Asheville, the Land of the Sky, the New Age Mecca, San Francisco of the East, Paris of the South, and known by many other titles, is a heavenly oasis situated in the midst of the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains. Asheville is well-known for the vital role it played in the Jazz revolution. It has its own unique art, and stunning gardens. The city offers great food, many breweries, and impressive historic attractions, which together add to the allure of this world class tourist destination. No wonder tourists flock to this land from all over the world. Clearly, it comes as a surprise to no one that the city was dubbed one of the “Best Places to Retire” by Money magazine. The city is gifted with a pleasant climate that varies from mild summers to mild winters, providing an ultimate retiree’s heaven, and a superb tourist destination. So, whether you are looking for a place to settle in Asheville, or visiting here as a tourist, you will have plenty of options to happily spend your time and gather memories that’ll last a lifetime. Here are some of our top picks that should be part of your bucket list when you visit Asheville.
1. Visit Western North Carolina Nature Center
If you have kids with you, and want to spend quality time with them, then place this should be on the top of your visit list. Western North Carolina Nature Center is an excellent zoological park that features a variety of animals and plants native to Southern Appalachian region. The visit will be educational for your kids, and fun for the entire family. The park is home to a diverse set of wildlife, including mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians. You will even get to see wolves, coyotes, bobcats, American black bears, and more. If you want to awe your kids, and help them enjoy nature at the same time, then this place is your best bet.
2. Taste Wine and Spend the Night at The Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate is the single largest privately owned house in the U.S. The construction of this French Renaissance inspired estate was completed in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt. The 250-room mansion is immense, and a treat for the visitors. The visitors get to enjoy the vast expanses of the gardens, the hiking trails, a number of estate wineries and wines, stables, and more. What’s more, if you wish to get a taste of what it feels like to live in a luxurious estate, then you can get suitable accommodations too. This regal example of the Gilded Age is a complete package for visitors.
3. Check Out the Endless Number of Breweries
Asheville is home to dozens of breweries, with some of them having long histories of their own. You can find as many as seven breweries around Coxe Avenue alone, including the well-known Funkatoriuim, and Burial Beer Co. If you want a VIP tour at three of the best local breweries in Asheville, then Asheville brews Cruise is your way to go. You also have the option of booking other brewery tours by making reservations at other services such as Asheville Brewery Tours. On the other hand, you can visit each of the breweries yourself too. Some of the services even offer bus services to the breweries.
4. Follow the Urban Trail
This one is for the art and history buffs. This 1.7-mile self-guided walking tour takes you through the lore of the beautiful city of Asheville. The trail tells the tales of the city’s past by taking you through 30 stops that include churches, buildings, streets, and various landmarks. The Urban Trail is actually designed by volunteers, and was realized by the donations from the public, and organizations. The looping trail takes you through five different periods in Asheville’s history. The periods are marked on the trail with pink markers. The Feather, Horseshoe, Angel, Courthouse, and Eagle represent the Guilded Age, Frontier Period, the Times of Thomas Wolfe, the Era of Civic Pride, and the Age of Diversity respectively. This trail is a great way to learn a lot about this beautiful city’s past.
5. Herstory Asheville Tours
The Herstory Asheville Tours is a unique tour that provides you an insight into the achievements of the ladies who made Asheville history. The 90-min tour brings you tales of heroism and achievements by the heroines of the Paris of the South. These are the stories of women who helped shape the city of Asheville as you see it today. Some of those stories are inspiring, while others shed light on the infamous characters from the Asheville’s past. Hear the stories of amazing business women, doctors, political personalities, and even the celebrated mothers. This tour is sure to help you understand how important of a role women have played throughout Asheville’s history.
6. Eat Till Your Heart’s Content on Asheville Food Tours
Asheville Food Tours are designed with the explicit goal to take you on a culinary journey that provides you an authentic taste of Asheville’s local tastings. The tours take you to as many as 6 to 7 restaurants in a single afternoon, where you can enjoy savory appetizers, the most delectable entrees, and divine desserts. The culinary scene in Asheville has undergone a revival in the recent years, and these tours certainly do justice to the delightful taste of Asheville that it is known for. All of this is topped off with splashes of wine from the local breweries that just makes your day. Many restaurants are focused locally, and bring you culinary delights cooked from fresh farm produce. Just the sound of all this is mouthwatering.
7. Take a Walk Around Thomas Wolfe Memorial
Thomas Wolfe was a major influential figure of the twentieth century. Thomas Wolfe Memorial was the home of the celebrated American novelist. The Victorian period house takes you to the bygone era, and allows you to touch and feel the corridors, porch, lawns, and more, where the literary genius spent his time giving life to his ideas and thoughts. The house itself was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971. The house suffered a fire disaster in 1998. Later, extensive restoration work was taken up to restore the building and the artifacts it contained. Since then, it has been again open for visitors. It is a quaint, little house that still carries with it a chunk of American history.
8. Enjoy the Flora at the North Carolina Arboretum
The North Carolina Arboretum is a public garden that features a lot of fun activities for families, especially for kids. The garden is home to unique flora and fauna of the region. There are hiking and biking trails. Further, the garden also features non-native collection of flora. The bonsai collection of the garden is one of the best in the country. A variety of seasonal flowers bloom over the seasons, and light up the garden with their exquisite beauty. There are even guided tours offered by botanists, which is an excellent opportunity for the kids to learn and connect with nature.
9. Check Out the Crafts of the Southern Appalachians at Folk Art Center
The Folk Art Center located on the Blue Ridge Parkway showcases the craftsmanship of the Southern Appalachians in both contemporary as well as traditional crafts. The Folk Art Center has number of galleries that feature everything from home furnishings to Unique crafts. There is also a library and an auditorium. The center is also home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which features a permanent collection of Appalachian craft at the center. In addition to offering you a taste of local culture and craft, the Folk Art Center also gives you access to the Mountains-to-Sea Trails. Exhibitions are held on numerous days across the year, wherein woodcraft, craft techniques, ceramic works, textile works, and so on are showcased.
10. Hop-On Gray Line Trolley
If you love the old ways of doing things, and harbor a sense of nostalgia, then the Gray Line Trolley is the perfect touring vehicle for you. It will take you through all the major attractions, historic points, and interesting things spread across the city. The red trolleys are sure to fire up all those nostalgic memories in you. The trolley departs every 30 minutes from the stops in its line. You can hop on the trolley and hop off it at any of the stops, whenever you come across something interesting. Once you check out the museums, restaurants, galleries, shops, or the likes, you can board the next trolley and continue your tour of the city.
In addition to these things, there are many other attractions and activities that you can do in Asheville. Some honorable mentions include Grovewood Gallery, Asheville Art Museum, Waterfalls, Splash-ville, PARI, Diana Wortham Theatre, and rafting on the French Broad river. Go ahead, and enjoy all the fun things that Asheville has to offer.