9 AM Visit the iconic Biltmore Estate. After touring America’s Largest Home and admiring the grand architecture and antique furnishings, take time to explore the historic gardens, grounds, and trails. If visiting during the winter months, the Conservatory is a must with its lush tropical displays and a vast array of exotic orchids in full bloom. Before your visit, check out our insider guide with 10 Helpful Tips for Visiting the Biltmore Estate.
12 PM Enjoy lunch at the estate or at a nearby restaurant. Our favorite nearby spots include the fresh-Mex Cantina Biltmore, American Corner Kitchen, and French Bistro Fig. After lunch, wander the quaint cobblestone streets of Biltmore Village to discover local boutiques and shop your favorite national brand shops. From jewelry to craft to textiles, you’re sure to find the perfect piece of wearable art.
2 PM Grab a sweet treat and caffeine pick-me-up at one of Asheville’s eccentric coffee shops. If you’re looking for a simple and delicious cup of joe/cold brew, look no further than Pennycup Coffee. There are several locations to choose from, but their coffee can also be found at local favorite Hole Donuts as the perfect deep-fried dough pairing. If you’re looking for an Insta-worthy coffee joint, Double D’s downtown (operating inside a double-decker bus) is the one for you. Some of our other favorites include Summit Coffee Co, Battlecat Coffee Bar, and Pollen, a cafe that doubles as a Floral Design Studio so you can grab a curated flower bouquet to brighten your day.
3 PM With coffee in hand, get lost in the vibrant art scene that defines Asheville. Downtown Asheville has the largest collection of art galleries (25+), but you'll also find a variety of art and craft galleries in the quaint small towns surrounding Asheville, including Black Mountain, Weaverville, and Burnsville.
However, the River Arts District (aka RAD), located near downtown Asheville, is arguably the best place to explore art. This industrial riverside area has become home to 185 artists in 25 buildings. The coolest part about these art studios is that they allow you to meet the artists and buy their work directly from them. Pick up a comprehensive studio guide for a detailed directory of artists along with their studio times to make planning easy.
5 PM Catch a breathtaking winter sunset on top of a mountain, from the hot tub at your cozy Greybeard cabin, or at one of Asheville's many rooftop bars. In the winter, sunsets are more vibrant than other times of the year due to lower humidity and cleaner air.
7 PM Enjoy the award-winning cuisine in Asheville. Named the No. 1 Food Destination in the U.S. in 2022 by Travel + Leisure, Asheville continues making waves for its innovative culinary scene. In addition to this foodie title, several of our restaurants have been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, proving Asheville is currently one of the top destinations for fine dining in the country:
• Chai Pani (2022 Winner of Outstanding Restaurant Award)
• Cúrate Bar de Tapas (2022 Winner of Outstanding Hospitality Award)
• Rhubarb (2020 Semifinalist for Outstanding Chef)
• Benne on Eagle (2020 Nominee for Rising Star Chef of the Year)
9 PM Like other cities, there’s always nightlife to enjoy in Asheville. For live music line-ups, The Grey Eagle, The Orange Peel, and Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Harrah's Cherokee Center are a few of the most popular spots. There are also some fun late-night dancing and drinking activities like the Willy Wonka-esque Amazing Pubcycle, the dance lounge at Asheville Beauty Academy, and the rock-and-roll sing-along extravaganza at the Dueling Piano Bar.
10 PM Sip a soothing spirit at one of Asheville’s premier cocktail and wine bars. For a cozy, old-world feel, we’d recommend Sovereign Remedies' mesmerizing craft cocktails, pre-Prohibition era style speakeasy Antidote, or the Victorianesque dreamscape that is Crow & Quill. Draped in dried flowers and rich velvet, the latter bar offers a dizzying selection of 1,000+ spirits, including many rare and out-of-production bottles.
8 AM For sunny-side-up diner fare (along with plenty of gluten-free and vegan options), check out Early Girl Eatery downtown or All Day Darling in the Historic Montford District. One of our all-time favorite spots is the ever-charming Sunny Point Café which serves up farm-to-table classics. You also can’t go wrong with an epic cat head biscuit from Biscuit Head. Since it’s no secret that this biscuit haven has gained a strong cult following since its opening, be sure to get here early, as people are usually in a line that wraps around the building at the original Haywood Rd location. For delicious brekkie tacos, check out Mamacitas Taco Temple or Taco Billy (which now has a new location in Black Mountain), and for breakfast dessert (yes, that’s a thing), grab a truly divine pastry from OWL Bakery.
