From its perch in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, N.C., has become a destination known for it dining, arts and music scenes, while maintaining its small town vibe. Asheville’s fascinating past and ever-evolving present is easily accessible from the Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown, where you may find yourself surrounded by a weekly drum circle or enjoying a meal by nationally known chef.
Food & Drink
Start the morning at Early Girl Eatery a classically Southern, farm-to-table restaurant known for its homemade biscuits. A great spot for lunch is Chai Pani, a restaurant celebrated for its innovative take on Indian street food. Fill your table with chaat, sharable street snacks like matchstick okra fries, chicken pakora (chicken seasoned with Kashmiri spices in a curried chickpea batter) and corn Bhel (roasted corn with cumin, cilantro, tomatoes and mint).
Dinner options include Gan Shan Station, where the rotating menu of Pan-Asian dishes include spicy-sweet Korean-style chicken wings sprinkled with sesame seeds, pork belly ramen served with a soft egg, scallions and sprouts and Koji-marinated beef with charred cabbage in a chili-garlic sauce. Start your evening or head for a nightcap at craft cocktail lounge Nightbell, where the libations include the Oh, Henry! — bourbon, Benedictine and ginger ale.
The best part about Asheville’s music scene is that you can both listen in and take part. You can practice your drumming skills at Skinny Beats Drum Shop and then participate in the Friday night drum circle in the outdoor amphitheater at Pritchard Park.
Electronic music fans will enjoy touring the Moog Music Factory, where Ashevillian and electronic music pioneer Bob Moog invented synthesizers that changed the sound of rock music. At the factory, you can play the gear and learn the science and engineering behind the Moog’s disinctive sound.
Located just outside of downtown, the River Arts District is the heart of Asheville’s creative spirit. Former mills and factories have been transformed into studios for more than 100 artists and makers working in nearly every medium from photography to illustration.
Besides finding a unique piece to take home, you can take drop-in classes and workshops at the Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts. Twice a year (on the third weekend in May and second weekend in November), the River Arts District hosts a Studio Stroll, where all the studios are open and a free trolley transports visitors throughout the area.
Asheville’s wealth of rich architectural styles including Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Victorian stems from its place in the early 20th century as a haven for innovators like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, as well as master architects like Richard Morris Hunt, who built the lavish Biltmore Estate for the Vanderbilt family in 1895. The main residence claims to be the largest privately-owned home in the U.S.; both the home and its sprawling grounds are open for tours.
Local company Asheville by Foot hosts a guided Asheville Insider walking tour of downtown, visiting the Basilica of St. Lawrence, City Hall, Grove Arcade and other architectural gems. To bring some of Asheville’s unique design aesthetic into your own home, visit the artists in the River Arts District that specialize in home decor and furnishings. Try Splurge Design for custom lighting and vintage furnishings, or Sittin’ Pretty for designer chairs and upholstered furniture.