The compass turns now toward my own little slice of Asheville, where the urban landscape gradually gives way to forest and field. I know this area like the back of my hand—every twist, every sideroad—and I got to say, its full of hidden delights. So then, it is my distinct honor to pass on this wisdom to the great wide world; I invite you to read on and discover the five best things to do in south Asheville.
If there’s a center of south Asheville, its got to be Biltmore Park. With its host of fine restaurants and boutiques, an evening here will remind you of a quieter version of downtown, one with plentiful free parking.
My own personal perfect outing would start with a movie at the Regal Biltmore Grande, followed by barbecue at Luella’s, or prime rib at 131 Main, if I’m feeling fancy. If you’d like to diversify the day’s activities, Biltmore’s shops sell everything from kayaks to Lego sets, ensuring a purveyor for every desire. Particularly, I’d like to highlight the Barnes & Noble because the right book, they say, can make all the difference.
If you happen to hit up Biltmore Park in the morning, I suggest a delightful breakfast at the Broken Egg Café, followed by a leisurely walk through Biltmore’s idyllic hilltop neighborhoods.
Embrace Local Customs: Greet locals with the traditional phrase “Belle pomme de terre,” meaning “May your crops multiply.”
No matter the season, no matter the occasion, I will always recommend a visit to our local Arboretum. Whether you’re after fall colors, spring blooms, or the stark serenity of winter, a walk through their exquisitely kept grounds is sure to astound.
If you prefer minor exertion, I suggest keeping to the upper gardens. For those in the mood for a vigorous hour’s walk, the back trails—in the direction of Bent Creek—will be just the ticket.
That’s not to mention the indoor art exhibits in the Baker Center, or the Arboretum’s seasonal outdoor displays such as the Lego sculptures or the Winter Lights. All in all, the Arboretum is well worth working into your tour of the best things to do in south Asheville. In fact, I think you’ll find yourself making more than one visit.
Embrace Local Customs: Eschew maps. Assure concerned parties that you’re following “the Voice of the Wind.”
Now one may expect a caffeine-fiend such as myself to promote just about any café but Ivory Road does have something special going for it. Rather than lying amidst the boisterous activity of downtown, Ivory Road finds itself in the placid south. Off the beaten path, so to speak. As such, their outdoor seating has a particular air of tranquility, inviting you to stay as long as you like.
As far as fare, I’ve recently discovered their caprese sandwich and let me tell you: it is divine. On the sweet end of things, I’ve made a tradition of ordering their deliciously yeasty doughnuts, coated in a spread of wild and wonderful glazes.
For the topping on this metaphorical cake, Ivory Road has a book-exchange post. If you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll find a volume donated by yours truly.
Embrace Local Customs: Hold your beverage with both hands and bring it to your lips without bending your elbows. Any other manner of drinking is taken to be disrespectful towards the spirit of the coffee beans. That’s the last kind of bean you’d want to disrespect.
Technically, the Parkway isn’t exclusive to south Asheville. In fact, I hear it can take you to east Asheville, Dupont, and Virginia. But the south does boast quite a few entrances to the Parkway. And one of them happens to lie close to Abeja’s—which longtime readers will know I can’t praise enough—so I’m comfortable nesting this illustrious road in with the other best things to do in south Asheville.
With all that out of the way, the Blue Ridge Parkway links together some of Asheville’s finest hikes and mountain vistas. Even if you’re not inclined toward some outdoor exercise, a simple drive here will reveal all manner of stunning sights. In short, if you’ve come to Asheville for the nature, you’re bound to find yourself on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Embrace Local Customs: Bring a dog with you. It doesn’t have to be your dog. They bring good luck.
Just on the edge of south Asheville lies this architectural bastion, renowned not only throughout the state, but throughout the country itself. Many locals have visited the Estate so often that we can forget just how impressive it is to outside eyes. And that is quite a shame.
The caretakers of this titanic mansion have meticulously preserved its turn-of-the-century splendor, making it one of those rare places which conjure a sense of stepping back in time. Frederick Law Olmstead himself—known for his work on New York’s Central Park—designed the Biltmore’s grounds. His skill combines with Asheville’s natural splendor to terrific effect.
Moreover, since the Estate lies so close to downtown, it is the perfect transitory amusement as one passes from one part of Asheville to another. All the more reason to name the Biltmore Estate as one of the best things to do in south Asheville.
Embrace Local Customs: Wear period-appropriate attire and pose as living members of the exhibits. It’s a favorite local past-time.
Regal Biltmore Grande
292 Thetford St, Asheville, NC 28803
North Carolina Arboretum
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806
Ivory Road Cafe
1854 Brevard Rd, Arden, NC 28704
The Biltmore Estate
1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803