What Napa Valley, California is to wine? That's essentially what Asheville, North Carolina has become to craft beer. 

Over the past two decades, travelers have flocked en masse to this craft beer mecca nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains, curious to experience its blend of natural beauty with a vibrant urban art scene for themselves.

If you're a craft beer lover, and you enjoy getting active in the great outdoors, then it's time to add a trip to Asheville to your travel bucket list.

Here's what you should plan to see, eat, drink, and do to have an amazing weekend in Asheville, NC.


WHERE TO STAY

The beauty of visiting Asheville is that so many of the downtown breweries are within walking distance of one another. You can easily do a self-guided walking tour through the city's South Slope Brewing District.

That's why we loved our stay at the Cambria Downtown Asheville. Beyond the immaculate accommodations and stunning mountain views, this hotel is in the heart of downtown Asheville — making it easy and convenient to walk to more than a dozen craft breweries in South Slope.

During our most recent visit to Asheville, our hotel room at the Cambria Downtown Asheville was provided to us in exchange for an honest review about our experience. As we entered our room, we were thrilled to be greeted by floor-to-ceiling windows with a 360-view of downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge mountains.

We were able to enjoy two comfortable queen beds, a desk and swivel chair where we could get work done, and a cozy chair with a reading lamp — as well as a kitchen area with a mini-fridge (to store the craft beers we brought home from the breweries) and microwave (to reheat leftovers from nearby restaurants), as well as a coffeemaker (a must for us in the mornings).

One of our favorite touches, though, was the Bluetooth-enabled smart mirror in the bathroom, which allowed us to play our favorite music as we took advantage of the rain shower, sizable bathtub, and freshly-scented amenities while getting ready for our days and evenings out on the town.


WHERE TO EAT

 

FOR BREAKFAST:

Sunny Point Cafe 

Parking may be tight and the wait might be long at this West Asheville comfort food spot — but we promise you, the moment you bite into the sweet-yet-savory Stuffed French Toast (filled with sausage, cream cheese, and cheddar, then topped with maple syrup), it will all be totally worth it. 

Over Easy Cafe 

Conveniently located smack-dab in the middle of downtown Asheville, this spot is one of our favorites for a healthy pick-me-up breakfast after a night of drinking. Our go-to order: a freshly squeezed Detox juice (featuring beets, orange, apple, lemon, lime, and ginger) and the seasonal veggie omelet.

Biscuit Head 

When they've got a catchphrase like "Put some South in your mouth," you just know you can depend on Biscuit Head to offer you some good old-fashioned Southern cooking. Stop by their West Asheville location and try the Mimosa Fried Chicken Biscuit or the Fried Green Tomato Biscuit, and thank us later.

 

FOR LUNCH:

White Duck Taco Shop

Two words to describe White Duck? Affordable and addictive. Walk to their downtown location and get yourself a few of their famous tacos, like the Bangkok Shrimp, Jerk Chicken, Korean Beef Bulgogi, or Banh Mi Tofu. And don't forget the chips and queso.

Chestnut 

This downtown restaurant and bar is great anytime of day, but it's a local favorite for lunch (Monday - Friday, 11:30 AM - 3 PM) and brunch (Saturday and Sunday, 10 AM - 3 PM). The scratch made lobster bisque and the shrimp and grits are available for either — and both come highly recommended.

Red Ginger Dimsum & Tapas 

Authentic Chinese-style tapas and dimsum made with locally sourced ingredients? Yes, please! Try the Szechuan Wontons, Pan Fried Veggie Dumplings, and Dan Dan Noodle. We're drooling just thinking about it.

 

FOR DINNER:

Rhubarb 

Yes, it's a little on the pricey side, but hear us out! This is one of the only places in Asheville where you can find contemporary Appalachian cuisine. If you want a true taste of the region, this award-winning spot is the place to find it. And you'll agree that the cost is totally worth it once you've tasted the peanut-braised collard greens, smoked wild mushroom cassoulet, wood-roasted whole Sunburst Trout, or the wood-grilled BCF Bavette steak.

