Time for all that leaf peeping don’t you know. The best place to take it all in and enjoy the fresh air and cooler preseason temps? Asheville, NC. I’d say it’s time for a roadtrip and my annual leaf peeping article.
Fall Color may be the draw, but in addition to that, there is lots of local art and music to be enjoyed, trails to hike, waterfalls at which to marvel. And, of course, delicious ways to eat and drink local.
So, even if you are not a leaf-peeper, plan to take some time this season or before the end of the year to nourish your body, feed your soul; rest, relax and revive all in a 2-3 day weekend or weekday getaway in Asheville, North Carolina.
From Raleigh to Asheville on TV
I was delighted to share a few of this year’s Asheville area travel tips earlier this month on Raleigh/Durham’s WRAL-TV. In case you missed it, the video for the segment I did with the 9 am hour co-host Lena Tillet follows. If you’ve received this post via email and don’t see a video embedded here before the next “Where to Stay” header; simply click at the top of the post and, as if by magic, the internet will transport you directly to my website at HeidiBillottoFood.com where you can watch the video in its entirety. There you can continue to read and enjoy this post.
Where to stay in Asheville NC?
First task at hand when you plan any sort of travel is to find the perfect place to stay. When my husband Tom and I travel, we always love staying in a neighborhood bed and breakfast. The experience is like being at home, but with your own private chef and concierge; and at most, breakfast is included with the stay.
My featured choice for lodging in this post: one of the members of the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association, Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast Inn , owned by onsite innkeepers Dan and Diane Rogers, where cozy comfort in a choice of five different charming and well-appointed rooms or suites and a two-course breakfast are a part of your stay.
Soak Asheville in with Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast as your home base
Pinecrest, is a beautifully restored 5-bedroom inn built in 1905. As you can see, I particularly enjoyed staying in a room with one of the large claw foot tubs original to the historic home.
On the historic registry, it is conveniently located in Asheville’s Montford neighborhood, an easy one-mile walk to downtown Asheville.
Diane and Dan have all the info you’ll need to make your stay all you are expecting. Looking for tips on trails to hike, shopping, art exhibits or deals on tickets to festivals or Biltmore exhibits? They can hook you up.
Then, start you day each morning with a hearty two-course breakfast. I love that Diane shops at local famers’ markets and tries to feature local product on her breakfast menu as much as she can. The couple also composts with a local Asheville company and recycles half used bars of soap to help shrink the inns ecological footprint.
And did I mention that there are cookies? A different kind baked fresh everyday – these “Oreo” cookies stole my heart!
To book your stay, call the inn and speak directly with Dan or Diane for the very best pricing. (And, see a special offer from me at the end of this post where you will also find all the contact information.)
As a travel consumer, you should absolutely understand that offers online from third party travel sites are never the best deals – despite all the hype with their fancy digital pop-ups and banners. Contact innkeepers directly for the very best travel experience.
Fall Color in Asheville
As I mentioned in the travel segment on WRAL with 9 am hour morning co-host Lena Tillet on Thursday Oct 19, it’s time. The leaves are doing their thing – changing color with eery day that passes – the season is short but spectacular – so look to plan your leaf peeping expedition in the next six weeks or so to take it all in this season.
Before you book, take a look at these pro-leaf pepping tips Pinecrest’s Diane Rogers shared with me at the beginning of this season.
Pro Leaf-Peeping Tips
1. Book early for best rates and availability. Ok, so this plan ahead tip might be too late for this year; but now you are in the know. Returning guests often start booking a fall visit as early as March!
2. Skip the weekends if possible; generally speaking, rates and availability are lowest Sunday nights and increase the closer you get to Saturday.
3. While there may be a “peak” weekend or two, the leaf-peeping season in and around Asheville is longer than anywhere in the United States! Color starts at the end of September and goes well into the beginning of November. You will still see spectacular fall color within a one hour drive of Asheville for approximately 6 weeks. You didn’t miss it!
4. Don’t forget you’ll want to eat! Take advantage of Asheville’s culinary scene by making dinner reservations ahead of your travel particularly for weekend meals. At Pinecrest, as they do at most other bed and breakfast inns, Dan and Diane keep a current list of some of their favorite places to eat and are always ready to help guests find the perfect spot.
Eat and Drink Local in Asheville
As I said in my leaf-peeping post last year ,where Wildberry Lodge Inn was my featured inn, if you ask any food or travel writer for suggestions of great places to eat in Asheville, you’ll get a different must try list from each one. Same goes for the innkeepers at any Asheville bed & breakfast. My suggestions in last year’s post are all still great places to try. This year, I’ve add on this short list of don’t miss cocktail, dinner and lunch spots.
The Rooftop Bar at the Montford
The Montford Rooftop Bar at 199 Haywood Street is within walking distance from Pinecrest . It is a great place to start any evening with spectacular sunset views.
The Chemist Distillery and Andiote Bar
Located on the South Slope, the Antidote Bar is my newest favorite place to drink local in Asheville. New to the menu of craft cocktails, you’ll now find food and cocktail snacks, as well.
If you are a subscriber, you’ve read about The Antidote, located at 151 Coxe Ave in Asheville on these digital pages before. Head mixologist and now brand ambassador for The Chemist Distillery is Jonny Burritt, the NCRLA Chef Showdown Mixologist of the year! In fact, The Chemist, makers of fine craft gin, is the NCRLA Distillery of the Year, just released this video of the “Belle Epogue” cocktail, Jonny created for the win.
