Asheville Visitor Guide

So—you’re planning a visit to Asheville. Who better than a true local to make some recommendations on what you should seek out while you’re here? Fair warning, this list is weirdly biased towards tacos! But then, so is Asheville.

An additional note: before making any plans, always be sure to confirm a place is open. Asheville keeps some truly weird hours, with seemingly every place also choosing different days of the week to be closed.

☕ Coffee

Great co-working spot that is open late with indoor and outdoor seating and delicious coffee in Asheville’s River Arts District.
Pennycup is a local fav that actual supplies many diners in town. They’ve got several locations, and you can even grab some whole bean for the road.
If you are looking for a grab-and-go breakfast with vegetarian and vegan options and great coffee — this is the spot. Parking in their lot can be hard, but there is plenty of street parking.
Hip double-decker bus turned cafe right in downtown Asheville with an adjacent open-air patio.
A bit of a drive, but worth the mention — Recognized as one of The Best Coffee Shops in America by Food & Wine Magazine. Great staff, good vibes, incredible coffee with house-made syrups. Located in the cute town of Waynesville, a great day trip option.

🍩 Food

The best breakfast tacos, but really good other tacos as well. Get the migas taco, guac, and an agua fresca (watermelon if they have it). Nice backyard dining, but these also travel well (say, to the park).
Cauliflower al pastor taco and chips and salsa—a really nice smokey chipotle salsa. These folks have another place called Mamacita’s and both spots are tops, but this one has picnic table dining outdoors in addition to indoor seating.
More tacos. The ones that shine here are the weirder ones—the bahn mi taco, the falafel taco, the buffalo jackfruit. Really nice outdoor seating vibes right on the French Broad river.
This “mindblasting indian street food” place just won a well-deserved James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant. It gets crowded, so expect a wait.
Favorite breakfast spot in Asheville, with solid comfort food and some of the best biscuits around (excellent jam). Outdoor spaced seating is available, but always be prepared for a long wait.
Some folks prefer Biscuit Head (over Sunny Point) for breakfast and biscuits. They DO have a full jam bar. Maybe try both.
While staffed mostly by indifferent teens, this place turns out some killer sandwiches and has a ton of excellent vegan options in rotation. Limited seating and long waits, but the sandwiches are worth it.
A local favorite, Nine Mile is a Caribbean-inspired, vegetarian-friendly restaurant and bar. The West Asheville location on Haywood is often the easiest to get into. They have limited space and don’t take reservations, so try to get there early or plan on a wait.
Extremely yummy high-end Mexican cuisine with some incredible margarita and tequila options. Recommend reservations for this one!
Speaking of vegan, if you’re looking for some satisfying vegan fast food options, you won’t do better than this former food truck.
This place is the best: made-to-order, fresh donuts, unlike any you’ve ever tried. There's a toasted almond sesame one that's out of this world.
Great donuts, with most being vegan by default. Get the apple fritter if they have it. The sidestreet this is on also has a brewery and a BBQ place—worth checking out.
Some of the only decent pizza in town, but really great bar food, appetizers, and beers. Try the garlic knots, tots, or buffalo cauliflower. I like the Rocket Girl Lager or the Perfect Day IPA. (The North Asheville location has a big movie theater warehouse with food and drinks too.)
A bit outside of Asheville, but a great local cheese selection. We hit the Fairview location in the past.
Really good ice cream. I like the blueberry in a fresh waffle cone.

🍺 Beer

This is out towards Fairview, and is a good spot to hit if you're out for the creamery. It's a nice outdoors brewery sort of run out of a couple of old train cars.
This is actually outside of Asheville, down in Mills River, but if you're up for the drive it's a pretty phenomenal facility. Reminds me of Disney Land.
An Asheville staple, this downtown award-winning brewery also has full dining and cocktail options. This place gets busy.
An edgier brewery in what is considered the South Slope of downtown Asheville. Great beers, but can get pretty crowded on weekends.
Riverside brewery in Asheville with plenty of open outdoor space to throw down a blanket and enjoy a few beers.
My favorite Asheville brewery. You can get their beers in any store down here (and at most restaurants), but they also have a great brewery that has adapted well to the Covid-era using their spacious grounds.
Wedge has great beers and two spots in super cool locations. One is right along the French Broad River near the Arts District—you can (and we have) literally pull your tube out at the brewery and get a beer—and the other is not far away at the Foundation (which is a massive mural park worth visiting as well).

🖼 Culture

Many of the food spots above are sort of near Carrier Park, which is a wonderful spot in West Asheville right on the French Broad river. Carrier Park has a nice running path, open green space, and if you're feeling adventurous it's also a fine place to drop a tube in the river—or you can cast off further upstream at Hominy Creek River Park. If you’re looking for a climbing gym, you’ll find Climbax near Carrier as well.

The River Arts District is generally a great place to do a studio crawl and pick up some cool weird art or ceramic pieces. (If you're into fancy pottery, or even just mugs, check out East Fork too—they have a downtown spot where they sometimes sell cheaper seconds.) You’ll also find Foundy Street in RAD—it’s a nice big mural park that has recently opened a ton of little restaurants and shops. They also opened the Grail Moviehouse, which is reminiscent of a (tiny) Alamo Drafthouse.

Want to walk in the footsteps of our nation’s Presidents? Plan a visit to the historic Grove Park Inn, home of the the National Gingerbread House Competition and vacation fav of Obama, Taft, and Roosevelt to name a few. It’s an expensive hotel, but you don’t have to be staying on-site to visit or avail yourself of their amenities—the view from the patio is incredible, you can get a coffee or a beer and just hang out. (I’ve seriously considered using the rocking chairs in their epic lobby for coworking.) You could also hit their spa, even without booking a night, but be aware that it tends to book up.

Many folks also enjoy a visit to the Biltmore, which is a historic mansion that was landscaped by Olmsted—that’s the same dude who did Central Park. Its grounds are pretty epic. The nearby Biltmore Village is rather touristy, but check it out if you want to see a very unconventional McDonald’s with a baby grand player piano inside.

🥾 Hiking

Lots of excellent hiking and parks in the area of course. You can’t go wrong scoping out the nearby waterfalls. You’ll also find some good hikes up on Black Mountain and out towards Graveyard Fields, though both of those are a bit of a trip. For something closer to Kanuga, check out Jump Off Rock right in Hendersonville (it’s pretty much a drive-up, but a really great view).

You may also be interested in Hot Springs, a town up in Madison County, which is a stop along the Appalachian Trail. Great hiking trails to/from there, and it really does have natural hot springs! Oh, and if you’re looking for incredible 360 views, check out Max Patch (also along the AT)—a great spot for a picnic and to catch a sunset.