Your 2024 Travel Guide to Asheville, North Carolina — Where to Eat, Sleep, Drink and Play

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Asheville, North Carolina, during the fall, is a must — it is truly my favorite city to visit in the United States. This year, I decided to plan and research as much as I could to discover the local favorites in this remote mountain town. This year was not our first trip to Asheville, NC. Asheville is the city that spoke to us when we were in the depths of wedding planning during our last year in college. It was affordable and cozy. After all, we were having a fall wedding, so why not keep the fall vibes going?

During our first trip, we were so exhausted from planning a wedding in a short three months (yes..3 months) that we didn’t do much on our trip other than rest. Once arriving in this vibrant city, I regretted our lack of planning; we were visiting a city known for its great food and drinks and didn’t even experience the best spots.

So, when our anniversary approached this year, I knew I had to avenge our chosen honeymoon destination. So I booked, I planned, and I researched our way to a great trip experience. This travel guide is the result of my effort. These are not affiliate links or advertisements; this list is curated from my honest thoughts and experiences so you can plan your next trip with wanderlust to Asheville, North Carolina.

Where to Sleep

The AC Hotel Asheville Downtown

Vibe: 3/5 — Simple.
Price: 4/5
Location: 5/5
Quality: 4/5— Definitely worth staying for the price and location.
This hotel is in the heart of downtown Asheville: we were able to walk to every downtown location on this list. This modern hotel has a thoughtful eco-friendly design, providing guests with water carafes and a water filling station. No plastic water bottles needed. For any late night cravings, there is a snack bar (for purchase) in the lobby. This hotel has the typical hotel room offerings so you'll be choosing from a standard selection. Lastly, the hotel restaurant was an excellent option for us to eat dinner on nights when we didn’t feel like going back out in the cold. 

Why go here? The usual price is phenomenal for the location of this hotel.

Omni Grove Park Inn

Vibe: 5/5 — It’s as cozy as a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Price: 2/5 — pricey, especially for the holidays.
Location: 2/5 — Great views, but far from the city.
Quality: 4/5
If you’ve ever wanted to jump through the TV to enter a Hallmark Christmas movie set, you will absolutely love this destination! Once leaving the city, we drove up the Asheville mountainside to reach our home for the next few days. We were met with a grand lodge and the helpful valet team. Upon arriving inside, we breathed in the smell of wood from the inn’s gigantic wood burning fireplace. They even had rocking chairs and a hot chocolate booth. The Omni team did a great job of making us feel special on our honeymoon. They gave us great seats at the restaurant and even brought complimentary champagne and chocolates to our room. Unfortunately, I called the spa two months in advance and wasn’t able to book a massage. I was really looking forward to visiting the spa, and I felt disappointed since I reached out so far in advance. The spa is one of the major attractions of this resort since there’s no pool. Nonetheless, it’s a romantic destination for couples or the people looking to relax and lounge.

Why go here? The Inn is decorated beautifully and the staff are attentive to your needs. You will truly feel like you walked onto a Christmas movie set here.

Where to Eat and What to Order

Chai Pani

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Vibe: 3/5 — crowded.
Price: 5/5 — The price is proportionate to the serving sizes.
Quality: 5/5 — I think this is the best restaurant meal I’ve ever had.
We missed this place the first time we came to Asheville and, wow, did we miss out. The menu has a lot of options. I recommend asking your server for their favorites. They have a lot of vegetarian options as well for those who have dietary restrictions. Everything we had was terrific, but the butter chicken was the best. My husband and I also tried the okra fries for an appetizer; I recommend the okra fries if you’re looking for a salty and crunchy addition to your meal.

Why go here? Please get the butter chicken and tell me if it doesn’t change your life.

Hole Doughnuts
Vibe: 5/5 — It’s a small shop that gives quaint hometown vibes. You can even watch them make the doughnuts.
Price: 3.5/5 It’s a little expensive for doughnuts, but they’re honestly so worth it.
Quality: 5/5 — The staff are friendly, and the doughnuts are delicious!
My husband doesn’t like doughnuts, and he ate three of them. Let me explain. These doughnuts have the sweetness and softness of most but are balanced with a hint of salt and an outer layer of crunchiness. Perfection! I recommend getting the vanilla glaze: we prefer it over the cinnamon sugar doughnuts they offer.

Why go here? To eat the best doughnuts ever.

Capella on 9
Vibe: 4/5 — It’s not very busy and remains open on Thanksgiving.
Price: 2/5 — The entrees/appetizers are a little pricey for the ingredients.
Quality: 4/5 — Most menu options are tasty and there is a long list of drink options.
If you’ve chosen to stay in the AC Hotel downtown, this restaurant will be on the 9th floor of your hotel, giving you easy access. If you decide to stay elsewhere, you’ll still have access to this restaurant. My husband and I returned to this hotel because of the easy access to this restaurant. We usually travel over Thanksgiving to celebrate our early November wedding anniversary. This restaurant is one of the only few that actually stays open on Thanksgiving. The star of this restaurant is the braised short rib and gnocchi entrée. Simply delicious. They also have an assortment of tapas that were a little hit-and-miss. Nonetheless, the braised short rib and gnocchi dish makes this restaurant worthy of a visit. Additionally, the staff are always willing to help choose drink options that pair nicely with your meal.

