Surprisingly Cozy and Refreshing Winter Adventures in Asheville, NC
Often overlooked and underrated, winter in Asheville, N.C., is a bit of a secret given this Blue Ridge Mountain city is world-famous for fall color and lush summer adventure. Mostly moderate winter weather means Asheville’s Art Deco downtown remains walkable and cozy with picture-perfect long-range views of snowy peaks, romantic restaurants and easy access to hiking and walking trails.
This winter brings a mix of cozy new offerings including wellness experiences to beat the winter blues, a new downtown hotel with expansive views and luxury wellness amenities, “Downton Abbey” costumes and life-sized set recreations at Biltmore, beverages to warm the soul and new cultural offerings to tuck into.
Why Should You Visit Asheville in the Winter?
Stunning panoramic views, the best rates of the year and last-minute travel deals from an array of mountaintop retreats and inviting B&Bs—some offering private hot tubs overlooking the surrounding peaks and valleys, fireplaces in epic locales and the chance to see nationally traveling bands in intimate music venues. Find out more at ExploreAsheville.com/winter.
What's New in Asheville Winter 2019-2020
Downton Abbey Exhibition at Biltmore
On the heels of the highly anticipated “Downton Abbey” movie, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition arrives at Biltmore, America’s Largest Home on Nov. 8 with set recreations and artifacts, more than 50 of the show’s costumes and exclusive multimedia elements. Housed at Biltmore’s Amherst and Legacy locations, the exhibition will run through April 7, 2020, and will highlight the parallels between the show, the movie and Biltmore’s Vanderbilt family, friends and staff.
A New Hotel with Expansive Views and Serenity-Themed Amenities
Just opened, the Kimpton Hotel Arras has added a new icon and four-star luxury property to Asheville’s famed Art Deco skyline. In addition to a completely new Art Deco façade for Asheville’s tallest building, the 128-room hotel offers grand views of the surrounding mountains and an extensive food focus with two restaurants by local chef Peter Pollay—Bargello, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, and District 42, a more casual spot with outdoor seating, small bites and hand-crafted cocktails. The hotel also offers an artisanal serenity cart, available upon request for guest room delivery, filled with everything from books by Asheville authors to lavender sachets and evening cordials. Wellness amenities also include a massage room and yoga area.
Cozy Winter Tours
- Winter Blues, Bye: Check out the enlightening new Tea and Tarot offering from Asheville Wellness Tours that includes an educational, traditional Chinese tea experience and a group tarot reading at one of Asheville’s coziest tea houses.
- Warm Your Spirit on Top of a Mountain: Asheville Wellness Tours is offering the Yoga on the Mountain Hike this winter. Make your way through the forest and then warm your spirit with yoga under the winter sun. Enjoy a peaceful mountain, crisp fresh air and long-range views along the way.
- Rooftop Fire Pits & Mountain Views: Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours offer a guided tour to some of Asheville’s most scenic spots. Winter means gorgeous sunset views, crystal clear vistas of the surrounding mountains, hot toddies and fire pits.
Asheville Art Museum Expands Cultural Adventures
Views Inside & Out: Asheville Art Museum reopens this November with a new state-of-the-art building that features education facilities, an art library, a lecture and performance space, a new ArtPLAYce for families and children and the addition of a rooftop sculpture terrace and café with views of downtown architecture and the surrounding mountains. The opening exhibition “Appalachia Now!” is a survey of contemporary art in Southern Appalachia, highlighting 50 emerging artists from the region.
More NEW Cultural Experiences Downtown:
- One of Asheville’s most beloved festivals now has a brick-and-mortar location downtown. Opening to the public this winter, LEAF Global Arts Center will be a cornerstone in the continued rebirth of the city’s historical African-American business district, The Block. The Center will offer educational experiences for guests rooted in music, art, community and culture inclusivity via a mini-theater and global immersion room using virtual reality, unique musical instruments and a stage for performances and interactive artist workstations.
- Opening this November, The Center for Craft is expanding with The National Craft Innovation Hub, including new public galleries featuring local and national makers, lecture space, classrooms and a co-working space, cementing Asheville’s reputation as a force in the nation’s fine art and maker scene. To celebrate the reopening, the “Craft Futures 2099” exhibition showcases 10 local and national artists and their craft objects of the future, an exploration of what’s been and what’s to come in the world of craft. The exhibition runs until February 2020. All Center for Craft galleries are free and open to the public.
