Do you only have 36 hours in Asheville, NC? Find Asheville restaurants, breweries, the Biltmore, and so many more suggestions from a local for your short Asheville trip.
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When we first visited Asheville, we only had a few days to see all of the attractions, beautiful mountains, and of course, the historic Biltmore. While I always suggest staying longer in a place to get to know the area and people, sometimes we only have time for a quick visit.
Living in Asheville now, every weekend is packed with endless activities and visiting sights unseen, including breweries, restaurants, hiking trails, and museums.
How can you possibly see it all if you only have 36 hours in Asheville? What should you see?
Of course, your itinerary depends on your interests.
We love booze, books, the outdoors, and history. While you cannot possibly do it all with one full day and then some, below discover a few of my favorite Asheville recommendations to have the best, albeit brief, Asheville vacation.
If you are looking for the blockbusters, this is how I would spend 36 hours in Asheville:
Lodging In And Near Asheville
Before you start planning your short Asheville vacation, you need a place to stay.
Here are a few ideas for Asheville lodging when you only have 36 hours to drink, play, and sightsee. I’ve included downtown hotels, boutique and specialty lodging, and different star rating and priced accommodations.
Asheville, NC Hotels: Where To Stay
Hotels and B&Bs tend to book up fast in Asheville, especially in the fall and spring. Make dinner reservations wherever you can, too. A few hotels to consider that either we, our friends, or others highly recommend include:
Near The Asheville Outlets/Biltmore
Hampton Inn And Suites Asheville Biltmore Area
DoubleTree By Hilton Biltmore/Asheville
Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville
The Omni Grove Park Inn
1900 Inn On Montford
Princess Anne Hotel
36 Hours In Ashville Itinerary
You land sooooo move it out!! Go! Go! Go!
Below, find 2 half-days and a full day list of activities for the best 36-hour Asheville itinerary. Depending on how fast you travel, you might not be able to see or do it all. Or, you might find yourself with leftover time.
You’ll spot a few alternative suggestions scattered throughout as well.
Arriving In Asheville, NC: Day 1
Let’s start when your plane, bus, or car lands in NC. You probably cannot enjoy a full day in Asheville, but maybe you have at least half a day to spare. If you are anything like us, you are ready to go exploring.
So what should you do first?
Wine Taste And Mural-Spy In The River Arts District
The River Arts District in West Asheville is incredibly unique. The area is reminiscent of a mini-version of Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida.
Who knew that North Carolina could have such a hip feel, either? Plus, this is where you will find the infamous “Good Vibes” tower that now says, “Stay Weird,” located near White Duck Taco.
Throughout the River Arts District, you’ll uncover urban street art, galleries, artists’ studios, shopping, and food and booze.
One of our favorite places to grab a drink, though, is the plēb urban winery. Plēb outsources grapes from local farms and creates small-batch tapped and canned wines.
I highly recommend ordering a wine flight as you sit at a wine barrel high-top in an urban-esque garage filled with beautiful murals.
If wine isn’t your jam, Ginger’s Revenge, a gluten-free ginger beer brewery, is only a few blocks away.
Eat Like A True Foodie In Downtown Asheville
Asheville is most definitely a foodie town with super allergy and intolerance-friendly food options. In fact, the killer food is one of the reasons that we moved to Asheville.
You have to eat in downtown Asheville at least once on your trip. For some of these cafes and restaurants, it helps to plan ahead, especially on the weekend. Reservations are a near must where accepted.
For other restaurants, you can either wait or sneak in early. Of course, weekdays are less crowded.
If you are looking for Asheville restaurants that are a little more pricy and fancy try:
Chestnut – We love sitting at the bar and ordering craft cocktails along with a charcuterie. Find different sized plates full of southern favorites with a rich and elegant flair.
Cúrate – One of the most popular and famous Asheville restaurants, Cúrate boasts of Spanish cuisine, including a delicious selection of tapas.
