Dabbling in Jet Lag
Asheville is quickly becoming one of the most popular cities on the East Coast. Located on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains, this trendy destination attracts visitors looking for outdoor activities with the amenities of a big city. You’ll find one-of-a-kind boutiques, jaw-dropping scenery, and an impressive number of breweries.
I stopped in Asheville during my road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway and fell in love with its bohemian vibe. There’s a ton of things to do downtown and it’s only a short drive to the mountains. So, I’ve put together an Asheville itinerary that will help you get acquainted with the city, covering the main sites as well as some hidden spots. It has everything you need to guarantee an awesome visit!
Table of Contents
- Asheville Itinerary – Day 1
- Asheville Itinerary – Day 2
- Asheville Itinerary – Day 3
- Other Cool Things to Do in Asheville
- Budget Tips for Asheville
Asheville Itinerary – Day 1
Tour the River Arts District
An industrial center turned artist haven, Asheville’s River Arts District is something not to be missed. Here you’ll find trendy cafés and breweries, warehouses turned into lively studios, and artists ready to share their work. Tour the area on your own or with a guide, either way, you’re sure to have a great time.
The River Arts District is also home to the best coffee shop in Asheville, the Grind. Their coffee is delicious, their pastries are to die for, and their impact on the community is positive! Order to go or grab a seat and hang out for a while. With their chill atmosphere, it’s easy to spend a few hours here.
Grind’s Address: 346 Depot St, Asheville, NC 28801
Indulge in Farm-to-Table Food
Farm-to-table food is the norm in Asheville. In fact, many restaurants pride themselves on serving only locally sourced food. And with so many farms and farmers’ markets in the area, it’s sure that the ingredients will be fresh.
There are well over a hundred restaurants promoting this style of cooking in Asheville, so it can be difficult to choose between them. My favorite was Tupelo Honey. They serve southern-style food with a twist. But make sure to book a table in advance, otherwise, you’ll have to wait in the inevitably long line.
Tupelo Honey’s Address: 12 College St, Asheville, NC 28801
Visit The North Carolina Arboretum
From beautifully manicured gardens to pristine trails, The North Carolina Arboretum is the perfect escape from the city. It’s spread across an impressive 65 acres and has one of the most diverse collections of flora and fauna in the area. It’s easy to spend hours wandering around and admiring the beautiful displays. There are also several events and exhibits throughout the year so be sure to check out their events page.
Cost: There is no admission fee, but there is a parking fee that starts at $16.
Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806
Take the Haunted Asheville Ghost Tour
Do you believe in ghosts or the paranormal?
Even if you don’t, step off the beaten path and explore the spooky side of Asheville with the Haunted Asheville Ghost Tour. This fantastic tour was developed by renowned paranormal expert and TV personality Joshua P. Warren. And in 2018, it was rated as one of the top ghost tours in the US!
Tours run nearly every evening, but, if you can, book a tour with Christian MacLeod. He incorporates history and mystery into one hair-raising tour!
Cost: For the classic tour, tickets start at $24.95 per person for ages 15 and up.
Asheville Itinerary – Day 2
Tour the Biltmore Mansion
The Biltmore Mansion is the largest estate in the United States, totaling 8,000 acres! This impressive property was once home to America’s richest family, the Vanderbilts. Today, you can tour the mansion and the grounds. And to say it’s impressive would be an understatement. The gardens radiate with hues of every color imaginable, while the 250-room mansion is a masterpiece of architectural design.
Cost: Tickets start at $86. This includes a self-guided tour of the grounds, an audio-guided tour of the mansion, parking, and a free wine tasting. It’s pricey but worth it! For more information, click here.
Useful Tip: Arrive at the opening, even a few minutes before. And if you want to see everything, it will take you the entire day (from open to close).
Address: One Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803
Sample Some Local Beer
After a day touring the Biltmore Mansion, relax and enjoy some local beer at one of the many breweries in Asheville. Believe it or not but there are 30 breweries! And, in 2009, Asheville was dubbed Beer City USA. From IPAs to dark stouts, there’s something for every kind of beer drinker.
If you don’t know where to start, stop by The Bier Garden. They have more than 250 beers!
The Bier Garden’s Address: 46 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC 28801
Asheville Itinerary – Day 3
Spend the Day at Chimney Rock State Park
Located 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Asheville, lies the lush green mountainous Chimney Rock State Park. Here you’ll find hiking trails, epic viewpoints, gushing waterfalls, and hidden caves. It’s an outdoor excursion that’s perfect for everyone! The main highlight is Chimney Rock, which offers spectacular panoramic views over the region. It’s at the end of a 500-stair climb, but don’t worry, if you don’t want to walk there’s an elevator available.
