Looking for the perfect weekend getaway?
I’m convinced you can’t do better than Asheville, North Carolina. Between its proximity to beautiful nature, quirky and walkable downtown, a plethora of breweries, and stellar cuisine, you’ll have a diverse slate of activities and more than enough to keep you occupied.
I started lengthening my trips to this city after my first few weekends there proved too short, but a couple of days will give you a great intro to the city and the surrounding area. Asheville is also in close driving distance from more major cities than you might expect, making it an easy place to pop over to or to build into a longer road trip.
Let’s dive into how to use points and miles to get yourself to Asheville and book accommodations, as well as what to do, see and eat when you arrive.
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Asheville isn’t exactly a big city, so as you’d expect, flight options are a little limited. But as it’s gained recognition as a vacation destination over the last few years, airlines have added more routes accordingly. Plus, as I mentioned, it’s in easy driving range from cities including Charlotte, Durham, Atlanta, Charleston and Nashville (plus D.C., if you’re willing to spend a bit more time in the car), so if all else fails, you can grab a flight into one of these cities and hit the road.
American operates nonstop flights to Asheville from Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth and New York City’s LaGuardia, as well as seasonal flights from Chicago O’Hare and Washington Reagan. Between these options, you can pretty much get from anywhere in the U.S. to Asheville with one-stop or less.
While you can always use American AAdvantage miles to book your ticket, another option is booking AA flights using British Airways Avios. Because of BA’s distance-based award chart, the airline frequently charges fewer miles than American does for American’s own flights. Keep in mind though that BA charges per segment, so a connecting flight will tack on extra miles.
If you need a connecting flight to get there and want to use fewer points, take a look at Iberia Avios. While Iberia is part of the Avios program like British Airways, there are some differences in the programs. Once being that Iberia calculates the Avios required by the total distance of the itinerary rather than per segment. This could help you save some points for a future trip.
United operates a trio of routes from its hubs to Asheville. Year-round, you can fly nonstop from Chicago O’Hare, Newark and Washington Dulles, again making it simple to get to Asheville with just one stop.
With United’s recent switch to dynamic pricing, you’ll now often find short-haul domestic routes for cheap, including some for as little as 5,000 Mileage Plus miles. But if you’re having trouble finding something affordable, try searching for your flight on Avianca, whose LifeMiles program sometimes yields lower prices in miles.
Delta only has one year-round nonstop to Asheville—from Atlanta—along with a seasonal flight from New York’s LaGuardia. But considering the size of Delta’s Atlanta hub, even with that option alone, you can get to Asheville with one stop from tons of United States cities.
Like United, Delta prices award flights dynamically, so you never know what you’re going to get in terms of the price in miles. But if you can’t find anything reasonable, you can always check Virgin Atlantic, which regularly fields lower award prices for Delta’s flights than Delta does.
If you’re less concerned about earning or redeeming miles on your flight—and okay with flying a low-cost carrier—Allegiant actually has far and away the most nonstop options into Asheville. Fly from Baltimore-Washington, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Newark, Orlando Sanford, Sarasota, and St. Petersburg/Clearwater any time of year, or seasonally from Austin, Boston, Chicago Midway and Houston Hobby.
If you do want to fly Allegiant and don’t want to pay, you do have some options. While the flights won’t show up online using Chase’s travel portal, you can use Ultimate Rewards to book them by phone. Alternatively, you can use a card with fixed-value points—such as the Capital One® Venture® Credit Card—to erase the charge from your statement.
Asheville may be small, but it has plenty of hotel options to suit every taste and points budget. Whether you want something sparse to use as a home base for exploring or a luxury stay, you’ll find it.
My budget picks are the Hyatt Place Asheville/Downtown and the Hilton Garden Inn, both of which are in easy walking distance from all downtown Asheville has to offer.
At the Hyatt, a standard room for a weeknight in October (considered Asheville’s high season because of the fall foliage) goes for about $220. Weekends, meanwhile, will top $400, but you can dodge that cost by using 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
Photo credit from Hyatt Place Asheville/Downtown
The Hilton Garden Inn, meanwhile, charges closer to $200 for a standard room, with a jump up to the mid-$300s for a weekend night in October. In points, the charge comes out to 42,000 (though Hilton’s pricing is dynamic, meaning it can change at any time).
Asheville’s top mid-range hotels are all Marriott, starting with the Aloft Asheville Downtown. It goes for just below $200 for a standard room on an October weeknight, but that rate leaps above $500 for a weekend.
It’s a Category 6 property, so a standard room checks in at 50,000 points, but that number can sink to 40,000 or rise to 60,000 depending on whether dates are considered peak or off-peak.
The Renaissance Asheville Hotel, another Marriott pick, looks slightly more modern than other Renaissance hotels you may have seen, thanks to some design flair in the lobby rooms and indoor pool area. The hotel even features bee boxes on the roof to promote sustainability, adding to its hipness factor.
