US Travel | 3 Perfect Days in Asheville, North Carolina


Me – at Asheville’s Shoji Retreat

by: Grayson Leverenz with big thanks to Rob Geisler and Amy Kawar

Friendly people, four seasons, fabulous food, fantastic music and festivals galore might just make Asheville, North Carolina the perfect town. But don’t take my word for it; visit, and see for yourself.

With the help of my local Asheville friends, Rob Geisler and Amy Kawar, here are 3 perfect days in Asheville.

Day One: Trek – Rob’s Day
Start your day off experiencing the best of nature. Tucked in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers outdoor experiences for everyone. There are 53 options on the Explore Asheville website alone! Try hiking a bit of the Appalachian Trail, the 300 mile trail that runs from Georgia to Maine, or playing at Sliding Rock, a 60 foot natural waterslide that has been entertaining visitors for generations.

Spending time outside really works up an appetite. Once you’re good and hungry, head over to 12 Bones Smokehouse for what Rob calls “the best BBQ in the world.” President Obama ate at 12 Bones when he was in Asheville, and I’ve heard he knows his BBQ. Make sure you plan for this one; the Asheville location is only open for lunch Mon – Fri from 11am – 4pm.

End your day trekking to The Orange Peel Social Aid and Pleasure Club to catch a show. In 2008, Rolling Stone Magazine named the Orange Peel one of the top music venues in the country. There’s always something going on; from local acts to national bookings, you’ll definitely get your groove on.

Day Two: Shop – Amy’s Day
Begin this day wandering through downtown, and you’ll discover delightfully unique stores on every block in Asheville. Whether you’re into antiques, arts and crafts, or designer clothes, Asheville shopping has it all. Check out Terra Diva for conscious clothing, lingerie and accessories. The owner, Alcora Gardner, made Amy’s wedding dress, a stunning combination of modern design with classic fabrics and lace – gorgeous. Note, sadly, I discovered in 2011 Terra Diva closed, but there are plenty of other cool shops to explore!

Take a break from shopping to enjoy Indian food from Mela Indian Restaurant. Amy says “it’s the best Indian food ever, and has a killer atmosphere.”

Then, cruise over to the historic Grove Arcade. There you’ll find Enter the Earth, a specialty shop for museum and first-rate quality gems, fossils and jewelry from some of the world’s most exotic locations. Amy and her husband, Nader, own Enter the Earth, and will love meeting MBA in the USA readers!

Drop the shopping bags at the At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn, and head to Stella Blue to complete this perfect day with a live show at this low key, downtown music hall.

Day Three – Indulge – Grayson’s Day

Start this day off by sleeping late and sipping hot coffee in bed. Then, hop into the car, and enjoy the short scenic drive through the mountains to the Shoji Retreat, Asheville’s Japanese Style Outdoor Hot Tub and Massage Spa. The outdoor baths are private, and bathing suits are optional once inside the private tub areas. The retreat also offers a cold pool, a sauna and a full range of spa services.

Brandon and I were two of the Shoji Retreat’s first guests when they opened in 2005, and have been sending people there ever since. My Japanese classmates loved the Shoji Retreat, and said it was a great substitute for traditional Japanese Bath Houses while living in the US.

After relaxing at the Shoji Retreat, float over to my favorite Asheville restaurant, The Laughing Seed Cafe. I am a huge fan of eating meat, and I do not miss it one bit when I’m indulging in international vegetarian cuisine at the Laughing Seed Cafe. The flavor combinations make your mouth sing and your stomach smile.

Close this perfect day with a show at the Grey Eagle, a listening room-style concert venue that hosts local and national acts popular with the Asheville crowd.

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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  1. I love The Biltmore Estate as well. I went there on a school trip in elementary school and I will never forget it.

  2. That’s a really good picture of Shoji. I’m a big fan of that place too, even though I don’t make it there enough.

    Last time I was there I did the bath + massage. I think that’s the most relaxed I’ve ever been!

  3. Kenan and June, Thanks so much for your comments!


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