Many of the awesome couples we work with for their weddings and engagement sessions are all coming from a far to get a little taste of what Asheville has to offer! Naturally one of the biggest attractions are the beautiful blue ridge mountains, hence the reason most of our engagements take place somewhere scenic in the mountains! If you’re like a lot of couples traveling to this area, you don’t just want drive (or fly for that matter) in for one day, have your session and head right back home. You want to slow down, take it all in, and enjoy all the attractions, fun, and amazing culinary options that Asheville and the surrounding areas have to offer! One of the questions we get all the time from couples is something along the lines of “Hey so we’re going to be in town for a few days, do you have any places/things you would recommend seeing/doing?” So our intention with this blog is for our couples to have some cool places to check out no matter what your interests! We will include options for the outdoor enthusiasts as well as the foodies because in Asheville and the WNC area, there’s a little something for every one, and yes, we will definitely be adding some of our personal favs!
For the outdoorsy/adventurous couples
Looking Glass Rock Hike - (time commitment, 4-5 hours)
One of the most popular hiking routes in the area lies right in the middle of the Pisgah Ranger District, and that is the Looking Glass Rock Hike! It gains around 1700ft of elevation on the 3 mile hike up and while we wouldn’t say it’s the most strenuous local hike, due to the time commitment, it’s not for the casual hiker. Bring a lunch and have a little picnic at the top while enjoying the views! We’ve seen people bring books, take naps, and of course, you have to grab a selfie when you get to the top! The weather can change in an instant in Pisgah so always check the forecast before you go, make sure you wear capable hiking shoes because there’s a good chance the trails will be slippery, and bring plenty of water!
(view of Looking Glass Rock from John's Rock)
The Riveter - (Adventure park - $25 day pass)
If you find yourself in Asheville trying to satisfy your need for adventure but the weather will just not cooperate, or you can’t decide on one place, then check out The Riveter and experience all of it! The Riveter has a 16,000 square foot climbing facility, bike park, yoga studio, and fitness studio! The bike park will encompass a 18,000 square foot covered terrain and 3 acre outdoor park! They offer something for all skill levels as well intro classes and one of the best features, it’s less than 5 minutes away from Sierra Neveda Brewing co.!
Triple Falls - (time commitment, 1 hour)
When people ask us about must see waterfalls in the area and they have a little time to spare, Triple Falls in Dupont State Forrest is always the first one we recommend! In truth, the hike itself from Hooker Falls Parking to Triple Falls is only about 10-15 minutes depending on your pace, but once you get there, you’ll want to sit back and enjoy the beauty for a while! To us, the size, intensity, and characteristics of Triple Falls easily make it one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the WNC area! Be cognizant of the weather before you go, if the region has experienced heavy rain for a few consecutive days prior, often times they will block off the access area due to safety. DO NOT jump over any barriers to access the falls or get closer. As beautiful as it is, the rocks can be slick like ice and the water would easily sweep someone away.
(Triple Falls in Dupont State Forrest)
Mountain biking - (almost endless options)
If you’re looking for a two wheeled adventure while visiting Asheville, you can access hundreds of miles of double and single track trails in Pisgah, Dupont, and Bent Creek alone! If you’re looking to venture out a little further check out Tsali or the Fire Mountain Trails! There are plenty of local bike shops from Motion Makers to Sycamore Cycles that will rent you a top of the line bike if you didn’t travel with yours. Grab a map and string together a route based on your skill and fitness level. By far two of our favorite trails to hit are the downhill run at Ridgeline in Dupont State Forrest and The Left/Right Loop combo of Tsali trails near Bryson City! Ridgeline for the incomparable flow and the the Left/Right loop for the beautiful views at the top of the overlook! Some of these trail networks go on for miles and some connect to other trail networks, so even if you have a GPS, always bring a map just in case!
(Mountain biking in Dupont State Forrest)
Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Trail - (short hike, beautiful views, just 35min. outside of downtown)
Enjoy a scenic ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Trail. Sitting at just above 6,000ft above sea level, Craggy is easily one of the most popular spots for travelers and locals alike. The breathtaking views at the top, easy access from town, and the short hike make it a very attractive option when looking for cool hikes in the area. There are protective barriers in place at the upper overlook to make sure people don’t hop out on the cliffs. This is for preservation of fragile plant life and for safety, so please follow the rules as there have been rumors of this beautiful spot being blocked off from the public if too many people keep hopping the wall. Our recommendation would be to catch a sunrise at Craggy (they are so vibrant!) and then head down to south Asheville to have breakfast at one of our local favs, Biscuit Head!