Photo credit from The Renaissance Asheville Hotel
While the hotel can actually boast lower rates than those featured in the “budget” section—I found an October weeknight for $166, and a weekend night for $450—it looks nicer overall. And it costs less than the Aloft in points as a Category 5 property; its standard award rate is 35,000 points.
If you want to go a little sleeker, consider the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown. Because Asheville is small, all the downtown hotels are pretty well-located, but the AC is in the center of it all. This is pricier in points as a Category 7 property, coming in at 60,000 points at the standard rate. Not necessarily so in cash, though—I found weeknight rooms for $224 and weekend rooms for $379.
While I’m all for a budget redemption under certain circumstances, if you want to relish time at your hotel, consider a stay at The Foundry Hotel Asheville or the Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville.
The Foundry, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, is still pretty new. Built on the site of the foundry that forged the steel for the Biltmore Estate, it’s ultra-hip, with an industrial-chic aesthetic, a top-notch restaurant (Benne on Eagle), and a Tesla available on-demand to transport guests to other parts of downtown.
Standard rooms from $287 on an October weeknight skyrocket to $616 over the weekend, so using Hilton Honors points is a good bet here. That same weekend room comes out to 56,000 points.
Elsewhere, the Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville Autograph Collection—which, as part of the Autograph Collection, is another property under Marriott’s umbrella—is probably the highest-end points hotel in town, but if you aren’t bringing or renting a car, its location should give you pause. It’s in Biltmore Village, meaning it’s a drive away from downtown, though that may not matter to guests whose itinerary is Biltmore-focused.
That said, if you do have a car and want to go luxe, give this property a look. From its wood-paneled lobby to the velvet furniture in the rooms, the hotel features opulent touches. Pricey October weeknight rates of $439 don’t get much worse over the weekend, staying below $500, and the hotel is a Category 7 property if you want to go the points route.
Once again, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Asheville, which really has it all given its charming downtown, cultural wealth and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. If time is limited, these are the things you can’t miss!
If there’s one thing you have to do in Asheville, it’s drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. This winding road through the mountains, which bills itself as “America’s favorite drive,” stretches all the way from Cherokee, NC—on the doorstep of Great Smoky Mountains National Park—to Virginia, where it connects to Shenandoah National Park’s famed Skyline Drive.
Stunning vistas (with convenient lookout points to stop and take pictures), wildlife (think moose, bears, deer and so much more), and gorgeous foliage are what you can expect on your trip. You’ll also find plenty of trails at all difficulty levels if you want to explore the area further on foot.
For perhaps the most magical Blue Ridge Parkway experience, make the drive before dawn and catch the sunrise at Mills River Valley Overlook.
This Gilded Age mansion, which calls itself “America’s Largest Home,” is so much more than a big house. The Biltmore Estate includes 8,000 acres of gardens and grounds, so in short, it’ll keep you busy exploring for the better part of a day.
Wander the property, admire works by world-famous glass artist Chihuly, visit the on-site winery for a tasting or indulge in afternoon tea—you’ve got plenty of options here. You’ll want to arrive early in the day to keep from running out of time, avoid the crowds and make the most of a pricey entrance fee!
Afterward, drop by nearby Biltmore Village. It’s a charming area featuring more than 40 shops and 10 restaurants and cafes, most of which are housed in historic structures.
Asheville is famous for its beer scene, and because it boasts more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city, it’s not hard to get in on the action. Across the city and surrounding area you’ll find more than 50 breweries, so whether you want a scenic option with mountain views or a spot that’s walkable from your hotel, you’ll find it.
Popular picks include Highland Brewing Co. and Wicked Weed. California’s Sierra Nevada and Colorado’s New Belgium each have large Asheville outposts as well.
Asheville’s thriving food scene is part of what’s helped build its reputation as a great place to visit, and it boasts an impressive number of creative, locally focused menus for a city of its size. Here are some of my must-visits:
- Rhubarb (and sister spot The Rhu)
- Benne on Eagle
- Gan Shan West
- The Bull and Beggar
- Smoky Park Supper Club
- Sovereign Remedies
- Chai Pani
- The Waterbird
You could easily fill a week with other good Asheville options, but with just a few days, these are where I’d start!
As is the case with many destinations, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve are useful in planning an Asheville trip. For one, if you want to use hotel points, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book the Hyatt Place. Ultimate Rewards points also transfer to United and Virgin Atlantic, which can help you book cheap domestic Delta awards.
Beyond the Sapphire cards, hotel cards can go a long way toward reducing the cost of your accommodation if you don’t want to go with the Hyatt Place. The Hilton Surpass Card from American Express and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase each come with sign-up bonuses and free night certificates that will put you well on your way to a free weekend stay.
While most people might think of Asheville as a fall foliage destination, the city has so much to offer no matter when you visit. Spring and summer bring opportunities for hiking and brewery hangouts, while winter is an ideal time to check out seasonal decorations at the Biltmore Estate and surrounding Biltmore Village.
No matter when you go, you won’t be disappointed, and doing it for free using points and miles will be the icing on the cake!
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