You probably already know that Asheville, North Carolina is a favorite tourist destination on the East Coast with a thriving local arts scene and plenty of surrounding natural beauty framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains. But did you also know that Asheville has been voted as the “#1 Quirkiest Town in America”? Or that the “topless protest” movement is centered in Asheville? Read on to keep finding out things you didn’t know about Asheville, North Carolina.
#1: There’s a surprising link between Asheville’s most iconic tourist destination and New York City’s most iconic tourist destination
While many people may know that George Vanderbilt’s famous Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is based on architectural styles of chateaux found in France’s Loire Valley, less is known about all the remarkable features of the estate. For example, during the late 1880’s, Vanderbilt asked Frederick Law Olmstead – one of the celebrity architects of the day – to design the 8,000-acre gardens and grounds of the estate. You might know Olmstead better as the architect behind New York City’s Central Park – still considered one of the premier public parks in the world.
#2: Asheville prides itself on being “weird”
In many ways, Asheville feels like the last refuge for 1960’s-era hippies. And the city has increasingly embraced this image of being the home for the quirky, off-beat and just plain weird. Consider the fact, for example, that Asheville organizes a drum circle every Friday evening, in which tourists, hippies, and locals stand around and bang on drums, while lots of people dance and sway to all the music. Add in the fact that the city is home to hippie festivals and topless protestors, and you get the idea – this is a town that has made “weird” a compelling tourist attraction.
#3: Asheville is a foodie paradise
When you think of foodie cities, you might think of New York or Portland or Austin. But one of the biggest foodie destinations in the nation is actually Asheville, North Carolina. The city has an amazing ecosystem of farmers, bakers, butchers and creameries, ensuring that just about everything is locally sourced, organic and free of antibiotics. To top it all off, the city has some of the best restaurants in North Carolina – including The Admiral, an upscale “gastropub” restaurant housed in a low-slung, cinderblock building.
#4: Asheville is “Beer City USA”
But don’t think that just because Asheville is a foodie paradise that it is a city populated by food snobs. Just the opposite, in fact. And one reason for that is due to the local craft beer scene. Ever since the early 1990’s, Asheville has really taken off as an important hub for craft brewers. At some local establishments, there are more than 100 local craft beers on tap, and overall, there are more than 50 breweries located nearby – including a bustling North Carolina outpost of Sierra Nevada. No matter where you look, it seems, there are locals hanging out, drinking the nation’s best craft beer. And publications have taken notice, with Asheville routinely winning titles like “Beer City USA.”
The next time you are thinking about heading to North Carolina for vacation, you might just want to check out Asheville. The city is a unique gem located amidst stunning natural beauty.
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