After several weeks of studying Asheville’s best and brightest restaurants, it occurred to me that there is more to life than simply eating. As it turns out, there’s a whole lot more. And so, I bring my infamous “gourmand cycle” to a close and turn my attention towards the all-knowing compass. What lies to the north? The east? The south and the west?
A healthy quarter of these questions shall be answered right here and right now. I invite you to read on and discover the best things to do in north Asheville.
1: Explore the Montford Area Historic District
This idyllic neighborhood, nestled between downtown and the French Broad River, consists of historic residences built between 1890 to 1920, displaying the splendors of late Victorian architecture for all to see. A scenic drive through these meandering streets provides a nice counterpoint to your day’s more exciting events. Alternatively, spice up your visit with a ride on one of LaZoom’s funktacular tour-busses.
Once you’ve had your fill of period settings, I suggest strolling through Riverside Cemetery, burial place of famous author Thomas Wolfe. Finally, you may drift toward downtown for drinks at the Montford Rooftop Bar. Frankly, I can think of no better way to strike off your exploration of the best things to do in north Asheville.
Live Like a Local: Come dressed in historically accurate attire. We locals always admire a touch of tasteful theatrics.
One needs not acquire rooms here to sample the Grove Park’s many amusements. It is, after all, so much more than a mere hotel. Constructed in 1912, the Inn stands as an immortal testament to Asheville’s legacy as a tourism hot spot. A simple tour of the Inn’s interior alone evokes a sense of undeniable awe.
And if you happen to visit around the Christmas season, you shall find those same halls filled with the competitors in the national gingerbread house competition. Its as impressive a showing as it sounds; I’d never go a year without inspecting them.
At any time of the year, the Inn hosts a spectacular slew of restaurants, fine golfing, and a semi-subterranean spa which will make you say: “Maybe living in a cave isn’t so bad.” Yes, out of all the things to do in Asheville, I think visiting the Grove Park Inn may be the classiest.
Live Like a Local: The competitive gingerbread houses are actually meant to be eaten. Only true locals are aware of this.
3: Walk UNCA’s Botanical Gardens
While many come to Asheville to walk the parkway’s splendid trails, you would be remiss not to experience the city’s more domesticated natural spaces as well. An afternoon spent in the gardens—carefully balanced between the wild and the manicured—will scratch any itch for light outdoor activity.
More pertinently to the subject of things to do in north Asheville, the gardens lie at the epicenter of all many of amusements, from restaurants, to ice cream, to the University itself. Point being that if you plan to visit Asheville’s worthy north, it should be easy to work a walk here into your itinerary.
I suggest visiting in mid-April or mid-August, when the gardens are at peak bloom.
Live Like a Local: Greet passers-by with the traditional Asheville greeting: “May your flowers explode.”
Few things tickle my tastebuds quite like ice cream. I’m sure the feeling is mutual. And out of all of Asheville’s creameries, I do believe I enjoy the Hop head and shoulders above the rest. Let me tell you why.
Not only does the Hop offer ice cream, but also vegan ice cream, hot chocolate, coffee, and blends between the four. And not only do they offer this smorgasbord of semi-liquid delight, but their flavors stretch beyond the known, into the realm of yet undiscovered flavor. Chinese Five-Spice? Blueberry Beet? Cherry Lemonade? Yes, yes and yes.
Such concoctions speak of true culinary bravery, the trait I most admire in both desserteries and people. I give eating ice cream at the Hop my personal award for “tastiest thing to do in north Asheville.”
Live Like a Local: Demand the kitchen sink. Don’t ask: demand it.
Oftentimes I find myself watching a movie at the end of a long, fun-filled day of exterior outings. It is then truly convenient that among the best things to do in north Asheville lie one of the local-est of local movie theaters. Doubly convenient, it happens to moonlight as a pizzeria and taphouse. I suppose that’s Asheville for you.
Kick up your feet and enjoy your feature film with a cocktail or local brew or in my case, kombucha. Showings include both the season’s big-name blockbusters and more niche films, some of which you’d be hard pressed to find in your hometown’s basic chain-theater.
Live Like a Local: Once you’re through with your drink, smash the bottle on the ground and yell “Prost!” Locals just love it.
The Omni Grove Park Inn
290 Macon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
The Hop Ice Cream Café
640 Merrimon Ave #103, Asheville, NC 28804
Asheville Pizza and Brewing
675 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804