(Some of the beautiful scenery from Craggy Pinnacle Trail)
Looking Glass Falls and Graveyard Fields Falls
We made this one a combo because if you take 276 through Pisgah after checking out Looking Glass Falls, it only takes about 40 minutes to get to Graveyard Fields Falls! It’s almost impossible not to recommend Looking Glass Falls! It’s just outside of downtown Brevard, not far from Asheville. Just step out of your car and it’s literally right there in all of it’s beautiful glory! Early morning is our favorite time to check it out especially during peak seasons like summer and fall because you end up parking and walking pretty far sometimes. If you go during the downtime, you may just have these beautiful falls all to yourself! If you have time to make a combo out of it head up 276 and connect to the Blue Ridge Parkway to check out Graveyard Fields Falls! Once you hit the parking lot it’s about a 6-8 minute downhill walk (about 1/3 paved) on the way to the lower falls! Once you’re there, find a rock to chill on or a shallow section to jump in and enjoy the natural beauty! On a hot summer day, this is the perfect place to cool off with some friends! (Note: it’s a short walk but there are a fair amount of stairs so if you have any mobility issues, this may not be a good choice).
(Looking Glass Falls) (Graveyard Fields Falls)
Cataloochee Campground - Come see The Elk!
This somewhat remote part of the smoky mountain park offers a tranquil space to get away when you need to unplug! Come for a few hours and explore or camp overnight at one of their convenient camp site options! While you’re there, check out the historic school house building and Palmer Chapel. Of course the main reason we love Cataloochee is for the Elk! While you do have to keep a safe distance you are able to get plenty close to these beautiful animals and if you’ve never seen one in person, it’s quite breathtaking. I remember the first time I visited with a friend. We saw two bucks right off the road and of course we pulled over to grab a couple of shots (included) and the thing I noticed instantly was their size. With their antlers, they were taller than me while laying down! During the sunrise and the sunset they tend to come out into the fields and if you just happen to be in the right place at the right time, you can can catch a glimpse of one of these beautiful animals!
Sierra Nevada - Great beer, great food, and plenty to see!
We call this place ‘The Biltmore of Breweries’. I think most people have a vision in mind when they think of craft beer establishments or breweries and when you pull up to Sierra Nevada, it blows that out of the water! We could only imagine the sheer amount of work and planning that has gone into this place from the beginning until now! The impressive exterior welcomes you with open arms and the smell of hops greets you as you open the front doors! It goes without saying that the beer selection is second to none but the food, ohhh the food! The locally sourced menu is constantly changing with new and creative dishes but they do have consistent favorites that are always on the menu! One of our personal favorites are the Duck Fat Fries!!! After enjoying a brew and some amazing food, head out back to our favorite part of the brewery, the back patio! To leave it at that would be a huge understatement. Their back patio area includes an amphitheater with seasonal live music, fire pits, corn hole you name it! Whether you’re looking to partake a little relaxation with some good brews, or having fun with friends, it’s hard to beat Sierra Nevada!
Burial Beer Co. - The craft beer lover’s beer!
A little story of how we came to find Burial Beer Co. When we first started our business here in Asheville, naturally a lot of the clients we met and friends we made in the area loved craft beer! (Beer City USA duh) Some brewed their own beer, or worked for breweries, etc. As we learned more and more about our community and the different breweries in the area, one place that was consistently mentioned was Burial. I vividly remember meeting with a client from Seattle who was a brewer himself telling us he had been looking forward to visiting Asheville all year so he could spend the day at Burial! Heck I still remember the first beer I tried from Burial and to this day it’s still my favorite. If you are a craft beer lover and you haven’t tried the ‘Seasoned Skillet’ - Bourbon Barrel Aged Donut Stout, you aren’t living! Burial maintains a laid back intimate feel to their South Slope taproom and it’s a favorite among locals and always a new favorite to those visiting the area! If you could only check out one local brewery while visiting Asheville, Burial would be our recommendation!
