Skip to content

Why Asheville should be at the top of your travel list right now

Sept. 18, 2021
5 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Getting back into travel in our new COVID-19 world can be uncomfortable. The constantly changing guidelines make it difficult to plan far in advance, and hard to know what will feel safe. But after lengthy lockdowns and a year of isolation, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling eager to take a weekend away.

The key is picking a location that is conducive to lots of time spent outdoors, and a destination where you won’t feel the need to double-check the availability of outdoor seating at every single restaurant you think you might want to visit.

New to The Points Guy? Want to learn more about credit card points and miles? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Which is why Asheville, North Carolina, was my pick when it came time to finally hit the road again. 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 came away plenty of thoughts about how to make the most of a vacation there, whatever your level of comfort may be around COVID-19.

Breweries are a spacious haven for non-pre planners

Breweries across the country are known for one thing (other than their beer, that is) – their size. Asheville’s breweries take advantage of their stunning natural surroundings by offering spacious indoor and outdoor areas, fully tricked out with fans and umbrellas in the summer and heaters in the winter — the perfect option for travelers who want a loose itinerary that doesn't require reservations.

The New Belgium Brewery is a must-visit when in Asheville. (Photo by Jacob Biba for The Washington Post/Getty Images)

All of the cult favorites in Asheville, like Wicked Weed, Burial, and Green Man, have plenty of outdoor tables, and many of them allows kids, making them perfect for families. I spent a lovely couple of hours at New Belgium Brewery, which has one of the largest properties in Asheville, with a deck overlooking the French Broad River and a large field for romping children and dogs. Another favorite is Wedge Brewing Company, which has two locations in Asheville, both of which have ample outdoor seating.

If you’re looking to make a weekend of beer sampling, you’ll have no problem doing so without ever having to make reservations ahead of time or compromising on space.

There are plenty of restaurants to go around

Asheville has tons of amazing restaurants, but many of them have relatively limited outdoor seating if that's what you're after, and book up quickly — especially in comparison to the number of visitors that descend on the city every weekend.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

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 foodways that has gotten tons of press over the last few years.

(Photo courtesy of Cúrate/Facebook)

If you’re too late to snag one of these hot reservations, looks to places like Chai Pani, a small space serving Indian street food dishes in the Battery Park neighborhood with several outdoor tables, or Jettie Rae’s Oyster House, a relative newcomer with tons of outdoor space and a menu that ranges from oyster shooters to fish and chips.

local lodging comes with perks

For optimum 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 Asheville and the surrounding areas.

Related: Coronavirus tourism done right: a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

The 1900 Inn on Montford has fewer rooms than some of the hotel chains downtown, and the wraparound porch is perfect for enjoying breakfast or a nightcap in a lovely outdoor space. A little further outside the city, the Old Marshall Jail offers spacious rooms on the banks of the French Broad River. Their outdoor deck and back patio, which happens to be right next to the train tracks – a huge hit with kids — are great for kicking back before heading into the mountains for an adventure.

(Photo courtesy of The 1900 Inn on Montford)

outdoor activities abound

Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway is always incredible. The North Carolina Arboretum is just off the parkway, at mile-marker 393, so it’s easy to combine the two into a full day of outdoor activities. The Arboretum, which has more than 400 acres, is large enough to feel spacious even on the most crowded weekends.

The North Carolina Arboretum Quilt Garden in Asheville. (Photo by JillLang/Getty Images)

Beyond the arboretum is Pisgah National Forest, which has hundreds of miles of trails marked for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. The options are so many that it can be overwhelming. (Pro tip: I always use the AllTrails app, which lets you sort by length, elevation, and location.)

If the weather is nice, kayaking, paddle boarding, or tubing down the French Board River is a great way to see the city. The French Broad Outfitters offers a handful of different trips, included self-guided tubing trips (with cooler floats available for all the local beer you bought). Whether you’d like to spend a half-day paddle boarding or a full day kayaking (with a break for lunch, don’t worry), French Broad Outfitters has something for everyone.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Wu / EyeEm / Getty Images

Featured image by Getty Images/EyeEm
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.