6 In North America

11 Things to do in Asheville for $11 or Less

Asheville has definitely become one of America’s most popular cities, and while that might mean it’s becoming increasingly expensive to live there, there are still plenty of inexpensive or even free activities for budget travelers to take advantage of.

Heading to Asheville soon and hoping to not break the bank? Here are 11 things to do in Asheville for $11 or less.

hole doughnuts asheville north carolina

Urban Walking Trail

Follow this self-guided walking tour for a thorough introduction to the city’s history. If you’re a fan of architecture, you’re in luck; Asheville has the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in the entire country.

S&W Cafeteria Building Asheville North Carolina
The S&W Cafeteria Building, a stop on the Urban Walking Trail and my favorite building in Asheville!

The trail is divided into five sections, each with its own symbol: a feather marking the Gilded Age, a horseshoe marking the Frontier Period, an angel marking the Times of Thomas Wolfe, a courthouse marking the Era of Civic Pride, and an eagle marking the Age of Diversity.

At each of the trail’s ~thirty stops you’ll see the landmark being highlighted along with a plaque describing its importance. You’ll also be able to follow pink granite blocks with the trail’s five symbols carved into the city’s sidewalks.

dancing statues asheville civic center
A statue of a couple dancing at the Asheville Civic Center with The Basilica of Saint Lawrence in the background

Download the map here.

Cost: Free

Street Art Photo Shoot

Asheville has a vibrant street art scene. Before our trip, I took note of a few pieces I wanted to try to see. Through a combination of good timing and pure luck, we were able to find all of them and more, despite not being exactly sure where they were all located.

This actually turned into one of the most fun parts of our time in Asheville; it felt like a city-wide scavenger hunt and every time we found another – or a great piece that we hadn’t been expecting – it felt so satisfying.

Cost: Free – the only thing at stake is your camera battery!

aloft daydreamer mural asheville north carolina
This beautiful Art Deco-inspired piece at 51 Biltmore Ave. was made with paint and ceramic tile
west asheville street art mural
Find this West Asheville tribute at 785 Haywood Rd.
futurama simpsons mural asheville north carolina
Two-for-one at 288 Lyman St. with this amazing Simpsons/Futurama combo and the Englightenment Mural below

Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café

This independent bookstore on Haywood St. feels instantly inviting, and any book lover will want to pay it a visit after hearing their mission statement: “A place for readers who concern themselves with humanity and her development; where the best reads, the best company, and the best coffee complete the picture; where the books are the stars.”

Grab a drink from the café and browse the staff recommendations to take mental note of your next read, check out the banned books display, or sign up for their free newsletter, Shelf Awareness: Enlightenment for Readers.

Cost: Free to browse, $3-6 for a beverage or a pastry

malaprop bookstore cafe asheville north carolina

Treat Yourself at Hole Doughnuts

These freshly fried, made-to-order doughnuts will leave you wanting more, and that’s a promise. We split one with toasted almonds, sesame seeds and cinnamon and I couldn’t stop talking about it all day. (Several weeks later, I’m still talking about it!)

hole doughnuts asheville north carolina
Doughnut of my dreams

The beautiful café space boasts large windows and an open kitchen, and there’s even a little blue truck outside you can sit in if you prefer.

hole doughnuts coffee asheville north carolina

As an added bonus, the shop is within walking distance of two of my favorite murals in the city, shown below, as well as being right down the street from the Urban Orchard Cider Co. (Keep reading!)

asheville mural play every day
Find this mural right across the street from the Urban Orchard Cider Co. at 210 Haywood Rd.
taco billy mural asheville north carolina
This larger-than-life goat hangs out on the side of Taco Billy at 201 Haywood Rd.

Read more about Hole (and see some seriously drool-worthy pics) here.

Cost: $2.75 per donut

Break for Beans

Coffee lovers will be spoiled for choice in Asheville. We started our day at High Five’s Rankin Ave. shop and took a break from exploring a few hours later at PennyCup Coffee Co., a small batch roaster that provides beans for many other Asheville spots, including the aforementioned Hole Doughnuts.

high five coffee asheville north carolina
High Five Coffee
pennycup coffee co asheville north carolina
PennyCup Coffee Co.’s Depot Street location

Cost: $3-6

Explore the Blue Ridge Parkway and beyond

Not only is Asheville a beautiful city, it’s surrounded on all sides by countless opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature-centric activities of every kind. One of the country’s most famous scenic drives, the Blue Ridge Parkway, is literally minutes away from the downtown area, offering quick and easy access to waterfalls, scenic viewpoints, historical landmarks and more, including the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, Mount Mitchell.

