RTX Weekend Escape: Asheville, North Carolina

The appeal of Asheville is this small town of nearly 100,000 punches well above its weight in terms of delicious and local farm-to-table food offerings, authentic arts, and southern Appalachian culture while being surrounded by more than a million acres of some of the most beautiful mountainous wilderness east of the Mississippi. Spend the afternoon at Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi, then find yourself dining downtown an hour later enjoying delectable cuisine and a fine wine. Welcome to Asheville!


Downtown Asheville

Day 1


Looking Glass Falls

Let’s split day one into a crash course of the beautiful hiking of the area, and the authentic downtown. Fuel up with a southern breakfast at Homegrown, then head south on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to mile marker 420. You really could make a day of this, stopping at overlooks and hikes along the way, but for now you’re looking for the Black Balsam Knob hike, a trek with phenomenal views and a rolling trail that’s over 6,000 feet in elevation. Pack a picnic and enjoy the views. Alternatively, if it’s cloudy, head to Brevard and hunt waterfalls and swimming holes- the powerful Looking Glass Falls is right off the road in Pisgah National Forest, and you can even swim in the chilly waters under the falls if it’s a hot day. Later, walk the compact Asheville downtown and hit the trendy south slope for a beer- we like Burial Beer Co. for their inventive brews, and Twin Leaf for their light yet potent Belgian style. Grab a bite at En La Calle, featuring authentic Mexican and a stocked bar. Don’t miss the Friday night drum circles at Pritchard Park, and end the night by catching the sunset over the mountains at SkyBar, which offers a great western view.


Pink Dog Creative in the River Arts District

Day 2

Today, venture out to nearby Barnardsville for a truly amazing experience. You may have gone ziplining before, but until you’ve done Navitat, you have no idea. These long and dramatic lines integrated into the dense forest and traversing truly huge chasms between mountains will take your breath away, while the guides educate you about the diverse ecosystem you’re immersed in. It’s a truly world class and unique experience that will leave you with a sense of awe and wonder. The longest zipline is nearly a mile long and starts in the canopy but then opens up across 350 feet above the forest floor below. It’s the closest thing you’ll come to flying. Afterward, satiate your hunger in adjacent Weaverville at eclectic Greek-inspired Stoney Knob or yummy Italian food at Glass Onion.


Hanging out at Navitat

Day 3

Start off with a couples massage downtown in the unique Asheville salt cave, with therapeutic negative ions to rejuvenate and recharge. Feeling calm? Head down to the River Arts District for an art stroll through 25 buildings featuring more than 200 local artists. Grab a beer at Wedge Brewing Company and BBQ at 12 Bones, a favorite haunt of President Obama. After, hop on the purple LaZoom tour bus for a hilarious city comedy tour. They even offer beer tours, haunted tours, and a kids comedy tour for families. For dinner, we like Red Ginger Dim Sum, Nine Mile Jamaican food, and Zambra tapas.

Getting There

Consistently voted one of the best regional airports in the country, Asheville Regional Airport serves five airlines and is located only 16 miles from downtown Asheville. Boasting a new parking deck, free wi-fi, a café with restaurant menu, tavern with local beer, art gallery and a mountain view, this airport is a pleasant way to arrive in western North Carolina.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. In his spare time he enjoys photography, astronomy, hiking, hanging out with his family and dog, and of course, traveling! His favorite RTX spots to visit are Orange Beach, Alabama, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, but he's visiting new places all the time. .


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