I recently had the pleasure of putting together a Ladies Day out in Asheville, North Carolina, with three of my best full-time RV girlfriends (see links below). Designing memorable travel experiences for groups is an art. There’s no one size fits all that will entertain every group. The mix of destinations and activities must meet a range of personalities and interests as well as other factors like physical abilities and energy levels. Fortunately, Asheville offers countless options for experiences across a wide spectrum of interests. Having visited Asheville many times while living in North Carolina, I was excited to show off this city’s many gems to my besties. You can see more of our Ladies Day out in Asheville adventures in this video from You, Me & the RV.
I planned an itinerary for Ladies Day Out in Asheville that involved three important elements . . . Caffeine, Activities, and Food & Cocktails. One of the great things about downtown Asheville is that you can find many examples of all of these elements within easy walking distance from one to the other, so little to no driving is required. Read on to get the details of where we went along with some additional recommendations in each of those categories.
In my book, every day must start out with coffee, and on busy days, an afternoon dose of caffeine might be needed as well. We were camped near Waynesville, so we had our morning coffee close to home at the wonderful Panacea CoffeeHouse and Cafe before heading to Asheville for the day. This coffee shop also has some breakfast selections and wonderful outdoor seating on Richland Creek. Two of my favorite coffee shops in Asheville are Double D’s Coffee & Deserts and Old Europe Pastries. We visited Double D’s for a much-needed afternoon pick-me-up. (More on coffee in the Activities and Cocktails section.) Now, for those tea drinkers out there, Asheville has plenty of options. We had a wonderful tea house experience at Dobra Tea, and High Climate Tea Company is another delightful tea house lounge.
It’s very rare to find a destination that offers so many diverse options for activities in a one-square mile area. The main thoroughfares through downtown Asheville are Biltmore Avenue (running roughly north and south) and Patton Avenue/College Street (running roughly east and west). These streets, along with adjacent streets, (Walnut, Lexington, Haywood, and Wall, to name a few) are packed with eclectic and unique establishments featuring local flavors and talents — you’ll find very few national chains.
You can find all the locations mentioned here in this interactive map.
For our Ladies Day out in Asheville, we expressed our inner artist, sampled a few distinctive shops, browsed at a unique bookstore, and even took a nap! After starting the day with coffee, we created our own art glass projects at Fired Up Creative Lounge. This hands-on studio offers space and materials for creating your own pottery or glass project. They allow for bringing your favorite bottle of wine for sipping while you create your masterpiece, and the attendants in the studio are very helpful with design ideas and technique expertise. The only catch is you have to wait roughly a week for your design to be fired and ready for pick-up.
Of course, there are numerous shopping opportunities throughout downtown Asheville. However, since we’re full-time RVers with limited space to accumulate things, we typically don’t buy a lot of clothes or knick knacks. Even so, there are a few shops that showcase local arts and crafts that make for great browsing almost like walking through a museum. The best of these, in my opinion, is Woolworth Walk, located in a historic building that was the prior home of a Woolworth’s store. Other notable gallery-style shops include Kress Emporium, Asheville Emporium, and the collection of shops in The Grove Arcade. While we didn’t buy a lot, we really enjoyed seeing the creative artworks and crafts at these places.
We wanted to experience some of Asheville’s craft cocktail scene, but after all that browsing through arts & crafts we needed to recharge our batteries. Fortunately, I had made late afternoon reservations for us at the Asheville Salt Cave. This man-made salt cave is hidden away in plain site in the downtown area and is a great way to relax and even squeeze in a power nap before dinner.
FOOD & COCKTAILS:
Any Ladies Day out in Asheville must include experiencing some of Asheville’s food and cocktail scene. We decided to experience both at once at Hemingway’s Cuba, which is operated by a native of Cuba and serves authentic Cuban food. The restaurant is named for the author Ernest Hemingway who loved adventure, making this a great fit for our nomad besties group. The cocktail menu includes a selection of daiquiris, mojitos, and other Cuban-inspired mixes. As good as the food and drinks are here, the view of the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains from the rooftop seating area steals the show. If you’re looking for more rooftop settings to enjoy drinks and dinner in Asheville, check out SkyBar Asheville, and just a short drive out of the downtown area is the incomparable terrace at the Grove Park Inn.
GREAT ENDING FOR A GREAT DAY:
I am a lifelong book lover and reader, so any visit to Asheville is incomplete if I don’t go to at least one of my favorite bookstores in the city. The two best bookstores, in my opinion, are Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café* and Battery Park Book Exchange (& Champagne Bar). I love visiting independent booksellers around the country, and these are two wonderful examples of the unique experiences you can find at these kinds of bookstores. Malaprop’s has been part of the Asheville community for over 35 years, includes a coffee shop, and regularly hosts author events. Battery Park Book Exchange is located on a corner of the historic Grove Arcade building, carries both new and an enormous selection of used/vintage books, serves coffee, wine, and yes – champagne!, and is a great place to hang out for a few hours. We capped our Ladies Day out in Asheville at Battery Park’s comfy sidewalk seating area with some lovely champagne cocktails.
Honestly, we barely scratched the surface of what Asheville has to offer, and we can’t wait to go back for more. But full-time nomads never stay put for very long and for now, the open road is calling us on to the next great adventure.
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PS . . . I may have had some input into the guys’ day out, as well. Asheville has a robust brewery scene, so brewery hopping is an obvious choice. Not so obvious and very entertaining options are: Sly Grog Lounge, Breakout Games escape room, Well Played Board Game Café, and Asheville Pinball Museum.
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