Asheville’s reputation as a wellness destination dates back centuries with the region’s climate and altitude making it an ideal location for the health-conscious traveler looking to recuperate and heal.
Today, wellness offerings for travelers have adapted during the pandemic, providing visitors with safe ways to explore, unwind and reboot, whether they are beginning a yoga practice, reconnecting with family, taking a solo sabbatical or looking for new wellness adventures. Find more on Asheville’s wellness scene here.
Here’s what’s NEW:
Outdoors | Communing With Nature
- Wellness at Your Comfort Level: Asheville Wellness Tours offers in-person and virtual self-care experiences to meet travelers where they are, which could be virtually, from a hotel room, a cozy B&B or the great outdoors – all while keeping the comfort level, interests and safety of their attendees in mind. Options include private yoga sessions, group tarot readings, a meal by a private chef, forest bathing and yoga hikes.
- New Waterfall Family Hike & Vortex Tours: Namaste in Nature, known for sunset, full moon and triple waterfall yoga hikes, has added a new family version of their most popular tour. The “Family Waterfall Nature Yoga Hiking Tour” includes a later start time for sleepy heads, nature moments, mindful activities, yoga in a secret spot and the opportunity to get your toes wet. Namaste in Nature has also added vortex yoga tours, as the Asheville area is believed by some to have a natural concentration of spiritual, electric, magnetic and electromagnetic energy.
- Taste Asheville in a Picnic Basket: New venture Asheville Picnic Company creates locally made to-go meals for one to four people and also offers a fully catered picnic option for parties. “The Traditional” option includes a basket filled with artisan treats and a picnic blanket to keep for future outings.
- Hotel Picnic Package: Downtown Asheville’s newest hotel, Kimpton Hotel Arras, is offering The Mountains Are Calling Package. The stay for two includes trail information on some of the area’s must-see waterfalls and a hearty, fresh-packed picnic lunch from their in-house restaurant Bargello.
- INSIDER’S TIP: Looking to find a hike tailored to your needs? Try Explore Asheville’s NEW Asheville Hike Finder, which allows you to filter results based on difficulty, length and distance from downtown. Pick out your view of choice from stunning waterfalls, wildflowers or mountain skylines.
Art | Self-Expression
- Branch Out: A unique outdoor sculptural work by environmental artist Patrick Dougherty, known as “Stick Man,” is on display at Biltmore through Sept. 30. Renowned worldwide for his monumental creations, Dougherty weaves saplings and branches into intricate artworks, fashioning whimsical forms ranging from gigantic snares and cocoons to sculptural interpretations of notable buildings. The large-scale artwork may be appreciated up-close as guests walk through and around the creation.
- Find Inspiration: Starting May 1, Asheville By Foot Walking Tours will offer the “Asheville Art & Mural Tour,” a guided walking tour focusing on the history and stories behind Asheville’s public art.
- The Art of Mindfulness: Sign up for a unique yoga experience surrounded by the exhibits of the Asheville Art Museum. On select days, early bird yoga is offered in the museum’s atrium with poses working in themes from current art installations. This family-friendly class is for all ages and abilities.
- Add Light to Your Life: Book a private candle-making experience at Hummingbird Candle Company and experience the therapeutic benefits of working with wax. Hand-pour your own eco-friendly, coconut wax creation from the extensive scent library.
Culinary | Mind, Body and Taste Buds
- NEW Natural Cidery in Asheville: This spring, Botanist & Barrel, known for blurring the beverage line with cider-wine hybrids, beer collaborations and funky, dry natural fruit wines, will unveil Botanist & Barrel Tasting Bar + Bottle Shop in the heart of downtown Asheville. The ciders – crafted with local, sustainable and organic fruits, including blueberries and traditional Southern heritage cider apples from their organic estate farm – are raw, wild, unrefined, unfiltered and unpasteurized, allowing customers to feel good about what they’re drinking.
- Thirsty Monk Goes Green: Thirsty Monk, one of Asheville’s premier beer bars, has expanded its business to include Tasty Greens, a new fast-casual restaurant at its Biltmore Park location. The focus is on fresh salads and warm grain bowls served with premium, locally sourced ingredients and house-made dressings.
- Sip It: Thirsty Monk has also launched its own hard seltzer brand, Holy Water Hard Seltzers. They’re brewed with cocktail-inspired flavors including Juniper, Spruce, Lemon (Gin & Tonic), Coconut & Lemongrass (Pina Colada) and Orange, Pineapple & Lime (Mai Tai).
Thirsty Monk’s Gerber Village location (South Asheville) is transitioning to Holy Water Hard Seltzer Brewpub & Sushi with an expected mid-April opening date and traditional sushi rolls, plus low-carb and Keto-friendly versions. Thirsty Monk’s downtown flagship location reopens at the end of April with sushi and Tasty Greens salads on the menu.
- NEW Hearty, Healthy Restaurant: Opening soon, Water Street is a new American-style diner serving foods like waffles, potato bowls and grits for breakfast and meat and veggie combos for dinner. The space will also expand production of owner Rosetta Buan’s line of packaged goods (veggie burgers, vegan mac and cheese and pot pies). The restaurant is named for the natural spring that is believed to run beneath Lexington Avenue in downtown Asheville.
Music | Sound Healing
- Find Your Vibrational Balance: Clear your mind and relax in a peaceful atmospheric soundscape at Skinny Beats Sound Shop. Coming soon, the shop will unveil a new “sound chamber” where clients will be able to go into silence and stillness with an array of deep frequency gongs, crystal bowls, hand pans and percussion.
- Music Under the Sun and Stars: Asheville’s music scene boasts numerous outdoor music venues with calendars filling up with performances for the warmer months.
