittersweet Cottage & Suite — This guest rental has a soft spot in our hearts because it’s where we stayed for our honeymoon and our 11th anniversary. We love this mountaintop property, which offers two accommodations (a cottage and a suite) with amazing views of Asheville.
Tips for Visiting Asheville
- Asheville is most easily visited with your own car (or a rental car). This will enable you to visit a lot of the sights that aren’t directly downtown. And there are plenty of parking garages downtown for easy parking while you’re visiting.
- You don’t have to stay downtown. There are lots of wonderful rentals outside of the city.
- Make restaurant reservations in advance! Depending on when you’re visiting, I recommend making restaurant reservations as far in advance as you can, as dining options fill up fast!
- As with pretty much any trip, wear comfortable walking shoes! There is so much to see in your weekend in Asheville, and you don’t want your feet to make you miserable!
- Savor every moment…and then plan your return trip to Asheville, because you will most likely fall in love with the city.