Hemingway's Cuba 

Dining at this rooftop restaurant feels like traveling to Havana without leaving downtown Asheville. Start with ceviche mixto (made with gulf shrimp and the local catch of the day, marinated in lime juice, cilantro, red onions, and avocado). Then move on to the costillitas de puerco (Cuban-style baby back ribs) or any of the paellas on the menu for an amazing — and filling — meal with a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the mountains.

Wasabi 

Voted "best sushi in Asheville" seven years running, Wasabi is the perfect place for a dinner that's a bit more on the fresh and light side if you've already had a heavy or indulgent breakfast and lunch — which happens to us every time we visit! While your usual sushi bar favorites are certainly on the menu, we recommend trying something new, like the Blue Ridge Roll (spicy crunchy scallop inside, with crab, tobiko, and eel sauce on top) or a Sweetheart Roll (with crawfish, tuna, avocado, mango, and tobiko).

 

FOR DESSERT:

French Broad Chocolates

With a factory located right here in the mountains of Asheville, French Broad Chocolates are just about as local as you can get. You can shop chocolate, bonbons, caramels, brownies, baking needs, coffee, and more — whether you're looking for something delicious to eat right now or a souvenir to bring along home.

The Hop

The Hop has been serving homemade ice cream to Asheville visitors and residents for more than 30 years now. Get a scoop of your favorite flavor on a homemade waffle cone, which is well worth the extra $0.80 — and pro tip, the sprinkles are free! Or get a specialty milkshake like the Jitterbug (any flavor of ice cream with one or two espresso shots added in).

Hole Doughnuts

There are a few different doughnut spots to choose from in Asheville, but after some extensive taste testing, we can confirm that Hole is the best of the best. Their seasonal flavors change every week, and while they're definitely worth a try, we'll always go back to our ol' reliable: the Vanilla Glazed. Mmmmm.


WHERE TO DRINK

 

FOR BEER:

 

DOWNTOWN / SOUTH SLOPE:

Catawba Brewing Co.

While you might know them for popularly distributed beers like White Zombie and Brown Bear, Catawba Brewing Co. is also known for crafting unique small batch and limited release beers in both of their Asheville taprooms (in South Slope and in Biltmore Village), as well as in their Morganton and Charlotte spaces.

Hi-Wire Brewing

Hi-Wire also has two Asheville locations: one in South Slope, and one called the "Big Top" in the Biltmore Village area. Swing by either circus-inspired space to taste flagship brews like the Bed of Nails brown ale or Lo-Pitch juicy IPA, or take a walk on the wild side with any one of the many specialty sours or wild ales with rotating availability (we loved the Gin Fizz and the Horchata Sour). 

One World Brewing 

Another brewery with two spots in town, you can find One World both downtown and in West Asheville. Cheekily named and often uniquely brewed, you can keep an eye out for beers like Hempin' Ain't Easy (a beer brewed with organic hemp seeds from Kentucky) or Ashevegas (a crisp, crushable pale ale). 

Burial Beer Co.

No trip to Asheville would be complete without a stop at Burial. Chances are that you've seen their scythe and skull laden cans at a bottle shop near or you at least a time or two. As darkly named as beers like the Bonedagger pale ale and Triumph of Death sour may be, they rarely disappoint — Burial is one of the highest-rated breweries in North Carolina (and the entire Southeast) for a reason. Besides, you can't leave the city without snapping a photo with the mural of Tom Selleck and Sloth from 'The Goonies' outside in their beer garden.

 

FURTHER OUT:

Highland Brewing Company

Asheville's original craft brewery, Highland Brewing Company just celebrated its 25th anniversary — the staff here has been brewing innovative beerse since 1994! The spacious taproom and the outdoor bar at on-site green space "The Meadow" are definitely worth a visit while you're in town. Be sure to try the signature Gaelic Ale (Asheville's first beer!) and AVL IPA to round out your Asheville craft beer experience before you head home.