The Latest in Asheville Restaurants & Beverage
- New Brewery Blends National Park History and Maker Culture: Set in the buildings that once housed young forestry workers of the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, Burial Beer Co.’s Forestry Camp Restaurant and Bar just opened, offering beer, wine and coffee and highlighting local makers, from bakers to artists to musicians. James Beard semifinalist Brian Canipelli, chef and owner of Cucina 24, leads the food program.
- “Beauty Academy” Pairs Drinks, Food & Live Music: This newly opened venture from Charlie Hodge (Sovereign Remedies), Asheville Beauty Academy, features cocktails, champagne and brandy menus, a small food program and live music. The iconic downtown building, built in 1913, was home to the Asheville Beauty Academy in the 1950s and more recently a beloved jazz and blues bar.
- Brewing Beyond Beer: New downtown brewery DSSOLVR opens this November with beer offerings fit for the pickiest of beer enthusiasts to the most casual of light beer drinkers, as well as their own mead, wine, cider and cold-brew coffee.
- S’more Flights: Sunshine Sammies, known for ice cream sandwiches and their gourmet takes on after-school snacks like moon pies and zebra cakes, is making winter a little warmer with s’more flights. Think house-made marshmallows, scratch-made graham crackers, dark chocolate and toppings in a variety of rotating flavors.
- Winter Teas Infuse Local Flavors: Asheville Tea Company, working with a dozen local and regional farms, is warming up spirits this winter with their Snow Day blend (utilizing French Broad Chocolate cacao nibs), Winter Wonderland (a blend of white tea, Fraser Fir, wintergreen, peppermint, birch bark and yarrow flower) and Nutcracker (black tea, cinnamon, hickory nuts and vanilla bean).
Iconic Asheville Winter Experiences
- Unobstructed Views: Take in stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains while on a winter hike. Multiple trailhead access points remain open all year long on the Blue Ridge Parkway and across Pisgah National Forest. Find your perfect winter trail with Explore Asheville’s NEW Asheville Hike Finder, where you can sort by difficulty, distance from Asheville and features like waterfalls or views.
- Best Deals: Winter offers the best rates of the year for travel deals + fewer crowds. Cozy travel packages include wellness opportunities and other winter adventures. Find more at ExploreAsheville.com/deals.
- Cabin Fever: Asheville’s array of mountaintop retreats and inviting B&Bs offers private hot tubs overlooking the surrounding peaks and valleys, candlelight dinners and the opportunity to get away from it all.
- Secret Season for Music: Deep-seated bluegrass roots harmonize with new talent and innovative sounds in Asheville. In winter, many nationally traveling local bands come home to the region to play shows and pop in to jam sessions.
- Fireplaces with a View: From rooftops to cozy spots to imbibe, Asheville’s trend of fireplaces accompanied by spectacular vistas of downtown architecture and mountain scenery is highlighted at venues like Capella on 9 at the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown and Hemingway’s Cuba at Cambria Downtown Asheville. Other hot spots with epic fireplace offerings: Omni Grove Park Inn, Pillar Bar at the Hilton Garden Inn Asheville Downtown and Wicked Weed Brewing.
- Signature winter events in Asheville include: The Big Crafty (December), showcasing handmade art from hundreds of local artists; The Fringe Arts Festival (January), an innovative series of boundary-pushing arts performances; Big Band Dance Weekend (January) at the Omni Grove Park Inn; and Asheville Restaurant Week (January). Discover more Asheville winter events by using our online events calendar.
Photo credits: Top photo by Emily Chaplin. Downton Abbey Exhibition courtesy The Biltmore Co. Exhibition produced by: Imagine Exhibitions, NBCUniversal International Studios, and Carnival. Hotel Arras lobby photo courtesy Kimpton Hotels. Wicked Weed photo by Emily Chaplin. Asheville Art Museum photo by David Huff. Burial Beer Forestry Camp by Spencer Kelly. Winter skyline photo by Andre Daugherty.