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The Ultimate Tour Guide from a Local to a Tourist: Asheville, NC

October 6, 2017

photo by Jared Kay

It was in 2007 when the city council decided that they wanted to make some major changes to the city of Asheville, just three years after my family and I had moved from Newark, NJ. Fast forward 10 years later and our city has made it to Travel + Leisure’s 2015 top 20 places to visit in North America, as well as making it as #40 on Forbe’s 2016 list on cities to get your business booming.

I guess you can say the change was deemed successful.

With all these wonderful souls coming through the city, it was only necessary that I help the taxi services out and join the community of Lyft drivers; and one thing most visitors ask is: “Wtf is there to do in Asheville?” So, I’ve decided to curate a list separated by three categories: EATS, HIKES & NIGHT LIFE. Here are some of my favs.

EATS

I assume one of the first two things you may want to do is either eat or sleep after a safe landing into town. Well it were me, I’d choose food first. Divided into two, I’ve listed my top 3 of each.

Brunch

All of these places are delicious! My explanations may seem a little bland, but trust that I wouldn’t mention it if it wasn’t worth it. Most of these restaurants serve either brunch or dinner. If not, don’t worry – I’ve specified which for you.

Bomba

-Bomba (Closes at 3pm)

Bomba is a brunch spot that is sometimes open in the evenings for special collaborations. Some would refer to it as a coffee shop, but their Latin food menu tames the hungry beast within.

-Laughing Seed Cafe

Laughing Seed Cafe is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Their food is served fresh from local & organic, farm-to-table style. Lots of tasty options.

-Another Broken Egg (Closes at 2pm)

Laughing Seed Cafe is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Their food is served fresh from local & organic, farm-to-table style. Lots of tasty options.

Honorable Mentions:

Sunny Side Cafe

Biscuit Head (Close at 3pm)

Early Girl

The Southern

Mayfel’s

Taco Billy’s (Close at 3pm)

Din Din

So I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but I love tacos and we have lots of taco places here. So much more than I’ve mentioned. But that’s not all I’ve mentioned. Keep reading.

West Asheville White Duck Taco

-White Duck Taco (Closes at 3pm on Sundays)

Not gonna lie. I named this place before actually eating here just because of the personal reviews I’ve witnessed, but just I ate here like two days ago so I don’t feel like such a fraud anymore. SO GOOD!

-Jerusalem Garden

This Mediterranean/Moroccan menu is bomb.com. Large portions for hungry man.

-WALK – West Asheville Lounge & Kitchen

Super cute place! Jukebox and classic arcade games. Traditional American (burgers, wings, mac & cheese) and a mix of the lighter southwest Mexican cuisine. AND THEY GOT TACOS!

Honorable Mentions:

LAB

Vincents

Taco Temple

Wicked Weed

Rhubarb

Dessert

Hole

-Hop Ice Cream (Closes at 10/11pm)

Homemade style ice cream. Vegan and GF options. So fresh & tasty. Flavors are always changing.

-Hole Doughnuts (Closes at 3pm)

Either watch this video or go there. I can’t explain it any better than that. Not sorry.

-Old Europe (Closes at 11pm)

If you like your sweets sweeter than sweet, stop by Old Europe. It’s a cute little coffee shop that serves locally roasted brews.

Honorable Mentions: 

Chocolate Lounge

Vortex Doughnuts (Closes at 5pm)

>> Local Coffee Shops <<

HIKES

Making a trip to stop by one of the largest mansions in North America, The Biltmore Estate, is a nice gesture, but if you’re looking for something a lot more exciting to get into the mountain life is one to explore. Are you the adventurous type? Asheville is laid in the valley between the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains. It’s surrounded by the views of low ranged ridges provided by neighboring national forests. So many sights to see, not enough time. Keep reading to peep a few of my favs.

Blue Ridge Parkway

So if you haven’t heard of the BRP, it’s most popular because it has the most mileage of low widespread mountains, haha. If I’m not mistaken the mountains spread from east of Tennessee on through western North Carolina and into West Virginia. Once you get up to an elevated area you witness the beauties of the Blue Ridges. All of these places can take up to an hour to get to from the city, so if you decide to come out make sure you plan accordingly.

Devils Courthouse

Devils Courthouse

– Milemarker 422

– 10 min hike up intense hill

– View is magical

Black Balsam Knob

– Milemarker 420

– 10 min medium hike medium hill

– View is magical

Craggy Gardens

– Milemarker 364

– 10 min easy hike up medium hill

– View is magical

Skinny Dip Falls

– Milemarker 417

– 15 easy hike down and around

– View is magical (swimming hole included)

Pisgah National Forest

To be honest, I haven’t explored much of this forest. I’ve just been to these three spots – plus two or three more I will not mention just because I don’t remember what the points were called or how to get there. 🙂 What’s cool about Looking Glass Rock is that it’s so big that you can see it directly across from mile marker 417 – the stop at which you park to start your hike towards Skinny Dip Falls.

Looking Glass Rock

Looking Glass Rock

– Very intense hike! 1.5 hrs in, about 1 hr out for a strong hiker

– Elevated at 3,970 ft

– View is magical

Looking Glass Falls

Very easy! Just drive, park & walk down steps

– 60 ft tall

– View is magical (Swimming hole included)

Sliding Rock

Park & walk less than 5 min

– 50 – 60 degree water

– Slide down natural waterfall (Get there early on weekends, long lines for a fun time)

DuPont National Forest

So this forest has some gorgeous water falls, lots of biking trails and beautiful trails for hiking. You can also do horse back riding along some places in this forest. I mostly go here whenever I want to visit Triple Falls. This trail has a series of waterfalls starting with Hooker Falls. It starts off as a very easy hike.

Triple Falls

 

Hooker Falls

– 12 ft waterfall

– Serves as a picnic area and swimming hole as well

– Easiest part of the trail through the falls

Triple Falls

– 120 ft waterfall

– It’s not too bad of hike. It does get a little intense for a second

– Much more beautiful than the photo I’ve captured

High Falls 

– 150 ft waterfall

– The hike get easier after visiting Triple Falls

– Super fun to climb on the rocks, up close and personal

NIGHT LIFE

The night life is pretty chill here in the city. There are different places curated to your preference whether you’re out to dance, have an easy going night out with friends or if you just wanna get plastered you can do that anywhere! Just do it safely. Call a Lyft for a ride home.

Downtown Asheville

– AC Hotel

Very modernly cute and sophisticated roof top bar. It serves a 360 view over the city. Signature drinks and great music!

The Southern 

I did list this place as somewhere to eat, but on Friday nights it’s fun night to be! It kind of serves as a college night for the locals and students of UNCA. In the words of DJ Data231, “Very loud rap music.” Food is served through the night.

Twisted Laurel

Another great restaurant with night scene, but this time on Saturday nights. You can join DJ Phantom Pantone and guests for the latest hits with a funky twist!

Honorable Mentions

Crow & Will (low-key Whiskey Bar)

MG Road Bar & Lounge (low-key artsy)

Bier Garten (high-key frat house)

The Bywater (a bar by the water)

 

 

 

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