Source: Explore Asheville

Discover a Perfect Getaway in Asheville


Cradled by the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina holds surprises around every turn. There's no shortage of locally owned boutiques, bookshops and art galleries, museums and live music venues, award-winning restaurants and craft breweries. And the best part? No matter the path you choose, you'll soak up the authentic Asheville spirit that makes this city so welcoming. Check out the suggested itinerary below and grab your pals for an unforgettable visit to Asheville.

A Night Out on the Town

When you arrive, check into one of Asheville's warm and inviting lodgings, including Cedar Crest Inn, Wrong Way River Lodge and Cabins, or the hip new River Arts District hotel, The Radical, which was envisioned by a team that includes former Wes Anderson set designer, Kris Miran. Then head over to Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar where you "come for the books and stay for the bubbles." This charming downtown spot is a sprawling two-story bookstore with an open invitation to wander through the stacks – around corners, past shelves, into nooks and cozy sitting areas – as if circulating a party. Take a glass of champagne or wine with you as you arrive at the foot of a narrow staircase, beckoning you to discover another level of vintage art and antiques.

Once you and your friends have worked up an appetite, pop over to Ben's Tune Up for an extensive menu of beers on tap, home-brewed sake, and tasty southern-style bites. A converted South Slope auto shop, this expansive Asian fusion restaurant features an outdoor beer garden and sake brewery.

After dinner, take it to the dance floor at Asheville Beauty Academy, a popping and lively lounge in the heart of Asheville. Enjoy a show on the stage or grab late night bites and drinks in the new Soup Kitchen pop-up upstairs. You can also hit up O. Henry's, a beloved neighborhood queer space and North Carolina's oldest gay bar. The bar boasts music, games, special events and daily drink specials. Warm up your vocals for Drag Queen Karaoke, and don't forget to check out The Underground in the back, an industrial-style bar known for its popular "Total Gold Dance Your Ass Off" parties the first Friday of every month.

Art River Arts District
Source: Stephan Pruitt Photography/Explore Asheville

Thrilling Adventures

Get your morning going with a stroll along the Black Cultural Heritage Trail. Among the first of its kind in the region, the Trail links downtown Asheville with historic Black neighborhoods, immersing visitors in the heroism of Black Ashevillians, and pointing out notable figures and cultural landmarks that are central to the city's history. For a complete guide to the trail, including supplemental audio and photography, download the new Explore Asheville app.

Afterwards, you'll be hankering for a delicious brunch and there's no better spot than Tall John's, a neighborhood tavern in downtown. Enjoy locally sourced ingredients that bring every dish on the menu to life before diving into an afternoon of museums and tours. The Asheville Art Museum houses a rich collection of 20th and 21st century American art with a concentration on work with significance to the Southeast. In addition to engaging exhibitions, the museum features innovative programs – from classes and workshops, to guided tours, film screenings, performances, lectures and panel discussions.

For a more playful experience, check out the Asheville Pinball Museum. The price of admission grants you unlimited access to 35 pinball machines and 35 classic video games – a gamer's afternoon in paradise. When you've exhausted your thumbs, catch a ride on LaZoom Tours, "a vaudeville show on wheels." The bus tour is complete with hysterical guides, outlandish comedy skits, and tons of Asheville history.

As the sun dips behind the Blue Ridge Mountains, grab a drink at The Crow & Quill, a cocktail and whiskey bar offering a "dizzying array of spirits." The cozy atmosphere is the perfect spot to unwind from a day of thrilling adventures. Look out for live music and sip a delicious craft beverage surrounded by vintage decor. Then finish your night around the corner at The Lazy Diamond, a Rock-n-Roll bar with all the grunge and soul of a punk band. Catch DJ sets and curated drink specials before snapping pics in the photo booth.

Source: Explore Asheville

Shop & Stroll

Your shopping excursion starts in the River Arts District where close to 300 artists converge in a series of warehouses that have been converted into working studios. Guests are welcome to peruse the studios, watch artists at work and purchase their creations. From painting and pottery to metal and wood, there is an artistic treasure for everyone. Be sure to stop by Marquee, a massive warehouse full of antique treasures and artist booths, and discover "a culmination of a European street market with the colorful Asheville vibe." If you're still hankering for more exquisite home goods, head to West Asheville and check out Palm and Pine, a shop where you can find plants, pots and accessories to bring a splash of green to your home.

If you're more of a proud bookworm, Asheville offers an array of shops for every reader's taste. Drop in to queer-owned Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe in downtown and grab a hand-crafted espresso drink, nibble on a baked good, and peruse a wide selection of the best in pop literature. Pro tip: Check out the calendar of upcoming events to catch a conversation with your favorite author as they dish on the words they wrote to bring their characters to life. Then visit Downtown Books and News to add to your rare book collection, or Firestorm Books and Coffee in West Asheville for "a queer, feminist collective" where books, coffee and community come together.

Outside Style Guide
Source: Explore Asheville

Plan Your Trip

Asheville is an artsy and inviting mountain city with a rich Appalachian history where queer community is alive and celebrated. You'll enjoy a locally owned craft and boutique shopping experience, delicious dishes and curious cocktails, and adventures through the city's intriguing museums, historical landmarks and cozy bookshops. Check out Explore Asheville and download the Explore Asheville app to start planning your visit today.

by Roger Porter

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