Planning the ultimate North Carolina road trip itinerary? Don’t leave without spending at least one day in Asheville. A major stop along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville packs a stronger punch with travellers than most cities of its size.
In your first 24 hours in Asheville, you’ll explore a historic American estate and its gardens. You’ll witness the worlds of artists & beer lovers collide in the city’s eclectic River Arts District. In Downtown Asheville, you’ll marvel at historical buildings and browse boutique shops. And you’ll end it all off sipping craft beers and enjoying local food in the heart of this loveable city.
Not sure where to go in Asheville in one day? Get the full scoop with this complete 1-day Asheville itinerary.
Where to go in Asheville in one day: A complete 1-day itinerary
Fuel up for the day at the Early Girl Eatery
Start your one day in Asheville with a hearty breakfast at the Early Girl Eatery. Located in Downtown Asheville, this restaurant is among the city’s most popular breakfast hangout spots.
Early Girl Eatery serves delicious farm-to-table Southern comfort food. Its all-day breakfast is a hit with locals.
Staying in West Asheville? Early Girl Eatery also has a location on Haywood Road.
Explore the Biltmore Estate
Wherever you start your first 24 hours in Asheville, it’s a short drive south of the city to the Biltmore Estate. Built between 1889 and 1895, the 8,000-acre estate is one of Asheville’s must-see attractions.
Start exploring the Biltmore Estate at its centrepiece Biltmore House. At 178,926 square feet, this Chateauseque-style mansion is the largest private house in the United States. Within its 250 rooms lie a multitude of precious historical artifacts and priceless works of art.
On your tour of the Biltmore Estate, you can also meander its forest trails and blissful gardens. The gardens show off one of the most complete azalea collections in the USA. You’ll also spot a walled rose garden with over 250 rose varieties.
After spending time at Biltmore House, venture northeast to its Antler Hill Village. The “village” is home to the Biltmore Estate Winery, one of the country’s most-visited wineries. Your admission to the Biltmore Estate includes a complimentary wine tasting here.
Besides the winery, Antler Hill Village has a few places to shop, eat, and stay. If you’re famished, Cedric’s Tavern and Village Social offers the village’s finest food & drink selection. Otherwise, hold off on chowing down. There are plenty more great restaurants to come on your Asheville itinerary.
If you’ve got time to spare on your way out, visit Biltmore Village. Located at the entrance to the estate, the historic Biltmore Village is jam-packed with cool places to check out. Its historic cottages hide antique stores, galleries, restaurants, and brewpubs.
Peruse art studios & craft breweries in the River Arts District
From the Biltmore Estate, it’s about a 15-minute drive to the funky River Arts District (RAD). Located along the eastern banks of the French Broad River, the district is one of Asheville’s coolest neighbourhoods.
Not long ago, the River Arts District was little more than a cluster of dilapidated warehouses and industrial buildings. In the last two decades, they’ve been converted to art galleries, cafés, and brewpubs.
Visiting Asheville in one day, you won’t have time to explore RAD’s artist studios in full. To squeeze the most out of your visit, start with 310 Art at Riverview Station. The galleries & studios at 310 Art feature artwork from dozens of local artists. From here, walk north on Lyman Street along the French Broad River to reach the bulk of the other studios.
Got a little thirsty on your RAD walking tour? Pop into one of the area’s two locations of the Wedge Brewing Company at Wedge Studios. For sweeter and tarter tastes, Daidala Ciders in Cotton Mill Studios is a fine choice, too. (Cotton Mill Studios is also home to the Asheville Guitar Bar, a popular local music venue. If you’re visiting RAD in the evening, it’s worth a look.)
Walk along the Urban Trail in Downtown Asheville
From the River Arts District, it’s less than a 10-minute drive to Downtown Asheville. The heart of the city, Downtown Asheville overflows with interesting architecture. The city brims with striking Neo-Classical, Neo-Gothic, and Art Deco buildings. Within them, you’ll dig up cool indie boutiques, farm-to-table restaurants, cafes, and trendy brewpubs.
Start exploring the mountain town at Pack Square Park. The lively central square is located on the eastern side of the downtown at the corner of Biltmore Avenue and Patton Avenue.
Pack Square marks the start of Asheville’s Urban Trail. This 1.7-mile walking route rambles past the city’s entire history from its founding in 1784 to the modern era.
Following the Urban Trail, you’ll wander past Asheville’s grandest buildings & monuments. Be sure to take your time to learn all about the city’s history and most influential residents.
Built up an appetite? You’ll find plenty of great places to stop for lunch in Downtown Asheville. For inspired Southern cuisine, check out Tupelo Honey Cafe or Mayfel’s. Both are on College Street along the northern edge of Pritchard Park.
