Is Asheville the new Portland? 9 great culinary and brew experiences

Cozy up at the Double Decker Bus Coffee House and imagine you’re worlds away with a cup of coffee and a pastry. (WTOP/Elizabeth Rowe)

WASHINGTON — Looking for a quick weekend trip but exhausting all the typical go-to’s? Asheville is only a hop, skip and a jump with plenty of diverse eats, small town brews and all without the big city price tag. Take a dive into one of North Carolina’s most up and coming destinations.

Perched high in the mountains, crunchy as all get out and boasting more breweries per capita than any U.S. city, you can see why someone might mistake Asheville, North Carolina, with the Pacific Northwest.

With all there is to do and see, a weekend is hardly enough time. So just do what Asheville natives do best: judge it by the quality of the beer and the diversity of decent, well-priced food options.

Asheville, it should be noted, is also known for its fall foliage and scenic parkways, hikes and views. Just driving through, you can see what all the fuss is about, Fall is the perfect time of year to explore and capture picturesque shots of the trees on fire with hues of vivid yellow, bright orange and smoky red. You’ll need at least two days to take it all in.


Average temperature (November — December): Peak season in Asheville is late August into early November (when the foliage is at its peak and temperatures range from the mid 50s to upper 70s). Planning in advance is always a good idea, because things book up quickly. Dress in layers, and don’t forget to pack rain gear in preparation for the occasional shower. Although Asheville doesn’t see a ton of snow, it does tend to get windy and chilly up in the mountains.

The averages this time of year are …

  • November average low: 38 degrees
  • November average high: 58 degrees
  • December average low: 30 degrees
  • December average high: 49 degrees
Getting there

Asheville has a small airport, so flying direct means it will probably be more expensive. But if you are looking to rent a car or have friends to visit in the area, try flying into Charlotte instead, about an hour and 45 minutes outside of Asheville. BWI Marshall Airport typically has the cheapest flight options.

Flying direct from BWI to Charlotte: Check out JustFly.com, Kayak.com, Expedia.com, CheapOAir.com and FlightHub.com. Ticket prices were as low as $164 starting Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 24—26.

Flying direct from BWI to Asheville: Check out CheapOAir.com, JustFly.com, Orbitz.com, FlightHub.com and OneTravel.com. Allegiant Air also provides non-stop, affordable services between BWI and Asheville. Tickets prices were as low as $235 starting Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 24—26.

Driving: From D.C. to Asheville, it’s a 472-mile, roughly 7 1/2-hour drive.

Average gas prices:

  • Virginia: $2.28/gallon
  • D.C.: $4.15/gallon
  • Maryland: $1.97/gallon
  • North Carolina: $2.33/gallon

To give you an idea of how much gas you’ll need, you would need to fill up a 17.2-gallon tank one and a half times for the round trip. It would cost on average about $68, give or take, to drive there and back.

(In addition to airport car rentals in Asheville and Charlotte, Uber, Lyft and taxis are available as well.)

Select Airbnb options
Hotels under $100
Boutique hotels
  • The Windsor offers suites that can accommodate up to four people; two of the suites can accommodate six. Each suite includes flat-screen TV in both the family room and bedroom and a fully functional kitchen, as well as Wi-Fi, pet accommodations, wheelchair accessibility, etc.
  • Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville rooms feature Wi-Fi access, pillow-top mattresses, among other amenities.
  • The Biltmore offers moderate to luxury options: The Village Hotel has casual style with retail and dining options. The Inn on Biltmore Estate features four-star elegance and personalized service. And the Cottage on Biltmore Estate has unique historic cottages featuring spa service, spaciousness and privacy.
  • AC Hotel Asheville Downtown. Home to Capella on 9 Serving up locally curated dishes, handcrafted cocktails and mountain views. Each room comes with Wi-Fi and upscale amenities.
Food and drink

There’s no shortage of good food and drink in the area. See the gallery below for some of Asheville’s best.

Other notable destinations include …

Asheville Brewing Company: Why not visit Asheville’s namesake brewery, especially when it welcomes dogs, serves pizza and (of course) beer? And surprise! It’s also a theater. Check out their calendar for the list of “dine-in” movies.

Twin Leaf: A warehouse-turned-cozy-adult-play-area, this lofty brewery is the perfect way to spend the day. Also dog friendly, it’s full of board games, table games and even ones that are larger than life. Its atmosphere, great beer and DJ made for one heck of a night.

Bens Tune Up: As our gracious hosts put it, “This place is special.” And boy, is it ever. The quirky marriage of a wannabe automotive shop, beer garden and Southern-style tiki bar, Ben’s Tune Up doesn’t quite know what it wants to be when it grows up, but that’s OK.

Side note: At Tune Up, a man was kicked out for drinking the bouncer’s herbal tea.


If you’re planning to visit Asheville this year, don’t miss your chance to check out the 25th annual National Gingerbread House Competition and Display, the nearly 500,000 lights covering 434, The Biltmore for the holidays — and much more.

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