- Rabbit Rabbit, a collaboration between Asheville Brewing Company and The Orange Peel, Asheville’s nationally known rock club that has hosted acts such as Smashing Pumpkins, Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, The Flaming Lips and The Beastie Boys, offers live music, movie screenings, DJ-spun dance parties, socially distant spaces for each group, local beer and food.
- Salvage Station, a large compound set on the banks of the French Broad River, has just kicked off the season with a robust lineup of concerts. Root Down Kitchen restaurant lives at the venue, as do a number of funky remnants from the space’s former life as a salvage lot.
- Just reopened, The Grey Eagle, known for its River Arts District location and taqueria on site, has a full schedule of acts lined up for indoor shows (with generously spaced tables and masks required) as well as on its airy outdoor patio.
Evolved Spa Experiences | Self-Care
- Aromatherapy + Auratherapy: Find out why you like blue, feel blue or wear blue. At Adoratherapy in Asheville’s historic Grove Arcade, you’ll learn about the energy in your body, how to free the energy you’re bottling up inside yourself and see where your chakras can be more balanced or energized. Learn about the aura layers, how they reveal your personality and try out house-blended essential oils for a self-care boost.
- Ancient Bathing Traditions: Inspired by Turkish and Moroccan spas, Asheville Salt Cave’s new Hammam steam room is designed to detoxify and exfoliate the skin while restoring the body and mind.
- Hotel Package - Unwind in a Subterranean Spa: Book the Simply Spa package at The Omni Grove Park Inn and plan your own personal retreat. The package includes deluxe accommodations, The Art of Breakfast Buffet per registered guest, overnight valet or garage parking and a $100 spa treatment credit, per reservation. The credit can be used for any spa service, and reservations are required.
- Hotel Package - Indulge in a Wellness Retreat: Embark on a relaxing wellness journey with The Foundry Hotel Asheville. The Tea Wellness package includes accommodations, a reservation at Sauna House, Asheville’s Nordic-style bathhouse offering three different saunas and a cold plunge, two tea tins from Asheville Tea Company, a tea infuser, a locally made teacup and a jar of local honey.
Asheville Wellness at Home
Travel may not be in the tarot cards for everyone this year, but you can bring the healing elements of Asheville into your home to find your personal moments of Zen.
- Handcrafted Skin Care: The Asheville-based skin care company C&Co. relies on its expertise in the function of skin and cosmetic chemistry to formulate nontoxic products for the home and body. Bring the essence of a spa to your home with their Eucalyptus & Peppermint Aromatherapy Mist, Rosemary & Lemongrass Artisan Soap or their wide range of facial moisturizers, toners and polish.
- What’s the Tea? Starting in April, Asheville Tea Company will be revamping its Wellness Box, available for a monthly subscription and sent to your home, to include powerful herbs that support the immune system and lift your spirits. The new flavor profiles are Elderberry Yaupon, Elderflower Mint and Jasmine Gold.
- Halotherapy at Home: Check out Asheville Salt Cave’s complete line of salt-based body care products including bath salts, body butter and essential oils.
BACKGROUNDER INFO: A Wellness Retreat for Centuries
The Asheville area’s reputation as a destination for spa treatments and wellness dates back centuries.
- Western North Carolina, known as one of the most biologically diverse spots in the world, has long been a healing ground and source of wild edibles and medicinal plants for Cherokee Native Americans. The area’s rivers and streams held spiritual significance as healers would submerge individuals as a rebirth or recovery known as “going to water.”
- One of the East Coast’s only natural hot spring water sources, Hot Springs (just 20 minutes north of Asheville) has been attracting visitors since its discovery in the 1700s. Its mineral waters are still known for treating a variety of ailments.
- Asheville was incorporated in 1797, and visitors began arriving by horseback almost as soon as the roads were built. By 1850, Asheville had attracted the well-to-do from throughout the South. A new stagecoach road in 1851, combined with the temperate climate, became the catalyst that spread the city’s reputation as a health resort across the country.
- When the railroad reached Asheville in 1880, it brought a young aristocrat from New York named George Vanderbilt, who declared the area the most beautiful place on Earth and purchased 125,000 acres to set about building the largest private residence in America – Biltmore Estate. Vanderbilt had been looking for a place for his mother to stay as she was often ill with chronic Malaria.
- During the 1800s, Tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the country, and Asheville was considered an ideal location for healing due to its altitude and climate. The first TB clinic in the country was opened in Asheville in 1871. It was for this reason that Edwin Grove, founder of the Grove Park Inn and creator of Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic (which provided relief from fever associated with Malaria), moved to the area.
- In the early 20th century, Asheville became known nationally for its advances and hospitals for psychologic care. Zelda Fitzgerald was treated at Highland Hospital before she tragically lost her life when the hospital burned to the ground.
- Surrounded by the highest peaks in the Eastern U.S., Asheville is steeped in natural history, outdoor adventure, wellness traditions and cultural legacies – including America’s Largest Home, Biltmore, and America’s favorite scenic drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway (which intersects Asheville at several points).
- Tucked away in the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is located in the middle of the Eastern Seaboard and is roughly a day’s drive or less for 50 percent of the nation’s population. Abundant outdoor dining, plein-air art experiences and walkable neighborhoods and districts have earned Asheville its reputation as the “Paris of the South.”
- Asheville and the surrounding Buncombe County is committed to the adherence to safety guidelines during the pandemic. Downtown kiosks remind visitors that North Carolina requires masks indoors and outside, including sidewalks when social distance cannot be maintained. Information on the safety actions of local businesses and shared responsibility of visitors can be found via the “Asheville Cares Stay Safe Pledge.”