Celebrating Thanksgiving in Asheville seems like a great plan. After all, this is a food-centered holiday, and so is our town! Thanksgiving is also a time to reflect and appreciate the abundance in our life; it’s a time for sharing what we have with friends, family, and the broader community, and, again, that’s what Asheville’s culture is all about.
Our generous mountains are abundant in beauty. They give us many fun adventures and opportunities to feel peaceful and connected, and they don’t ask for anything in return (except that we take our trash home and leave the plants and animals alone). The truth is, it’s very easy to feel appreciative and grateful in Asheville!
Thanksgiving means different things to different people, and there are many ways to celebrate it. But food is almost always a central element. I’ve included options for those who don’t want to cook and recipes for folks who want to try something new to celebrate Thanksgiving in Asheville. Of course, there are some fantastic fall dessert options around town, too.
Nowadays, Thanksgiving celebrations include Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Give Back Tuesday, and other traditions like picking up the Christmas tree. I’ve selected options on how to do all of that in Asheville and suggestions for those who want to use this time to relax and decompress.
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15 Fun Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Asheville
1. Try these Fantastic Spicewalla Recipes
Spicewalla is a brand of spices founded by the 2022 James Beard Award-winning Chef Meherwan Irani (of Chai Pani). Their stock has over 100 herbs, spices, and salts, from Sumac and Sicilian Sea Salt to All Spice Powder and Ancho Chilli Powder.
Spicewalla is a chef-driven company, so they often share recipes where other chefs make their spices stand out. Here are three perfect Thanksgiving recipes:
Turkey Day is not Turkey Day without an apple pie. If you don’t feel like baking this year, try the Apple Pie Spice Daiquiri. According to the Spicewalla team, “It tastes exactly like a slice of tart apple pie.” It’s perfect for kicking off a stellar Thanksgiving dinner or ending your holiday feast.
Chef Santiago Vargas’ Peruvian Baked Turkey seasoned with rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin, and other Spicewalla spices will bring the flavors of Peru to your Thanksgiving dinner in Asheville. If after trying this recipe you are craving more food from Santiago, go to Mikasa Criolla in the S&W Market.
Finally, Gee Burcham’s Cardamom Orange Chocolate Chess Pie sounds so delicious that I might have to visit Gee’s Elderflower Baking Company in Winston Salem, NC, to try it!
2. Admire the Gingerbread Houses at the Omni Grove Park Inn
Located halfway up the slope of Sunset Mountain and nearly 2,500 feet above sea level, the Omni Grove Park Inn is an Asheville landmark, one of its best hotels, and a famous resort world-wide.
Inaugurated in the summer of 1913, the hotel features excellent lodging and dining options, an award-winning spa, a golf course, unique shops, and perfect sunset views. Plus, it’s one of the best places to spend Thanksgiving in Asheville!
You’ll love relaxing by one of the giant 36-foot-wide fireplaces in the lobby while drinking a cocktail, walking around the resort to explore the National Gingerbread House Competition, and indulging yourself with the buffet-style Thanksgiving meal in the Grand Ballroom.
The special Thanksgiving menu includes salads, carving stations of turkey, ham, and beef, soups, traditional side dishes, fantastic seafood and cheese displays, and a decadent, almost infinitive selection of desserts.
Of course, you can always stay in one of the hotels and pair your stay with other holiday experiences. Make sure to contact the resort to arrange your perfect Thanksgiving weekend in Asheville.
3. Feast on an Incredible Thanksgiving Dinner at The Blackbird
The Blackbird is an excellent Downtown Asheville restaurant serving “modern Southern food with a nod to tradition,” with a rotating menu that varies according to the seasons and the availability of locally-sourced ingredients. It’s open for lunch and dinner and is one of the best Asheville spots to brunch on the weekends.
In addition, it offers an outstanding three-course Thanksgiving menu featuring local fall produce and including a kid’s menu that keeps it simple with turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, pan gravy, and cranberry sauce.
The Thanksgiving menu changes every year, but in 2022 it included a Local Mushroom Bisque, Sage Brined Smoked Local Turkey, Seafood Stuffed Flounder, Goat Cheese Corn Pie, plus a suggestion of wines to pair with your choice of meal (The Blackbird’s wine menu won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2021).
The Blackbird dessert menu is excellent year-round as well, and although the Thanksgiving dessert options will vary every year, they’ll surely include the celebrated Southern Custard Coconut Cake, coconut custard layered with cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut.
There is parking at the Aloft Hotel, with over 250 parking spots, and the first hour is free.
4. Sample Sweet Fall Treats at Old Europe Pastries
Old Europe Pastries opened in 1994 and is Asheville’s longest-running café. They just transitioned to a new location, and the shop couldn’t look more chic. Plus, this is one of the few (and maybe the only) café open till 10:00pm on weekdays and 11:00pm on the weekends.
Also, Old Europe is open until early in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. You can go to the shop to get your desserts or place a custom order and have them ready for your dinner. Whatever option you choose, you won’t want to miss Melinda Vetro’s creations. She is the Hungarian woman who founded the café and the author of the recipes.
