Make the most of your next three-day weekend by exploring North Carolina’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. This outdoor-lover’s mecca and cool cultural hub offers beautiful views year-round, delicious food, tons of history, live music, and miles upon miles of mountain exploration. Not sure how to squeeze it all in? This itinerary will help you discover some of the region’s best attractions and achieve the ultimate Blue Ridge Mountain experience.
Day One – Explore Asheville and Biltmore
With a downtown full of historic Art Deco buildings, hidden-gem music venues, craft beer and delicious restaurants, you’ll quickly learn why Asheville, an eclectic mountain town, has beckoned travelers to enjoy its relaxed bohemian vibe for years.
Start your journey with a visit to America’s largest private home. Biltmore, a 178,000-square-foot chateaux built by George W. Vanderbilt in 1889, is a testament to the opulence of the Gilded Age. The expansive estate offers visitors the chance to tour the home, stroll through the massive gardens designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and explore the grounds by foot, bike, or on horseback. The estate is also home to the most visited winery in the country, which you can visit. The winery tour includes free samples or you can upgrade to a paid tasting to try their selection of bubbly.
After you’ve explored all Biltmore has to offer, head over to Historic Biltmore Village located just outside the gates of Biltmore. Originally modeled after a small English village it’s now home to beautiful art galleries, shopping, and dining.
In the afternoon, head back to downtown Asheville to explore the multitude of independent shops, farm-to-fork restaurants, and craft breweries. Enjoy the many lively street performances, walk along the Urban Trail to learn about Asheville’s history, and participate in one of the many guided tours – there’s a comedy bus, a literary tour, an architecture tour, a rooftop bar tour – the list goes on.
Be sure to save room for dinner and immerse yourself in Asheville’s foodie scene with offerings from grab-and-go shwarma to slow-cooked Southern cuisine or a flight of wine at the Grove Arcade, home to some of Asheville’s finest restaurants, wine bars, and other dining options. Afterwards you can dance the night away at a street festival, nightclub, or on Friday nights during the warmer months at the drum circle in Pritchard Park.
Day Two – The Blue Ridge Parkway
No trip to the mountains is complete without a hike to take in the area’s beautiful scenery. Head north of Asheville to Mitchell County and then hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a lovely ride up to Mount Mitchell State Park, which at 6,684 feet boasts the highest peak east of the Mississippi. You can grab a bite at the on-site restaurant before continuing your journey south on the Parkway to Craggy Gardens. The Craggy Gardens Visitor Center is located at mile post 364.4, with the spur to the trails and picnic area at mile post 367.6. Take a short hike up Craggy Pinnacle trail and discover a stunning 360-view of endless peaks and forested slopes.
Keep heading south and you’ll find the Folk Art Center. This is definitely worth a visit to find beautiful handmade crafts from the Southern Highland Craft Guild. As you continue your drive, you’ll find the “Peak of the Parkway” at Pisgah Inn offers panoramic views and the perfect picnic spot at Milepost 408.6. There’s also a restaurant on site. As you continue your journey through the Pisgah National Forest turn off at the US-276 intersections and head south to visit the Cradle of Forestry, a 6,500-acre heritage site and learn about the beginnings of scientific forestry in America.
Continue down 276 until you reach Brevard, located in Transylvania County, famous for its 250 waterfalls throughout the region. Drive over to Looking Glass Falls, one of the most popular and spectacular waterfalls in the state and one of the most accessible roadside waterfalls. For a fun evening, downtown Brevard offers plenty of incredible dining options and unique boutiques, antiques and many more shopping options for everyone in the family.
Day Three – Explore The Foothills
Begin your day just relaxing and enjoy the slower pace of downtown Black Mountain, located just east of Asheville. Hang out on one of the many rocking chairs around town and take in the lovely scenic views. With plenty of local independent shops and assorted restaurants, galleries and breweries, this walkable and historic town will be the perfect place to make yourself at home and breath in the mountain air.
Hop in your car and head south to spend some time at the Hickory Nut Gap Farm. Nestled in the rolling foothills, this is a fun place to visit with the kids. Just down the road Looking Glass Creamery has a store where you can purchase their award-winning cheeses. Be sure to pack up your cooler and take home some local cheeses, meads, hand-made sausages and ham.
A short, scenic ride down the road, discover the quant mountain towns of Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. For lunch, find out what the locals love about the Tree Tops Restaurant at the Lodge at Lake Lure. The beautiful views and hometown hospitality of Lake Lure is a sanctuary for cozy vibes.
Close out your trip where all the best of the mountains are brought together in one place at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. With unique hiking trails for all levels, one of the highest waterfalls in the East, a 26-story elevator built inside the mountain, and some really cool animals, Chimney Rock is a hidden treasure of Appalachian beauty and adventure waiting just for you.