Skip to Content

Literary Tourism: Asheville For Book Lovers

Explore Asheville for book lovers with our literary itinerary. If you actively seek out bibliotourism, Asheville offers The Hunger Games waterfalls, a champagne bookstore, and the gorgeous Vanderbilt library.

Are you planning a trip to Asheville, NC, and looking for a more cultural experience? Plus, if it is a rainy day, maybe you need a few more go-to places before you hit up the breweries.

As a book lover and bibliotourist, I actively search for all things libraries and bookstores while traveling in the United States and abroad. You can bet that this English major and former librarian is in heaven with Asheville’s literary tourism.

Asheville is the perfect place for book lovers and writers. The city boasts of numerous literary homes, famous authors, bookstores you never want to leave, literary festivals, and even some bookish waterfalls.

Plus, learn more about Asheville’s authors, writers, and poets. See their final burial grounds. Lastly, uncover books set in Asheville.

Grab a literary cocktail and get your book nerd on with our specially tailored Asheville for book lover’s itinerary –from an AVL local and book blogger.

Don’t miss our Ultimate Guide Of Things To Do In AVL.

Literary Tourism Asheville For Book Lovers brunette woman reading Look Homeward, Angel in Malaprop's Bookstore
Head out on an inspirational, fun, and boozy literary tour in and around Asheville, North Carolina.

This post may contain affiliate links for products and services I recommend. If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission. Read the full disclosure here.

Asheville For Book Lovers Itinerary

These are many of the must-see stops on any Asheville literary itinerary. Most locations are in downtown Asheville or nearby neighborhoods. We’ve added a few bookish destinations less than one-hour away, too.

Asheville For Book Lovers Itinerary Pinterest Pin with pictures of a literary cocktail from Battery Park Book Exchange, the Biltmore library, the Hunger Games waterfalls at Dupont State Forest, and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial
Headed to Asheville, North Carolina? Save this literary tourism itinerary for later on Pinterest.

1. Visit Asheville’s Local Bookstores

Battery Park Book Exchange

Battery Park Book Exchange Literary Cocktail in a champagne flute on a bar counter
Don’t miss the delicious literary cocktails at the Battery Park Book Exchange.

I’m not going to lie: One of the reasons why we moved to Asheville included the Battery Park Book Exchange. Yup, I said it. If you know me from The Uncorked Librarian than you already get it. Books and BOOZE? Yes, please!

The Battery Park Book Exchange is a champagne book bar. Located in the Grove Park Arcade in downtown Asheville, they sell used books and have extensive wine, cocktail, and champagne collections. Battery Park Book Exchange also hosts readings, live music, and themed events.

Order a literary cocktail with a charcuterie and meet up with friends. Circulate two floors of eclectic books, and eavesdrop in on a book club.

Malaprop’s Bookstore

Malaprop's Bookstore Asheville NC with brunette woman sitting on a bookshelf ledge reading Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
One of my favorite Asheville, NC bookstores, don’t miss Malaprop’s for literary schwag, local reads, and author visits. Photo by Sarah Resta Photography.

Book lovers will adore Asheville’s bookstores. One of the most famous NC bookshops, Malaprop’s, is a must for readers. Of course, local book displays and bestsellers greet native and tourist visitors. But, don’t miss their unique book recommendations and fun bookish schwag, too.

Malaprop’s hosts numerous author events and has a fabulous newsletter, which points out new releases and notable indie reads. They have a cafe for the afternoon perk-up, book clubs, and children’s storytime.

Malaprop’s founder, Emoke B’Racz, is a local Asheville writer and poet who emigrated to the United States as a Hungarian refugee. The bookstore is iconic in Asheville, and I am pretty sure it’s impossible to leave empty-handed.

Don’t miss the Best Asheville Bookstores.

2. Tour The Literary Residences In & Near Asheville, NC

Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Thomas Wolfe Memorial Asheville NC yellow home with stained glass windows and brunette woman sitting out front in a maroon dress
One of my favorite literary tours in Asheville, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial is a must for anyone. Learn about Asheville in the 1900s and discover the inspiration behind Look Homeward, Angel. Photo by Sarah Resta Photography.

If you are looking for an Asheville literary tour, don’t skip the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, even if you have never read his books. In fact, if you don’t know who Wolfe is, GO. Everyone we have ever taken on a tour of the Wolfe boarding house has loved it.

Thomas Wolfe is most famous for his Asheville-based novel, Look Homeward, Angel. Although a well-known, American historical fiction novel, the story is a loose retelling of Wolfe’s life growing up in Asheville, NC.

Most notably, Wolfe barely changed the names and spellings of his Asheville community.

