Travel Planning

Asheville, North Carolina: For Architecture and History Buffs

I recently wrote an itinerary for visiting Richmond, VA for my Mother-in-Law and her foreign exchange student. Juan is an architect student from Columbia who is interning in NC for 6 months. Naturally he wants to experience as much as he can while he’s here and see some of the best architecture in the area!

I’ve been to Asheville several times, but it’s been a few years and I learned a lot writing this post, so I’m eager to go back!

Asheville Itinerary

Asheville suffered more then any city in the United States when the stock market crashed in 1929. Asheville owed more, per capita, then New York, Chicago, Atlanta, or any other US city. It took them 50 years, but Asheville paid off all their debts, and became a unique and wonderful town for architecture and history. How? When major towns and cities all over the US were bulldozing old buildings to make room for improvements, Asheville was still up to its nose in debt and couldn’t afford to participate! You can read more about it here and here.

Saturday

Breakfast

Grab breakfast at Sunny Point Cafe, but get there early because the wait can really add up! They open at 8 and that’s probably when you want to be there. They have 4.5 stars and 995 reviews on yelp, so I think it’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed!

Morning

Join the Asheville By Foot walking tour “The Asheville Insider” at 10 am for a 2 hour introduction to Asheville’s history, architecture, and culture. Adults are $25/each and the tour will take 2 hours.

Asheville
Photo by Flickr user David Wilson. CC 2.0.

Lunch

Mmmmm 😀 I love Tupelo Honey Cafe! From the moment I started this post, I knew Tupelo Honey was going to come up! They have 4 locations in North Carolina now, and I’ve been to 3 of them! The original is downtown Asheville and it’s the one I remember the most fondly, but long waits are definitely associated with this restaurant! My advice: either make a reservation at the South Asheville location or grab a couple of lemonades and prepare for a long wait downtown. Personally, I’d wait downtown! You had a big breakfast anyway right?

Oh, and 1397 people on yelp will agree with me, or at least give it 4 stars. 😃

Tupelo Honey
Photo by Flickr user J.H. Fearless. CC 2.0.

Afternoon

After lunch make your way to the 1840s Smith-McDowell House Museum, the oldest surviving house in Asheville. Admission is $9/adults and $5/students with ID. It is open Monday-Saturday 10-4.

Smith-McDowell House Museum
Photo by Flickr user Danny Thompson. CC 2.0.

Next head to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. The tribute to this American author is staged in his 1880’s Victorian home. Tours leave every hour on the half-hour and cost $5 for adults. The house has been largely unchanged since 1916, so will provide terrific insight into the domestic architecture of the time. The last tour leaves at 4:30.

Thomas Wolfe Memorial
Photo by Flickr user Danny Thompson. CC 2.0.

Dinner

Breakfast and lunch were pretty heavy, so why not check out the vegetarian and vegan offerings at Rosetta’s Kitchen & The Buchi Bar? The menu looks yummy and they have 4.5 stars with 268 reviews on yelp.

If it doesn’t fill you up, you can check out the French Broad Chocolate Lounge for dessert! They have 4 stars and 381 reviews on yelp, so they must be doing something right!

Evening

Head to the famous Grove Park Inn for drinks on their Sunset Cocktail Terrace. You’ll be able to see the lobby of the over 100 year old hotel and watch the sunset from the porch. I’ve eaten on the porch and it’s a truly special experience, but it doesn’t come cheap! If you can afford it go for dinner and drinks!

Parking will be free if you self-park and stay for less then 3 hours. Expect to pay $8-20 for a glass of wine and $5 for a Bud Light.

The Grove Park Inn
Photo by Flickr user Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose. CC 2.0 Share Alike.

Sunday

Breakfast

Grab something quick at the Liberty House Cafe and check out their 1920s cottage while you are at it! Expect locally sourced, fair trade, and outdoor seating. They have 38 reviews and 4.5 stars on yelp.

Morning

You can’t come to Asheville and not visit the largest private home in America! Maintaining a house and grounds like this is no joke, so don’t expect this to be a cheap visit. Adult tickets cost $65 during the summer but $75 and reservations required on Saturdays. You can save $10/person by booking online more then 7 days in advance.

You will want to be at the gate to the Biltmore promptly at 8:30 am to beat the crowds. The house doesn’t open until 9, but this will give you just enough time to park and begin to marvel at the building and the grounds.

You admission will include a self-guided tour of the house, exhibitions currently on display in the home, access to the gardens and grounds, access to Antler Hill Village, and wine tasting at the winery. Expect to spend 1.5-2 hours in the house alone and the entire morning at the estate.

The Biltmore Estate
Photo by Flickr user Blake Lewis. CC 2.0 Share Alike.

Lunch

After touring the estate, cross the street to Biltmore Village and have lunch at the Well-Bred Bakery and Cafe. They have 4.5 stars with 124 reviews on yelp, they have mouth watering pictures on their website, but mostly they just have a hilarious name! What better motivation could you ask for?

Afternoon

Take a break from the museums and tours and experience the history and culture of Asheville through art! The Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Folk Art Center is a great place to browse some wonderful art and watch demonstrations by the artisans. Demonstrations take place daily between 10-4 and admission is free. The Folk Art Center is open until 6pm.

Folk Art Center
Photo by Flickr user Perry Quan. CC 2.0 Share Alike.

After the folk art museum, point the car back towards Durham but stop for an early dinner and some wine at the Silver Fork Farm to Fork Eatery. Food is served Saturday and Sunday 12-5 and the Winery is open until 6pm. From the tasting room and grounds you’ll have views of the vineyard and the majestic South Mountains. They have 4.5 stars and 12 reviews on yelp.

Silver Fork Winery
Photo from the Silver Fork Winery website.

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