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Travel Guide To Asheville, NC

Updated Oct 03, 2018

Experiencing the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains is only one of the reasons visitors flock to Asheville, North Carolina each year. The arts scene is thriving in Asheville, so there are several districts where artisans and craftspeople display their wares and house their studios and workshops. A James Beard award-winning chef showcases his creativity in a downtown restaurant, a music hall with an unforgettable name presents live music and great food, and bed and breakfast inns are conveniently scattered throughout the region. You’ll want to devote at least three days to exploring this fascinating city. A week would be even better. Here’s a travel guide to get the best of Asheville, NC.

Top 3 activities to book in Asheville (and vicinity)

Mountain grandeur lures creative people


The beauty of the mountains through all of its seasons is reason enough to visit Asheville, North Carolina. It’s not surprise that musicians, artesans, chefs are drawn here in addition to the many tourists. Lush with its varied shades of green in the spring and summer, brilliant with color in the fall and quietly blanketed in snow in winter, the mountains are a powerful magnet.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Asheville and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Asheville

Historic Grovewood Village teaches and showcases


The Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina appear to be magnets for creative people with skills of all kinds. In particular, the Historic Grovewood Village informs visitors about the weaving and woodworking business founded by Edith Vanderbilt, whose husband, George, commissioned the building of Biltmore for her and for their daughter, Cornelia. Biltmore Industries was a thriving business in the 1920s, and many historical pieces on the grounds at the Homespun Museum tell the story.

Gallery of the Mountains showcases the work of more than 100 artists, and unique clothing, pottery, glass, jewelry items are offered for sale.

An Antique Car Museum is also on this 11-acre (4.45 hectares) property and is open for tours April through December of each year.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Asheville and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Asheville

River Arts District is the hub for more than 220 working artists


Away from the Biltmore property is another congregating spot for many more creative people. The River Arts District encompasses a mile (1.6 km) with 23 buildings and artist studios where visitors can observe and shop for one-of-a-kind treasures. Some are open every day, but each building keeps its own hours. Second Saturdays always feature special exhibits, and Second Saturdays in the fall are bursting with visitors who enjoy free trolley rides from building to building and have also come to the mountains for the spectacular fall colors. The River Arts District is clustered along the French Broad River, and the railroad tracks run down the center of the property where all of the buildings are found. It is probably best to find a parking spot and explore on foot. Wear comfortable shoes and bring some money. There will be many temptations to buy. Expect to see pottery, paintings, textiles, wood carvings, jewelry, glass and more. To find a specific shop or address, consult the River Arts District website.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Asheville and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Asheville

Isis Music Hall & Kitchen 743 has a startling name but stellar music and food


From 1937 to 1957, Isis Theatre was merely a single screen movie house. The name was given long before a group that is often in the news in a negative way came on the scene. When the family decided to reopen the space and expand it to include a restaurant, the name was associated with great times in the past.

Isis Music Hall and Kitchen 743 is located at 743 Haywood Road in West Asheville. It is closed on Monday but is open from 5:00 p.m. until midnight the other six days and for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Isis is primarily a music venue, but the restaurant serves a full menu ranging from appetizers, soup and sandwiches to full entrees such as steak, trout, chicken and pork tenderloin. The Deviled Egg Salad Bruschetta is a highly-recommended accompaniment for the great music.

In the main music hall, bluegrass is the theme on Tuesdays and jazz on Fridays. Isis offers a varied schedule from seated shows for 150 people in the main hall to a standing room only event for 450. In the balcony lounge, a more intimate concert and jam session is available for up to 50 people. Visitors should check the website for upcoming performers and for ticket information.

