Reasons I love Asheville: Vegan things. Art. Good vibes. Good times. Hippie life. Food. I have heard it referred to as East Coast Portland.
Exploring downtown is great, everything is pretty easy to walk to. (Uber and Lyft are abundant as well as public transit) If you aren’t used to walking, come prepared and wear comfortable shoes as some parts are a bit hilly. There is an abundance of things to do but it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming big city. It has a great balance of city versus nature as it is nestled in the mountains. I love all of their microbreweries and the convenience with which you can walk between them. Art studios, cool shops and great restaurants. There are lots of live music venues and even some sake, kombucha and wine offerings.
Abeja’s Went here for breakfast and they had a couple of vegan options. I went with the vegan platter and wasn’t really impressed. My friend got the vegan burrito and really enjoyed it.
Bean An all-vegan restaurant. It was my first time trying jackfruit (taco form) and I absolutely loved it! I got a side of collard greens and also kale. The way that they had cooked the collard greens was outstanding, I seriously licked the bowl. I tried a bite of their Reuben which was very yummy (but I have to say I prefer the one at Laughing Seed) I also tried their homemade ranch dressing which was thick and delicious. They have a ton of options and I definitely want to try it again sometime.
Early Girl Eatery This is near Laughing Seed (one of my faves), it looks really cramped when you walk inside but it opens into a larger dining area. Not a vegan restaurant but they do have vegan options, I went with the granola for breakfast and it was very filling and yummy. I remember seeing some vegan lunch options as well. Great staff, free coffee while you are waiting to be seated for breakfast… Perfect for Sunday morning as most other restaurants are closed or open late for brunch.
Laughing Seed Café* Located in my favorite little corner of downtown. Love the front patio space for a nice day. They have a lot of vegan options and tons of vegetarian options that can easily be made vegan and I also highly recommend their brunch menu. Vegan biscuits and gravy? To die for! Their ginger dressing is amazing too. I also have had their raw bowl and it is BOMB. They make their own kraut and it is super yummy. I have had a bite of their version of the vegan Reuben featuring Daiya cheese and it was very tasty. Next time I want to try one of their smoothies because they always look so good coming to other tables.
Mojo’s Fun little spot downtown! Very laid back and chill. Great for music as well. I wish I would have checked out their Sunday brunch as it seems like it has a big draw. As we went Sunday evening they were out of a lot of menu items but they made it work for us. Vegan friendly. The burgers are highly recommended by meat eaters as they are locally sourced etc.
Nectar* GOOD LORD. I love this place. It is not centrally located to downtown but is accessible and has plenty of parking. There is a yoga studio upstairs. They have awesome breakfast and lunch options. LOVE their vegan sloppy joe. But my favorite is definitely their smoothies, juices and raw granola. I dream about this raw granola ya’ll. I think my favorite smoothie is their maca chai or the berry. All good though depending on your mood! The vibe inside is on point, so much seating. The bar top is great. The guy that runs it is super friendly. Okay, okay I am going to stop gushing but seriously just go here and eat all of the food. And get some juice to go!
Plant (note that they are only open for dinner service, we kept trying to go at odd times) More of an upscale vegan eatery. I had the ‘cheese’ plate and the fried plantains and my friend had the Portobello steak. I know there are vegan cheese products on the market, but where I live they aren’t readily available and I generally try to avoid buying these replacement products. So for this reason, I absolutely LOVED this cheese plate. It was indulgent in all of the ways that I needed it to be. The ambiance inside is great, perfect for date night. Not overly impressed with the options but still a great little spot. It isn’t downtown but they have plenty of parking.
Vortex Donuts* Vegan donuts. Delicious. Great staff. Cool space. Go. I think my favorite is the blueberry compote donut or the plain jane vanilla glazed donut. Drooling thinking about these guys. Okay but really, they have a ton of non-vegan donut options all of the time, they don’t do a full stock of vegan donuts like they do the regular so you might want to call ahead and make sure some crazy Instagram lady didn’t buy all they had left. (who does that!? :P)
White duck taco If you do go here I definitely recommend eating in the courtyard out back. They usually have some local beer on tap and you can veganize any of their taco options by substituting tofu and eliminating cheese if need be. Very accommodating. I went for the Thai peanut taco with tofu and it was very delicious and fresh. I also had the Banh Me and wasn’t super impressed but it was still a fun little taco. Great chips and salsa. Check it out for lunch or for a quick snack.
Dobra Tea Cozy and bohemian inside, everything you would want a tea bar to be. You find a spot either at the window bar, tables or cushioned seating and when you are ready to order, ring your bell for service! I loved that everything is served in various pots and cups rather than all matching. I love that eclectic feeling. This was a great alternative if you aren’t into, or are tired of, the bar scene. They also have cookies and those types of little bites, I didn't try any so I can't speak for the taste!
Thirsty Monk is always a fun atmosphere – check out upstairs and downstairs too for a different vibe than the main floor!
Go down around Asheville Brewing Company and do the whole walking tour of all the microbreweries. If you love beer, you won’t regret it! So fun. There are plenty of little maps to show all of the locations and they are all super close together so no worries about driving between them.
Battery Park Book Exchange is located inside of the Grove Arcade. The building itself is amazing, I absolutely love the architecture. There is a used bookstore inside that also doubles as a wine and champagne bar. (they also have coffee and bagels so please don’t miss out on this cool spot just because you don’t want to go for alcohol etc. go any time they are open!) This is literally the place of my dreams. There are so many nooks and crannies to snuggle up in with a book, a loved one and a glass of your choice or just to spend some time browsing for a good read. My new obsession is the champagne cocktail they have created based on Hemingway’s favorite drink. They give you your receipt inside of a children’s book when you close your tab, how cute is that!? (we got Dumbo! :P) If you are a romantic and/or a bibliophile, this is a MUST.
River Arts District This part of town is being developed and is up and coming and possibly my favorite part of Asheville. Definitely check out all of the art studios (if that is your jam) and the amazing mural work. Free and fun. I can get lost in looking at art so for me this is great. Next time I go down I definitely want to check out Wedge which is a brewery they are working on opening down there and it looks like an awesome spot. Lots of outdoor seating. Love finding excuses to visit again ;)
Asheville Yoga Center Best place to drop in for a class. The staff is helpful and understanding. They have their list online so you can either sign up that way or just go in person and pay. I did the latter and it was easy and hassle free. DO THE YOGA!
Outdoors SO much room for activities! If yoga isn’t your thing or it’s just too pretty to be inside the studio, get out in the woods. Go to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center and have a talk with a ranger. Let them know how long you are wanting to go out for or what you are wanting to see and they will point you in the right direction. Or you can just drive along the parkway and enjoy the views and overlooks along the way! We went up to Craggy Gardens and then veered down to Douglas Falls – a little bit gnarly of a hike so I would recommend better shoes than the ones I wore but totes worth it.