Cost: Gas (and maybe a few snacks)

blue ridge parkway asheville north carolina
Scenic pull-offs abound on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Nature in the City

If you prefer staying closer to the city, the Botanical Gardens at Asheville are a great option. Located just north of the downtown area by the UNC Asheville campus, you can enjoy walking trails lined with native wildflowers; you can even check their website to time your visit during peak bloom times.

Cost: Admission and parking are both free

Flight of Fancy

I’m more of a cider lover than a beer fan, so I loved visiting the Urban Orchard Cider Company. All of their ciders are made from local apples and aged for a minimum of eight months.

Cost: $9 for a flight of four

urban orchard cider company asheville north carolina

For my hop loving readers, there’s plenty in Asheville for you, too! The city is famous for its craft offerings, with more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city. Click here for a list of options and here to read more about the city’s epic beer scene.

Love Local

The ever-changing and increasingly popular neighborhood of West Asheville boasts a daunting number of great restaurant options. We had a delicious breakfast at Sunny Point Café, an independent, family-owned Asheville institution utilizing fresh ingredients, many coming right from the garden adjacent to their restaurant.

sunny point cafe asheville north carolina
Loved this serve-yourself coffee station at Sunny Point Café

Cost: My breakfast biscuits and gravy came in at $10, but that didn’t count coffee or tip. Never fear, though: on Wednesdays they offer craft beers for $3 and on Sundays starting at 10 am they offer their Nooner Cocktail (vodka, espresso syrup, orgreat syrup, lemon cordial and housemade cold-brew coffee concentrate) for $7. As you can see from the adorable coffee station above, bottomless drip coffee is also an option (and always a great idea) at $2.75 a cup.

Exploring the garden is totally free!

sunny point cafe asheville north carolina

Wander the River Arts District

Some of the city’s best street art is located in the burgeoning River Arts District, where former factories and warehouses have been converted into art galleries and studios, all situated along the banks of the city’s French Broad River. In addition to the actual galleries, the colorful and industrial buildings that house them are pieces of art in their own right.

Cost: Free

river arts district asheville north carolina

good vibes silo asheville north carolina
Potentially Asheville’s most famous piece of street art, located in the lot by the White Duck Taco Shop at 1 Roberts St.

No Farms, No Food

One of the best ways to get to know a new place is to visit a local farmers market, and Asheville has almost twenty “tailgate” markets to choose from. See a full list here to determine the one that best fits your needs.

Cost: Free

Have you been to Asheville before? What was your favorite part? Let me know in the Comments!

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Asheville Budget Travel Guide


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  • Reply
    November 29, 2017 at 10:29 am

    “The Paris of the South” was a great place to visit. The city walking tour was a neat way to see the downtown and learn about the city’s history. There are an abundance of good restaurants, breweries, and live music to satisfy any traveler. Its a short drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mt. Mitchell, and Chimney Rock State Park. Even after a short trip its obvious why its such a popular and desirable place to visit and live.

    • Reply
      Caity Pfohl
      December 2, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      I vote we head back to see more someday! 🙂

  • Reply
    November 29, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    I am so surprised at the beauty of this city! My goodness, I loved this post. I have read a lost of posts about the nature, coffee shops and food around the city. However, I have not read a lot about the architecture or cool spots. Another city for
    my bucket list! #wanderfulwednesday

    • Reply
      Caity Pfohl
      December 23, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! It’s definitely one for the bucket list and I’m hoping to get back for multiple visits in the future! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 6, 2017 at 10:57 am

    To be honest, I had never even heard about Asheville before reading this but your post just made me put the city on my bucket list! So stunning!

    • Reply
      Caity Pfohl
      December 23, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      It’s definitely an up and coming destination. As much as I love international trips it’s definitely exciting uncovering new and lesser known places in my own country. I’m sure you feel the same! 🙂

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