10 AM Take a hike, and head out into the great outdoors! Wintertime can be a somewhat tricky time for driving/hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway, as weather routinely closes frequented routes, but there are plenty of options off the parkway to enjoy. Bearwallow Mountain Trail is less than 20 miles from downtown Asheville and is a relatively short hike that rewards you with 360-degree views from a treeless summit on the western rim of the Hickory Nut Gorge. Lover’s Leap Loop Trail in Hot Springs takes its name from a local legend and offers a bird’s eye view of the French Broad River and mountains beyond. On the way back from the 1.5-mile roundtrip hike, stop for a soak at Hot Springs Spa.
If you don’t mind a bit of a drive, the aptly named Whiteside Mountain, believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world, is a must-see landmark within the Nantahala National Forest (about 1.5 hours from Asheville). This moderate 2-mile loop trail brings you to the top of 750-foot-high cliffs and is simply spectacular in the winter as veils of ice drape over the cliff face resembling shimmering shards of glass. If icy waterfalls intrigue you, DuPont State Forest is home to a large network of waterfall trails including Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the often-overlooked, Wintergreen Falls.
4 PM Is there anything better than a cold one after a hike? While beer can be found in every corner of our “weird” city, South Slope is certainly one of the epicenters. With 10 breweries within just a few blocks of each other, it’s certainly the most walkable district for craft beer lovers. Check out the top-floor tasting room of Green Man Brewery’s 20,000-square-foot Green Mansion before heading to the 1920s-style apothecary gin tasting room at The Chemist (the sister distillery of Antidote mentioned above). Sample sour and funky barrel-aged beers at Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium (aka the East Coast’s first sour and funky beer dedicated taproom), play (and drink) endless rounds at the game-filled taproom at Twin Leaf Brewing, join the white zombies at Catawba Brewing Co., try a sample a flight of hard cider at Urban Orchard.
If you’re looking for some grub alongside your drinks, Ben's Tune Up has delicious Asian-style food and sake flights, while the goth-clad Burial Beer Co. offers meals inspired by James Beard-nominated chef Brian Canipelli, and Asheville Brewing Company serves up arguably the best duo known to man: beer and pizza.
6 PM Sit down to a pre-theatre dinner in the heart of downtown Asheville. Enjoy fine French bistro meals at Bouchon, fresh farm-to-table favorites at Chestnut, small plates with a fun twist on classic Mexican at Limones, fresh and sustainable seafood at The Lobster Trap, or contemporary American fare at Posana. For dessert, check out the decadent treats at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Their truffles are out of this world!
7:30 PM Catch a musical or stage drama at the Asheville Community Theatre, The Magnetic Theatre, The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, or the North Carolina Stage Company. For symphony and choral music lovers, the Asheville Symphony Orchestra presents some amazing performances throughout the year.
9 PM Take a Ghost Comedy Bus Tour with LaZoom. This hilarious hour-long haunted ghost tour of Asheville delivers a few scream-worthy moments, but it’s got way more laugh-out-loud moments. In true Asheville fashion, there’s also beer! You’ll depart from The LaZoom Room where you can grab a brew for the road or enjoy one on a plush velveteen chair while you wait to board.
More Ways to Fall in Love with Asheville this Winter:
• Tap into Asheville’s century-old holistic wellness and spa traditions in the cold of winter. Rest your feet and mind at Wake Foot Sanctuary, energize and balance in the pink glow of the Asheville Salt Cave, enjoy hot tea and acupuncture at Alchemy, or soak your troubles away at Shoji Spa, the ultimate private Japanese spa set on the scenic edge of the mountains. Their intimate, natural outdoor hot tubs and specialized massages are sure to relax and rejuvenate you!
• Visit one of Asheville’s many Museums. Learn about one of the literary greats who called Asheville home at The Thomas Wolfe Memorial, learn about the fascinating history of Black Mountain College, or play classic video games at Asheville Pinball Museum.
• Turn your eyes to the skies with some winter stargazing. As a smaller city, Asheville and the surrounding areas produce minimal light pollution which ensures some of the “darkest skies” in the region and makes stargazing a must-try activity. While stargazing is enjoyable year-round and most ideal conditions come down to pure luck, the stars certainly align in the colder winter months.