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Thanksgiving in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective

I understand holiday travel seldom makes it to the top of the list of what people enjoy with their Thanksgiving suppers. And as a local, I’ve come to think nothing of having my Thanksgiving in the “Paris of the South,” but upon recent reflection I can say it is worth the travel time.

The weather’s fine; cool but not too cool. The city's fair. And there just isn’t any beating the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. So if you’re coming on down to have Thanksgiving in Asheville, you can count on a festive and invigorating visit, especially if you follow the recommendations below.

Image from Wix

As much as some people enjoy preparing all the casseroles and pies and whatnot, I say it’s always good to have alternatives, especially if it means ordering from some of Asheville’s best restaurants.

OWL Bakery, one of my favorite local bakeries, is accepting baked-good orders for pickup the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. As a longtime devotee of their patisseries, my mouth waters just thinking of enjoying my Thanksgiving in Asheville with a slice of their apple lattice pie. You think that pie just rolls out of bed looking that way, with that kind of lattice? No way. That lattice is a mark of excellence.

Now if you want to say to heck with it, and just order the whole gosh-darn meal, first let me say I’m not here to judge you. Not all of us are pro chefs and very few of us are on the level of those chefs at Buxton Hall Barbecue, who this year are offering pickup dinners at a reasonable price. It’s the whole shebang: turkey, green beans, stuffing, cranberry relish, etc. Order it all, or just a few sides. It’s the pinnacle of convenience.

Mountain Traditions: Rather than breaking the wishbone, we here in Asheville soak them in turkey-grease and set them ablaze. It’s a peculiar tradition, but it smacks of home.

Image from Unsplash

The Biltmore Estate is one of Asheville’s top attractions, and might I say it is especially scenic in these later months of the year. As a matter of fact, I just did a post on the subject.

Tickets sell out fast around Thanksgiving, but if you manage to secure one, you will be treated to an inside look at the largest privately owned home in America, alongside its sprawling grounds. There’s plenty to do on the Estate, so if you need to fill up a few days around your Thanksgiving visit to Asheville, the Biltmore Estate is the place to be.

Mountain Traditions: One in a million of the tickets printed is the fabled “orange ticket.” Like a golden ticket, but it smells like pumpkin. It confers ownership of the estate, for better or for worse.

Image from Wix

Back on the subject of Thanksgiving dinner, and how not to cook it, downtown’s Isa’s French Bistro offers three course prix-fixe reservations for Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, with an optional wine pairing. For the weary holiday traveler, what more can you ask?

Main course options include herb brined turkey breast, Antarctic salmon, vegan sausage ragout, and the tried-and-true steak frites. And if you can’t make it there for the holiday itself, fret not. Isa’s serves a slew of haute cuisine all through the week, with prime rib specials on Friday and Saturday nights and seafood crepes on Sunday. It’s the kind of thing you’d be hard pressed to find outside of le Paris itself.

Mountain Traditions: Here in Asheville, Thanksgiving is followed by “French Week,” when the English language is banned for public use. The origins of this festivity are lost to time.

Image from Wix

I for one am not really much of a shopper, preferring the time-honored alternatives of DYI and scavenging furniture from the roadside. But even I must admit that Asheville has some wonderful little boutiques, antique shops, and the like. So, if you got money burning a hole in your pocket this Thanksgiving, let me break down your options.

First of all you got Asheville Outlets, an open-air mall with all the national brands you can shake a stick at, from Aeropostale to Zales. For a more Ashevillean experience, you can visit South Asheville’s Biltmore Park, which supplements its shopping with a Regal Cinema and delicious dining. The crème-de-la-crème, of course, is shopping downtown, which you can read more on right here.

Mountain Traditions: Locals exchange gifts of huckleberry candles, made with real fruit. You can find them in most major outlets, just declare you’re “In search of the huck” and a sales associate will be with you shortly.

Image from Wix

Nothing aids the digestion like a little constitutional pedestrianism, that is to say, exercise. Here in Asheville, our post-Thanksgiving walks aren’t restricted to mere neighborhoods, oh no. Up here in the mountains, we sweat out our green bean calories at elevation, in much the same way as Olympic runners train their lungs for the sprint.

With October already at an end, peak leaf-season is sadly coming to a close. But heck, I for one am down for a hike any time of year. Stay hydrated and remember: every mile you trek up there in the mountains translates to another slice of pumpkin pie when you return.

Mountain Traditions: The responsibility for post-meal dish-handling traditionally falls to the loser of an up-hill race. Disaster often befalls these racers, on account of not enough stretching.

Businesses Mentioned

OWL Bakery

295 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806

Buxton Hall Barbecue


32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Biltmore Estate


1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803

Isa's French Bistro


1 Battery Park Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Asheville Outlets


800 Brevard Rd, Asheville, NC 28806


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