Almost exactly an hour away, we have the best of both worlds. We live in a low-tax, low cost state (Tennessee), and we can visit the progressive, artistically innovative (it hosts the University of North Carolina, Asheville) and diverse city when we need a dose of entertainment not found in our small relatively conservative community.
If you are planning your first visit, we recommend staying at one of the downtown hotels. There are a few to choose from, just check out Asheville’s tourist website and of course trip-adviser, but our favorite hotel is the Haywood Park Hotel (check out Jim’s review and pics!). This vintage department store turned hotel has HUGE rooms, beautiful marble baths and is perfectly located for wandering downtown Asheville. From the hotel, you can walk to most of the best restaurants in Asheville and visit the small crafts and clothing boutiques dotted along the streets. There are lots of art galleries to duck into with amazing art. One of our favorites is the Za Pow! gallery which has some crazy fun art inside and focuses on illustration. Each artist has their own cubicle in which to display their really creative art. We always end up buying something after we stop laughing. This gallery is great entertainment. Another favorite of ours is the old Woolworth store building which houses Woolworth Walk a co-op and is filled with interesting crafts and art for sale. These are just two of the many wonderful art galleries in Asheville.
But; my most favorite of all is Bouchon, a tiny French Bistro restaurant that has wonderful French comfort food. The interior is charming and the deep red brick of the walls where light from the candles on the tables glow creating a soft romantic atmosphere even while the room bustles in true bistro fashion, waiters expertly maneuvering through the tables, pouring wine, delivering mounds of mussels and plates of steak-frites or cassoulet. Bouchon provides a beautifully authentic French bistro experience. Their menu has on offer, all the most-loved specialties of a Lyon bistro.
We also love Carmel's for lunch when we can sit outside on a beautiful day. They serve contemporary cuisine and the some of the best sweet potato fries I've ever eaten.
On this particular trip, we headed for lunch at Chorizo, which is among the best restaurants for flavor packed Latin American food in Asheville. The colorful murals on the walls inside definitely add to the festive and spicy atmosphere of the restaurant. Be sure to check out Jim's review below.
Jim has reviewed a few other favorite restaurants of ours, so be sure to check them out.
Chorizo – Delicious Central & South American dishes
Curate – Spanish Tapas – sit at the bar and watch the chefs cook.
Vincenzo’s – Old World Italian
and check out this web-site for a full listing of all the amazing restaurants in downtown.
Speaking of music, you can find bands performing all over down-town in the evenings.
So, if you are in the neighborhood of Asheville, NC, drop in and join in on the fun!