Travel Guide: 24 Hours in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a picturesque city in western North Carolina nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is known for its vibrant art scenes, historic architecture, and most famously, the Biltmore. The Biltmore is an 8,000-acre grand estate and America’s largest home built by George Vanderbilt in 1895. Matt and I had talked about traveling to Asheville and visiting the Biltmore for over a year. For my 22nd birthday, Matt surprised me with a trip to Asheville to shop, eat yummy food, and spend an entire day exploring the Biltmore before classes started back the next week.
Instead of sharing a travel guide with a list of things to see, eat and do like I did with my Charleston, South Carolina guide, I decided to change things up and share exactly what we did the 24 hours we were in Asheville, North Carolina. PLUS, at the bottom of my post I’m sharing my first ever travel guide vlog!
Our Itinerary: Thursday
We left Blacksburg bright and early on a Thursday morning to make the three and a half hour drive to Asheville. Matt packed us sandwiches, snacks and my all-time favorite sour gummy bears so we could drive straight there and not waste any time. Our first stop once we made it to Asheville was the Asheville Outlets. I love a good outlet mall, especially around a holiday or the end of a season when I know there will be good sales.
Unfortunately, things were pretty picked over, so I wasn’t successful in my goal of finding something to wear to the Biltmore the following day. I did find two new pairs of leather booties I’m super excited to wear this fall!
After a few hours walking around the outlet mall, we went to check into our hotel and freshen up for dinner. Matt and I were both extremely hangry at this point and getting on each other’s nerves. Love you, baby, but it was true! We tried to scout out restaurants the night before in Downtown Asheville to ensure we had a place to park and beat the crowds.
Downtown Asheville has so many quality options for eating and drinking when you’re in town. We decided to try out Pack’s Tavern, a family owned restaurant located adjacent to Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville. We were exhausted from traveling all day, so our plan was to grab a table around 6pm and stay until they had live music at 8 pm. We felt a little rushed through the meal and decided it wasn’t worth staying. When we were first seated we wanted to take our time with the menu, take in the scenery, and enjoy one another’s company. Our waiter, although so kind, kind of rushed us through the meal. Within our first five minutes of sitting down he had already taken our drink order and had come back to take our food order. I totally appreciate the efficiency, but after traveling all day, we just wanted to relax.
The food was so-so. Matt and I started with Tavern Pretzel and Beer Cheese, which was good, but overly salty. For my main dish, I got the fish and chips which is marked on their menu as one of their signature items. Once again, it was good but not great.
If we were to go back to Asheville, we’d probably check out someplace else for dinner. I’ve heard amazing things about Cúrate for Spanish tapas, Tupelo Honey for southern comfort food, and Chestnut for American fare.
Our Itinerary: Friday
Friday morning we were up bright and early to get to the Biltmore right when it opened. In order to get into the Biltmore house, you have to specify a time while buying your ticket. Although our entrance time to enter the house wasn’t until 10:30, we got to the Biltmore estate at 9 to visit the gardens before it got too hot and crowded. You need to take the time to explore the gardens; they’re pretty spectacular. Matt and I parked in Lot A and made the short, under 5 minute walk to the house.
The gardens and conservatory are less than a mile walk from the Biltmore house. Unfortunately, while we were there the Italian Garden was being worked on, and we weren’t able to access it. We did, however, walk through the walled garden and rose garden to access the conservatory.
The conservatory is an over 7,000 sq foot glass-roofed building that is home to exotic orchids, ferns, and palms. According to the Biltmore brochure we received on our visit, the conservatory “provided flower and plants for Biltmore House during the Vanderbilt’s time.” I’d highly recommend visiting this attraction early on in the day, because the path through the Conservatory is only large enough to walk two at a time.
After an hour roaming the gardens and visiting the conservatory, we made our way back up to the house for our 10:30 entrance time.
The Biltmore House is 135,280 square feet with 250 rooms inside ranging from an extravagant banquet hall, tapestry gallery and gymnasium to the servants’ bedrooms and vegetable pantry on the bottom floor. We were inside the house for nearly two hours and only saw half of the rooms. The tour only takes you on the rooms that have been kept in pristine condition; the vast majority of the rooms in the house have not been restored from their original condition.
After we toured the house, we made the short walk back to parking Lot A to snack on some leftovers and map our way to the Antler Hill Village and Winery. If you’re over 21 years old, a free wine tasting at the Biltmore Winery is included with your admission. They have a selection of wines for you to mix and match what you’d like to try. I personally enjoyed the limited release Gewürztraminer and Railcar Red (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petite Sirah).
HEADS UP: We learned on our drive from the Biltmore that you drive directly past the Biltmore house, gardens and bass pond. If you’re not able to walk from the house to the gardens and back confidently, I would advise that you park in the lot next to the conservatory rather than walking all that way. I will say that the lot by the conservatory is limited, so if it’s a busy day I wouldn’t guarantee parking is there.