Between its live music scene and close proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville – the largest city in Western North Carolina – is an underrated destination for travelers seeking a well-rounded vacation. It also happens to be one of the top cities for beer brewing in the South, according to a concierge at the Haywood Park Hotel who pointed us in the direction of several can’t-miss local establishments.
It’s a brewery, bar, and theater all rolled into one; the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company is located downtown and serves up ten house-brewed beers, many with unique names such Houdini ESB, Shiva IPA, and Rocket Girl Wheat. The Company also has a 150 seat theater on-site showing films for $3 and their kitchen serves up popular gourmet pizza.
This Asheville music venue been named by Rolling Stone as one of the top music clubs in the country. The Orange Peel has played host to famous acts such as Bob Dylan, The Flaming Lips, Ben Harper, Blondie, Sonic Youth, and Smashing Pumpkins in an intimate space that holds less than 1000 people.
Centered in downtown Asheville is the River Arts District, made up of several bustling blocks of shopping and dining. After browsing through some of the boutiques and stores for locally-made handicrafts and artwork, try the Frogbar at the upscale Flying Frog Cafe for cocktails and cafe fare. If you’re looking to stick to Asheville’s beer scene, try the Bier Garden – located right next to the Haywood Park Hotel. They have over 200 ales, lagers, stouts and more available on tap or bottled from around the world as well as from local breweries.
Just because Asheville sits in heart of the Blue Ridge Appalachia doesn’t mean you can’t live it up with a night out on the town. Check out Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge for their flavorful alcohol infusions and bottle service; their lounge is reservation only for larger parties, but it’s the place to go before you hit the dance floor. Club 828 is one of Asheville’s most popular dance and music venues, featuring two levels with DJs from as far as Miami, San Diego, or even Australia coming into spin.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a visit to North Carolina with barbecue. Ed Boudreaux’s Bayou BBQ is an Blue Ridge institution with an excellent sauce bar for their brisket and sandwiches, but they also have a full-service bar with over 100 microbrews, imports, and high-gravity beers on hand.