Highland Brewing Co. - Asheville’s Original Brewery
Highland Brewing Co has the distinction of being THE first legal brewery in Asheville since prohibition! We’ve had the pleasure of attending special events at Highland Brewing Co, hosting special events, and just hanging out. No matter what the occasion, Highland is a perennial crowd pleaser that stays true to its Asheville roots! Of course no mention of Highland Brewing would be complete with out talking about their annual release of their wildly popular Cold Mountain Legendary Spiced Ale! (People literally take off work so they can attend the release party and be among the first to get a taste of the local favorite!) Live music, tasty food trucks, and of course awesome beers are just a few of the reasons you’ll be wanting to come back to Highland after visiting!
Sanctuary Brewing Co. - Awesome beer & amazing people!
We’ve been visiting Sanctuary Brewing for about 3 years now and the only we regret is not going more! They have an array of different creative crafts on tap (our fav is the Raspberry Spirit Animal), they provide live entertainment nightly from open mics to local artists, and one of the things we love most is their sense of community and compassion. They have a kindness wall where those in need can take what they need like seasonal clothing options or umbrellas, and we absolutely love that they also show the same amount of care to our non human friends with their non profit Sweat Bear Rescue Farm! If you’re looking to support a local business that supports it’s community and just happens to have an amazing atmosphere and selection of brews, make the short trip from Asheville to Hendersonville and check out Sanctuary Brewing!
Burntshirt Vineyards Chimney Rock - Wine, dine, and take in the views!
Many of the breweries mentioned will have wine offerings but if wine is your indulgence, then we recommend trying the Chimney Rock Tasting Room and Bistro! This beautiful location is a short scenic drive from downtown Asheville and provides guests with the best view of Chimney Rock! The meat and cheese board is one of our favorite options to pair with a wine tasting and it also includes an engraved wine glass for you to take home and enjoy your burntshirt wine later! It’s conveniently located right in the heart of Chimney Rock village, just minutes away from Lake Lure and the 1927 Inn (where they filmed Dirty Dancing!). We can’t recommend this place enough! The hours are seasonal so it’s always a good idea to call and check before making the trip!
Biltmore - How can you not visit!?
Do you remember that scene in the movie Richie Rich where they drive up the drive way and arrive at his mansion. Remember being overtaken with that feeling of
amazement when you finally saw it? Well experience that feeling in real life when you visit The Biltmore (fun fact The Biltmore actually was the Richie Rich house depicted)! Being season pass holders and living right around the corner, we’ve easily visited no less than 50-60 times in the last 4 years and no matter what the occasion The Biltmore never disappoints. It is 8,000 acres of awesome! Get out and explore the trails and views across the estate on foot, bike, or one of their Segway tours. You will LOVE the wine tasting and afterwards head over to Cedrics for lunch or dinner. Schedule a tour to see the inside of the house, and afterwards explore the gardens. It’s the perfect place in Asheville to celebrate, wine and dine, or just sightsee.
Grove Park Inn
Do you want to know where we go when we need a night to unwind? Ding, ding, ding! If you’re looking for that cozy and comfy ambiance by the fire place. If you want a place where you can grab a wine and dessert and watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in the area while simultaneously overlooking the mountains and downtown Asheville. If you’re looking for upscale dining and a spa experience unlike any other, than look no further than The Grove Park Inn. Their hospitality is second to none and if you’re lucky enough to visit during the holiday season be sure to grab a hot chocolate and enjoy the National Gingerbread House competition! When our friends and family visit from out of town, this is always on the list of place we try to take them! Whether you’re in town for the day or a few days, it’s always great idea to stop by The Omni Grove Park Inn.
The Retrocade - Feel like a kid again at this West Asheville Classic
The Retrocade is as cool as it sounds! From the moment you walk in you get that “Yes!” feeling. With an array of vintage and modern video games available, multiple options for pinball, several beers on tap, and just walking distance from many of the good restaurants West Asheville is known for, it’s easy to see how you could kill a few hours here (or all day…ask me how I know). Pay for your wristband and play all day! The games are covered by your wristband fee and there is no additional charge per game. They are open from noon until 2am 7 days a week, so any time is a great time!
Battery Park Book exchange and champagne Bar - Relaxation at it’s finest
Books and wine, need I say more? The Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne bar offers a relaxing indoor space where you can cozy up and get lost in a novel or lost in a conversation with friends! Also enjoy live jazz music on the weekends on their outdoor patio (dog friendly)! Their used book selection is always changing, but thing that remains the same is the atmosphere. If you’re looking for a laid back, sophisticated, with hint of indulgence while your visiting Asheville, this is your place!
