Time is of the essence, so start your outdoor adventuring by barreling down the Class III rapids on the French Broad River, the put-in for which is only about 30 minutes from downtown. Nantahala Outdoor Center does trips for $58 per adult.
Time for a little trail action. After returning to town and grabbing a quick bite at the Indian street food restaurant Chai Pani on Battery Park Ave downtown, take a 10-minute drive on I-240 East until it turns into 74A East and then turn onto the Blue Ridge Parkway entrance. Park in the dirt beside the road, and run west toward town on the Mountains to Sea Trail. You won’t get any mountain or city views here, but you’ll get a taste for the beauty of the region's rhododendron-jeweled, brook-filled woods.
Get dinner at the traditional Spanish tapas bar Curate, where the atmosphere is a mixture of Manhattan and Birkenstock-wearing Appalachia.