There’s one city we are always saying should be used as a model for cultural development in Huntsville: Asheville, North Carolina. This is one of those places where the phrase “If you know, you know” applies. The focus on local small business is evident when you begin to notice that chains are nearly nonexistent in the city. When is the last time you thought Huntsville could use another Hardee’s? The answer for us is never. All jokes aside, we hope to see Huntsville continue growing with businesses that offer unique experiences.
The mix of coffee and craft beer culture, farm-to-table dining, and nature-loving lifestyle is why we love Asheville. If you enjoy high density areas where you can easily navigate on foot or bicycle between restaurants and shops, this is the place for you. Unlike most southern cities that were clearly planned for motorists, Asheville’s downtown is extremely walkable. And when you find yourself craving miles of open trails, the Blue Ridge mountains are just a short drive from downtown.
It’s not hard to see many parallels between Asheville and Huntsville if you’re familiar with the more laid back and artsy side of the Rocket City. With Monte Sano nearby for hikers and mountain bikers, a blossoming foodie scene, great local artists and craftsmen at places like Lowe Mill, cozy historic neighborhoods like Five Points, and general interest in urban development, Huntsville is ready to expand on its already solid foundation. If you need further proof that Huntsville is on the path to becoming a city known for more than just its industrious side, it’s hard to argue with being featured on Samantha Brown’s Places to Love.
One of our favorite coffee shops discovered during the most recent trip to Asheville was High Five Coffee. Everything was spot on here. From the way they focus on doing the classics very well to the perfect coffee shop vibes, this is our kind of spot. It’s great that we’re able to have experiences like this in Huntsville as well. The landscape for coffee enthusiasts has changed drastically in Huntsville in the last few years, which is a very good thing.
Healthy food in Huntsville can be difficult to find. Whether it’s the lack of restaurants specializing in healthy options or very limited hours for those that do, finding nutritious food isn’t always convenient. We know the city could support more and are certain that a completely vegetarian restaurant would even be received very well here. Asheville has several restaurants dedicated to crafting excellent vegetarian and vegan meals that health nuts will love as well as people who have never experienced how delicious these types of dishes can be.
If there’s something we feel almost as strongly about as tacos, it’s the development of fantastic small businesses within neighborhoods around the city. The focus on suburban strip mall construction can become tiring and old, and what truly excites us is the prospect of businesses like Taco Billy popping up around the city. Five Points is begging for a restaurant like this!
I can’t tell you how many times we have been craving a donut or something from a bakery after dinner, only to come to the realization that it’s impossible to find what we’re looking for in downtown Huntsville. For all of you Nashville fans who know about Five Daughters Bakery, this is the type of place we’re talking about. The downtown area needs one spot like this. Bigfoot’s Little Donuts is one of our favorite local businesses, but the hours usually don’t allow us to get our doughnut fix (we were thrilled to hear about the brick and mortar location coming soon to south Huntsville, but the need for a business of this type still exists in the city center). Hole, in a neighborhood area just down the street from Taco Billy, was probably the coolest bakery we’ve ever been to with its cute, rustic charm. And the yeast doughnuts were fantastic.
The River Arts District is a must for any Huntsville travelers who love Lowe Mill. Just a short and scenic walk from our hotel downtown, this area brought all the good vibes. We feel so lucky to have Lowe Mill in our city and hope the project to increase walkability between downtown and the Lowe Mill area will move forward. It wasn’t long ago we read about a plan to build a pedestrian bridge between the sections of Governor’s Drive that are divided by the Parkway, and we couldn’t be more in favor of any efforts to promote easier movement around the downtown area.
On the last night in town we checked out the Battery Park Book Exchange, which is a must for lovers of books and wine. We suggest going at night, ordering a glass of wine at the bar, and exploring the extensive book selection. This is an ideal way to end your night in the city and is the type of place you will be wishing was in downtown Huntsville. This is just another example of how Asheville “gets it” and why it’s such a popular destination for travelers who want to enjoy the charm and culture of this beautiful North Carolina city.
Huntsville is currently at a pivotal point where there is a great desire for urban development, and there are multiple large projects in the works. We are optimistic about the execution of these business ventures and are looking forward to seeing the community grow. The city has long been known for its history supporting the military and space exploration, and we know it’s very possible it could soon become even more of an attraction for its food and lifestyle than it already is. Stay tuned!