Published: Sept 5, 2018
By: Kyle Werner
A city famed for its love of outdoor activities and adventures, Asheville, North Carolina has become a favorite destination for travelers seeking city excitement and outdoor adventures.
Courtney and I traveled to Asheville this past July to experience just a handful of the incredible adventures in and around the beautiful city. Below you'll find our itinerary from our trip and some of our stories and experiences at each of these places. We hope these are helpful if you are planning a trip to Asheville in the future or any other location you may be aspiring to get out and see!
Breakfast at Biscuit Head
You would not believe some of the experiences we had at Biscuit Head. Locals and travelers alike love the delicious biscuits covered in all sorts of toppings and don't mind waiting a little to get their fix! Upon arriving and parking the car, Courtney and I were greeted by an unusually long line for morning breakfast. The restaurant was in full blast of their morning rush with a line out the door to prove it, but the wait was well worth it! After ordering, our food came fast and we could see what the big line was all about! I ordered "The Cajun Benedict", an open faced biscuit topped with creole mustard, andouille sausage, two poached eggs, hollandaise, roasted red peppers, and scallions. My breakfast was absolutely incredible and one I long to enjoy again one day. Biscuit head has a wide variety of jams and jellies for everyone to enjoy on any biscuit! Courtney got a plain biscuit and several flavors of jam and jelly to try out. Her favorites were the blueberry and the honey sriracha which packed a sweet and spicy little kick! I could have spent hours trying the many flavors and combinations offered at Biscuit Head, but Court and I had a great deal of adventuring left in the day. Our departure from the restaurant was an adventure of its own. On the way to the car Courtney was flashed by a man sitting in his car naked eating a bag of chips. Not the way most people spend their Friday mornings, but be aware, those people are out there. A short phone call to the confused girl who answered the telephone inside the restaurant, and a prayer that this man's days terrorizing the biscuit head parking lot would soon come to an end and we were off. We set out for Graveyard Fields!
Graveyard Fields Hike
Not far from Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway connects a large number of mountainous hiking areas and lookout points. Along the route you'll find tons of places to pull off for scenic views and connecting hikes. Graveyard Fields was well worth the drive. Gorgeous waterfalls, creeks, blueberry bushes, and trails stretched out surrounded by views in every direction. For a Friday, the hike wasn't too overcrowded, though I would advise leaving time to find parking due to the areas limited parking lot capacity. The trails are easy to navigate and shouldn't be too much of a challenge for most people. We first reached the lower falls and were taken back by the size and magnificence of the falling water and rock formations. Courtney decided to take a dip in the pool below the falls. It took more convincing before I was ready to take the plunge... Think what you want... I am not a fan of cold water! The swim was cut a bit short when a camp group overtook the small pool so Courtney and I set a course for the upper fields of the hiking area. If you're the type of person that finds beauty in a field of blueberry bushes nestled beside a mountain stream amidst breathtaking views, the Upper Fields at Graveyard Fields is the place for you. I don't believe I have ever been surrounded by so many wild blueberries, and yes, they tasted as good as they looked. Courtney and I managed to escape the noisy falls and found ourselves a beautiful place to roam as families groomed the bushes. We found it a bit hard to find perfectly ripe berries and almost started to wonder where they'd all gone, when a couple came meandering through with several baskets stacked to the brim. The only thing missing was a bear sighting, which part of me was hopeful for, and the other part, glad it never happened.
Lunch at Pisgah Inn
On the way back towards Asheville, Courtney and I stopped by the Pisgah Inn, a quaint little inn along the edge of the mountains just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pisgah Inn is a great spot to take a break from the winding mountain road and enjoy the scenic view. While waiting on our table, I ventured to the lookout area out back and located a sign depicting and naming all of the mountains that could be seen from the view before me. I spent some time amazed by how many different peaks were labeled before our buzzer started vibrating and our table was ready. Lunch was good and prices were fair! I had fish and Courtney had fried chicken. No matter what you're craving, the Pisgah Inn is sure to have something to satisfy your hunger, and all with that sweet sweet view!
Prichard Park Drum Circle
After lunch, Courtney and I wanted to get into the city to check out the local culture and see some shops before searching for dinner. This was really the first time I went into Asheville to explore. The traffic we encountered on the way into the center of downtown was a bit frustrating, though I am a bit short fused while driving at times. We bailed on the idea of parking along the street and found a parking deck on Wall Street to be the perfect location for us. Looking back, I would have gone straight to the parking garage and saved the headache of driving all over if I were to do it again. From what we heard, it was an unusually crowded weekend in Asheville, and the traffic wasn't that bad, so I wouldn't fear in planning your trip. We explored downtown and ventured into Prichard Park at the heat of its weekly drum circle. What is a drum circle? Every week, weather permitting, many people from around Asheville meet in Prichard Park with their percussion instruments and play music! We were blown away by the turn out. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds got together to make music, dance, and enjoy the community. Whether joining in, or just people watching, the drum circle at Prichard Park is guaranteed to entertain for hours. The interactions and excitement moving throughout that drum circle had Courtney and I laughing for hours.
