It’s time for another favorite things post, and honestly, I can’t believe I haven’t featured Asheville yet.
Whenever I talk about Asheville, I often tell people that when my husband (then-boyfriend) and I were first contemplating a move to this state, Asheville was my main experience of North Carolina. We’d made probably a half-dozen trips to the area when I was young, and I’d always associated it with beautiful views, cooler weather, and good times. For whatever reason, I had two misconceptions about the similarities between Asheville and Raleigh. For one, I thought the climate would be about the same, and two, I thought they were close to each other! Oh, how wrong I was. The first summer we lived in Raleigh, it was one of the hottest on record with multiple days well over 100 degrees, and I found myself apologizing to my West coast boyfriend repeatedly for the mistake I’d made in convincing him to move here. And of course, with it being a four-hour drive from Raleigh to Asheville, it’s not exactly close.
Now, we’ve found plenty of reasons to appreciate Raleigh, but the truth is: I still love Asheville. (It might be my favorite; sorry, Raleigh!) We only get away there a handful of times a year, but we always enjoy every minute of it when we do!
So what are my favorite things? Well, first up is chocolate.
#1. French Broad Chocolate Lounge
I have had a lot of chocolate in my life, y’all. A lot. And I’ve been to my fair share of chocolate shops. But nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, compares to French Broad Chocolate Lounge. In my mind, they’ve perfected one of the earth’s most perfect foods — no small feat!
Because it is so delectable and rich, the liquid truffle is my favorite, and I can’t break out of ordering it. But from the looks of the bakery case, the other guests around me on our visits, and from the amount of love they have online — not to mention the long line you’ll likely wait in when you go — I feel confident proclaiming that anything they make is heavenly.
The main point: if you love chocolate, get to French Broad Chocolate Lounge as soon as possible.
#2. The Blue Ridge Parkway
The fame of the Parkway is greater than Asheville’s itself. I’m absolutely not the first to put it near the top of my list, and I won’t be the last.
The National Park Services calls it “America’s Favorite Drive” and with 469 miles of nonstop scenic views, it’s no wonder. The Parkway, which is also the longest linear park in the U.S., runs through North Carolina and Virginia, and offers many lookouts and trails. I’ve hiked Mount Pisgah and several other trails off the Parkway that runs close to Asheville. It seems like you can’t go wrong with any trail you choose; they all offer gorgeous vistas.
The Parkway’s main mountain range is the Blue Ridge, for which it’s named, which are a part of the Appalachians. It also goes through Shenandoah National Park with access to Skyline Drive. I haven’t seen the Virginia side of the Parkway, but I’ve seen most of the southern part of it, and it’s a can’t-miss part of any trip to Asheville.
#3. A foodie paradise — with everything from down home southern to vegan
Asheville’s food scene is one of the most diverse and exciting I’ve encountered outside of huge cities like New York or Seattle. There’s always something classic that’s being done with utmost attention to quality, and there’s always something innovative happening, too. No matter what kind of food you like — southern, farm to table, modern, ethnic, vegan — I almost guarantee they have it! I could probably devote a whole post to Asheville’s food scene, but to hit on just a few of my favorites:
- White Duck Taco
- Tupelo Honey Cafe
- For dessert: French Broad Chocolate Lounge (see above)
- For drinks: Wicked Weed Funkatorium and SkyBar
So if you want to play hard, take in a lot of gorgeous views, and then fill your tummy with delicious things at the end of the day, Asheville hits the spot. It’s wonderful at any time of year, and its mountainous location means it’s usually cooler, even in summer, but I love it best in the fall, when the trees are golden and stunning.