1 Feb 2023
Winter is a magical, albeit quiet, time for a vacation outside of major holidays, so we've created the perfect Winter Weekend in Asheville Itinerary for those that like to "live as the locals do." After just a short weekend here, we’re confident you’ll be smitten in your mittens with our "Paris of the South."
Quick weekend trips are the perfect way to sample what a city has to offer without spending too much vacation time or hard-earned dough, and the Winter shoulder season (January-March) is arguably the best time to visit Asheville in terms of specials, smaller crowds, and sparkling snowy weather.
So, what makes Asheville the perfect weekend getaway destination? Well, among Asheville’s many monikers, there is one that encompasses many facets of our dazzling city: “Paris of the South.”
The Vanderbilts are most often credited with laying the groundwork for Asheville’s eventual nickname. Modeled after the Chȃteaux of France's Loire Valley, the Vanderbilts’ Biltmore Estate (aka America’s largest private home), enticed a variety of craftspeople to put down roots here in Western North Carolina. In addition to this influx of new residents, the city also attracted a flourishing population of people who were drawn to the area’s gorgeous landscapes and the acclaimed health benefits of fresh mountain air.
So why is Asheville considered the “Pars of the South?” Maybe it’s the beautifully preserved art deco buildings downtown or the bustling yet walkable streets and restaurants spilling onto sidewalks or the cafe culture of leisure and contemplation or the quirky street performers (The Typewriter Poet, Booth Fairy, Juggler Balancing Act complete with a cute speckled dog on his shoulders, and Abby the Spoon Lady have been crowd favorites), or maybe it’s the lively art scene—looking at you, River Arts District—or the inventive local cuisine of Asheville that conjures the same epic spirit of the “City of Lights.” Even with its similarities, Asheville’s weird elements will always proudly emerge at the forefront. I mean, in what other city can you find a cross-dressing nun on a bicycle and get married in an offbeat Rock N’ Roll Chapel bar while sipping cocktails and shopping for vintage knick-knacks?
It’s always a bit overwhelming to figure out the best and brightest of what a city has to offer, but don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Follow this link to find a 48-hour itinerary that will leave you utterly captivated with Asheville.
A Taste of Paris in Asheville…
Reminiscent of the writing salons in Paris, the Flatiron Writers Room is a brick & mortar (and now virtual) hub located at 5 Covington Street in West Asheville’s vibrant Haywood Road corridor. They offer live events, workshops, retreats, and co-working opportunities-perfect for those writers looking to stay in Asheville for a few months at a time!
The Battery Park Book Exchange &-Champagne Bar is one of downtown Asheville’s must-visits. Located in the historic Grove Arcade, you can enjoy delicious wines and delectable bites within a two-story bookstore decorated with art and antiques and an attractive outdoor seating area with live music at select times. Be sure to try one of their literary-themed cocktails like Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon!
If you find yourself dreaming of the pâtisseries in Paris, then Old Europe Pastries is just the ticket. From their classically French macarons, fruit tarts, and éclairs to everything in between, the offerings at Asheville’s longest-running café are out of this world and rival the “romantic and wistful cafés only found in Europe.”
Complete with cobblestone streets and string lights hanging above the outdoor dining areas of nearby restaurants, Wall Street is a quiet, cozy, and narrow street in downtown Asheville that is chocked full of activities to enjoy. Most evenings, you’ll hear a soulful saxophone or tender violin tune from the often lone performer set up on this street while indulging in charcuterie and wine.
One of the gems of Wall Street is the Public Service Building in the middle of the block. This 1929 skyscraper has breathtaking design motifs that include the second-story “Leda & Swan” motif on the Patton side of the building. There’s also the iconic Flat Iron Sculpture and Flat Iron Building that welcomes walkers to the entrance of Wall Street. Named for its triangular wedge shape, the Flatiron was designed by Albert Wirth using Beaux Arts detailing, a 19th-century academic architectural style taught in Paris. This tree-lined street of shops and restaurants radiates charm and is the perfect spot to explore when you want to get away from the hustle of the nearby streets.
For a taste of French cuisine, look no further than Bouchon and its sister restaurant Rendezvous. Farm-to-Table has long been a way of life for the founders of these two beloved restaurants, the Baudouins. In fact, the primary founder, Michel, grew up on a farm in France that had been in his family for 200 years. From traditional French comfort food to Parisian café cuisine, the menus reflect the founders’ passion for classic French food and fresh ingredients. While undoubtedly inspired by France, you’ll find that the menus also reflect Western North Carolina’s amazing bounty. Eating here, you’ll taste the finest ingredients from WNC neighbors at Jasperwood Farms, Mountain Foods, Paul Collins Produce, Fork Mountain Farms, fresh seafood from Sunburst Trout Farms, and more. Be sure to enjoy a meal from the mother country while in The Paris of the South!
While similar to Paris in its charm, creative energy, and appreciation for culture, Asheville will always be its own special destination and march to the beat of its own drummer (most likely on a Djembe at the recurring drum circle downtown). After all, Paris is not just a geographical location—it’s a transcendent feeling of history, beauty, and philosophy that champions individual freedom over convention and ardent love for coffee and chocolate (case-in-point French Broad Chocolate) and cheese and wine. “Paris” is really a way of life. So, whether you’re strolling along the Seine or French Broad River, we hope you’re embracing La Vie Bohème!