Seize Your Summer. Start It Strong by Actually Relaxing This Time!
It’s May in Asheville! The mountains have finally warmed and prettied up. People are getting married and graduating left and right. So if you’re in Asheville (particularly if it’s for one of those occasions), you deserve some non-stressful activities.
So what are some unique, relaxing things to do in Asheville? What’s there to do that is free or cheap? And what activities could a visitor do to feel like a free-spirited, summer-loving local?
Here are five activities you don’t have to make advance plans for—and that you can confidently do on your own. Even if you’re new in town.
Enjoy Dining with (Free!) Live Music
Give yourself the perfect atmosphere to relax: a warm Southern evening, a glass of sweet tea (or a hoppy brew), and laid-back live music. There’s many up-and-coming artists in Asheville, and plenty of restaurants that host them.
Some excellent options to explore include:
Pack's Tavern (semi-casual restaurant)
The Scarlet Bee (semi-casual restaurant)
Jack of the Wood (casual pub)
Red Stag Grill (upscale restaurant)
Asheville Club (casual open-air bar)
Isis Restaurant & Music Hall (casual restaurant & bar: upstairs is an intimate concert venue with a fee at the door, and ground level is free music)
When it comes to atmosphere, you’ve got options. From formal sit-down dining with classical live music, to casual country cooking with an open-air live bluegrass band, to a bar with an acoustic set. And if you can’t decide where to go, walk around downtown and follow the music.
Have a Picnic on a Blue Ridge Parkway Overlook
Not feeling up for a hike, but want those mountain views? No problem: that’s what the overlooks are for. And you don’t need to be familiar with the area!
Enter the parkway from an inlet (for a relatively quick climb up the mountain, head in the Black Balsam direction). Then simply drive until you find an overlook that suits your fancy. Remember that the higher you go, the better your view will be. In May, the trees will be at their brightest green.
Pack or pick up a to-go lunch, and don't forget to bring a jacket as it gets a little cooler and breezier as you drive up the mountain.
Snack on the Best Strawberries You’ve Ever Eaten
We all know it—America generally has an awful reputation when it comes to produce options. Some of that reputation is warranted (hello, half-ripe grocery-store strawberries shipped from Guatemala). But there’s no need to worry about that kind of quality when you’re in Asheville in May.
Treat yourself and pick up a basket of these ruby fruits! Is there a more guilt-free spring indulgence? Swing by the WNC Farmer’s Market if you’d like to check out other in-season fruits, like cherries and apricots. Here’s an insider tip as well—skip the first few stalls of each aisle to save money. Vendors closest to the entrance of their aisle charge more.
Street vendors selling strawberries frequently set up shop on intersection corners. Just approach one of the stands and you'll be seduced by the smell of fresh wild strawberries. If one of the baskets looks too large, don't be afraid to ask the vendor if you can take a half or quarter basket. Vendors are often happy to split up the produce into a smaller portion and give you a reduced price.
Pick Up a Treat and Wander Around Downtown
Students are still in school, so downtown is all yours to explore. Asheville weather in May is mild, with low humidity and a low bug count.
Stroll about and play a little downtown Asheville bingo. See if you run into:
The giant iron
Huge art murals on the sides of buildings,
Dancing and drumming at the drum circle
A plethora of dogs.
Up to explore something new? Feed your appetite for the unique by browsing the one-of-a-kind shops. There’s a lot to discover, like an old record shop, a vintage resale shop that helped dress the Stranger Things cast, or a store that sells beads by the individual bead.
Check Out the Magical Spring Flowers
If you came to Asheville in the spring/early summer, don’t miss out on her crowning glory. Stop and smell the roses (and rhododendron...and dogwoods…), and snag enviable pictures.
Want to walk around? Maybe have a picnic and take dreamy pictures? Then take a stroll through the NC Arboretum (free admission, does have parking fee), or check out the Botanical Gardens at Asheville (free).
If you’re up for a true wildflower scavenger hunt, enjoy a hike! When you look for flowers off the beaten path, they’re more few and far between. But the challenge of finding wild blooms yourself is refreshing and rewarding. Keep an eye out for rhododendron, Bradford pear blossoms, dogwoods, sweet peas, daffodils, lilies, and lady slipper orchids.
Live Your Free-Spirited Summer Dream
In a season of lush foliage and celebration, it feels like Eden down in WNC. We’re excited to see you in Asheville, and it’s always a pleasure to extend that Southern hospitality.
Whether you’re here this season for an event or for your own vacation, you should have a soft place to land during your visit. Sure, you could get a hotel in the Asheville area—but would you get your own hot tub, heated bathroom tiles, or nestled-in-the-woods privacy? (Answer: nope)
So let us invite you to relax in a cozy, modern Asheville Cottage: you can’t beat the amenities or service!
Enjoy your stay, y’all!