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Best Things to do After Thanksgiving in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective

Ah, Thanksgiving. The only time of year its permissible to devour a three-course meal of roast turkey, cranberry sauce, and assorted casseroles. Sometimes I think we’re cheating ourselves. Why shouldn’t we eat cranberry sauce all year long? Why shouldn’t we eat it three times a day? Indeed, why not four?

I've yet to hear a satisfactory answer, and so this subject remains one of my many meditations during those long post-Thanksgiving afternoons, that inevitable stretch of time, when all your relatives go their separate ways, to pass out and regret their fourth helpings.

This afternoon turns into a day and a night, turns into a weekend, turns into a long slow month, turns into a blink of an eye, and then its Christmas and then its New Year’s—time all lost to the void.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. What if I told you that, in fact, there are myriad things to do in Asheville after Thanksgiving; treats and activities that are sure to get the blood pumping and make the most of your limited time in the Paris of the South. Read on and discover five of the best things to do in Asheville after Thanksgiving.

thanksgiving in Asheville - fall leaves
Image from Unsplash

Get out of that chair! You, yes you! On those feet, soldier!

You want Thanksgiving in Asheville? I’ll give you Thanksgiving in Asheville. And it all begins here, at the NC Arboretum, just a short drive south of Asheville Cottages.

One of the things I love best about my hometown is the sheer beauty of its surroundings, and the Arboretum’s one of the best places to get a taste. By Thanksgiving-time, the weather’s usually dropped into the low sixties, making a stroll through the Arboretum’s upper gardens a crisp and refreshing means to restore life to your somnolent bones.

If you’d like a walk that’s more challenging—although by no means excruciating—take a turn down one of the Arboretums’ many back-woods trails or check out the routes near the greenhouse. Simply drive past the main parking, head down Greenhouse Way, park at—you guessed it—the greenhouse, and you’ll find one of the quietest corners of the Arboretum, filled with creek-side trails, shade, and cover from the wind.

Spirit of the Season: Pack a picnic, composed of all that leftover turkey.

thanksgiving in Asheville - two women in clothing store
Image from Wix

I may not be much of a shopper, but my upbringing has instilled within me a solid appreciation for a good deal. Two for one, you say? I’ll take four.

And so, we come to the time-honored, all-American tradition of wrestling strangers for a pair of discounted house slippers on the day after Thanksgiving (the holiday of gratitude). Jokes aside, Black Friday can be a productive enterprise for the savvy shopper, especially if they were to check out the Asheville Outlets, where you could very well find the deal of a lifetime.

Incidentally, Asheville Cottages sits just five minutes away from this storied land of merchandise. That’s exactly the kind of competitive advantage you need, if you ask me.

But if Black Friday shopping isn’t quite your speed, there’s no better time to check out the boutiques and cafes of downtown Asheville than Small Business Saturday. Fewer crowds, more local, and a great excuse to try a mouth-watering new restaurant.

Spirit of the Season: Get started on Christmas shopping. It may seem early, but I for one need all the time I can get.

thanksgiving in Asheville - Risk
Image from Unsplash

Specifically, downtown’s Well Played. Longtime readers will be familiar with this one. With more than seven-hundred games, sandwiches, snacks, coffee, and local craft beer on tap, I can think of no better place to spend a slow post-Thanksgiving weekend.

Just think about it: all your closest friends and family gathered together to argue over poorly-worded rules and accuse each other of switching the dice. Now you could enjoy this experience with your own store of board games, but I for one have just about had enough of Monopoly, and Catan is on thin ice.

So why not try something new? A visit to Well Played is easily incorporated into your Small Business Saturday aspirations, and a great excuse to get out of the house after Thanksgiving in Asheville.

Spirit of the Season: Visit the South Slope afterwards to try some locally brewed cider.

thanksgiving in Asheville - colorful paintbrushes
Image from Unsplash

While you’re downtown, you might as well commit yourself to some cultural enrichment. And no, I don’t mean something from the pastry shelf at Old Europe; not this time at least.

I’m talking art. Fine art. The art of Western North Carolina, the art of Black Mountain College, of the Southeast, and of the historic craftspeople of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sound interesting? Well, you can find it all and much more at the Asheville Art Museum, right smack dab in the middle of downtown.

I think you'll find its a welcome respite from the late Autumn chill. Plus, you can sample steaming hot chocolate right next door at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

Spirit of the Season: Ask if you can borrow one of the works as next year’s centerpiece.

thanksgiving in Asheville - blue mountains
Image from Unsplash

Now a lot of these here suggestions have revolved around Asheville’s urban center, places well known to tourists and locals alike, and frequented by both. Suffice to say, you can expect some post-Thanksgiving crowds at most of these spots.

But if you really want to beat the crowds, there’s only one place to go: the great outdoors. Yes sir, no one will find you out there. Just you, your loved ones, a cool November breeze, and five to fifteen hundred squirrels of the finest pedigree.

If you don’t mind a little aimlessness, I suggest a simple drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway, witnessing vista after vista from the comfort of your car. Stop at an overlook, stretch your legs, eat a turkey sandwich, breathe that fresh air.

If a real hike is what you’re after, I suggest checking out this article on the best fall hikes in Asheville, perfect for your after-Thanksgiving getaway.

Spirit of the Season: The turkeys persist. They’re all around you. They’re watching. They know what you’ve done.

Businesses Mentioned

NC Arboretum


100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806

Asheville Outlets


800 Brevard Rd, Asheville, NC 28806

Well Played Board Game Café


162 Coxe Ave #101, Asheville, NC 28801

Asheville Art Museum


2 S Pack Square, Asheville, NC 28801


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