Tupelo Honey Cafe
Getting hungry as the sun begins to fade? We highly recommend you stop by Tupelo Honey Cafe. Close in proximity to Prichard Park and right in downtown Asheville, Tupelo Honey was by far one of my favorite moments on the trip. We sat the the chef's counter and I highly recommend you do the same. With a view of the stoves, Courtney and I got to see first hand all of the incredible meals the chef's at Tupelo Honey put together. We had a hard time deciding what to order. Another benefit about the chef's counter... it's right where all the food comes out of the kitchen. Courtney and I saw one particular dish leaving the kitchen in far higher quantities than anything else, steak with cheesy potato gratin and vegetables. We had baked mac-n-cheese on the side. The food was absolutely incredible and everything was prepared perfectly. If you visit Asheville, do not pass up a stop at Tupelo Honey Cafe!
Are you one for desert after dinner? We had to pass up desert at Tupelo Honey, though I am sure it would have been incredible. Courtney always has her eyes out for hidden sweets, mainly chocolate or ice cream. At the Chocolate Lounge, we found both! This place was very cool, and if you've got a bit of a sweet tooth, it's even better, with tons of desert options, unique alcoholic brews, and plenty of relaxed, laid back atmosphere to hang out and take it all in. We had chocolate moose and crème brûlée. The perfect desert to top off our first incredible day in Asheville.
Horse and Hero Art Gallery
After finishing up dinner we took a stroll around a few shops on the way back to the parking garage. One that really stood out to us was the Horse and Hero Art Gallery. Courtney loves to paint and is very talented artistically, so we never pass up the chance to check out some cool and unique art pieces when we visit new places. The Horse and Hero gallery is a small shop, but it's filled with some of the most random, yet eye catching pieces of art i've seen in a small gallery such as this one. We had a blast poking around the store for quite some time taking in the wide variety of paintings, drawings, and sketches. One we both loved was a painting of a dog with a small name plaque necklace. The dog looked exactly like one of Courtney's dogs, Shadow, so much so that we almost bought the painting. Ive never found a huge interest in paintings of dogs, but when they look like one of your own, you just can't help but want a copy yourself.
High Five Coffee
Nothing starts a day right like a fresh cup of coffee. As a starbucks barista for four years, I developed a pretty strong addiction to my morning cup of joe. Now, with the freedom to pick and choose my coffee supplier, I love testing out and trying independent coffee houses, though Starbucks will always hold that special place in my heart, and I do still frequent our local one back home. High Five Coffee was good. Not the best coffee I've had but I understand coffee sometimes doesn't brew just the way we want it and I have a strong belief this morning was just an off batch. Based on the reviews I have read and the atmosphere inside, I believe High Five Coffee would be a great spot to stop in for your morning pick me up. We also didn't get flashed on our way back out to the car so at least that was an improvement from the previous day!
Green River Kayaking
What an incredible experience! My whole life I've been drawn to adventure and adrenaline. I've never felt so alive as the times I spend outside engaging in exciting activities. Green River Kayaking did not disappoint and it was the main focus for our initial decision to travel to Asheville. Our guides, Keely and Alexis knew the river like the back of their hand and made us and the rest of our group feel completely comfortable handling the class four and five rapids we encountered. It was my first time whitewater kayaking and I absolutely loved it. The Green River is phenomenally beautiful and the ride wasn't that strenuous at all. The walk up the trail with your kayak at the end however, was a totally different story. Be prepared for that hike, it's no joke, but totally worth it for the experience of riding the river. The entire Green River staff was outstanding and I look forward to more adventures with them in the future.
White Duck Taco Shop
Let me just say, I love love love the White Duck Taco Shop. If I could somehow move it to my home town I would in a heart beat. This place is a must see if your around Asheville and the River Arts District. What a cool place! The menu had so many unique tacos to try, Courtney and I couldn't decide what to get! Good thing its an extremely popular place so we had plenty of time in line to admire our options. After ordering and finding a table, I was shocked at how quickly we got our food. We each ordered two tacos and shared them, which was plenty of food for the two of us. Our favorites were the fish taco and the buffalo taco. Definitely add this to your itinerary if it isn't there already!
River Arts District
If you're a fan of art like me and Court, you'll love the River Arts District. Unique shops and galleries fill the street side, and the buildings' walls are almost as interesting as their interiors with beautiful vibrant colors and artistic entryways. The galleries each had their own unique charm and flair, though each housed some interesting things for me and Courtney to marvel at.
Sunnyside Trading Co.
