The people of Asheville love their town, but they are not alone. The city continues to win quality-of-life awards. Asheville has again risen to the top of AmericanStyle magazine's Top 25 Small City Arts Destinations. Frommers named Asheville as one of the “Best Places to Go” highlighting the city's food and drink scene and its artsy vibe. Other groups applaud Asheville for its thriving breweries, outdoor lifestyle and location to view fall foliage.
Spend any amount of time in Asheville, NC, and you will undoubtedly feel the connection and agree with the accolades. In addition to the must-see nature of Asheville, there is also a must-taste side. The area is a thriving farm-to-table community with over 200 independent restaurants, 20+ farmers’ markets and 10 local breweries. (Try the Pack Square cheese from Looking Glass Creamery if you can get it. Fabulous!)
FoodtopianSociety.com is a resource for those looking to tour Asheville with their taste buds, offering recipes, news and profiles of local chefs, farmers and brewers.
The size of Asheville is one of its benefits, too. The downtown area, though a little bit hilly here and there, truly is a walkable pleasure. Restaurants of many kinds sit side by side or within a block or two of one another, from the beautifully restored Grove Arcade, around Market Street and charming cobblestoned Wall Street, to the newly envisioned Pack Square Park, featuring an interactive fountain, amphitheatre and lush green space.
In one of the Carolinas’ livelier daytime and nighttime downtowns, the restaurants and pubs are interspersed with a variety of shopping options, from antique and art galleries to vintage clothing boutiques, custom-made jewelry and even specialty stores dedicated to items such as beer or beads.
Like the town, the offerings are diverse, and they are not limited to downtown alone. Biltmore Village to the south, the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa to the north, the mall on Tunnel Road and the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway (to the east), provide interesting alternatives as well.
Whether a resident or a visitor, it’s hard to resist a stop at some of the area’s attractions. From the city’s oldest-standing home (Smith-McDowell House, circa 1840) to the nation’s largest private home (Biltmore House, completed in 1895), touring should also include a stop at historic Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa (circa early 1900s) and novelist Thomas Wolfe’s boyhood home next to the Renaissance Hotel.
A newer hotel is the Grand Bohemian, located across the street from the entrance to Biltmore. It offers great accommodations and is filled with an impressive collection of art, including a number of pieces from owner Richard Kessler’s private collection. Have a drink at the appealing bar (their wine cellar is superb), and treat yourself to Chef Adam Hayes’ creative cuisine that features the freshest, chef-chosen farm-to-table ingredients.
For museums of other kinds, downtown also offers the Asheville Art Museum, Colburn Earth Science Museum, the YMI Cultural Center and the Southern Appalachian Radio Museum. Kids will get a kick – and a lesson – out of The Health Adventure or the WNC Nature Center. You might even want to take in a haunted ghost tour or discover downtown aboard a Segway with Moving Sidewalk Tours.
It is home to some of the finest hotels in North Carolina. In fact, Conde Nast Traveler named Inn on Biltmore Estate as one of “The World’s Best Places to Stay.” The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa is consistently placed at the top of many rankings. The Spa at The Grove Park Inn was recently named one of the world’s best by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
Asheville is the home of more than 50 golf courses, including one at The Cliffs at Walnut Cove. It’s the only gated golf course community in Asheville and features a spectacular golf course that was christened by Kevin Costner and Jack Nicklaus at its grand opening.
In addition to golf, Asheville includes many activities for sports and nature lovers alike – hot air ballooning, snow skiing, hundreds of hiking trails and whitewater rafting, to name a few. And, Asheville has spirit, along with arts, entertainment, food, wine, history and the fresh, crisp air only available in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Asheville’s leaders have preserved the small-town charm of the city that has been present for more than 200 years. It is that same small-town charm that draws many people to Asheville, first to visit, and then to live. Make your first stop the Asheville Visitor Center for maps, relocation information, tours and attraction tickets and insider tips.
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