Posana – A little extra special to us, Posana is one of the first restaurants that we dined at while visiting Asheville. Enjoy delicious Italian meals with locally-sourced ingredients.
A Few Of Our Favorite Places To Eat In Asheville
While Biscuit Head, Tupelo Honey, and Rhubarb are all popular choices as well, if you have 36 hours in Asheville, I’d eat here:
Plant – Although just a block north of downtown, Plant is one of my all-time favorite restaurants, ever. I’m not vegan, but I love vegan dishes more than anything. I am lactose-intolerant and can order a cheese board here.
The Laughing Seed Cafe – Another delicious vegan and veggie choice, The Laughing Seed is clean and healthy eating without breaking the bank. Their cocktails are equally gorgeous.
Asheville Pizza and Brewing – We frequent the Coxe Ave (Downtown) and Merrimon Ave. (North Asheville) locations. See what’s on tap and order pizza (gluten-free and vegan options too!). Asheville Pizza and Brewing is family-friendly, especially if you want beer, and the Merrimon location has a movie theater.
Red Ginger Dim Sum – If you love Asian tapas and dumplings, you should try Red Ginger Dim Sum. Order at least two plates per person, and good luck picking from rice, sushi, meats, pancakes, and dumplings. I want it all.
We also love Chiesa and Nine Mile in North Asheville, if you want to stay a little north of historic downtown.
Sip A Nightcap At The Battery Park Book Exchange
In case we aren’t well acquainted yet, I am a former librarian. I now prefer blogging about books around the world versus sitting at the reference desk. BUT I STILL LOVE BOOKS. Oh, and booze.
When we first visited Asheville, I had my eyes set on one bookish destination: Battery Park Book Exchange. You can drink champagne between the stacks. I repeat: YOU CAN DRINK AMONG BOOKS.
Find literary cocktails, used books, and bookish schwag. Their wine selection is huge, and they serve a variety of other drinks like beer.
Battery Park Book Exchange often has live music, poet readings, and themed-events. Book clubs meet here along with bloggers, people celebrating milestones, and book nerds. It’s kinda heaven.
Phew! OK, GO TO BED. Tomorrow you have a full 24 Hours In Asheville. The Biltmore Estate is calling you.
P.S. You can also book Asheville tours here.
Full-Day 2 In Asheville, NC
There is nothing better than waking up in the mountains.
Rise and shine! I don’t care what anyone says about the cost of tickets: If you are only in Asheville for 36 hours and you want to really SEE Asheville, you have to visit the Biltmore. Why? If you have a chance, read Denise Kiernan’s account of the construction of the Biltmore in The Last Castle.
Also, understand that you could truly spend a full day or two at the Biltmore. Our first visit–we are now annual passholders–we stayed for at least 6 hours.
However, if you have a short time in Asheville, here’s how I’d play up this day.
Tour The Biltmore
When people see pictures of the Biltmore, they usually assume that it’s a luxury hotel. Yes, you can stay overnight on the surrounding properties, but sadly, you cannot sleep in the semi-creepy and haunted house. You know deep down you think that about the Biltmore house, too…
Biltmore is America’s largest home and debatably the biggest in North America. Built by George and Edith Vanderbilt, with the help of Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmstead, Biltmore is Asheville’s version of the Newport mansions.
General admission tickets usually start around $70 and allow you a self-guided tour of the house, admission to the grounds and walking trails, and a free wine tasting at the Biltmore Winery. If you book in advance, occasionally they slip in perks like a free audio-tour.
We love eating lunch at the Biltmore too, and my favorites are the Stable Cafe and Cedric’s Tavern. Sit in the old horses’ stables while munching on an egg salad sandwich. Or, pay homage to the Vanderbilt’s beloved Saint Bernard over an American spread.
If you are traveling with younger children, be sure to check out these 8 Biltmore attractions with kids.
