The Asheville area is a wonderful destination year-round—and that certainly includes Thanksgiving. Whether you’re looking to avoid the pressures of hosting a holiday gathering yourself, hoping to find a more adventurous holiday experience replete with terrific food and the beauty and activities of the mountains, or just wanting a safe, enjoyable break from the woes of Covid-19, Thanksgiving in and around Asheville is just the thing for you.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to enjoy some outdoor activities. Temperatures are usually comfortable, and crowds are sparse at best, so your hiking options are plentiful and excellent. DuPont State Recreational Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are open on Thanksgiving and offer wonderful hikes. If biking is more your thing, take a ride in the Bent Creek area. If you’d like to enjoy a little natural beauty from the comfort of your car, take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway—just be sure to check for closures (by late November overnight icing on the road isn’t uncommon).
Interested in seeing how the Vanderbilts might have celebrated the holiday? Biltmore is open for tours on Thanksgiving Day and will be fully decked out in holiday decorations (the holiday in question is actually Christmas, but the decorations are lovely nonetheless). Be sure to get your tickets in advance because the tours will sell out.
Ready to get some shopping done? Most of the area’s smaller stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (don’t worry—they will most assuredly be open the rest of the holiday weekend!), but the Asheville Outlets Center will be open Thanksgiving Day from 6pm until 2am Friday.
Of course, thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving for most without a big, sumptuous meal. If you’re looking to cook your own, be sure your rental property comes with a fully equipped kitchen, and be sure to get into town early enough to shop for supplies—or plan to bring your own food and cookware. If that’s not necessarily your cup of tea, don’t worry: you have plenty of good options.
READY TO BOOK YOUR VACATION?
For anyone who equates a big holiday meal with a restaurant experience, or for those who don’t want to try to cook or clean up from a big holiday meal while on vacation, the Asheville area offers a number of excellent dine-in options for Thanksgiving. Be sure to call ahead for reservations or to find out whether walk-ins are possible. Some of the most notable options are
Pack’s Tavern – Featuring a full Thanksgiving buffet with rigorous Covid-safe measures, Pack’s is a local holiday favorite. Open 11am to 8pm.
The Blackbird – Serving a Southern-influenced menu with main course choices other than just the traditional turkey.
Isa’s French Bistro – Offering a Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the trimmings, as well as salmon, steak, and a vegan option, from noon to 8pm.
Bouchon – Serving a French-influenced holiday dinner with seatings at noon, 2:30pm, and 5pm.
Hemingway’s Cuba – Offering a bit of Cuban flair to go along with the more traditional turkey from noon to 8pm.
Fork Lore (South Asheville) – Featuring a family-style buffet with all the trimmings from noon to 7pm.
For those who aren’t necessarily comfortable with restaurant dining right now or who would prefer to have a more intimate family meal without the cooking, there are plenty of terrific take-out options for you. Most have cut-off dates for preordering, so be sure to check with each restaurant. Those with cut-off dates closest to the holiday include the following:
Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack – Southern sides and desserts (think mac and cheese, corn pudding, and Coca Cola cake).
Black Bear BBQ – Smoked turkey and all the trimmings, as well as vegan options, appetizers, and desserts.
The Rhu – Traditional Thanksgiving sides and desserts.
Luella’s Bar-B-Que – Complete Thanksgiving meals.
Twisted Laurel – A range of Thanksgiving main courses, sides, and desserts.
Baba Nahm – Traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a Mediterranean twist.
Laughing Seed Café – Vegetarian entrees, sides, and special desserts.
RendezVous – Complete French-inspired feasts prepared to serve two, four, or six people.