Asheville, North Carolina has become one of my favorite cities in the United States. Over the last four years, I have created some great memories. I have met some amazing friends and had remarkable experiences.
It takes about twelve hours to drive down from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to Asheville, NC. The Blue Phoenix Cáfe and Market is the perfect place to stop midpoint in Lexington, VA for lunch or dinner. I have had several meals here. It is a vegetarian restaurant, so make sure that you tell the cashier that you want your order veganized. We had the Cali Wrap with avocado, grilled artichokes, herb aioli, vegan cheese, lettuce, tomato, whole wheat tortilla and the Harvest Moon Wrap with house tofu and brown rice burger, sundried tomato aioli, red onions, spring mix, whole wheat tortilla. I also got a side of soba noodles. Everything on the menu is marked vegan or vegan option available. (See picture) You can also purchase a meal voucher for someone in need or take a pebble if you need a meal. Just choose three options from their sides menu and present a rock as payment.
Best Vegan Restaurants in Lexington, VA
The Blue Phoenix Cáfe and Market
110 W Washington St
Lexington, VA 24450
Traveling is always an adventure. I had made a reservation on Hotels.com for the Rodeway Inn at 9 Wedgefield Drive Asheville, NC 28806. When we arrived, the clerk told us that we didn't have a reservation and that we were at the wrong hotel. I brought up the reservation on my phone and gave him the confirmation number. He was able to find the reservation and said it was canceled and the hotel was full. He called the other Rodeway Inn at 8 Crowell Rd, Asheville, NC, 28806 and was able to get us the last room there. When we arrived, the clerk told us that the best rate he could do was $118 a night which was $23 more than I had paid online. After driving for 12 hours, I was exhausted and just wanted to go to dinner. After we paid, we went up to our room. The stairs were at the end of the building and smelled like urine. We opened the door (See pictures below), and the floors were new, and the beds were made and clean. The chain lock on the door was broken. The bathroom door had come off the hinges, and the sink vanity was cracked. The bathtub was gross, and we didn't even want to shower in it.
We changed quickly and went to Plant Vegan Restaurant for dinner. Plant has an original mixed drink menu that changes. My favorite dish on the menu is the [Plant] Cheese. Tonight's version had aged cashew, farmer’s involtini, rosemary amber & fruit, pickled vegetables, black garlic oil on focaccia. I ordered two small plates, the Grilled Beets with balsamic & herbs, horseradish mayo, and onion tumbleweed and Maitake Mushroom with cauliflower oyster & pearl, radish, roasted garlic, hazels, and basils. The Grilled Beets were the best beet dish I have ever had.
I liked the Maitake Mushroom. The sauce reminded me of dim sum steamed rolls sauce. My wife, Chris, had the Seitan Chile Con Queso with a stuffed tamale, grilled farm romaine & cilantro mojo, pickled jalapeño & onion, it is very filling and spicy. For dessert, we ordered the Cardamom Crème Brûlée with banana, chocolate-puffed rice crisp, and pistachio. It looks more like a flan than a Crème Brûlée (See pictures below).
At dinner, Chris found a different hotel. We went back to the Rodeway to sleep. The beds were comfortable. In the morning when we were checking out the clerk asked if we wanted breakfast to go. They had Krispy Kreme donuts and coffee. We declined since they are not vegan.
We went to Vortex Doughnuts for coffee and vegan donuts. They only have a small variety of vegan donuts at a time. They also carry plant-based kinds of milk for your coffee.
We left for the Asheville VegFest. Some of my favorite food vendors were at the event, including Earth To Us Vegan Comfort Food, No Evil Foods, and Revolution Gelato. Earth To Us was serving my favorite Cauliflower wings that are perfectly spicy with a heavenly ranch sauce. No Evil Foods had chick'n wraps, and I Really Mean It had Vegan BBQ "Wings" with freshly smoked cauliflower tossed with buffalo sauce served with vegan ranch and celery boats and Roasted Brussel Sprouts. Revolution Gelato has become one of my favorite ice creams. I got the French Press Coffee Flavor with chocolate sauce.
After the event, we checked in to the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson at 22 Westgate Pkwy, Asheville, NC 28806, (828) 772-3188, this was a much better hotel, it was only two years old. They have free parking and Wifi. There was a shuttle that would take you downtown. We drove and parked close to Laughing Seed Café. Laughing Seed is a vegetarian restaurant so make sure that you tell your server that you are vegan. The vegan items and vegan options are marked on the menu. We had the Fresh Spring Rolls with two rice paper rolls filled with fresh basil leaves, Napa and purple cabbage, grated carrots, grilled tofu, and scallions. Served with sesame ginger dipping sauce as an appetizer. They were everything you want from an appetizer, full of vegetables and a flavorful dipping sauce.
For dinner, I had the Local Farm Plate special with massaged kale with pickled onion, sauteed local mushroom, zucchini, squash, and rosemary-garlic quinoa and added the fried house-made seitan for $3.