Why go here? The braised short rib and gnocchi.

What to Do

Breakout Games
Vibe: 5/5 — The game hosts are so welcoming and kind.
Price: 2/5 — This is a pricey experience!
Quality: 4/5 — This experience is worth the price, especially with a group.
My husband and I decided to tackle a breakout room: just the two of us. We have yet to succeed, but our game host told us that out of the people who have not “broken out,” we were the closest to completing the puzzle he’d ever seen. Major win. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a way to get in some quality time and challenge your mind, choose this experience. You will get unlimited hints to make the challenge as easy or difficult as you desire. This breakout experience is also walkable if your hotel accommodations are in downtown Asheville. Side Note: I recommend the Wild West puzzle for two people. It was challenging but reasonable for us without being in a group.

Why go here? The hosts are so cheerful and helpful.

Hummingbird Candle Co.

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Vibe: 5/5 — It’s lively and bright, and so are the people.
Price: 4/5 — We paid for the candle-making experience, and the price aligned with our expectations.
Quality: 5/5 — The candle-making host was bubbly and kind, guiding us on our path to becoming chandlers (we learned that this is the special name for candle makers).
I was nervous to book this experience as I didn’t know what to expect from a candle-making experience. Nonetheless, I was excited to support this black-owned small business. The experience was magical and even romantic. The host gave step-by-step directions, but the experience was 1.5 hours, giving us the freedom to chat with each other and another couple sitting at our table in between the host’s directions. I recommend this activity for solo travelers since you sit at tables with other guests, allowing everyone to mingle. We got to smell over 20 candle scents to decide which scents to combine in our own personal candle. Ultimately, we left with two original candle scents and two new friends.

Why go here? Using your sense of smell has a way of bringing you to the present moment.

Where to Drink (Tea, Coffee, and Alcohol)

Botanist and Barrel Tasting Bar + Bottle Shop
Vibe: 5/5 — This bar could easily be the set of an iconic TV show. It’s clean and not overcrowded.
Price: 5/5 — Very reasonable flight prices.
Quality: 5/5 — It’s worth a visit.

The bartender here was passionate about explaining their ciders and wines. The next day, when we came in, she even remembered us. This bar has a fresh aesthetic with soft lighting. I told my husband it felt like a place we would’ve met for a first date in a different lifetime. We tried their spiked apple cider with a side of vermouth: it was tangy, smooth, and warm on a cold Asheville night.

Why go here? The bartender is great, and the music is low enough to end your night chatting with a friend or loved one.

High Climate Tea Company

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Vibe: 5/5 — This place has such a relaxed vibe.
Price: 5/5 — Affordable.
Quality: 4.5/5 — The staff are knowledgeable and attentive.
This was a tea experience: I had difficulty deciding whether to put this under the category of “What to Do” or “What to Drink.” We walked in and chose to sit in their restaurant section instead of the tea bar. The server walked us through their menu and guided us in selecting a tea. Once prepared she returned with a teapot and cups with a series of other glasses. As we watched her pour the hot water from glass to glass and into our teacups, she explained the origins of this meaningful Chinese practice. This tea shop created a space for us to sit, connect, and serve each other.

Why go here? If you want a tranquil space to think, journal, or chat.

The Rhu
Vibe: 4/5 — This is a rustic local coffee shop.
Price: 4/5 — This cute shop has reasonable prices.
Quality: 5/5 — The menu and pastry options are varied and unique.
This place has a great environment, and the employees are knowledgeable, answering every question about their menu. I was excited to see that they also have options for most dietary needs. The Rhu is not just a coffee shop. They can make you a custom picnic basket for your outdoor adventures while in Asheville; just order ahead of time. They also have other local goods that might interest you while waiting in line. This two-story coffee shop is a warm retreat in the winter months.

Why go here? They have great coffee and sell local goods you can browse as you wait for your delicious latte.

Honorable Mentions

Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar
Farm Burger
Old Europe Pastries
Isa’s Bistro

I’ve added a few honorable mentions to this guide. They didn’t get their own spotlight, but they are definitely worth checking out!

I hope this guide inspires you to travel to Asheville in 2024. My husband and I had a wonderful experience this past Thanksgiving. We were able to connect with each other and learn more about this beautiful mountain city. Lastly, when in Asheville, I encourage you to shop locally. There are so many small businesses providing excellent products and services. This is my way of highlighting a few of them.

I hope this guide assists you in planning your next adventure.