From the scenery to the arts to the beer scene, there’s a lot to love about Asheville. The word is officially out — Asheville provides the perfect blend of quirky, sophisticated, and laid-back. It makes for an excellent weekend getaway for visitors who reside nearby in North and South Carolina, as well as Georgia and Tennessee. For those who live much farther away, Asheville provides a great base for a week or more of excitement.
As more people discover all that this special city has to offer, the airport is quickly expanding, as are alternate transit solutions. All this makes Asheville easier to reach than ever — with a few caveats. Below, we’ve highlighted all the benefits and challenges of traveling to Asheville so you can feel fully prepared for your journey.
Flying to Asheville
While Asheville is easily accessible by car, many people prefer to fly. This is a great option, as Asheville’s airport is conveniently located close to town.
With new flights added all the time, it’s easy to see why the Asheville Regional Airport is one of the fastest-growing facilities in the country. In addition to many direct flights, this airport boasts easy connections to several hubs. Because it’s so small, it’s incredibly easy to navigate.
Of course, the downside of using a smaller airport is the general lack of amenities. That doesn’t mean that the Asheville Regional Airport is bare-bones, however. There are, in fact, a few great places to grab food or beverages, as well as gifts and various necessities.
Expected options such as Cinnabon and Auntie Anne are provided, as well as an establishment with a lot of local flairs: The Blue Ridge Trading + Tavern. Offering baked goods, burgers, and locally brewed beer, this restaurant is a must-visit even if you don’t typically eat at the airport.
Other perks include:
- Free WiFi
- Water bottle filling stations
- Recharge stations
- Gift shop
- Family restroom
Don’t hesitate to seek assistance from the Guest Services + Welcome Center, which is conveniently located near the baggage claim. The friendly staff members will be happy to help you with making ground transportation arrangements or getting directions to your next destination.
If you fly to Asheville, you’ll almost certainly need to rent a car. Yes, there are a few local options for getting around, but the best scenery is almost impossible to reach without a vehicle to call your own for a few days. Thankfully, there are multiple car rental agencies situated right by the airport.
If you plan on mainly hanging out downtown or in the River Arts District, you might be able to get by with buses or ridesharing services — but be prepared for frequent inconveniences.
Driving to Asheville
Several freeways and highways cross through Asheville, so driving is always a convenient means of reaching this highly accessible city. There are also numerous scenic drives available in the area, so the journey can be just as exciting as the destination. These gorgeous drives are especially appealing if you plan on adding a few days in Asheville to a larger Smoky Mountains adventure that also includes Gatlinburg, Sevierville, or Pigeon Forge.
If you’re traveling from far away and primarily staying in Asheville, you’ll want the most direct route. While drive times can vary based on weather, construction, and general rush hour traffic, you can expect to spend this much time on the road if traveling from these major cities:
- Chicago: 10.5 hours (655 miles)
- New York City: 11.5 hours (690 miles)
- Washington, D.C.: 7.5 hours (470 miles)
- Atlanta: 3.5 hours (200 miles)
- Charlotte: 2 hours (125 miles)
- Gatlinburg: 1.5 hours (80 miles)
- Nashville: 4.5 hours (295 miles)
- Jacksonville: 6.5 hours (440 miles)
- Dallas-Fort Worth: 14 hours (960 miles)
Chances are, your drive will — at some point — involve either I-40 or I-26. Both generally provide efficient access to Asheville, although construction is a common concern. When in doubt, build a little extra time into your trip to allow for unexpected delays.
After a long drive, you’ll want to stretch your legs before the final phase of your journey. Make the most of the numerous rest areas provided within a few hours of Asheville. Of course, you’re also welcome to check out the gorgeous parks, hiking trails, and small towns situated nearby.
If you love traveling by rail, you’re out of luck for your Asheville vacation; this city is not currently serviced by Amtrak. The good news, however, is that two nearby cities do have Amtrak stops: Spartanburg and Greenville. Both are just over an hour’s drive from Asheville and conveniently situated near rental car outposts.
Another option if you like the idea of using public transit: is Greyhound. From Charlotte to Atlanta and even New York, many easy trips are available. Once you arrive, you can make the most of Asheville Rides Transit (ART) and take regional bus rides within the town and even to Black Mountain.
Whether flying, driving, or taking the bus, you will be pleased to find that Asheville is easy to reach from nearly any city in the United States. With a little planning, you can get to this gem of a city easily and affordably. Following a quick and enjoyable trip, you’ll feel ready to explore the many sights, sounds, and tastes that Asheville has to offer.