If you don’t see the video here, simply click through to this post on my website to the video that follows. Or, better still, just go there. Jonny and his team will craft something special on the spot, just for you.
The Belle Époque Cocktail
In case you are inspired… here is Jonny’s recipe.
1.5 oz Chemist American Gin
0.5 oz each: Cocchi Rossa; Local Honey Lavender Syrup; and Lemon Juice
1 dash of a tincture made from Asheville’s French broad Chocolate
Spritz of Absinthe Bitters
Add ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake well for 10 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe glass, and spritz with the bitters.
Eat Local in Asheville
One of my favorite places to eat in Asheville remains Chef Steven Goff’s Aux Bar, also located within walking distance of Pinecrest B&B at 68 North Lexington Ave.
Aux is open every day for lunch, dinner, drinks and late night music from 11 am to 2 pm. I wrote about Aux for the first time last year, but have been back several times. It just keeps getting better and better.
Is it any wonder that Steven took the top chef honors at the NCRLA Chef Showdown this year and is the new NCRLA Chef of the Year! Steven’s been appearing at festivals across the Carolinas sharing the winning recipe pictured above. It’s all sourced from local farms and producers as is most everything on the Aux Bar menu. Here, Shipley Beef braised beef cheek is topped with amaranth, farrow & popped sorghum, paired with microgreens, cherries, peaches, & puffed Carolina gold rice.
Fun and flavorful Indian street food is what is waiting for you at Asheville’s Chai Pani, located at 22 Battery Park Ave. No reservations taken here for parties smaller than 8, but it is well worth the wait. You can stroll around the Battery park neighborhood and window shop till they call you. Its the perfect spot for a casual lunch or dinner.
The same restaurant group owns several other places in town that also need to be on your must-try list. From Buxton Hall Barbecue on Asheville’s South Slope to shopping for spices at Spicewalla, the Chai Pani Restaurant Group, headed by chef Meherwan Irani, has added much to Asheville’s culinary skyline. Click here for more details on each of the members of the Chai Pani Restaurant Group.
There are actually three locations of this Caribbean inspired spot in Asheville but the original Nine Mile is just around the corner from Pinecrest B&B at 233 Montford Ave. Here pasta and rice dishes, many vegetarian and vegan, come in large satisfyingly delicious portions. Don’t miss the daily specials and save room for the homemade desserts.
Button & Co. Bagels
Most of you know the name chef Katie Button from her restaurant Curate, a well-known Asheville landmark. Katie is also the founder of the Chow Chow festival which took place for the first time in September of 2019. What you might not know, is that Katie and her team have another little spot you’ll want to check out as well.
Button & Co. Bagels is a tiny little place full of big flavors all in the guise of homemade bagels, schmears, and sandwich toppings. Located at 32 South Lexington Ave, its in the old lobby area for the former Nightbell. A terrific little spot for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack.
Entertainment in Asheville
Lots of music venues in the city to enjoy during your stay, but we particularly enjoyed our time at ISIS Restaurant and Music Hall.
Set in the heart of West Asheville, Isis Theater was built in 1937 as a single screen movie house and screened its last film in 1957. Now restored, this historic theatre is now Isis Music Hall. The line up of top shelf musical talent is impressive. Nightly performances take place both in the venue downstairs and upstairs in a smaller more intimate setting. Its a great place to take in dinner, drinks and an evening of entertainment. We were fortunate to catch our friend jazz guitarist Frank Vignola in concert one evening last year.
So what if you miss the Fall Leaf Peeping season? Still plenty of fun to be had in Asheville. Including these events Diane Rogers of Pinecrest B&B recently shared with me.
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition opens at Biltmore Estate ( and just a 3 mile drive away from Pinecrest) on November 8, 2019. The exhibit runs through April 7, 2020. Christmas season at Biltmore starts November 1, 2019 so visitors can see both between now and the end of the season on January 4, 2020. A one-day ticket to Biltmore runs $79-$99 gate price with a discount of $10 if purchased at Biltmore.com at least 7 days in advance.
Another wonderful event at The Biltmore is the Candlelight Christmas Evening Tour. Your tour of the Biltmore House is in the evening but your tickets include access to the rest of the estate the day of or day after. Biltmore price is $74-$99; but Pinecrest has a partner promo code for their guests to pay $59-$79! Come for a weeknight visit before Thanksgiving and take in the tour for just $59 – a great deal considering the same experience is almost double the price during Christmas week! Plan ahead as it is expected that the most popular dates and times will sell out. The Downton Abbey + Candlelight Christmas is a winning combination!
Dan and Diane also shared that their beautiful historic Asheville neighborhood is hosting the 24th Annual Montford Holiday Tour of Homes on Saturday, December 7 from 1-5 pm. Tickets are $25 and benefit the neighborhood projects like the recreation center and beautification. It’s a win-win: you get to peak inside several of these grand old homes in the area and support a worthy cause all at the same time. What a great way to get in the holiday spirit!
Want to Go? Be sure to #TellThemHeidiSentYou
For more on Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast check out their website here. When you make reservations, book direct online through their website or phone Dan and Diane at the inn at 828- 281-4275 for the best booking experience.
Now, here is the surprise at the end… the first eight reservations to book direct for a visit from now till the end of the year who mention this post and “Tell Them Heidi Sent You” will also receive a gift from me of the Asheville Bed & Breakfast cookbook, called Morning in the Mountains. A Wonderful collection of recipes from Pinecrest and each of the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association Inns. The book will be waiting in your room when you arrive for your stay. Enjoy!