Get retro thrills at Asheville Pinball Museum
Need a break from the Urban Trail? Enjoy some retro-gaming thrills at the Asheville Pinball Museum. This popular attraction sits near the northern edge of the trail at Battle Square.
The kid-friendly Asheville Pinball Museum features 50 classic pinball and arcade machines. For $15 admission, you’ll enjoy unlimited play on all the games. It’s a fun counterbalance to all the historical sightseeing on your tour of Asheville in 24 hours.
Go shopping at the Grove Arcade
Finished dabbling in some retro gaming? Cross the street to the south to land in Grove Arcade. Built in the roaring ’20s, the historic shopping centre was one of the world’s first indoor malls. It’s jam-packed with boutiques, arts & craft shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
For a unique experience at Grove Arcade, pop into the Battery Park Book Exchange. Beyond its superb book selection, the admired book shop charms with a chilled-out wine & champagne bar.
After exploring Grove Arcade, you can finish up the backstretch of the Urban Trail. From Vanderbilt Place, walk south on Haywood Street. Hang a left to walk east on Walnut Street to return to the trail.
Sip craft beers and chow down on dinner in the South Slope Brewing District
Now that you’ve roved the core venture a few blocks south of Patton Avenue. Minutes from Downtown, you’ll find yourself roaming around the South Slope Brewing District.
For beer lovers, there’s no place more worthy of a visit than South Slope. Asheville is home to more breweries per capita than any city in the United States. It’s no wonder that Asheville’s new nickname is “Beer City USA”!
Ten of the city’s 40 breweries call the South Slope District home. Start an evening exploring Asheville’s craft beer scene at the Wicked Weed Brewing Pub. Located on Biltmore Avenue, this hip craft brewery is popular for its inspired pub fare and extensive tasting room.
For some of the city’s best pizza, slip into Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe Avenue. Asheville Brewing Company is the third-oldest brewery in Western North Carolina. It charms patrons with its laid-back patio and extensive selection of craft brews.
To experience South Slope’s nightlife beyond its beer scene, check out Ben’s Tune Up. The popular sake brewery & pub is renowned for its inspired Japanese-American fusion cuisine and live music.
Where to stay with 24 hours in Asheville
For a weekend trip or layover, the best area to stay in Asheville is Downtown. The city centre is home to most of the best hotels in Asheville. It’ll also put you within close walking distance of many of the stops on this Asheville travel plan.
As cool as the city itself, this funky & colourful hotel is a perfect choice for your trip. The property is minutes from the Grove Arcade and other top attractions.
Located in the heart of the downtown, this stylish new hotel is among the city’s finest. You’ll love the spectacular views from the hotel’s hip rooftop bar & tapas joint, Capella on 9.
Set in a 1920s landmark building, this 4-star hotel is one of the city’s top mid-range luxury picks. The suites are spacious, featuring modern furniture and amenities.
More Asheville itinerary ideas
Omni Grove Park Inn
Want to escape the city? Grab a cocktail and watch the sunset at the Omni Grove Park Inn. Built in 1913, the spa resort typifies the Arts and Crafts architectural style. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Asheville’s growing popularity stems from its location on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway is one of North America’s most scenic drives. It traverses the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains between Virginia and North Carolina. If you’ve got more time in the area, hit the parkway to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Located about 20 to 25 minutes west, the town of Black Mountain is one of the top Asheville day trips. The charming mountain town is the perfect place to launch a Blue Ridge Mountains hiking adventure. Etch out time for Graybeard Trail. One of the area’s most popular hiking trails, it leads to the summit of Graybeard Mountain, the range’s sixth-highest peak.
When to visit Asheville
The best time to visit Asheville is from March to May and from September to November. In these shoulder season months, the weather is comfortable and the temperatures are mild to warm. You’ll also enjoy the added bonus of catching the spring flowers in full bloom or the beautiful fall foliage.
Like much of the Southeast, summers in Asheville can get hot and muggy. Thanks to the elevation though, it’s nowhere as unbearable as in other cities in the region.
How to get to Asheville
Asheville is served by Asheville Regional Airport (AVL). The airport is located 9 miles (14 km) south of downtown. Several airlines fly into AVL from a handful of US destinations, including:
- Allegiant Air
- American Eagle
- Delta Air Lines
- United Express
Asheville is the perfect stop for any US Southeast road trip itinerary. It’s well connected to cities in North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. Popular routes and estimated driving times include:
- Charlotte, NC (2h5m)
- Raleigh, NC (3h39m)
- Greenville, SC (1h11m)
- Charleston, SC (3h55m)
- Knoxville, TN (1h47m)
- Nashville, TN (4h20m)
- Atlanta, GA (3h16m)
- Roanoke, VI (3h39m)