For those looking for an adventure, hike the Skyline Trail. It’s 1.7 kilometers (1.1 miles) from Exclamation Point, and winds along the ridge before finishing at a magnificent outlook. If you’re looking for a less strenuous trail, consider the Hickory Nut Falls Trail. This is a 2.4 km (1.5 mile) relatively flat hike that finishes in front of Hickory Nut Falls. It’s a great place to cool off after climbing those 500 stairs!
Cost: Admission is $17 per person. For more information, click here.
Address: 743 Chimney Rock Park Road, Chimney Rock, NC 28720
Useful Tip: Make sure to stop by Chimney Rock town, which is next to the state park. It’s a small cozy town with lots of restaurants and shops.
Visit Asheville’s Pinball Museum
With 35 pinball machines and 35 classic video games, this quirky museum is fun for the whole family. They have Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Evel Knieval pinball, Frogger, and, even Mr. and Mrs. Pacman! It’s the perfect opportunity to reminisce about your childhood days while having a blast.
Cost: Admission is $15 per person, and you can play as many games as you like for as long as you want. Now, who wouldn’t love that? They don’t take reservations so be sure to come early! For more information, click here.
Address: 1 Battle Square, Asheville, NC 28801
Other Cool Things to Do in Asheville
Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
Spanning 755 km (469 miles) through North Carolina and Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway is America’s favorite drive. The parkway slithers along the Appalachian Mountain Range, offering visitors an array of outdoor activities. From hiking trails with magnificent viewpoints to cultural exhibits, there’s something for everyone. And best of all, it’s free!
Some popular stops near Asheville include the Linn Cove Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain, Craggy Gardens, and Linville Falls.
For a complete list of things to do be sure to check out my complete guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway!
Relax at the Battery Park Book Exchange
For one of the most relaxing and unique experiences in Asheville, stop by the Battery Park Book Exchange. Here you’ll find two things: books and wine. Browse through thousands of used books while indulging in a glass of Champagne. It’s luxury without the expense. They also have a cafe, but, the tables inside the bookstore are far more intimate. Make sure to reserve in advance, this place fills up quickly.
Address: 1 Page Ave #101, Asheville, NC 28801
Hike Mount Pisgah
Take a break from the city and hike one of the largest peaks in the area, Mount Pisgah. Sitting at 1743 meters (5721 ft.), the views from this impressive mountain are absolutely breathtaking. On a clear day, you can even see the Biltmore Mansion. It’s a strenuous hike over rocky terrain, but the 180-degree panoramic views will be worth the effort. If it hasn’t rained, this 1.7 km (1.1 mile) hike takes roughly 3 hours roundtrip.
If you’re not up for the climb, bring a packed lunch and picnic at one of the many tables in Pisgah National Forest.
Useful Tip: There are plenty of picnic grounds just before the trailhead.
Admire the Local Street Art
Asheville has a vibrant art scene that extends beyond the River Arts District. Everywhere you look there’s an intricately painted mural that begs for your attention. You can’t help but stop and admire them. Make sure to look down alleyways, under bridges, and on the sides of buildings. Some of the best ones are not in plain sight!
My favorites were:
- Chicken Alley – By Molly Must. Located between Broadway and Lexington on Carolina Lane.
- The Lexington Gateway Mural – By Arts 2 People’s Asheville Mural Project. Located under I-240 bridge over Broadway Avenue.
Budget Tips for Asheville
In the last decade, Asheville has grown in popularity and, as a result, so have the prices. But don’t worry there are plenty of ways to save money. Below are my top tips to help you save money while visiting Asheville.
- Go for a hike – Asheville is surrounded by beautiful forests. Go exploring on one of the many hiking trails. Entrance to Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway is free!
- Walk around – Travel slower and explore the city on foot.
- Pack a lunch – It’s not necessary to eat out for every meal. There are plenty of grocery stores and farmers’ markets in Asheville. So, pack a lunch and save some money!
- Don’t stay in the city center – Hotels in the city center are expensive. But if you stay near Asheville Mall (3 S Tunnel Rd, Asheville, NC 28805), you’ll save a ton of money. It’s only a short drive to the center, where there’s plenty of free/cheap parking.
- Buy tickets online – Many activities have the option to buy tickets online, and, more often than not, there’s a small discount for doing so.
- Travel during the off-seasons – July and August are the most expensive months to visit Asheville. Consider traveling in the spring or fall when prices are lower.
With a myriad of things to see and do, Asheville is an absolute must-see. Whether you love history, outdoor activities, or just want to relax, there’s something for everyone. Use this three-day Asheville itinerary to help plan your next trip!
Read More US Travel Guides
I hope you enjoyed my guide to spending 3 days in Asheville and found it useful. Check out some of my other travel guides from the United States.