Just when you think this small North Carolina mountain town has reached peak cool, more chefs receive James Beard Award nominations and the outdoor access gets even better. From road-cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway to paddling the French Broad to hiking and biking Pisgah National Forest’s hundreds of miles of singletrack, here’s how to spend the perfect day in the South’s hippest mountain town.
Asheville has a reputation as a mountain-bike mecca, but the road riding is even better. Rent a carbon Trek Silque from Liberty Bicycles ($75) and pedal a 25-mile loop that takes in the five-mile Elk Mountain Scenic Parkway climb, cruises Blue Ridge Parkway, and ends with the fast Town Mountain descent.
Refuel at Biscuit Head, in trendy West Asheville, where the classic southern biscuit is transcended with toppings like pulled pork or fried chicken with sriracha slaw. Try the Gravy Flight ($7), a biscuit with three gravies.
Play a round of disc golf (Asheville’s sport of choice) at Richmond Hill, a city park with one of the toughest courses on the East Coast.
Head to Chai Pani, where chef Meherwan Irani has brought Indian street-food flair to downtown. Order the Kathi Kabab Roll, with chicken perfectly seared in tandoori spices and topped with chutney.
Rent a stand-up paddleboard from French Broad River Outfitters ($40) and paddle among the tubers on a mild stretch of the French Broad through the River Arts District, stopping for a beer at New Belgium’s latest brewery and taproom.
Check into the Windsor, a boutique hotel on Broadway (from $280 a night). Bonus: you’re a few blocks from MG Road, a fun-loving cocktail bar decked out with Christmas lights year-round and a menu full of adult slushies and draft cocktails.
Chow down on a fried-chicken sandwich paired with collard greens and mac and cheese at Buxton Hall Barbecue, were chef Elliot Moss has created some of the most buzzed-about dishes in the South.
After dinner, stroll through the South Slope neighborhood around Buxton Hall, where you’ll find half a dozen breweries in a four-block area. Burial Beer Company, with its oversize murals of Tom Selleck, is a must.
Catch a Lyft to Salvage Station, a riverside bar just outside town with an expansive lawn speckled with fire pits, Ping-Pong tables, and impromptu rounds of disc golf.