A Local’s Guide to 48 Hours in Asheville

Asheville is no longer North Carolina’s best kept secret; our gorgeous city has appeared on just about every “Top X Cities for X” list written in the last two years. See here, and here…oh, and here too, just to name a few. While most locals (me included) love to grumble about the influx of tourists these accolades have brought, it’s hard to deny that if I didn’t live here, I’d want to visit all the time too!

In the spirit of giving back, here is my list of where to stay, where to eat and drink, and what to do if you are coming to Asheville for a weekend getaway. WARNING: This list assumes that you enjoy good food and delicious beer!

Best Places to Stay in Asheville

From cozy and kitschy to top-of-the-line mountain luxury, Asheville boasts a number of awesome accommodations. Here are some of my favorites:

The Grove Park Inn

The Grove Park Inn is a world-renowned resort and spa, beautifully located with stunning views of downtown Asheville. Even if you don’t stay there, it’s worth a trip to see the stunning architecture and learn about the rich history! Plus, if you’re at all interested in luxury spa treatments while in town, this is where you should go. Just FYI, the rooms are nice but not particularly plush—the beauty of the Grove Park Inn is really the grounds, dining, enormous porches, and subterranean spa.


One of our newest hotels, Aloft is perfectly located near the heart of downtown—and it has its own parking garage so you won’t have to waste any time battling for a spot. I love having a drink and a small bite on The Ledge, a veranda seating area overlooking all the happenings downtown. The Blackbird restaurant is also located on the lower floor and offers tasty southern cuisine with a gourmet kick.

The Grand Bohemian

In the heart of Biltmore Village, but still just a couple minutes from downtown, The Grand Bohemian is a relatively new hotel, built within the last 5 years. From there, it’s super walkable to Biltmore Village which has great shopping, a wonderful and historical look, and one of my favorite breakfast spots in town, Corner Kitchen.

The Asheville Food & Beer Scene

At almost every corner, you’re likely to find delicious food and tasty beer, but here are a few of my must-eats!


  • Sunny Point: Fresh, local, delicious, and casual. I’ve eaten here dozens of times and have never had a bad meal. Bonus: breakfast is served all day! I personally recommend the huevos rancheros, breakfast salad, or breakfast sandwich.
  • Over Easy: Solid local breakfast place, conveniently located right downtown.
  • Corner Kitchen: Centrally located in Biltmore Village, YUM! Their corned beef hash is the best I’ve ever had, and I love their local pecan trout & eggs. Corner Kitchen is also a great place for lunch and dinner.


  • Wicked Weed: Hands down the best beer bar in town if you are looking for an eclectic mix of high quality beers, great outdoor seating, and, bonus, the food is also delicious and features local ingredients.
  • Salsas: Best mojito in town, served with authentic and delicious Mexican and Caribbean fare. Their tagline doesn’t lie: prepare for a Latin flavor adventure!
  • 12 Bones: You don’t want to miss out on this famous BBQ spot, frequented by locals and visitors alike (we’re lookin’ at you, Obama!), and also written up in the NY Times. The main location off Riverside is only open for lunch during the week. Expect a line, but it’s well worth the wait and goes quickly.


  • The Admiral: A total dive on the outside (and in) with an incredible, inventive menu, The Admiral is a true West Asheville experience. Reservations are a must, though you can sometimes get lucky with a seat at the bar. People go nuts for this place, including the NY Times. If you go, you HAVE to get the mussels—I dream about them.
  • Bull & The Beggar: Relatively new and tucked in an inconspicuous spot next to one of the best breweries in town, The Wedge, Bull & The Beggar offers delicious food and a cozy atmosphere. I love their seared scallops in black pudding—and I argue that they have the best steak in town!
  • Cúrate: Excellent tapas, beautiful location right downtown, and one of my absolute favorite restaurants. Head Chef Katie Button is a James Beard Award winner; here’s a great NY Times write up. In addition to wonderful food, you can expect some of the best service in town!
  • Rhubarb: Very local, very fresh contemporary American cuisine. Chef John Fleer was also a James Beard Award finalist.
  • FIG: A sweet little French-inspired bistro located in the heart of Biltmore Village. FIG’s truffle fries are amazing, portions generous and the service superb! When the weather is nice, be sure to take advantage of their quiet outdoor patio.
Enjoy lovely things to eat & drink at FIG Bistro in Asheville's Biltmore Village

Enjoy lovely things to eat & drink at FIG Bistro in Asheville’s Biltmore Village

Best Beer Bars

Have a seat, see what’s on tap, and enjoy the Asheville life with these fantastic beer bars:

Best Asheville Breweries

With a high concentration of awesome craft breweries, you have a huge number of choices. Here are my personal favorites:

Cocktail Bars & Sweet Treats

If a fruity concoction or carefully crafted cocktail are more up your alley, check out some of these cocktail bars and places where you can satisfy your sweet tooth:

Things To Do

Even on a weekend Asheville trip, there’s plenty of time to check out some of our awesome activities. Here are a few of my “must-do’s”:

  • Zen Tubing: See Asheville from the water with a beer in hand! All you need to bring is yourself and a sense of adventure, and they handle the rest!
  • Biltmore Estate: Historically the biggest tourist draw to Asheville, the Biltmore Estate is well worth a visit, but plan on spending the whole day to really make the most of your ticket.
  • LaZoom: A super fun way to tour downtown! You’ll get to meet local favorites, like the bike riding nun, “Sister Bad Habit.”
  • Amazing Pubcycle: What’s not to love about fueling up on beer and fueling the Amazing Pubcycle with communal pedaling?  A great, unique way to see the sights and people watch.

Share the Love!

Locals and visitors alike can agree: Asheville rocks! And there are so many wonderful things to do, see, and eat. What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

More posts by Neeley Dawson »