New Belgium Brewing Company

Taking a tour of New Belgium's "Asheville Liquid Center" takes around an hour and a half — and every minute is absolutely worth it! During this complimentary tour, you'll get to taste samples of year-round beers as well as rare offerings, get a behind-the-scenes look at how New Belgium's beer is made and how their company works, and even ride down a slide at the end. Yes, it's like an adult playground, and you should not miss it!

Wedge Brewing

Wedge Brewing started in 2008 with its original location at Wedge Studios, followed years later by Wedge at Foundation — both in the heart of Asheville's River Arts District. Beers like the Julian Price Pilsner and Payne's Pale Ale are nearly always on standby, but be sure to ask your bartenders about what small batch brews are available, as they rotate frequently.

Archetype Brewing

You can find Archetype's Belgian-inspired beer at their original spot in West Asheville, as well as in their new space on Broadway. Flagships like Talking to Plants witbier and Cowboy Poet lager are fan favorites, along with more diverse offerings like the Blue Collar Wizard nitro pub stout and the Shoulder Devil peach apricot DIPA.

 

FOR WINE:

plēb urban winery

No one said Asheville was only for beer-drinkers. Wine lovers have plenty of options to choose from in this mountain town, but one of our favorite spots is plēb urban winery located in the River Arts District. (Helpful hint: If you're visiting Wedge Studios, it's just a short walk to plēb from there!). You can get a glass of one of the 16 wines on tap, or you can opt to do a flight, which includes 2 oz. pours of three different wines. plēb also cans their wine, so you can take some to go — and canned wine is perfect for outdoor adventures!

Rustic Grape Wine Bar

This downtown wine bar is family owned and operated, and they focus on working with smaller wine operations and family-run vineyards as much as possible. In addition to offering an extensive wine list (both by the glass and by the bottle), they also offer European-inspired nibbles to pair with your vino of choice. 

5 Walnut Wine Bar

This cozy, brick-walled wine and cheese bar is reminiscent of Tom's Bistro on the TV show 'Parks & Recreation.' A massive menu of wine, beer, cider, cheese, and other bar snacks awaits in this intimate downtown space that is ideal for a date night or an evening catching up with a close friend.

 

FOR CIDERS & MEADS:

Noble Cider

Asheville's first cidery, Noble Cider uses fresh pressed apples and as little sugar as possible to make delicious hard ciders, meads, spritzers, and even wine. You can find their cider in cans throughout the Southeast, or at either of their two locations: The Cidery (their production facility and taproom on New Leicester Highway), The Greenhouse (a downtown bar and bistro)

Urban Orchard Cider Co.

This award-winning, family owned and operated craft cidery has locations both downtown and in West Asheville. In addition to traditional ciders in their Flagship series, Urban Orchard also brews dry-hopped ciders, chili infused ciders, curry inspired ciders, berry infused ciders, fruit and herb ciders, and more. Prepare your palate for a truly unique cider tasting experience!

TreeRock Social Cider & Mead Bar

This pet-friendly mead and cider bar is located in the Biltmore Village area of Asheville, offering a wide selection of craft cider, mead, beer, and wine from all over the reigon. In particular, if you're interested in trying mead, this is the place to check out — they've got dozens of meads for you to try while you're there, whether inside in the coffehouse-esque taproom or out on the open-air patio and garden.

 

FOR COCKTAILS:

Sovereign Remedies

A downtown cocktail lounge and rooftop bar with a vintage chic design, Sovereign Remedies offers a craft cocktail menu driven by the establishment's relationships with local farmers and foragers to utilize the freshest possible ingredients in their creations. Libations like the New to Kir (chemist barrel rested gin, blanc vermouth, cassis, lime, bitters, and cava) and Trust In Tea (vodka, cherry herring, lime, and green tea cordial) are just begging to be ordered.

The Crow & Quill

With more than 450 whiskeys and nearly a thousand total spirits to choose from, you can find a mixed drink for just about anybody's taste at this dimly lit spot filled with comfortable couches, antique rugs, and typically live music from a jazz or caberet performer or two. Typically considered a spot for locals, this hidden gem isn't somewhere you'll find most tourists during their trips to Asheville.

