Asheville, North Carolina, US
A concrete jungle this is not. Encircled by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is quickly becoming a destination for millennials lured in by boutique boltholes and farm-to-table restaurants. Expect bougie back-to-nature vibes. Plus, the city centre is robust with live music, outdoor beer gardens and a unique arts scene. Despite its southern location, Asheville is known for its progressive ideals and strives to promote inclusivity.
An ideal day in Asheville would consist of the following: wake up early to visit the historic house museum of Biltmore estate, where you'll gawp at 16th-century tapestries and works by Renoir before exploring 8,000 acres of gardens threaded with trails for hiking and biking. We suggest going in the morning to avoid queues.
Head back into the centre to tour shops peddling jewellery, ceramics and paintings in the River Arts District. To cap the day off, make your way to Asheville Music Hall for some live soul, bluegrass music and a large beer selection.
Where to stay
Although it's easy to experience both urban and rural activities in Asheville, we recommend choosing your accommodation according to what you want your trip to be centred around. Leaning towards a restful weekend? Check out Shoji Spa and Lodge, a 25-minute drive out of the city centre. One of its Japanese-style outdoor therapeutic salt hot tubs is the perfect place to take a deep breath and relax. If you'd rather experience the city's assets, try The Windsor Boutique Hotel in the heart of downtown Asheville; you'll be minutes' walk away from the best restaurants and bars.
Where to go for dinner…
Asheville's culinary scene is fast approaching the status of the country's larger cities thanks to its strong farm-to-fork establishments. Make your way to Rhubarb for modern Appalachian cuisine made with locally sourced, seasonal produce.
And a drink…
With some of America's most breweries per capita - there are 23 breweries (and counting) in the city - Asheville's Brewery District is a must-visit. Our top pick? Asheville Brewing Company. Its outdoor seating area is the closest you'll get to a decent beer garden without crossing the Atlantic.
Who to take with you
Someone who won't get bored trawling Asheville's artistic enclaves and who will be thrilled tucking into a glazed rack of ribs at a Carolina county throwdown. Given Asheville's reputation for barbecue and beers, this probably isn't the best spot for vegans or health nuts.
When to go
Keep in mind that Asheville is located in the south. To avoid the sweltering heat and humidity, it's best to visit from either March to May, or September through November. The summer months are a no-go if you want to actually survive time spent outdoors.
Essentials to pack
Asheville is very walkable. Whether you choose to embark on a long walk or simply pootle about the city by foot, chic trainers should be the first thing you pack. A classic pair of Veja kicks are perfect.
How to get there
Asheville Regional Airport has direct flights from most major US cities. If not, you can fly to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and then drive two hours.