Chris had the Laughing Seed Salad with local organic greens, romaine lettuce, grated carrot, red cabbage, grape tomatoes, red bell peppers, cucumber, red onion, blanched broccoli, mung bean, and clover sprouts, sprinkled with sunflower and pumpkin seeds. After a long day in the sun, she wanted something lighter. We were full and decided to bring the chocolate cake back to the hotel. It was a perfect thick chocolate cake that was sweet and filling.
I went down for breakfast the next morning. It was the usual eggs, bacon, pancakes, and potatoes. They did have cereal, fruit, toast, and bagels. There were no plant-based kinds of milk for coffee or cereal. You could get jelly and peanut butter for toast and bagels. There was no ingredient list so you will have to ask or do some research on what is vegan.
We left at 7 am for home and stopped at Panera Bread for lunch. We both had the Soba Noodle Broth Bowl with Edamame that includes soba buckwheat noodles, fresh spinach, napa cabbage blend, roasted mushroom and onion blend, fire-roasted edamame blend, sesame seeds and cilantro in umami soy-miso broth. Soba Noodle Bowl is an excellent option since it is vegan. Panera is a fantastic place to stop when you are traveling and can't find a vegan restaurant. They have several items that can be made vegan by leaving the cheese off of them. They also hummus to put on your bagel and they carry almond milk for coffee, you have to ask for it because it is behind the counter.
Best Vegan Restaurants in Asheville, NC
Plant Vegan Restaurant
165 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801
Bean Vegan Cuisine
2145-A Hendersonville Rd
Asheville, NC 28704
Vegan Options in Asheville, NC
2 Banks Ave #106
Asheville, NC 28801
Laughing Seed Café
40 Wall St
Asheville, NC 28801
116 N Lexington Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
Things to Do in Asheville, NC
Some of my favorite things to do in Asheville are the Biltmore Estate, Zen Tubing, and the North Carolina Arboretum.
George Vanderbilt built the Biltmore Estate in 1889 as his country home.
1 Lodge St
Asheville, NC 28803
Zen tubing is a great way to cool off in the summer heat and hang out with friends for a couple of hours.
Downtown Asheville Location
608 Riverside Dr.
1648 Brevard Rd
The North Carolina Arboretum has long paths to walk, and my favorite part was the Bonzai tree.
North Carolina Arboretum
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way
Asheville, NC 28806-9315
Botanical Gardens At Asheville
151 W .T. Weaver Blvd
Asheville, NC 28804
Free Things to Do in Asheville, NC
Located 12 miles west of downtown Brevard. From the intersection of US Highway 64 and US Highway 178 in Rosman, take US 178 south for 3.4 miles and turn right into the private driveway (look for "Mountain Meadow" sign). Drive past some ponds and circle around the house to park in the back (there is usually a sign to direct you).
Waterfalls Near Asheville
Asheville Urban Trail
Begin the Urban Trail at Pack Place
Graveyard Fields Hike & Waterfalls
Do not rely on GPS! Just drive the Blue Ridge Parkway south from Asheville to Milepost 418.8, about 37 miles southwest of downtown. It's about 10 miles past Mt. Pisgah. Heads up: this section of the Parkway is closed in the winter for ice and snow.
Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower
Fryingpan Tower is about 22 miles from Asheville (allow 45 minutes to drive). From Asheville, head south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Milepost 409.6 and park at the entrance to the Forest Service Road 450. The road gate is closed (do not block it). Walk around the gate and walk up the gravel road to the summit. This section of the Parkway is closed much of the winter due to snow and ice. Best time to visit is April through October.
River Arts District
191 Lyman Street
St. Claire Art
344 Depot Street
Cataloochee Valley & Elk, Great Smoky Mountains
Don't rely on GPS. About 45 miles from downtown, allow 1.5 hours to travel. Take I-40 West from Asheville to Exit 20 onto 276. Follow 276 for 1/4-mile, and turn right onto Cove Creek Road (NC-284). Travel 5.8 miles on this narrow, steep, winding, mostly gravel road to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Continue another 1.7 miles to a paved road and turn left. Follow the road another 3.5 miles until you see several old buildings and a meadow on each side of the road.
There are more than 700 on-street, metered spaces in downtown Asheville. All meters are for short-term parking (two hours or less, as marked) at the cost of $1.50 per hour. All meters accept coins only or pay via the Passport Parking App. The metered spaces are enforced from 8 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Saturday. Parking is FREE each Sunday and city holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas (3 days). So don't "feed the meters" on these days.
Mountain Swimming Holes
Basilica of St. Lawrence
97 Haywood Street
Asheville, NC 28801
- Craggy Gardens is approximately 24 miles from Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Craggy Pinnacle parking lot Milepost 364.1
- Craggy Gardens picnic grounds Milepost 367.5
- Craggy Gardens Visitor Center Milepost 364.6
Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center
195 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28803
Asheville Movie Locations
Folk Art Center
Milepost 382, Blue Ridge Parkway
Asheville, NC 28805
Asheville, NC is a great vegan paradise to spend a weekend or a week.