It's November in Asheville. Elsewhere too, or so I hear. The air is cool, the leaves are crunchy, and just yesterday I crossed back over the North Carolina border after an extended stay abroad (read: Georgia). This morning I had the good fortune of waking up in Asheville, with my head all a-buzz with ideas of things to do, sights to see, and beverages to drink.
I figured why not share these beautiful ideas with the world? If you want to enjoy November in Asheville like a true local, I invite you to buckle up, struggle into your favorite sweater, and join me on a stream-of-consciousness journey through what I’m going to do in Asheville in the following weeks.
Last week someone asked me, “What’s the first thing you’re going to do once you get back in Asheville?” I saw a flash of red, all thoughts leaked from my mind, and from the undusted corners of my psyche came my answer: drink hot chocolate.
The actual first thing I did was drink green tea. Somewhat of a mix up, but I do have a plan to acquire said seasonal beverage. Enter Dobra, speaking of tea. It’d hardly be a homecoming if I didn’t visit my favorite local teahouse.
It was here that I was first introduced to chaga-chocolate. Its an acquired taste, but suitably invigorating for a chilly November in Asheville. If that’s not your speed, I’d suggest one of their more conventional hot chocolate flavors. They’re all as rich and smooth as a millionaire penguin. Sit in the back of Dobra's downtown location, lounge on cushions on the floor, and you’re guaranteed a downright cozy experience.
Embrace the Season: Pair your drink with one of Dobra’s masala cookies or excellent tea cakes. After all, if you really think about it, isn’t hot chocolate just tea of another kind?
I’m not much of a shopper, usually, but my faux-leather coat is shedding its skin like some kind of misshapen reptile. You could say it's time for a replacement. My first pick for outerwear’s got to be downtown’s Honeypot vintage emporium. Lots of variety, with a classic Ashevillean aesthetic. Maybe if I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I’ll visit Cornerstone Minerals afterwards, just down the street. As the old saying goes: “Even the man who doesn’t like shopping does like shopping for rocks.”
Now if you do like shopping, you can cut west from Cornerstone Minerals, all the way on to the Grove Arcade. Clothing, books, furniture; everything money can buy.
Embrace the Season: Christmas shopping! It's never too early. I got mine out of the way back in January. That's a joke. Truth is I still don’t know what I’m going to get anyone, and I probably won’t know until the week before. Learn from my mistakes.
The guardians of the Grove Park Inn’s gingerbread house competition have agreed to let me back in this year, so long as I promise not to eat any of the exhibits. The bread was stale anyways. And frankly, that’s a small price to pay to witness such a delectable exhibition. The creativity and culinary construction on display is simply astounding, and that’s not to mention the Grove Park Inn’s own impressive architecture.
The display opens on November 28th and runs until January 2nd. Those staying at the Inn can peruse the gingerbread houses at any time and they’re open to the public Monday through Thursday and after 3pm on Sundays. After your visit, you’ll see why its one of my favorite things to do in November in Asheville.
Valet parking at the Grove Park runs at $35 for day guests, while self-parking is $25. That may seem pretty steep, but you got to remember you’re not paying an entry fee and this is some top-notch gingerbread artistry.
Embrace the Season: Enter next year’s competition. After all, how hard can it be?
I’ve always considered farmer’s markets to be a particularly autumnal form of amusement. That said I do visit the ASAP market year-round, but nonetheless, I do look forwards to their November offerings. On Saturdays 9am to noon, drive on down to AB Tech’s campus, follow the signs to the parking lot near the Bailey Student Center, and disembark for the best local produce, baked goods, cheeses, and occasional live music.
If you see a mustachioed man laden down with bottles of jun, that’ll be me. Just supporting the local economy.
Embrace the Season: Acquire some gourds. That is all.
When people ask me “What’s there to do in Asheville,” the first thing I say is hiking. The second: dining. The third is craft beer, which is kind of an extension of dining, and now that I think about it, visiting the South Slope should probably be on my list of things to do in November in Asheville. But that’s neither here nor there.
Anyways, dining. Personally, I’m going to visit Abeja’s as soon as possible. Some of the best breakfast, brunch, and lunch in the entire Southeast. Chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and good coffee. What more do you need? After that, I’ve got to check out Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian's new South Asheville location. I used to lament that Vinnie’s lay all the way on the other side of town. But no longer.
Finally, Conosur. It may be down in Mill’s River, south of Asheville proper, but between their Cubans, chorillana, and dynamite empanadas, I think you’ll find there’s plenty of reason to make the journey.
78 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
86 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Omni Grove Park Inn
290 Macon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
ASAP Farmer's Market at AB Tech
340 Victoria Rd, Asheville, NC 28801
Abeja's House Cafe
1550 Hendersonville Rd #116, Asheville, NC 28803