Asheville Yacht Club 

If the words "rock-n-roll tiki bar" don't make your heart skip a beat, then this is not the place for you. Expect the tiki drinks you know and love, like a Mai Tai or a Singapore Sling, along with house drinks like Ku's Jalapeno Cucumber (Espolon Blanco, agave, cucumber, lime, jalapeno, and a chili-infused salt rim) and The Monkey's Paw (Appleton rum, muddled fresh pineapple, cinnamon syrup, and club soda). Plus late night bar bites including a pitcher of tots, jumbo wings, a grilled PB&J with bacon, and more. And live rock-n-roll, duh.


WHAT TO DO

 

GET OUTSIDE:

Hike the Catawba Falls trail

Just a 30-minute drive from Asheville, you'll find gorgeous, wooded, easy-to-moderate hiking trails leading to Catawba Falls, a 100-ft. tall series of cascading waterfalls. The hike is 3 miles roundtrip, so it's a nice way to squeeze in a bit of natural beauty to your weekend without taking up too much of your precious time in Asheville (like some of the longer, more difficult hikes would). It's also one of the hikes closest to the city, so you don't have to spend nearly as much time driving from the city to the trail and back as you would on other hiking routes! 

Enjoy an afternoon tubing, kayaking, or paddleboarding on the French Broad River

If you're visiting while the weather is warm, you can join French Broad Outfitters to float through Asheville along the French Broad River by canoe, solo or tandem kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or river tube. 

Buddhi Yoga at Archetype Brewing on Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

This is what we're all about: working for your beer! Head to Archetype Brewing on Sundays at 11:30 AM for a $5 Buddhi Yoga class with instructor Jane Starr. This style of yoga combines asana, dance, kundalini, cardio, hip spiraling, and plyometric movements — along with GREAT music. 

 

GO SHOPPING: 

Shop women's apparel, accessories, and more at Frock Boutique

This female-owned downtown boutique was started in 2008 with the goal of selling essential pieces that make women feel confident, comfortable, and happy. You'll find basic, minimalist designs along with boho chic pieces that will take any outfit to the next level.

Explore hippie goods of all kinds at Instant Karma

Crystals and gems? Incense? Smudging kits? Essential oils? Find all of that and more at this self-proclaimed "one-stop hippie shop" in downtown Asheville. You'll recognize its bright yellow facade right away, decorated with wind chimes, festival wear, crescent moons, and lotus flowers.

Find books, paper goods, and gifts at Malaprop's

This bookstore-slash-cafe was founded in Asheville back in 1982 as a space to nurture the local community of writers, readers, and artists. Nearly 40 years later, you can visit Malaprops to find books, stationery, and other creative gifts, as well as a cafe selling local coffee and baked treats.

 

EXPLORE THE LOCAL ARTS SCENE:

See contemporary and fine art at Momentum Gallery

You can't forget about Asheville's art scene! Be sure to visit at least one of the local galleries, such as Momentum, to see the works of emerging local and regional artists including paintings, prints, sculptures, and more.

Peruse regional pottery at Appalachian Craft Center

While the hand-crafted North Carolina pottery tends to be the focus at Appalachian Craft Center, you can also explore a selection of other traditional Southern creations made using wood, fiber, glass, and more. If you want to head home with a creative souvenir or gift for a loved one, this is a great spot to find one!

Marvel at blown glass creations at Lexington Craft Works

This glass blowing studio and gallery features a stunning selection of blown glass and high quality custom lighting — and if that's not enough to convince you to check it out, there's also a taproom serving local beer out of hand-blown glasses. 


Cheers to beer travels, near and far!

We're forever planning our upcoming adventures — always to somewhere with an awesome craft beer scene! Any suggestions for our next trip? Shoot us a message at cheers@workforyourbeer.com if you have any ideas, and be sure to tag us at @workforyourbeer if you swing by any of these spots during your next visit to AVL.