Whatever sort of travel adventure you are looking for, take a look at Asheville. This gem of an area is tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and features a diverse collection of culture, nature, and culinary delights. Join us on our journey to “unlock” Asheville.
Located about two hours from Charlotte, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee, the surprisingly temperate, Asheville is positioned in a region that can be enjoyed any time of the year. With temperatures rarely exceeding 80°F (27°C) in the summer, you can bask in the sun of July or return during the colder times. Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, while Asheville itself only receives a dusting, the surrounding area features plenty of winter activities.
This unique metropolis is a study in contrasts. It showcases a vibrant architectural cross-section mixing Neoclassical with Beaux-Arts and Art Deco styles with more modern sensibilities. Through the years, it has become a refuge for artists, statesmen, and more. It has thrived in recent years with the revival of its downtown and the constant competition with Portland, ME to prove superiority in the realm of beer brewing.
Outside of the city, nature beckons. With the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Asheville, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to keep you occupied. Golfing, hiking, tubing, kayaking, skiing and more are close enough you can easily enjoy multiple adventures in a single day. Or take a stroll through the forest during the autumn months and bask in the blaze of fall colors as the impossibly green trees honor each of the four seasons.
To have an authentic “like a local” experience, we asked a few of our Ambassadors to share their thoughts. As Tricia put it, “Asheville has something for everyone: from the beer, wine, and cocktail enthusiast to the patron of the arts looking to enjoy live music and theater. The area has beautiful vistas with plenty of outdoor activities as well as a delicious food scene. You can buy produce from the local farmers’ market, tube down the French Broad River or hike in the mountains, sample many different local craft beers, listen to some live music and have a fantastic meal all in one day.”
Explore for your next favorite read at the Battery Park Book Exchange, grab a cup of coffee (and learn a thing or two) at Counter Culture Coffee or take a stroll along the River Arts District and discover some incredible artisan work.
Here are a few other suggestions:
Hit the Blue Ridge Parkway: This extended 469-mile drive has not only scenic it has also been named “America’s Favorite Drive.” Grab a bike and take to the trails. No matter what skill level, there’s a track for you.
Seek out Waterfalls: A visit to Dupont State Forest in Brevard allows for the view of multiple falls or jump over to the “Land of Waterfalls” and visit Transylvania County.
Share some Tweets: Birders from all around flock to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. It’s the ideal location to grab some binoculars and practice your bird watching skills.
Discover the North Carolina Arboretum: For over 30 years, this public garden continues to inspire and entertain all who visit. It’s a perfect place to hike and bike for families of all ages and sizes (including those four-legged family members).
Explore the Biltmore Estate: A visit to the winter chateaux of George Vanderbilt is an experience you are sure to remember. Especially if you upgrade to the “rooftop tour.”
Visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park: While not in Asheville, this national park is a worth a visit. It is actually the most visited of all the parks according to Park Services.
Shindig on the Green: Every Saturday of summer, starting at sundown, locals and tourists alike make their way to Pack Square Park to enjoy a free glimpse into the Appalachian culture. Enjoy bluegrass music, take in some dancing and even pick up some clogging techniques.
The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival: the first weekend of August brings out the very best of local music and dancing.
Find the beat of a Drum Circle: Every Friday night Pack Square Park comes alive with the beat of many drums. Find your rhythm and experience this Asheville tradition.
“Everyone is so genuinely friendly here. It’s surrounded by so much gorgeous scenery that you can see it from almost any street, even from downtown. The general atmosphere is a blend of laid-back and sophistication – casual, yet cosmopolitan.” Bonnie
There is so much to see in Asheville that we have only just scratched the surface of the area. If you have suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear about your next exchange experience.