Asheville, NC #7 in Best Places to Visit in October 2023

Why Go To Asheville, NC

Quaint mountain town. Hipster haven. Beer City USA. College town. Bluegrass home. Culinary destination. Try as you might, it’s impossible to give Asheville just one label. Located in western North Carolina just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the city is an unexpected gem, where a vibrant arts scene intertwines with Southern traditions and beautiful scenery. It’s safe to say, no matter what your interests, Asheville has something to offer you.

While history buffs get lost on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, epicureans can sample from a culinary smorgasbord and test their taste buds at one of the city’s many breweries. Culture hounds can wander through the River Arts District while adventure seekers go full-throttle hiking, biking, zip lining or whitewater rafting in one of the numerous parks and forests. Asheville meshes together these personalities to make something uniquely its own, with an identity that is always changing, but somehow stays true to its roots.

Best Months to Visit

The best times to visit Asheville are from March to May and September to early November, when temperatures hover between the upper 50s and the mid-70s – ideal weather for exploring the blooms in spring and the foliage in the fall. During the summer months (June to August), even an elevation of 2,000-plus feet can’t shield the mountain city from the increased humidity. Luckily, it’s not as intense as other parts of the Southeast, making the summer a popular time for travelers to escape the heat of nearby cities. Winter brings colder temperatures, but Asheville doesn’t see much snowfall, although surrounding mountains could be snowcapped.

Culture & Customs

The quaint city is known for its laid-back culture that mixes Southern hospitality with an artistic spirit. People come to visit for a breath of fresh air – both literally and figuratively. Mom and pop shops are set among fine dining restaurants while the Appalachian mountains serves as a backdrop to the city. The area offers some cultural diversity with the Cherokee Indian Reservation nearby and transplants who moved from other areas of the country to experience what makes Asheville exceptionally unique. A friendly hello and engaging in small talk will get you a long way with locals who want to share their city. Tipping practices are fairly standard, with 18% to 20% expected depending on the level of service.

What to Eat

Asheville has emerged as one of the top foodie destinations in the U.S. over the past few years. Chefs are flocking from all over to stake their claim in the mountain town. While you’ll still find Southern staples like Carolina-style barbecue at places like Buxton Hall, the culinary inspiration in a city with more than 100 independent restaurants spreads far and wide. Whether it’s Spanish tapas at Cúrate, Italian at Cucina 24 or Asian-inspired noodle dishes at Gan Shan Station, you’ll likely find locally sourced ingredients and menus that frequently change. If you’re looking for more budget-friendly (but no less delicious) eats, check out places like Pack’s Tavern, Ben’s Tune Up (which brews its own sake) or one of two 12 Bones Smokehouse locations (the Obamas have eaten here!).

While there’s no shortage of gastronomic offerings, Asheville is first and foremost a beer lover’s paradise. Asheville is proud of its Beer City USA reputation, which is fairly new. Highland Brewing Company became the first city brewery to open its doors back in 1994. Since then, the number of local microbreweries has skyrocketed, and even attracted some big name brands like Sierra Nevada. Most recently, New Belgium opened its East Coast brewing headquarters across the river from the River Arts District in southeast Asheville. Now, many people come to the area just to experience the breweries.

Getting Around Asheville, NC

The best way to get around Asheville is by car. While the downtown area is compact enough for exploring on foot, you’ll want your own set of wheels to reach the many nature trails and attractions outside of the city. Asheville also offers an affordable bus system, but arrival and departure times are infrequent. If you’re not in the mood to drive, you can always call a taxi, Uber or Lyft. However, local taxi services are more reliable than the ride-sharing apps in Asheville.

The city is served by the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), servicing major carriers like American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta and offering nonstop flights from several hubs such as Baltimore, Atlanta, New York and Chicago. The closest major airports are Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to the east and McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville, Tennessee, to the west (both about 125 miles away).

The city offers the Asheville Rides Transit bus system. Routes are extensive, traveling beyond the outskirts of the city to other areas of Buncombe County. There are routes that service the downtown area and Biltmore Village, but it’s important to know that service isn’t frequent. Unless you time your buses to your desired destination exactly right, you could be waiting upwards of an hour or more for your bus to pick you up.

Fares start at $1 per ride or $9 for an 11-ride booklet. You can pay in cash on the bus (drivers do not carry change). ART buses operate from about 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. Another option for sightseeing around town is the Gray Line trolley. The overview tour and hop-on, hop-off tours both ride through downtown and areas like the River Arts District and Biltmore Village.

Taxi or Car Service
Taxis operate in Asheville and so do the ride-sharing apps, Uber and Lyft. Because it’s a smaller city there are not as many Uber and Lyft cars on the road as you may be used to in a larger tourist destination, so that can lead to few (if any) cars available and longer than average wait times. Fares can also add up quickly, especially if you’re venturing anywhere outside city limits. AVL Taxi, Asheville’s taxi company, charges $2.46 then adds in a charge for every mile (95 cents) and minute (16 cents) in the car. After 20 miles, the mileage rate increased. However, exact rates are based on number of people in the vehicle as well as vehicle type. There are also set rates for certain attractions.

Keep in mind, if you need a ride from the airport, you should arrange that ahead of time with your hotel, a local taxi service or a car service, as it can be very difficult to book an Uber or Lyft from the airport to downtown Asheville once you arrive.

Asheville is easily accessible from a few major interstate highways, including Interstates 40, 240 and 26, so many travelers based along the East Coast choose to drive into town. Many of the best things to do are located just outside of city, so you’ll want the flexibility of having your own set of wheels. In town, there is ample metered parking (available for up to two hours), as well as four city-run garages (fees apply). You’ll find multiple car rental agencies at all three airports.

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