Nestled in the bluffs and buttes outside the Smoky Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina has a reputation for good music, tangy barbecue and enough beer for a weary rider and his horse. From Tampa International to Asheville Regional Airport, most carriers will get you there in under two hours.
Looking for a spot to stay? Check these out:
It will give you Steppenwolf Black Forest visions, but behind all the cuckoo clocks and stag antlers is a hospitable staff and on-site sauna – be advised, this is a splurgier option if you will.
Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown
This chain is always reliable for cleanliness and modern architecture – I love a hotel with the fruit in the water thing! The location in Asheville does not disappoint and puts you in the heart of it all.
Ranked #16 on TripAdvisor, most Tampa folk might be familiar with Aloft thanks to their location in our hometown downtown. This Carolina cousin is also set in the heart of downtown Asheville.
How to make the most of day one
After checking in, you should grab a snack and try to head to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. The underappreciated author put Asheville on the map with American classics like “Look Homeward, Angel” and “You Can’t Go Home Again”. The first book caused a scandal in Asheville and the book was banned from the public library for some time.
If you time it just right, on Fridays you can leave the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and head to Pritchard Park for the evening drum circle. The crowd gathers slowly and the drumming builds into a fever pitch and pretty soon it seems like young and old are dancing on the bricks and stairs and sidewalks.
After you got a little rhythm in your derby shoes, step over to either the White Duck Taco Shop for the world famous watermelon sangria and Thai peanut tacos or if you are feeling fancy-free skip across the street to Tupelo Honey Cafe for something a little richer and buttery like the honey dusted fried chicken or the famous fried green tomatoes. They also have a ridiculous spread for brunch, so feel free to eat and make reservations for the next day.
Up and at ’em, you need doughnuts on day two
Hole Doughnuts is making fresh doughnuts from scratch every day. The glazed doughnuts will swiftly make you forget about all the dense doughnuts you have ever eaten in your life. Honestly, you’ll probably feel some kind of way about it.
Then, take a walk through the River Arts District where you can walk through artist studios and catch painters in the act.
They are a little light on the hooch in this part of town, so head back downtown for a Banana Bluth cocktail at The Social Lounge off Broadway Avenue. THERE IS ALWAYS MONEY IN THE BANANA STAND. Or head over to Buxton Hall Barbecue for the house slushie of bourbon and Cheerwine. Hey, you might wanna stay and eat some legit North Carolina ‘Q. Make sure to get some pimento cheese and the mussels cooked under the pig while you’re at it.
Finish your day along the French Broad River and wade over to the Broad River Brewery. Fun fact: it’s one of the oldest breweries in the city. The place is a great hangout with live music and, of course, multiple craft brews on tap.
Bottom line Tampeños, Asheville is waiting with a beer in hand for your arrival, give ’em a shout.