Are you a fan of pumpkin? Order the Pumpkin Pie Chai or the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and pair them with a Pumpkin Macaron, a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake, or the marvelous Pumpkin Roulade (both cakes are gluten-free!). Another fall favorite is the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie.
If you are ordering desserts for your Asheville Thanksgiving feast, check out their displays of mini desserts. They are the cutest things and will let you try everything in small doses.
5. Try a Delicious Pie from Baked Pie Company
Is anything more comforting than a coffee or hot tea with a slice of homemade pie? No matter what you’re craving, if it’s blueberry pie in the summer, pumpkin pie in the fall, or even a pie flight of three flavors and ice cream, Baked Pie Company is the place to go!
This dessert shop in Arden offers excellent pies in a super welcoming and friendly setting that will invite you to relax and surrender all your problems to the magic of coffee and pie.
They have an extensive menu of baked and cream pies, offering gluten-free, vegan, and sugar-free options. The café menu changes daily, but you can order pies with a 48 hours notice, and they can also cater your event.
If you’re looking for local dessert options for your Thanksgiving in Asheville, Baked Pie Company offers different types of pecan pie, including Chocolate Honey Pecan and Chocolate Bourbon Pecan, a vast selection of apple pies (the Amish one is fabulous!), and pumpkin and sweet potato pies, among other flavors.
6. Take BREW-ed, an Award-Winning Brewery Tour
If your holiday weekend leaves you with extra time to explore Asheville, check out our fantastic beer scene. A great way to do this is by taking one of BREW-ed’s Brewery Tours, which take you behind the scenes of some of Asheville’s best breweries.
“BREW-ed’s tours allow you “to explore the building blocks of beer as you learn how they come together.” Think about tasting malted barley or smelling fresh hops, accessing the production areas, and checking out the tools and equipment used by brewers.
Besides tasting great beer, including fall beers to celebrate Thanksgiving, you’ll learn much about “how your favorite beers are made from grain to glass.”
National Geographic and TripAdvisor voted this tour one of the world’s best beer tours. The reason? They are led by guides certified by the Cicerone Certification Program, the international standard for recognizing those who genuinely appreciate and understand the beer-making process.
7. Spend a Purr-fect Afternoon at Cats at Play Café
Holidays can be stressful, overwhelming, and triggering, especially for introverts, folks grieving loved ones, and those who don’t have a fun relationship with their relatives. We send you our love and would like to tell you about one of the most calming spots in town (it’ll only be calming if you love cats!).
Cats at Play Café is one of the newest additions to Downtown Asheville, and it’s already one of the most popular outings for locals and visitors. You’ll love hanging out with kitties that will bring you the biggest joy without asking much. I recently spent two hours there with my daughter and her friend, and I couldn’t stop smiling.
First, you’ll enter the boutique, where you can get cat T-shirts, hats, home decor, and jewelry. Next, it’ll be your turn to order something to drink and eat. They have savory snacks, baked goods, and an extensive menu of local beverages and drinks, including wine, beer, coffee, tea, elixirs from The MerTails, and hemp seltzers from Asheville Dispensary.
Finally, you’ll hang out with seven or eight lovely kitties in a super comfy space with lounging furniture, cat games, and books while listening to relaxing music. The best part? All the cats are available for adoption!
8. Put on a Costume and run the Asheville Turkey Trot
The Asheville Turkey Trot is the largest road race in Western North Carolina, and it takes place the morning of Thanksgiving. It is one of the most fun, family-friendly Asheville fall events and supports a great cause: it raises money for Manna Food Bank. In 2022, 2,000 runners helped provide 24,000 meals during the holiday season.
The race starts in front of the YMCA Downtown and takes runners to the historic neighborhood of Montford. It ends with a big party at Pack Square in Downtown Asheville, including prizes for best costume and a fall scene photo booth.
People dress up to run this race. You’ll see turkeys, scarecrows, pumpkins, and families wearing matching feather tutus. You’ll have to get up early, but it’ll be loads of fun, and you’ll be supporting neighbors facing food insecurity.
9. Explore Asheville with an E-Bike
Asheville Adventure Company provides all kinds of outdoor adventures, including e-bike rentals and e-bike tours. They are all fun, and the offers include something for every taste. They provide all the necessary equipment: bike, headlights, helmet, and a complimentary beer – because this is Asheville!
The 14-mile Sunset Tour starts around dusk and takes you around Downtown Asheville, the Grove Park Inn area (including a stop to take photos at this awesome resort!), Patton and Town mountains, and the River Arts District. This is the perfect tour to enjoy the golden hour in Asheville and the beautiful November light.
The Brewery Crawl is the most popular tour, and it explores breweries in Downtown’s South Slope, where you’ll also find some of the best Asheville street art pieces. Plus, the first beer is free!
In addition, they offer an E-bike Mountain Tour and full-day and half-bike rentals so you and your family can explore on your own. Kids of all ages are welcome.
10. Have a “Green Friday” Ziplining Adventure
Every Friday after Thanksgiving, the Adventure Center of Asheville and the Wildwater Ltd. Asheville host the Annual Green Friday, on which 50 percent of the revenue will go to five great nonprofits: RiverLink in Asheville, Trees Greenville in Upstate South Carolina, Walhalla Heritage Oaks, Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River, and Arbor Source.