Needless to say, Asheville residents weren’t too thrilled to see their dirty laundry aired out for the world –until Wolfe’s fame grew. Although a bit long-winded, Look Homeward, Angel paints a vivid picture of Asheville in the early 1900s. The story is about a young boy dreaming of escaping ‘provincial’ life through higher education.

The home on Market Street is Wolfe’s mother’s boarding house. His childhood home nearby no longer stands.

However, Wolfe spent most of his youth in this business home, and his mother was quite the character. Independent and entrepreneurial, her story is both inspirational and a tad frustrating. You’ll laugh, too.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the home and also drop into the museum as well as watch a short film.

Visit the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.

Carl Sandburg Home white house with green grass and flowers out front
We love hiking and saying hello to the farm animals at the Carl Sandburg Home in Flatrock, NC.

Carl Sandburg Home

Deemed the “Poet of the People,” Carl Sandburg lived in Connemara, NC (Flat Rock), right outside of Hendersonville. Although technically not in Asheville, Hendersonville is 35-minutes away with a fun historic downtown.

In his lifetime, Sandburg won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry, and a third for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. Sandburg was also a Civil Rights activist.

Born in Illinois, Sandburg and his wife moved to Connemara in 1945.

The Carl Sandburg Home along with “The Hunger Games waterfalls” and downtown Hendersonville makes for a great Asheville day trip.

Visitors of the home can take a guided tour, walk the park, or visit the bookstore. Be sure to say hello to the goats at the barn, go for a hike, or come for a special event.

If you love history, don’t miss our favorite museums in Asheville, NC.

3. Wander Asheville’s Libraries

Biltmore Library

Biltmore Library Asheville NC at Christmas with old leather bound books and Christmas decorations like a tree
The Biltmore Library is especially beautiful at Christmas. George Vanderbilt collected over 22,000 volumes of books. Many are specially bound.

It’s no secret that I completely recommend visiting Biltmore during your time in Asheville. George and Edith Vanderbilt’s grand home–the largest in America–is an Asheville must.

You can easily spend all day at Biltmore, touring the gardens, eating lunch in the old horse stables, checking out their indoor pool, and of course, wine tasting. Not to mention the endless trails and pathways around the estate.

For Asheville literary tourists, though, the Vanderbilt library will sing to you. Yes, yes: it’s a tad ominous and creepy. However, at Christmas, the library is stunning with festive decorations and trees.

A few fun facts: At the age of 12, George Vanderbilt started recording everything that he read in a journal. He would send the books he collected to a bookbinder and ultimately accumulated over 22,000 volumes.

I still also need to check out The Library Lounge, located within the Biltmore’s Inn. They serve lunch, snacks, and cocktails. Sounds bookish to me!

Plan the Best Biltmore Estate Visit.

Pack Memorial Library

Although one of the local libraries, Pack Memorial Library in downtown Asheville is a must for biblio-tourists. Just don’t forget that this is a working public library and reprieve for locals. Pack is also the main Buncombe County public library and was first built in 1911. The space you see today is the newer building designed in 1978.

Drop-in and head to the used bookstore and see what art exhibits they are showcasing throughout the library. You will find Asheville history scattered throughout, too.

While you are spending time in downtown Asheville, you will see references everywhere to Pack. Head into High-Wire Brewing – South Slope, for example, and you will spy photo archives from Pack hanging in the restrooms.

4. See Where F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Summered

Omni Grove Park Inn

Omni Grover Park Inn Sunset Terrace in Asheville, North Carolina where F. Scott Fitzgerald spent two summers.  Brown stone building with an orange-red roof and terraces.
Don’t miss The Omni Grove Park Inn where F. Scott Fitzgerald spent two summers.

The Omni Grove Park Inn is well-known for its gorgeous sunsets over the mountains. In fact, the Grove Park Inn was the inspiration for Uncorked Asheville’s logo.

You can sit on top of the terraces on Sunset Mountain while looking upon downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Grove Park Inn used to be the rising destination–during the Vanderbilt’s time–of the elite who wanted to escape into the mountains and also cure their ailments. Nothing beats fresh mountain air and quinine for tuberculosis…

So what is the Omni’s mark in literary history? My personal favorite: F. Scott Fitzgerald spent two summers here in 1935 and 1936. Rumor has it, he drank a lot and got booted out for shooting at the ceiling…

Today, you can stay over on this luxurious property or just go for food, including dinner and drinks. The fireplaces will you warm your soul for an Appalachia Christmas filled with gingerbread house displays.

In the fall, the foliage will blow you away. You don’t have to be an overnight guest to visit the property.

Stop by The Omni Grove Park Inn.

Former Highland Hospital

Along with F. Scott Fitzgerald, let’s not forget his wife, Zelda, who was also a writer. Zelda suffered from mental health issues and stay at Highland Hospital. Unfortunately, she perished in the 1948 fire, a story that Lee Smith captured in her novel, Guests On Earth.

