Asheville, North Carolina, is a charming and lively town of more than 70,000 residents. Named by well-known publications such as Modern Maturity and Rolling Stone as an ideal place to live, Asheville is home to an active arts community, trendy eateries, and an endless array of natural gems.
Things to Do in Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled against the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is an outdoor lover's paradise. The area is teeming with expansive parks, hiking trails and waterways. In addition, the city is home to stunning architecture and historic landmarks. If you are planning a trip to this popular North Carolina city don't miss the following sites:
The Urban Trail
Asheville's Urban Trail takes visitors along a 1.7-mile stretch through the city's historic downtown area. The thirty stops along the trail include reminders of the city's Gilded Age, its Art Deco period (Asheville has more restored Art Deco buildings than any U.S. city except Miami Beach), the frontier period, and the life and times of author, Thomas Wolfe. Along the route are also a bevy of interesting shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
The Carl Sandburg Home
Carl Sandburg was considered the people's poet. Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, among other awards, Sandburg and his wife moved to Flat Rock, North Carolina, about 30 miles outside of Asheville, where they built a lovely country estate called Connemera. Today, the home is a National Historic Site and welcomes visitors to tour the 30-acre farm. Highlights include a goat farm, five miles of hiking trails, two ponds, and an apple orchard, as well as the Sandburg residence itself.
The Biltmore Estate
Asheville's most famous attraction is the massive, 250-room Biltmore Estate, built by industrialist George Vanderbilt in 1895. The mansion, designed to resemble a French chateau, is America's largest privately-owned house. Among the many rooms is a huge, 72-foot dining hall with a 70-foot high ceiling and a massive dining table, capable of seating 64 guests. The 8,000-acre estate also includes a winery, a four-star inn, an extensive and innovative culinary garden, and a stable complex.
Adjacent to the estate is the Biltmore Village, built by the Vanderbilt's as a company town to house more than 1,000 construction workers who helped to build the mansion. The town, designed by landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, resembles an English country village. It features a train depot, an Episcopal church, a hospital, and a school, among other buildings.
Asheville Art Museum
Featuring rotating exhibits, as well as the permanent Asheville Collection, the museum focuses on 20th and 21st century art. Open to the public for free on the first Wednesday of every month from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, the museum offers national treasures as well as locally designed pieces.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
The rolling and picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains dominate the Asheville skyline. The Blue Ridge Parkway, called America's Favorite Drive, takes visitors along 469 miles of roadway from Virginia to western North Carolina. The Parkway is the most visited site in the National Park Service, and features an Appalachian Folk Art Center, just outside of Asheville. Another highlight is Mount Pisgah, which stands 6,000 feet above the Pisgah National Forest.
Discover the thrill of mild whitewater rafting with USA Rafts on three rivers nearby Asheville. Guided tours operate from March through October. No rafting experience is required since the rapids are so gentle.
Lake Lure Beach
Located about 25 miles outside of Asheville, Lake Lure, is a relaxing beach and exciting water park. One entrance fee provides access to the beach and the water park for the entire day.
Where to Stay
A variety of hotels, motels and camping spots await visitors to this beautiful region. Depending on your budget, you can choose a luxurious suite at the Biltmore Inn or a tent campsite at Campfire Lodgings.
For standard, family-style hotel and motel rooms, consider the following chains:
Where to Eat
Whether you want a quick bite to eat or you want to enjoy a relaxing meal, Asheville has many dining options.
- India Garden Restaurant: Offers Indian food at reasonable prices.
- Chili's: The family-friendly chain is a safe bet if you're traveling with kids.
For a wide variety of fast food, drive down Tunnel Road in Asheville, where you can find popular chains, such as Subway, Taco Bell, McDonald's and Applebee's. For an unforgettable meal, visit the Biltmore Inn restaurant inside the Biltmore Estate.
A trip to Asheville can be fun in any season, but for maximum outdoor opportunities, late spring to fall is the best time to visit. Whether you are planning a family vacation or a romantic getaway, this lively and picturesque North Carolina town is a top travel destination. For additional information while planning your trip, consult Explore Asheville for family vacations and Romantic Asheville for couples' getaways.