Nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville is renowned for its lively arts scene and spectacular offering of outdoor activities. The city is located between the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests. Trek up Mount Pisgah to enjoy the wilderness and gorgeous views. During the fall, the mountainous landscape explodes into a spectrum of colors; many visitors plan their visit around the changing leaves.
Often referred to as “Paris of the South,” Asheville is, at its core, an artists’ colony. A creative spirit pervades the lively community, offering a ceaseless stream of exhibits, concerts and plays. The town has enough restaurants and cafés to satisfy even the most devout food connoisseurs. It is also well-known for its beer production, offering over a dozen craft breweries within walking distance of the downtown.
Stroll down Asheville’s River Arts District to understand why it is called the “San Francisco of the East.” Outdoor performances are a daily occurrence. Sidewalks are peppered with local artists vending their wares. Settle down at an outdoor café along the French Broad River to enjoy the scene. Spend a rainy afternoon in Grove Arcade to browse regional crafts, dine at local eateries and hear live music.
Drive a few minutes outside the downtown to the historic Biltmore Estate. Built by George Vanderbilt II at the turn of the 20th century, it has 250 rooms and takes the title as the largest privately owned home in the U.S. The estate offers guided tours, a winery and luxurious accommodation. Plan for an entire afternoon to explore the house, gardens and grounds; the visit is well worth it. Pre-book a Christmas tour of the beautifully decorated main building.
Visitors can fly into Asheville Regional Airport, which offers direct flights to destinations throughout the U.S. Located 130 miles (190 kilometers) from Charlotte, Asheville can be accessed by car via Interstates 26 or 40. The drive to and from this western North Carolina town spans the Blue Ridge Parkway and is renowned as being one of the most scenic routes in the U.S.