by Christine Yablonski

Congratulations! You finished your Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Backyard to Backyard Challenge, or Backyard to Vineyard Challenge! Now what? Maybe you’ve been to Asheville before, maybe this is your very first visit. You’ve probably heard about the breweries, maybe about the art and music scene, and, of course, the Blue Ridge Mountains. What are some great things you can do during your rest and recovery while still in Asheville?

Let’s start with the obvious: Biltmore Estate! Many people stay at Biltmore for the event and while here you can take advantage of the many offerings there. Get a massage at the spa. Enjoy some recovery miles by walking along some of the many miles of walking paths and hiking trails, including some that you already ran! Feast at one of the many restaurants on the property. Take in the Downton Abbey exhibit – it runs until April 7th.

Of course, Asheville is more than just the Biltmore. Just outside the entrance is the historic Biltmore Village. Originally modeled after a small English village, it boasted the area’s first railroad station but was transformed into an idyllic village that served not only to provide a fitting entrance to George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, but also to function as an independent and self-sustaining community. Now it’s a great place to wander, shop, and eat!

Downtown Asheville is very walkable treasure trove of things to do. The Asheville Art Museum just reopened after a huge expansion and refurbishment, located right in the heart of downtown. Book lovers can enjoy browsing at Malaprops Bookstore and Cafe, Downtown Books and News, and the Battery Park Book Exchange. Got kids? Check out the Asheville Museum of Science, a small science museum featuring playful, hands-on exhibits, plus various events for children.

Likewise, the River Arts District, which runs along the French Broad River, and West Asheville are other great areas of Asheville to wander. Grab a free copy of the weekly Mountain Express – available at newspaper kiosks and inside many businesses – and take a look at the entertainment section. There you’ll find a comprehensive guide to the many art galleries, artist studios, venues, and performances all over Asheville.

Feel like more shopping? Check out MTN Merch downtown, which offers Asheville themed apparel like T-Shirts, Clothing and Gifts. 

Of course, Asheville is known as Beer City for a reason – there are many great options for hanging out and enjoying some local craft beers (such as Oskar Blues) or ciders. Some places serve food, some just bar snacks, so pick accordingly. The Collaboratory serves both local brews and delicious food, and has a tasting room. All over town there are also coffee and tea houses (Summit Coffee is a good one). No matter what – be smart and stay hydrated! There are also many great restaurants all over town. Enjoy trying farm-to-table delectables for your recovery fuel, delicious grass-fed burgers from Farm Burger (vegetarian options also available), or 12 Bones Smokehouse where everything is made from scratch. 

Feel like something sweet? Check out French Broad Chocolates, which is sure to satsify your chocolate cravings with an amazing selection of chocolate desserts and beverages. 

Drop-in yoga classes (YAM is a good one) can be found at studios all over town so you can stretch out any residual soreness close to where you are staying or playing. (YAM Yoga and Massage offers post massages after the race, and they also offer classes at their studio.) Likewise, there are some great spas where you can get a post-run massage.

If you’re up for something less urban but still active, there are greenways all over town. One of the longest stretches from the French Broad River Park all the way past Carrier Park and on to Hominy Creek Greenway – it’s 2.5 miles one way, all along the French Broad River and is open to walkers, runners, and cyclists. Pack a picnic and gently walk that lactic acid out of your muscles.

Other more natural options for walking or running include The North Carolina Arboretum, which is conveniently located at one of the Blue Ridge Parkway access points and adjoins Bent Creek, a forest with extensive trails that vary from very easy to quite challenging. Also along the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Mountain to Sea Trail, which actually spans North Carolina from the mountains to the coast. If you go to the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville you can get maps and other guides for hiking or running on the many trails in the area.

Wore out your shoes or need run/walk accessories? Check out Fleet Feet Asheville for a great selection on active wear and running gear. 

Enjoy your time in Asheville celebrating your Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Backyard to Backyard Challenge, or Backyard to Vineyard Challenge – you earned it!

Christine Yablonski is an Asheville Marathon Ambassador. Learn more about her and our other ambassadors by visiting this link

Asheville Discount Card – $10 Each

Whether you’re visiting Asheville for the weekend or a local on the lookout for great deals, this is the card for you!

We’ve teamed up with some of our favorite spots to bring our participants a “tour of the town” using these great discounts. Let this be your guide as you dine and shop your way through this incredible city.

Thank you to our amazing sponsors for making this possible! 12 Bones Smokehouse, The Collaboratory (Oskar Blues), Farm Burger, Fleet Feet Asheville, French Broad Chocolate, MTN Merch, Summit Coffee, and Urban Orchard Cider.

(All discounts expire at midnight on 3/25/20)