Parking is very limited on the street, but a lot behind the music hall has more space and is complimentary for Isis guests.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Asheville and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Asheville

Rhubarb is Chef John Fleer's outstanding restaurant

Rhubarb entree

Rhubarb, located at 7 SW Pack Square in downtown Asheville, opened in 2013. Chef and owner John Fleer has been a James Beard Foundation finalist five separate times, most recently for “Best Chef in the Southeast.” He brings a wealth of talent and experience to the kitchen at Rhubarb, and his well-trained staff is a pleasure to watch. I recommend that you sit in the back to see all of the action.

Chef Fleer is devoted to serving produce that is fresh, locally-grown and seasonal. That means that the menu will change often to reflect those elements. Be sure to start your meal with the Goat Cheese Burrata with rhubarb jam and pickled strawberries. It is the perfect prelude. Then, be sure to save room for dessert. Pastry Chef Kaley Laird has an active culinary imagination and is an award winner in her own field.

Interestingly, Rhubarb is closed on Tuesday but is open for dinner Wednesday through Monday. Check the website to find when Rhubarb is open for lunch, brunch and their very popular Sunday Suppers.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Asheville and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Asheville

Pinecrest is a delightful B & B near downtown


Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast at 249 Cumberland Avenue was built around 1905 and is in the Historic Montford District, within walking distance of area shops and restaurants. Dan and Diane Rogers are the welcoming innkeepers and hosts. Diane is a whiz in the kitchen. Her signature popcorn is addictive, and her Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Cookies, often served in the afternoons, will make you swoon. And, they are, surprisingly, gluten-free. After sampling both of those treats, you’ll happily anticipate the multi-course breakfast.

Guest rooms feature luxurious linens, a private bath, flat-screen TV, wireless Internet, fresh flowers and a gourmet chocolate. Guests may help themselves to a beverage refrigerator located on the sun porch. One suite is located on the first floor. The other four are upstairs.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Asheville and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Asheville

Wildberry Lodge is nestled in the mountains


If your primary purpose in visiting Asheville is to soak up the natural beauty and changing seasons of the Smoky Mountains, then Wildberry Lodge will suit you perfectly. The wraparound decks allow you to stare into the scenery for miles and miles, which is an unbeatable formula for relaxing and getting away from a hectic pace. All of the seasons can be savored at Wildberry Lodge from the soaring ceiling and massive stone fireplace in the great room to the screened in porch, the trail, the fire pit, the game room or the entertainment center in the upstairs loft.

Pets are not allowed in the guest rooms at Wildberry Lodge, but guests are welcome to enjoy the owners’ pets, the goats in a nearby pen and the cows grazing out front.

Owners Ken and Glenda Cahill have a lot of perspiration and hard work invested in their elegantly rustic retreat. They personally chinked every one of the hand-crafted logs that were shipped in from Maple Island Log Homes in Michigan, and they camped out on their property every weekend for months as their dream took shape.

A four-course breakfast is served each morning at a time chosen by each guest between 8:00 and 9:30 a.m. Both savory and sweet afternoon snacks are also offered after check-in time begins.

Wildberry Lodge is located at 135 Potato Branch Road in Leicester, North Carolina, only twelve miles (19.3 km) from the Biltmore House which is arguably the most famous attraction in the area. The rural, meandering roads add to the woodsy, off-the-beaten-path atmosphere for guests of Wildberry.

If there are no available rooms at Wildberry Lodge or Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast, be sure to consult the Asheville Bed and Breakfast Association’s website for other possibilities.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Asheville and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Asheville

Asheville has mountain grandeur and so much more

Asheville, North Carolina, has a population of less than 100,000 people, yet it is estimated that almost 30,000 visitors come to Asheville and Buncombe County EVERY DAY! The Biltmore and Smoky Mountains might lure them initially, but the artists, the great food, the music and the hospitality of area innkeepers pull them back again and again.

This article was originally published on Sep 25, 2018

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Connie Pearson is a travel writer and blogger based in Alabama. She has traveled extensively throughout the US and and the countries of Brazil, Guatemala, South Korea, Kenya, Venezuela, England,...Read more

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