Your kids will have a blast playing at the 60 climbing, zipping, walking, jumping, swinging, and rappelling challenges anchored to over 30 trees (for ages 4 and older). For older kids (10 and up), there are 12 ziplines and three bridges connecting treetop platforms.
The center also features Kid Zip, the first zipline adventure in the country designed for kids 4-10! This is a win-win way to celebrate Thanksgiving in Asheville: your kids will have the time of their lives, and you’ll be supporting the environment. Green Friday has already given $7,000 in donations to plant trees and improve green spaces in our area.
11. Take the Family Hiking to Bearwallow Mountain
Bearwallow Mountain Trail is one of the most loved kid-friendly hikes in the area. It’s short, fun, and easy. Once you reach the top (4,232 feet), you’ll enjoy beautiful 360-degree views, including Mt. Pisgah, Hickory Nut Gorge, and Mt. Mitchell. Plus, you might even see some grazing cows (they are not always there, though).
This is an excellent spot for celebrating Thanksgiving in Asheville with a picnic, watching the sunset, or having the kids play with a Frisbee or ball (the top is flat). The trail is one mile each way and rewards you with amazing views. But, if you want a longer hike, you can combine it with the Trombatore Trail or the Wildcat Rock Trail.
Bearwallow Trail is on private property. It was created by the nonprofit Conserving Carolina, which is in charge of its maintenance. This incredible organization’s mission is “to protect, restore, and inspire appreciation of the natural world.” Dogs on leash are welcome, and there are no trashcans.
12. Join the most fun November Dancing Party in Town
The TWURKEY dance party happens the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Asheville Beauty Academy and invites you to “Twerk off that turkey and shake off them sides at TWURKEY. This year I’m thankful for the FUNK in my TRUNK.” If this is your jam, head out to Downtown Asheville and dance till 2:00am without interruptions!
Asheville Beauty Academy is one of the best Asheville venues for those wanting to have fun, celebrate their uniqueness, and dance like nobody is watching (and nobody is – nowadays, everyone is looking at their phones!). The name comes from the salon that used to be there, but apparently, the magic continues: “The longer you stay, the better you look.”
Asheville Beauty Academy has events every day of the week, from the ‘80s and ‘90s dance parties and queer night trivia and bingos to the most irreverent drag queen shows in town, including the super popular Drag Brunch every Sunday.
13. Shop at the River Arts District on Small Business Saturday
Asheville has a great shopping scene. Downtown, Biltmore Village, and the River Arts District are wonderful options to shop locally, something locals strive to do every day.
The River Arts District (RAD) is an exciting area with a greenway by the river, a movie theater, two skate parks, tons of street art and graffiti pieces, and an art shopping district with over 200 studios, galleries, and shops. Plus, some of Asheville’s best coffee shops, breweries, and restaurants can be found here.
The River Arts District will host special events, classes, workshops, and open studios on Small Business Saturday. Also, check out the new free trolley connecting the RAD and Downtown.
You’ll love strolling around the different buildings (which are former warehouses) to chat with the artists. Don’t miss the design center Marquee, featuring hundreds of local and regional artists working with all mediums, antiques, plants, and an awesome bar!
14. Pick up a Tree at Sandy Hollar Farms
Sandy Hollar Farms is in Sandy Much Valley (Leicester), and it’s a popular spot to pick Christmas trees the weekend after Thanksgiving. While other places get too crowded during this time, Sandy Hollar never feels like that.
This family-owned farm offers a variety of trees in all sizes, and they’ll help you cut it or provide you with a hand saw if you want to do it. You’ll also love the weekend wagon rides around the farm to spot sheep, goats, llamas, miniature donkeys, and longhorn cattle.
They have a cute Christmas shop with fresh Fraser Fir wreaths and garlands, farm-made ornaments, wool scarves and hats, hand-spun knitted or crocheted shawls and afghans, and quilts that will make adorable Christmas gifts. Leashed dogs are welcome!
15. Provide Thanksgiving Meals to Neighbors Facing Food Insecurity
Loving Food Resources is a 30-year-old organization and food pantry providing food, health, and personal care items to 225 people living with HIV/AIDS or Home Hospice care. This nonprofit works in 18 counties of Western North Carolina. They need volunteers, and, of course, donations always help.
Haywood Street Congregation’s Welcome Table serves about 1,000 meals weekly to 500-600 people. They rely on volunteers (called “companions”) to prep, cook, and serve breakfast on Sundays and lunch on Wednesdays.
They work very closely with the community of unhoused people through this and other ministries. Plus, the Haywood Street Fresco is part of Asheville’s street art tours and is worth visiting.
Asheville Poverty Initiative’s 12 Baskets Cafe offers to-go meals, pantry items, and sit-down meals to whoever needs them. The food comes from local businesses and will be thrown away if not rescued by the program.
“Folks from all walks of life are invited to gather with us: those experiencing physical hunger, those who hunger to belong, and those who hunger to help.” They welcome donations to help with materials, rent, and utilities.