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Asheville: An Insider’s Perspective

Since IEI will be holding our Sept. 17 forum ReCONNECT to Community in Asheville, we asked Asheville native and summer IEI intern Haley Boram to give us her tips on some of the mountain town’s fun happenings!


By Haley Boram

Ears often perk up when I mention I am from Asheville. Growing up in The Land of the Sky, a town noted as one of the best places to visit and live, was an entirely unique experience. Now that I have left Asheville (temporarily) to pursue my undergraduate degree at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte I have learned to appreciate my hometown of Asheville that much more.

When I began my summer internship with the Institute for Emerging Issues and learned of the ReConnect NC series kicking off in my wonderful hometown, with the Emerging Issues Forum ReConnect to Community, I was eager to share all I could about the ins and outs of what Asheville has to offer.  

So, without further adieu, here are some of my favorite things to do and places to go in Asheville. (I even included some personal pics showcasing my own Asheville adventures at some of these locations!)


Food and Drinks


Tupelo HoneyThis Southern home-style restaurant is a must for me when I visit my mountain home. It pairs the comfort (and butter) from traditional Southern food with fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients for a match made in heaven. Tupelo has been widely successful and has expanded outside Asheville, but it is still neat to eat where it all began.

City Bakery:  How can you pass up on a great breakfast sandwich and chai latte? Answer: you can’t. City bakery is a cute cafe with two locations, both around downtown. They focus mainly on breads and pastries but my favorite is their Hawaiian Breakfast Sandwich. City Bakery uses locally sourced fresh ingredients (noticing a trend?) and have impeccable flavors. Quick, easy, and delicious!

Filo/ Post 70A coffee shop by day and a bar by night, this two-for-one is another one of my favorite stops. During the day (7am-5pm) this is a great place to grab a cup of coffee, have a meeting and get some work done. Come 5 o’clock you can order a cocktail and some small plates. What more could you ask for?

Mamacitas: If you have ever read anything about food in Asheville you probably know tacos are popular. There are quite a few places to get them but this is my favorite. Right in downtown Mamacitas puts a creative spin on authentic style Mexican street food. This has been a go-to for myself and family as long as I can remember.




Zen Tubing: For a nice float through Asheville on the French Broad River this is the way to go. There are two locations (I prefer Midtown which puts you in West Asheville). You can see some sights, relax and enjoy nature all at the same time.

John RockThis is hands down my favorite hike in the Asheville area. It is the perfect length (5 miles) with an amazing view. Located in Pisgah National Forest it is about a 30 mile drive from downtown. And seriously, you just can’t beat the view.

Douglas FallsIf you’re looking for something more intensive another one of my favorite hikes is the Douglas Falls trail from Craggy Gardens. Located off of the Blue Ridge Parkway this roughly six-hour hike will put you more in touch with nature and how out of shape you are. Bonus: at the end of this seven mile hike there is a fantastic waterfall.


Navitat Canopy AdventuresThis is a truly unique way to experience the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you can stomach a fear of heights to glide through the trees for some amazing views and a rush of adrenaline I can’t recommend this enough. There are a few options in terms of tour type but however you go you will be amazed by just how beautiful the area is.







Catch a concert at The Orange Peel: You just don’t see artists this up close and personal very often. This venue is intimate while simultaneously offering a fully immersive experience in terms of audio and lighting. It is everything you could want from a concert venue with the added benefit of actually being able to see the performer.

Take a class at Asheville Community Yoga: This 501(c)(3) nonprofit has the mission to keep yoga and healing arts financially accessible. As a college student on a tight budget finding this place was a blessing. With the “yoga movement” sweeping the nation and gaining popularity classes can get expensive. Having a safe place to practice and grow at a cost that works for me is unbeatable. And if you’ve never tried yoga you can do it risk free for a charitable cause.

Stop by the Drum CircleEvery Friday night from April-October the Asheville community comes together in Pritchard Park in downtown to have a jam session. Talk about reconnecting! People from all walks of life, locals and tourists, come together and let loose. In times as divided as we are seeing a true coalescing is wonderful to watch.

See some animals at the WNC Nature CenterLike a miniature zoo, but for an educational purpose, the Nature Center has been a place to visit my entire life. You can see foxes, snakes, bobcats, and yes, bears. The Nature Center is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This is a great place to visit, especially if you have young kids.


Haley Boram is a policy and program intern working at the Institute for Emerging Issues this summer.