Asheville: Down South Rustic Meets Modern Chic

With a buzzing food and arts scene (and a grand Vanderbilt estate), North Carolina’s most eclectic enclave is Southern charm at its hippest.

The Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina

Get There: Make the 10-hour drive and be rewarded with stunning scenery. (Plus, you’ll need a car in Asheville.) Otherwise, Delta can get you there–with a stop in Atlanta–for as little as $200 round-trip.

Stay: Recently named one of the world’s best hotels by Travel & Leisure, the Tudor-style Grand Bohemian Hotel (from $169 per night) is an exercise in rustic luxury (antler chandeliers!) that’s at once sexy, cool and swank. The attentive staff dishes out plenty of Southern hospitality, while the lobby’s roaring fireplaces and leather walls inspire romance. Don’t skip a nightcap in the grand lobby.

Eat/Drink: Bahn mi and mole-roasted duck tacos washed down with margaritas at White Duck Taco Shop make a perfect lunch, and the tapas at Cúrate rival those at Amada. And if you can’t snag a rezzie at the Admiral, a local favorite, grab a stool at the bar and enjoy craft cocktails, crispy sweetbreads, and what is arguably the country’s best beef tartare. Be sure to say hi to chef Elliott Moss—he’s a Philly expat and die-hard Phils fan.

Explore: Spend a day discovering how the other half lived at the Biltmore Estate, just across the street from the Grand Bohemian Hotel. Built by the Vanderbilts, the historic-landmark home is the country’s largest, and the textbook definition of opulence.

Shop: Some towns have a bar on every corner; Asheville has contemporary art galleries. Woolworth Walk (housed in a former Woolworth’s store) features more than 160 area artists and a charming soda fountain; visit the River Arts District for funkier finds. Chocolate fetishists cannot leave town without a purchase from French Broad Chocolate Lounge, where the handmade artisanal truffles—produced by a Chester County native—are divine.

Relax: Pack a picnic and make the hike (really more of a glorified rural stroll) to Max Patch, a green mountaintop on the Appalachian Trail. Remember “The hills are alive” from The Sound of Music? This is that.

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