With only 36 hours in Asheville, 24 to spare, my ideal Biltmore itinerary:
- Start with an early house tour (don’t miss the library)
- Walk the gardens
- Eat lunch on the estate, making advanced reservations
- Drive to the winery for a tasting
Discover All Of The Beer
With all of the drinking, you might want to Uber or at least park and pace yourselves in Asheville. There is a ton of beer. If you don’t drink, skip this section and see what else you can explore downtown in the next section.
The beer trail is endless. To give you a mix of our favorites, these are the breweries that we like to frequent in downtown Asheville:
Wicked Weed – This Asheville brewery is probably one of the most well-known. Wicked Weed Brewing is always jumping. Find food, endless beers for all tastes, and cider. They also own the Funkatorium.
Bhramari Brewing – If you like unique and experimental beers, you’ll love Bharmari Brewing. If you are lucky, you might catch a special sangria too. Yes, they have food and late-night options.
One World Brewing – With multiple locations, head to the basement on Patton Ave. for beer and a randomly weird but fun aliens and gamey setting. I love this Asheville brewery to escape the crowds.
Thirsty Monk – Do you love Belgian-Ales? Thirsty Monk is for you. Find a Belgian-beer tasting flight in the basement, and don’t miss their craft cocktail rooftop bar.
Hi-Wire Brewing – For some reason, I think Hi-Wire has girlie beers–and I’m totally into gender-neutral everything. Their downtown location is full of light and bubbling brews, famous for that rainbow mural.
Explore & Shop In Downtown Asheville
With 36 hours in Asheville, NC, if you don’t have time to aimlessly walk around or shop, you might want to skip this itinerary idea.
However, a few points of interest if you have the time or are boozed out include:
- Taking a picture in front of the Flat Iron Sculpture
- Playing vintage arcade games at the Asheville Pinball Museum
- Book shopping at Malaprops Bookstore
- Touring the Thomas Wolfe Memorial
- Window shopping at the Historic Grove Arcade
Watch The Sunset Over Dinner At The Omni Grove Park Inn
The Omni Grove Park Inn is like adult Disney World–but also family-friendly. While you can stay here and enjoy the luxury mountain resort lifestyle, you might also visit for the Blue Ridge Mountain views, drinks, and food. They do have a spa for when you come back…
If you happen to land in Asheville around Christmas, you’ll also love their holiday decor and annual gingerbread house display with hot cocoa.
Sunset Terrace is famous for those vibrant mountain sunsets. Pinks. Oranges. Purples. Am I in Santorini?
While you can dine at Sunset Terrace, you might just want to grab a drink at the Great Hall Bar and sit outside beyond the restaurant. Later, head over to the Edison for dinner. Those are our Grove Park Inn favorites.
36 Hour Asheville Itinerary: Leaving On Day 3
Why are you leaving North Carolina so soon?
Sadly, your time in Asheville is already coming to an end. That just means that you will have to come back to see even more of North Carolina.
If you only have a half-day left in Asheville before heading out, here are a few of my final suggestions.
Drive Down The Blue Ridge Parkway
I don’t know about you, but I cannot resist those gorgeous mountains.
The Blue Ridge Parkway has some of the best scenic drives and mountain views. I always think hiking in and around Asheville is a good idea.
If you have a few hours in the morning, you can easily walk to the top of Craggy Pinnacle and back in under an hour. Along the drive there, you’ll find multiple mountain vistas with pullovers perfect for pictures and stunning Asheville landscapes.
Eat Lunch At Sierra Nevada Brewing
Sierra Nevada is huge, and you can tour their amazing facility. However, if you are ending your 36-hour Asheville visit, have lunch in their taproom. The brewing company is less than 10-minutes away from the Asheville airport.
Although their beers are by no means my favorite, you cannot beat sitting at one of the bars, drinking a light beer with some duck fries. Plus, the grounds are pretty impressive, and beer always puts me in a good mood before traveling.
Are You Ready For Your Short Asheville Visit?
We love living in Asheville. The people are friendly, happy, and well hydrated. There are tons of activities, and you can enjoy both the North Carolina mountains and eclectic culture.
Come for the beer, Biltmore, and bookstores.