Editor’s note: TravelQ, a series that documents travel through the eyes of stylish queers, returns this week with a new feature by Caroline and Erin, web designers, freelance photographers and writers for the travel blog Authentic Asheville.
Traveling means taking risks. It means getting out of your comfort zone and setting foot, literally, into unknown territory. Sometimes, however, you want to go somewhere new and be able to let your guard down and be yourself. Asheville is that kind of place.
Unlike a lot of cities, Asheville doesn’t have a gayborhood. That said, there’s a sentiment that seems to be shared by a lot of locals, including us, that the city as a whole makes an effort to be welcoming and accepting to everyone. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s been good to us. You’ll find the bumper sticker “Y’all means all” on numerous cars in town and the rainbow flag and stickers are just as abundant. The feeling goes beyond just the show of symbols and if you visit, we hope you experience the kinds of meaningful experiences that we have had.
Though there’s no guarantee that you will have the perfect experience, the following are really good bets on a safe and fun time for the LGBTQ community in Asheville:
FOOD AND DRINK
12 Bones Smokehouse | 5 Foundy Street
Unpretentious. And delicious. Everything is made from scratch: the barbeque, the cornbread and even the sides. We’re in love with the pulled pork and the chopped brisket. It’s some of the best food you’ll put in your mouth while in Asheville. A great way to spend the afternoon is to grab lunch at 12 Bones and then hop on over to their next door neighbor, the Wedge.
Wedge Brewing Company | 5 Foundy Street
Great beer (you can’t go wrong with their Iron Rail IPA – we often take cans of it when we’re on the road) and two cool locations in the River Arts District.
Little Jumbo | 241 Broadway Street
If you’re looking for a great place to grab a drink before dinner or to end up after dinner, head on over to Little Jumbo. This dark and intimate bar setting with lots of cozy seating options is also staffed with great bartenders who know how to mix a super cocktail.
Over Easy Cafe | 32 Broadway Street, Asheville
This awesome breakfast, brunch and lunch spot is open 7 days a week from 8am to 2pm. They use a ton of local suppliers and in addition to the classic breakfast fare, they also have dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. The staff is super friendly and it’s fun to sit outside where you can watch the city wake up.
Hole Doughnuts | 168 Haywood Road
Caroline is a co-founder of Hole and though she sold it in 2016, it still remains a safe and friendly space for the LGBTQ community to visit and get a warm, made to order doughnut and a fresh brewed cup of coffee.
Oyster House Brewing Company | 625 Haywood Road
Anything goes at the Oyster House. Delicious beers are made on site and the atmosphere is chill. There’s a sofa indoors to lounge on and plenty of outdoor seating where you can sit back and enjoy a drink and some fresh shucked oysters. Monday is $3.00 pint night.
Sunny Point | 626 Haywood Road
Get there early or be ready to wait (trust us, it’s worth it – and they’ve got cups of coffee that you can sip on while you wait for your table). We really like their biscuits. I mean we REALLY like their biscuits.
THINGS TO DO IN ASHEVILLE
O.Henry’s | 237 Haywood Street
It’s open every day from 4pm to 2am and lays claim to being North Carolina’s Oldest Gay Bar. There’s karaoke, trivia and drag shows. Need we say any more?
The Odditorium | 1045 Haywood Road
Be sure to check out the Odditorium’s website to see a list of upcoming events. A recent scan of the calendar shows Risque Monday Burlesque shows, a free Dyke Night and a few Drag Shows. They describe their own space as “More than just a local dive bar, we are part music venue, part art gallery, part oddities museum and much much more.”
These two businesses share a space along Haywood Road in West Asheville and are a great spot for anyone looking to pick up a unique gift. They specialize in hand-made, hand-selected items.
The Grey Eagle | 185 Clingman Avenue
There’s a safe space rainbow sticker on the door to the Grey Eagle but the venue does more than just talk the talk; it walks the walk. There’s something happening almost every night of the month so come see a show, dance, laugh and just hang out.
Asheville Community Yoga | 8 Brookdale Road
This non-profit offers over 120 donation-based classes a week. We’ve taken a couple of classes here and each time have felt welcome and safe. Bonus: They have mats and blocks and cushions for you to borrow so you don’t even need to have your own equipment.
Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar | 1 Page Avenue #101
Browse about a huge selection of used books while sipping on a wine, sparkling wine or champagne. It’s one of the best combinations of activities we’ve ever heard of. Oh and if you go on a weekend, you’ll be treated to live music while you sip and explore.
Downtown Books and News | 67 North Lexington
This is another one of Asheville’s awesome used bookstores that is worth checking out. In addition to hard to find editions, you can find newspapers, old postcards, comics, magazines and an assortment of random odds and ends.
Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley are freelance web designers, photographers and writers based in Asheville, North Carolina. They are are currently traveling the country in their van. You can follow along with their adventures at Authentic Asheville and on social at @authenticasheville @carolineperdue and @e.mcgrady