Asheville is an artsy mountain town in western North Carolina known for its historic architecture, countless breweries and scenic landscapes. The town is home to the 19th-century Biltmore Estate and a thriving downtown arts district and music scene, and offers easy access to the spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway. (Airline: Allegiant)
When to go
October. Expect vibrant fall foliage and red-orange hues on the mountaintops. Great for photo opportunities and digging out your boots and sweaters.
Where to stay
The Grand Bohemian Hotel is a luxurious Tudor-inspired facility perfect for a romantic getaway, complete with spacious suites, gourmet dining, a spa and an art gallery. It’s also just a stroll away from the historic Grove Arcade shopping center. Get outdoors at Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds, a lakeside resort. Book a private cabin for four and enjoy fishing, hiking and canoeing from your backyard. It’s also close to Green Man Brewery and the Biltmore. For a homey stay, book the Cottage Under the Blue Ridge, a five-star Airbnb in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The airy home comes with a fully equipped kitchen, stone fireplaces and a porch with stunning views.
Where to eat
The upscale restaurant Sovereign Remedies uses fresh, local ingredients from nearby farms and North Carolina’s coast. Enjoy a full bar and seasonal cocktails, hand-cut pasta and grade-A beef tartare. White Duck Taco Shop is a casual Mexican street food joint with build-your-own taco options. Grab a side of green chile black beans or seasonal sangria and eat outdoors if the weather’s nice. You can’t visit North Carolina without eating barbecue. Luella’s Bar-B-Que has combo trays with ribs, smoked wings or chopped pork sandwiches with the classic sides.
What to do
The Biltmore Estate is a grand 250-room mansion located on sprawling grounds with lots of tours and art exhibits. One opening this summer is a larger-than-life screen display of Leonardo da Vinci’s work called 500 Years of Genius. Afterward, go for a free wine tasting. If you’re heading to Asheville in the fall, attend the city’s Art in the Park festival, which takes place at the beautiful Pack Square Park on the first three Saturdays in October. Stroll through vendor booths of local artists and pick up a souvenir. Then join a CiderFest tour, a small-group outing that begins at an outdoor bar called Salvage Station and visits three Asheville cideries.
A few other recommendations...
A book to pack
Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe, an Asheville native who wrote this fictional story based on his childhood living in the town in the 1910s.
A movie to watch
Dirty Dancing, the 1987 romantic classic filmed near Lake Lure, just outside of Asheville.
A record to put on
New Freedom Blues by Asheville bluegrass band Town Mountain. The group puts a new spin on bluegrass with elements of rock and pop.