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Asheville Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in AshevilleWhere to Stay
Asheville has tons of astounding lodging options in both its thriving downtown and the more scenic areas surrounding it. If you’re more geared towards the mountain getaway style of lodging, there are cabins and other resorts nestled further away in the mountains surrounding the city. While everything is kept fairly close together in Asheville, a car is preferred for getting around to visit all the sights and sounds. Parking is plentiful and most points of interest are within a twenty minute drive of wherever you’re staying.
Caution: Asheville has lots of events throughout the year, so book hotels as far in advance as possible.
What to Eat
Options for food in Asheville are as varied and interesting as its populace. There’s an extremely wide array of restaurants to sit down and enjoy yourself at located in the scenic downtown. Perhaps the most interesting options are the several local farm to table restaurants which serve food that was all grown and prepared in western North Carolina. Asheville is known for being a cosmopolitan city, so if you’re craving it, chances are you can find it, whatever it may be.
Be Sure to Sample: The several local vineyards and wines.
Things to See
Whether it’s skiing, hiking, music or the finer arts, Asheville has just about everything you could ever think to do. Being in the mountains, Asheville naturally has many ski resorts and hiking trails such as Wolf Ridge and Chimney Rock respectively. However, what surprises many visitors to the isolated mountain city are the vast number of bars, clubs, music venues and arts centers present. The Orange Peel hosts bands and events from around the world almost every night, and 16 Patton hosts original fine art by Southeastern artists in many forms of media.
Hot Tips: Take your hiking boots and dress warm: even in summer, cool winds can blow over the mountains with little warning.
Places to Party
Voted “Beer City USA” for three years running, it’s no surprise that Asheville would have one of the nation’s widest array of cool and unique bars and dives. Beyond the drinks are clubs and theaters like Club Metropolis and the Diana Wortham Theater at Pack Place. Music is also plentiful in the city and venues such as the Grey Eagle, Hannah Flanagan’s and the Orange Peel are sure to offer any tunes your ears are searching for.
Hot Tips: The dress codes vary from venue to venue, so pack for anything.
Where to Shop
With such a broad range of cultures and influences, there’s plenty worth spending a dime or two on. The three malls in the area (Asheville Mall, Biltmore Mall and the Biltmore Park Town Square) have all kinds of must-haves and souvenirs up for sale. While the shopping malls may intrigue the most, don’t miss the dozens of specialty shops up and down the central downtown area. Many of the art galleries have local art for sale as well.
Avoid: Resist the urge to go out shopping towards the end of the day as people will be coming into the city from work around those hours and traffic can get very tight.
Nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains as if it were a misty figment rather than a stone-and-timber town, Asheville is both a grand gesture and a quiet note. It's the site of Biltmore House, the nation's largest private residence, and it's where folks like actress Andie McDowell come to reinvent themselves and seek a measure of personal camouflage. It's also a town underlain by a steadfast vein of originality, which welcomes alternative thought, revels in a strong music scene, and exhibits an openness that can be unexpected in this corner of the world.
Although Asheville was settled as early as 1784, it wasn't necessarily a quiet mountain hollow. Subjected to Native American and Civil War conflicts in the hundred years afterwards, the town didn't take on a more prominent profile until the late 19th century. At that time, during America's Gilded Age, affluent entrepreneurs built grand homes to showcase their wealth and then created vacation "cottages" in remote locations, finding relief from city life and summer heat. Asheville caught the eye of George Washington Vanderbilt II and was chosen as the site of his French Renaissance-inspired residence. Biltmore, as it was called, premiered to his friends in 1895 and was... Read more »