Relocated to Montford in 1912, psychiatrist Dr. Robert S. Carroll founded “Dr. Carroll’s Sanatorium” or Highland Hospital. He believed that diet, therapy, and exercise could help cure sick and anxious patients.

Highland Hospital no longer exists today, but is, instead, a commercial district filled with businesses on Zillicoa St.

5. Hike To The Hunger Games Waterfalls

Triple Falls At DuPont a three-tier waterfall also known as The Hunger Games waterfalls
Triple Falls is a quick hike in DuPont State Forest. Here, Katniss found Peeta hiding in the first movie of The Hunger Games.

One of my favorite outdoor Asheville recommendations for book lovers is visiting The Hunger Games waterfalls at Dupont State Forest. DuPont around 40 minutes from Asheville.

Triple Falls is both breathtaking and famous for the filming of The Hunger Games. Remember the scene where Katniss almost steps on Peeta’s face in the waterfalls? That’s Triple Falls. Further along the forest, find Bridal Falls where Katniss cools her burning leg from the fireballs.

Producers shot a few more scenes around the Craggy Pinnacle Trail area at the tip of North Asheville, including the Arena. Much further away in Henry River Mill Village, you can find the filming for District 12. AND, parts of the Capitol were filmed at the Charlotte Convention Center. The list goes on and on.

Grab our Complete Guide To Waterfall Chasing At DuPont.

6. Pay Your Respects To Famous Authors At Asheville’s Cemeteries

William Sydney Porter O. Henry Gravestone at Riverside Cemetery with pennies on top
Leave a penny for famous short story author, O. Henry.

Wha?!?! Yesss, you heard me, right. This post took a dark turn… Many famous Asheville authors and writers are buried around the city.

Thomas Wolfe

Let’s start with Thomas Wolfe. Head, respectfully and reverently, to Riverside Cemetery to find tombstones for Thomas Wolfe and his parents.

O. Henry

Another famous writer, O. Henry is also in eternal slumber at Riverside. You’ll need to look for his real name, William Sydney Porter, though.

Read more about Historic Riverside Cemetery and see where to find O. Henry and Wolfe’s graves.

Wilma Dykeman

Lesser known, Wilma Dykeman is buried at Lewis Memorial Park. Dykeman’s books include The French Broad and Family Of Earth. She wrote both American fiction and nonfiction, chronicling Appalachia life.

Dykeman grew up in the Beaverdam area of North Asheville and attended Biltmore Junior College, which is now UNC-Asheville. She advocated for the economic protection and development along the French Broad River.

Cocktails at Battery Park Book Exchange brunette woman sitting on a black and brown couch drinking a glass of champagne surrounded by books
Grabbing drinks at the champagne and used bookstore, Battery Park Book Exchange, is one of my favorite weekend activities in Asheville. Go for live music, readings, and a huge selection of books. Photo by Sarah Resta Photography.

Literary Festivals In & Near Asheville

Asheville is a writer’s dream with those wistful Blue Ridge Mountains. A few literary festivals include the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival in nearby Burnsville, NC and the WNC Spring Literary Festival.

Asheville Is A Book Lover’s Dream, Right?!

So, are you ready to take a literary pilgrimage in Asheville, NC? Why not when there are books, booze, and travel involved? Asheville’s literary heritage is wild, inspiring, and thirst-quenching. Don’t hesitate to comment below with questions or places we’ve missed that you love.

Asheville NC For Book Lovers Pinterest Pin with picture of leather-bound books in the Biltmore Library
Planning your Asheville vacation? Save this bookish Asheville post for later on Pinterest.

If You Love Local Literature, Head Here Next:

Famous Asheville Authors & Writers
Books Set In Asheville, NC
Books Based In North Carolina

Looking For More Bookish & Historical Things To Do? Head Here:

Best Asheville Bookstores
Pay Your Respects To Thomas Wolfe, His Family, & O. Henry
Hike The Hunger Games Waterfalls
Learn More About AVL From Its Street Art
Visit Biltmore Estate
Explore Asheville’s Top Museums
50+ Stellar Asheville Things To Do

Asheville authors writers and poets blog post cover with book covers for Serena by Ron Rash, Garden of Spells Sarah Addison Allen, Murder in Rat Alley by Mark de Castrique, The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan, Serafina and The Black Cloak by Robert Beatty, and Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
Asheville Authors & Writers You Don't Want To Miss
← Read Last Post
Books About And Set In North Carolina Reading List blog post cover with book covers for Look Homeward Angel, Where The Crawdads Sing, The Last Castle, Serafina and the Black Cloak, The Girl From Widow Hills, At Home in Mitford, and Big Lies Small Town
46 Great Books About North Carolina To Read Before You Visit
Read Next Post →