Why Asheville should be at the top of your travel list right now
MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.
Resuming the journey in our new COVID-19 world can be uncomfortable. Ever-changing guidelines make it difficult to plan well in advance and know what will feel safe. But after long confinements and a year of isolation, I don’t think I’m the only one who wants to go for the weekend.
The key is to choose a location that is conducive to a lot of time spent outdoors, and a destination where you won’t feel the need to check outside seating availability at every restaurant you think you want to visit.
New to The Points Guy? Want to learn more about credit card points and miles? Sign up for our daily newsletter.
That’s why Asheville, North Carolina, was my choice when it came time to finally hit the road. Asheville is known for two things: its proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains and its high concentration of breweries. In other words: space!
I spent a recent weekend in Asheville and thought about how to make the most of my vacation there no matter how comfortable you are around COVID-19.
Breweries are a spacious refuge for non-planners
Breweries across the country are known for one thing (other than their beer, that is) – their size. Asheville Breweries take advantage of their stunning natural surroundings by offering spacious indoor and outdoor spaces, fully equipped with fans and umbrellas in the summer and heaters in the winter – the perfect option for travelers who want a flexible itinerary that does not no reservations required.
All of the cult venues in Asheville, like Wicked Weed, Burial, and Green Man, have plenty of outdoor tables, and many of them are kid-friendly, making them perfect for families. I had a lovely few hours at the New Belgium brewery, which has one of the largest properties in Asheville, with a terrace overlooking the French Broad River and a large playground for fun with the kids and dogs. Another favorite is Wedge Brewing Company, which has two locations in Asheville, both with plenty of outdoor seating.
If you’re looking to do a beer tasting weekend, you’ll have no problem doing so without ever having to book in advance or compromise on space.
There are plenty of restaurants to go around
Video: South Carolina’s 10 Best Resort Hotels (Travel + Leisure)
Click to enlarge
Asheville has tons of amazing restaurants, but many of them have relatively limited outdoor seating if that’s what you’re looking for, and book early, especially considering the number of visitors who descend into the city each day. weekend.
For critically acclaimed restaurants like Katie Button’s Spanish tapas restaurant Curate, or new American favorite Rhubarb, you’ll definitely need to make a reservation in advance. The same applies to Benne on Eagle, a restaurant celebrating Appalachian cuisine that has had a lot of press in recent years.
If you’re too late to snag one of those hot reservations, check out places like Chai Pani, a small space serving Indian street food in the Battery Park neighborhood with several outdoor tables, or Jettie Rae’s Oyster. House, a newcomer with tons of outdoor space and a menu that ranges from oyster shooters to fish and chips.
local hosting comes with perks
For optimal social distancing, Airbnb is of course a good idea. But if you’re looking for a little more luxury, consider one of the boutique hotels in and around Asheville.
Related: Coronavirus Tourism Done Right: A Visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC
The 1900 Inn on Montford has fewer rooms than some downtown hotel chains, and the wraparound porch is perfect for having breakfast or a nightcap in a lovely outdoor space. A little further out of town, the Old Marshall Jail offers spacious rooms on the banks of the French Broad River. Their outdoor patio and back patio, which are right next to the train tracks – a huge hit with the kids – are perfect for relaxing before heading out on an adventure in the mountains.
outdoor activities abound
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is always amazing. The North Carolina Arboretum is right next to the boardwalk at kilometer 393, so it’s easy to combine the two into a full day of outdoor activities. The Arboretum, which spans over 400 acres, is large enough to feel spacious even on the busiest weekends.
Beyond the arboretum is the Pisgah National Forest, which has hundreds of miles of marked trails for hiking, biking and even horseback riding. The options are so many that it can be overwhelming. (Pro tip: I still use the AllTrails app, which lets you sort by length, elevation, and location.)
If the weather is nice, kayaking, paddle boarding, or tubing on the French Board River is a great way to see the city. French Broad Outfitters has a handful of different trips, including self-guided tube trips (with fresher floats available for any local beer you’ve bought). Whether you want to spend half a day of paddle boarding or a day of kayaking (with a lunch break, don’t worry), French Broad Outfitters has something for everyone.
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Wu / EyeEm / Getty Images
SPONSORED: With the states reopening, enjoying a meal at a restaurant no longer means just curbside pickup.
And when you spend to eat, you need to use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to the coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.
These are the best dining, take-out, and ordering credit cards to maximize every meal purchase.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, and not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and are not ‘have not been reviewed, approved or approved by any of these entities.