5 Things to Love about Asheville in the Off Season
A few weeks ago, Lonely Planet named Asheville the #1 place to visit in 2017. We couldn’t agree more. It’s hard not to fall in love with the misty mountain mornings, the fiddle music drifting through the streets from the busker playing on the corner, and the endless variety of local beers to sample at each fun new brewery that pops up. The secret is out and people have been flocking to Asheville, turning our once sleepy mountain town into a pretty busy place in the heat of the summer.
But after the holidays something magical happens—Asheville turns back into the quiet small mountain town we first fell in love with. For just a couple of months, tourism takes a deep breath, and locals once again sit in quiet coffee shops across from people we kinda recognize. Do we know her from Tuesday morning yoga? Or maybe she was my daughter’s art teacher?
Suddenly, you can get a last minute reservation at Curate or stroll right into the Sunny Point at 9am and be cracking open a steaming angel biscuit a couple minutes later. If you are lucky enough to be in our town during the off season, you will enjoy smaller crowds and a low key local vibe when you belly up to the bar at Urban Orchard to sample the new cider. The weather is mild for the cold months, although the mountains circling downtown are often dusted with a beautiful blanket of snow. It is a truly wonderful time to experience Asheville.
So welcome to our small town—you’re a local now! Here are a few suggestions for enjoying your winter visit:
- Most people visit the famous Biltmore Estate during the holidays to see the twinkling Christmas lights or in the Spring to see the tulips blooming. While touring the Estate during these times is undoubtably beautiful, you will most certainly be joined by many jostling selfie-taking tourists. But visit this historic house in the winter, and it will seem like you have the Estate all to yourself. Tickets are the cheapest in the off season—only $40 a person. We suggest you take advantage of the discount and book a special tour. One tour takes you to the rooftop with amazing views of the surrounding mountains and unique architecture. The other takes you into the basement where you will get an insiders peek at the servant quarters and see what it takes to make this amazing house run everyday. Each special tour costs an additional $19.
- Sometimes all you want to do on a chilly winters day is savor a cup of coffee. Asheville is filled with dozens of delicious coffee shops and local roasters, but one of our favorites is just three short blocks from the inn. Bundle up and take the quick walk down the street to the Liberty House Coffee Shop. This cozy cafe is the perfect place to sip their delicious honey lavender latte while catching up with a friend. Or bring a favorite novel and spend a quiet few hours watching the snowflakes fall out the window.
- Asheville is a wonderful place to shop for local art but sometimes the cold weather just won’t cooperate for a walk downtown. The Screen Door in Biltmore Village is the answer. This small warehouse is filled with a delightful variety of antiques, local art, and vintage finds. You could easily spend an hour wandering through each individually curated booth laughing over 80’s Garfield mugs or picking out handcrafted scarves. Before you leave, make sure to check out the discount bookstore next door. It is a great place to browse $10 cookbooks or pick up last years “it” novel that you missed.
- Go outdoors! This might come as a surprise, but even in the depths of winter, you will find many Ashevillians still braving the cold to get out in nature. The NC Arboretum is a beautiful place for a quick invigorating hike. It might seem crazy, but the quiet calm of the winter woods can be something magical. We promise you will emerge with red rosy cheeks and a sparkle in your eye!
- When its cold outside, we all crave a cozy place for dinner where we can linger over a glass of wine and savor some hearty comfort food. Bouchon, an Asheville institution, is the perfect choice for a winter meal. This little French bistro doesn’t take reservations, which makes it a difficult spot to get into during the summer months. Go early, order a bottle of wine and plan to spend a few hours enjoying this charmingly intimate dining room. We recommend that you start by splitting an order of their famous mussels which comes with a side of delicious herb frites. There are several tasty flavor options but we are partial to the Paris Born Redneck (PBR) flavor which is steamed in Pabst Blue Ribbon and finished with a swirl of local Lusty Monk mustard. For an entree chose between the classic steak au poivre or the boeuf bourguignon and finish with a rich chocolate mousse for dessert. Your friends might have to roll you to your car, but we promise you won’t be disappointed.