Downtown Asheville - Meet the city!
While our downtown is small in comparison to major metropolitan areas like Charlotte or Atlanta, it offers a little something for everyone especially on the weekends! You may be lucky enough to catch Abby the Spoon Lady jamming on the streets with some local blue grass artists. Recharge with some coffee and chocolate a French Broad Chocolate Lounge! Explore many of the local shops or swing by the Asheville Art Museum! If you happen to be in town on a Friday April through October, be sure to swing by Pritchard Park and check out the Drum Circle in downtown Asheville! Need a laugh? Hop of the Lazoom Comedy Tour and enjoy a laugh while exploring all around downtown! After all of this, no doubt you will have worked up an appetite, which conveniently brings us to our next section!
I’ve never seen a top restaurant list for Asheville that didn’t include Chai Pani and I have to say we wholeheartedly agree! To be completely honest, we’re probably a little biased but this is hands down our favorite restaurant in WNC! Any time we’re downtown, whether around lunch or dinner time, it’s almost impossible for us not to go because is there ever a bad time for Indian street food? Chai Pani is a true culinary delight! They were even rated in the top 10 restaurants in the US by The Huffington Post! Trust us, if you choose to go to Chain Pani, your tastebuds will thank you later! Our personal favorites are the Butter Chicken Talli and the Sloppy Jai!
Pack’s Tavern is a staple in the downtown Asheville scene for spots to grub! If you’re looking for a great all around restaurant that will appeal to everyone, Pack’s is always a go to! It’s conveniently located in downtown right next to Pack Square Park. You can enjoy a nice walk right after dinner or stay late and watch the rest of the game! Pack’s has a little something for everybody. Great atmosphere, local brews on tap, and open late. If you’re craving a burger, you can’t go wrong with the Mt. Mitchell!
If you’re looking to keep things on the lighter side with an array of options that will appeal to even the most health conscious foodies, then you have to check out Green Sage! With 4 convenient locations to choose from in the Asheville area, you’re never too far away. Over the years we’ve grown to love the Appalachian Trail breakfast, Yogi Curry bowl, and the almond butter brownie. If you want to indulge without any of the guilt, we recommend checking out Green Sage Cafe!
Ask any local about their favorite restaurants in the area and you’re almost guaranteed to hear the name Nine Mile. Their menu is Caribbean inspired, vegetarian friendly, and full of bold flavors! We’re glad we don’t live closer because if we did, we would probably give them all of our money, it’s that good! Any time we ever need a little spice in our culinary lives, this is one of our go to spots and you should totally check it out while you’re in town!
Sunny Point Cafe
If you’re a breakfast person like me, then you have come to the holy grail! Much like Chai Pani, I doubt there’s a ‘top restaurant’ list for this area that exists that doesn’t mention Sunny Point Cafe. Good Morning America rated their Huevos Rancheros as one of four finalists in the entire nation for the best breakfast challenge. I’ve had it, it’s that good! In fact, it would be a challenge to find anything on their menu that isn’t one of the best (blank) you’ve ever had. This place is popular among visitors and locals alike so it’s not uncommon for the waiting list to last an hour or more in our experience. You would think this wait would deter people, but it’s full from open to close every day! If you’re willing to wake up early during your travels or willing to wait, do it, you will not find a better breakfast in the entire area!
Relatively new (as of this writing) on the already amazing culinary scene in Asheville is Rosabees! Their restaurant is a blend of savory hawaiian cuisine and Asheville sweets! We heard about their grand opening through a friend after seeing the menu we had to check this place out! Not only did they blow our expectations out of the water, we’ve been back twice since! Their dishes are creative, their presentations beautiful, and their desserts are the perfect way to cap off any romantic evening! Did we mention the peanubutter whiskey? Our personal favorite is the Synergetic Smores! If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, delicious, and great atmosphere, definitely check out Rosabees while you’re in town!
We hope this list can serve as a helpful guide as you explore the area! Feel free to share it with family and friends who may be visiting the area as well! If you’re having a large group come into town for your wedding, be sure to check a few of these off your list or pass it along to them if they are looking for things to do! If you need more ideas, just hit us up! We’re always happy to help! Thanks as always for following along!
Joe and Jenny