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The mountain town of Asheville, located in Western North Carolina, is a truly unique town all its own. In fact, the town motto, “Keep Asheville Weird” gives a little nod to its eclectic residents and laidback vibe. Whether you’re into art, music, food, shopping or outdoor recreation, you will find plenty of things to do here. But, if you only have a small window of time to experience this amazing city, here are a few things you’ll want to make sure you do during your 48 hours in Asheville.
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Even though Biltmore Estate will most likely take up your entire first day, you’ll still want to put it on the agenda, because it’s one of the must-see attractions in Asheville. With a whopping 250 rooms, this breathtaking French Renaissance Chateau is still the largest undertaking in the history of residential architecture. It truly has to be seen in person to be believed, with its 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces. But, perhaps the most interesting thing about the Biltmore House are the features that seem to be extremely modern for its time from the late 1800’s like the indoor pool and even a bowling alley. Make sure to start your day here early, so you can tour the house and gardens before heading down the lane to Antler Hill Village – another area of the Estate where you’ll find more things to do including shops, restaurants, a farm and the famous Biltmore Winery.
If you’re visiting Asheville on a Friday, make sure to grab an early dinner at one of the Biltmore restaurants, so you can head into downtown Asheville and join the famous Asheville drum circle that starts in Pritchard Park on Patton Avenue near College Street around 6 p.m. Though this gathering is a famous part of the city’s history, it is still an informal gathering, so don’t expect it to start right on time. But, once it gets going, you’ll be in for quite a show as dozens of people of every age and race gather to jam together. Sit back and enjoy the show, jump up and dance or grab yourself a drum and join in on the fun. No experience required!
Before you head back to the hotel, make sure to stop by Double D’s Coffee and Desserts – a unique little spot inside a bright red double-decker bus that’s parked at 41 Biltmore Avenue. Although it actually functioned as a public bus in England during the 1960’s and 70’s, it’s been a coffee shop ever since it landed in Asheville in 1999. You’ll love the quaint and welcoming interior once you board the bus and your taste buds will do a little dance of joy once they taste one of their wonderful creations like locally-made cookies and brownies, ice cream and of course, a wide variety of iced and hot coffee drinks.
For the start of your second day, don’t fill up on breakfast at the hotel because you’ll want to save room for the deliciousness that is the Green Sage Café. This Asheville favorite that has 3 different locations across the city, has won numerous awards for its sustainability and health consciousness, including Healthiest Restaurant in Western North Carolina for three years in a row. No matter what your dietary restrictions may be (or if you have none at all), you’ll always be able to find something delicious to eat here, from house-made smoothies and juices, to breakfast sandwiches, breakfast bowls, omelets and pancakes (even gluten free!). They also serve a large selection of lunch dishes as well if you want to come back later, including salads, bowls, sandwiches and burgers.
After you’ve filled up with plenty of protein at the Green Sage, lace your shoes up tight, grab your camera and hit the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Black Balsam Knob area, about a half hour outside of the city. Although there are plenty of beautiful areas for hiking in the Asheville area, Black Balsam Knob features some of the most breathtaking mountain balds in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. In fact, you can walk for almost three full miles without dropping back into the trees, giving you amazing views of the surrounding hills. Depending on your athletic ability and how long you want to spend, there are several options for hiking including a short half mile hike to the first set of balds or a 5-mile loop that will take you up and down over several balds. Make sure to pack a picnic and enjoy a leisurely pace while you enjoy the beauty of nature around you!
Once you get back to town after your hike, you’ll want to make sure you leave yourself some time to explore downtown Asheville before you head out. As the heart of the city, you’ll find an eclectic variety of shops, restaurants and attractions to explore. Take the “Urban Trail,” a self-guided scavenger hunt of downtown that takes you to 30 different stations that teach you about the city’s culture, architecture and social history. Or explore it on your own and visit famous spots like the historic African-American Center and Woolworth Walk – an art gallery, emporium and restored soda fountain located inside of an old Woolworth building.