When fall starts to creep in, we like to plan trips to destinations that match the mood and the mountains never disappoint.
In 2019, my husband planned a surprise weekend getaway to Asheville and after staying in the city and venturing to The Blue Ridge Parkway for a few hikes, I knew we would be back.
In 2020, after being stuck inside for far too long, I planned an October trip dedicated to the Parkway alone. Then in 2021, I was in charge of my best friend’s bachelorette trip and Asheville was the perfect destination.
Between all of these trips, I’ve stumbled upon and saved all of my favorites in the city and along The Blue Ridge Parkway!
If you’re unfamiliar, The Blue Ridge Parkway is America’s longest linear park that runs for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, linking the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains.
There are five entrances to the Parkway in Asheville alone, so planning a weekend trip to experience both the city and the mountains is totally doable!
In this travel guide, we’ll dig into some of the best stays in the Asheville area that really bring the vibe, the best sips and snacks that we found in the city and of course the best sights along The Blue Ridge Parkway.
When traveling, I tend to prefer boutique hotels or AirBnb’s because they provide unique experiences throughout the entire stay that a traditional hotel typically doesn’t do.
Asheville doesn’t run short of the CUTEST cabins and cottages that really add to the fall vibe, so if you’re also an AirBnb fan, we’ve saved a few of our favorites HERE to help you find the perfect place for your trip!
If you’re already making the trip to Asheville, we highly recommend that you go ahead and plan to spend some time on The Blue Ridge Parkway while you’re there.
While the Parkway can be made into a whole trip by itself, you can also just spend a few hours doing a few hikes to soak in the fall fun – we’ve done both and each time we’ve loved it!
The easiest way to plan properly is to follow The Blue Ridge Parkway interactive map so you can decide how far out you want to drive if you plan to stay in Asheville the entire time.
If you decide to drive further from Asheville, a good stopping point is Linville, NC – a SUPER small town that at least provides some lodging and restaurants!
We personally stopped here on our Parkway trip and it worked out really well. After Linville, we stopped in Blowing Rock, NC before making it to our final destination of our trip, Boone, NC.
Blowing Rock and Boone are both really fun cities and we wish we could’ve spent more time in both places!
The Parkway hikes and sights we’d recommend that are closest to Asheville:
NOTE: depending on the time of year you’re visiting, certain parts of the Parkway may be closed. Be sure to check for any closures prior to driving to your hikes so you aren’t disappointed along the way – we learned this the hard way!
- Craggy Gardens
A popular destination located about 20 miles from downtown Asheville, Craggy Gardens offers a few different hikes where you can soak in the scenic views and is known for the beautiful rhododendrons during the summer.
Our hiking choice is the Craggy Pinnacle Trail (1.5 miles round trip) for a less strenuous mountain experience.
- Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower – (1.5 miles round trip)
Located about 45 minutes from Asheville, head south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to milepost 409.6 and park at the entrance of the Forest Service Road 450.
The gate will be closed, but walk around to the gravel road and start your hike! If you type “Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower” into your maps, it should lead you straight there with no issues.
- Devil’s Courthouse – (.9 miles round trip)
A short but steep hike located about an hour outside of Asheville, the Devil’s Courthouse offers panoramic scenic views of the mountains. This one will be designated with a clear sign and parking lot.
Other hikes and sights along the Parkway drive:
- Chestoa View Overlook – an observation deck located in Linville, NC that’s perfect for snapping a picture!
- Lost Cove Cliffs – another great overlook in Linville if you aren’t keen on the whole hiking thing
- Beacon Heights – after hiking just under a mile, you’re approach the top that’s covered in huge rocks where you can sit and take in the scenery
- Grandfather Mountain – a very popular destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway complete with a photo-worthy swinging bridge, hikes and even restaurants. Due to the popularity of this spot, reservations are required – book yours here!
- Linville Falls – dubbed as the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina, Linville Falls offers five viewpoints via two different trails and is a must see if you’re in the area
Asheville is known for its breweries and there’s absolutely no way you could possibly hit them all in one trip. Our favorites include:
- Hi-Wire – they have 2 locations and both are great
- Wicked Weed Funkatorium – if you love a sour beer, this place is for you
- New Belgium Brewing – due to the popularity, this place is massive and usually very busy. It’s still a great experience and is great for groups!
- Burial Beer Co – lots of outside seating, perfect for a sunny day
- Green Man –
- Wedge Brewing Company – really cool atmosphere as it is located in an old warehouse. Outside seating complete with on-site food trucks.
- Biscuit Head – an absolute can’t miss when in Asheville. The wait is worth it!
- Social Lounge – go for brunch and ask for the rooftop!
- White Duck Taco Shop – with 2 different Asheville locations, this taco shop serves up funky flavors that are perfect for lunch
- Buxton Hall BBQ – an Asheville go to that serves up a taste of the south that is sure to impress
- Tupelo Honey – although Tupelo is a chain and we try to stray away from those on trips, it’s always a hit and is a great choice for a less expensive dinner while in Asheville
- The Admiral – a highly recommended Asheville favorite with a rotating menu
- Benne on Eagle – a great date night option with a short dinner menu paired with great cocktails
- Rhubarb – a cool farm to table food spot
- Curate – a small eatery in downtown Asheville serving tapas and drinks
- French Broad Chocolate Lounge – stop here after dinner to grab delicious ice cream and chocolates 🍫
- Double D’s Coffee Bus – the coolest coffee experience in all of Asheville ☕️
As always, you can bet that we’ll scope out a few photo ops on any given trip and Asheville is no different. The city is filled with murals and art just waiting for you to snap a pic.
- Asheville Silo in the River Arts District: 104 West Haywood Street, Asheville
- Dolly Parton Mural: 785 Haywood Road
- Asheville Mural: 507 Haywood Road
In addition to the murals and fun art in the city, some of the best photo ops are along The Blue Ridge Parkway.
The scenery is seriously to die for (especially if you plan things right for peak fall season), so pick a hike to do or an overlook to visit from our list above and you’ll have the best of both worlds during your trip.
Here’s to living your best fall life! 🍂