I've got to mention this specific store, located in the River Arts District. Sunnyside Trading Co. was one unique place. As a traveler and fond lover of cultural decor, I was fascinated by this store. The owner and his family travel the world and bring back unique items to sell. We had a blast walking the store with him and asking about many of the unique items we found. He had a story for everything! We loved talking to him and learning about the origins of everything he had collected. I always find it so interesting hearing of others travels and learning about the experiences they had. Definitley worth a walk through!
Happening upon the Yoga Festival was totally unplanned yet so perfect. Courtney and I had no idea this was going on the same weekend we would be visiting Asheville, but had a blast walking around and checking out everything the festival had to offer. Courtney even tried out an aerial silks class they had set up! Yes, the people signing up were all small kids, but Court and I will always be kids at heart and she didn't care, haha!I think she may have found a new hobby. The festival had tons of Yoga mats and people practicing their yoga and meditation, awesome food trucks, and tons of tents with really cool and unique clothing to get you feeling relaxed and totally zen.
One of the stands set up at the Yoga festival was called Clean Juice. Courtney and I always try to eat as naturally as we can, and after a long day of adventuring, some clean juice was exactly what we needed. We had no idea it was going to be so good though. Im talking, crazy good! We got the "White" juice, which had water, pink himalayan sea salt, organic cashews, organic cinnamon, organic maple syrup, and organic vanilla. It was so delicious we were trying to order some to be shipped back home before we even finished the bottle. Sadly, they don't ship their juice, so our search for the Clean Juice food truck will have to be a continual journey. We vowed to find them again one day... and we will.
Sunset Hike at Craggy Pinnacle
Craggy pinnacle is a very cool spot. At the top, you can expect 360 degrees of unobstructed beauty. Thats right, spin around all you want, the views are great in every direction, and at sunset, you just can't beat this spot. Please take my advice and bring a jacket with you though, depending on the time of year. I was severely unprepared for the sudden drop in temperature as the sun began to set, and thought I might not make it through. Courtney coached me on and despite my severely chilled bones, we had an awesome time watching the sun set, taking pictures, and trying to soak up all of the beautiful views. The hike up craggy pinnacle is very easy. If you're traveling with a family and kids, pets, or anyone that isn't accustomed to hiking, you shouldn't have any issue at all. The views are great, the hike is easy, and you just can't miss out on an opportunity that good!
Chinese Food & Late Night Picnic
This pretty much explains itself. Even when traveling, we all have cravings, and sometimes your body just wants what it wants and Court and I had to have some take out Chinese. Would we have loved to try a hole in the wall local place? Yes we totally would have, but after hiking craggy pinnacle and getting back in to town pretty late, the body said chinese and the mind couldn't shake that desire! We brought our chinese food back to the house we stayed in and had a picnic in the backyard! Shake things up once in a while and try eating a meal somewhere besides the kitchen table. It creates a whole new atmosphere and alters the experience. We had the best time just relaxing in the backyard eating our chinese and talking about all of our adventures. The takeout was just what we needed before heading to bed!
Mayfels was a cool spot! Sunday was busy downtown and we had to wait quite a while for a seat, but we made the best of the wait and enjoyed watching the dogs hanging out on the front patio as their owners ate. Mayfels is very pet friendly, and welcomes dogs to join their owners! On the patio seating area, dogs are provided a dog bowl and a warm welcome from the staff. We also found ourselves eating at a table on the patio and had a great time grabbing a small lunch before heading back to the yoga festival. Mayfels also has a make your own bloody marry bar! I highly regret not taking the opportunity to make my own. From glancing around, they looked delicious!
Hike at Deep Creek
On the way back from Asheville, Court and I stopped for a mid drive hike at Deep Creek. The creek provides tubes for people of all ages and ability levels to enjoy a refreshing ride down at any point during the hike, so you can hike a little, or a lot, and cool off on a relaxing ride back to your parking area. Courtney and I decided against tubing, since we didn't want to spend the remainder of our car ride soaking wet, but we did enjoy watching families having fun tubing and experiencing a great hike. We even found our own secluded section of the trails with waterfalls and smaller creek paths to explore! The park seemed a bit over crowded but it was the weekend and with wide trails (more like roads) and easy access to the outdoors, parks like these become overcrowded quite easily. Fun little spot to stop with the family if you're passing though!
Asheville is packed full of amazing opportunities no matter your interests. Courtney and I had the best weekend exploring the city and its surrounding natural beauty. Asheville is perfect for adventurers, nature lovers, hikers, and anyone seeking a little escape from the norm! Do yourself a favor... plan a trip. Don't make any excuses, I promise you won't regret it. If you have visited, we would love to hear about your experiences! Shoot us a message and share your adventures. Where should we go next? We want to hear your suggestions!
Thanks for checking in on our adventures at Outbound Abroad! We hope to share more with you all soon and look forward to connecting with you!
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