Asheville Travel Guide

Merrill Lynch building, Asheville © Billy Hathorn

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the beautiful, spirited and eclectic town of Asheville has long been a haven for artists, poets and visionaries. In this rugged region of majestic terrain, the 'Paris of the South' is a cultural epicentre with an extensive display of wonderfully preserved Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Neoclassical architectural triumphs. These structures hint at Asheville's fascinating history as an elite getaway during America's Gilded Age. One of its premier cultural attractions is the Biltmore Estate, one of the largest homes in the country, commissioned in 1895 by George Vanderbilt. Today, its magnificent grounds boast a luxurious inn, stunning gardens and an award-winning winery. Its 8,000 acres offer visitors a taste of the abundance of outdoor activities the Asheville region offers, including hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, rafting and golfing.

Downtown Asheville is a vibrant destination for both tourists and locals, with buzzing arts and music scenes. The Urban Trail offers visitors a comprehensive understanding of the town. Its 30 landmark sculptures, arranged along a lovely walk through downtown streets, reveal Asheville's legends and lore. Countless galleries showcase hundreds of artists, from fine art to folk art and traditional mountain crafts.

The music and performing arts scene include a symphony orchestra, an opera company and dozens of venues for bluegrass, folk, jazz and blues, as well as rock and alternative music. The local writers' scene is thriving, and Asheville natives like Thomas Wolfe, whose boyhood home is now a historic site downtown, and Charles Frazier, who penned Cold Mountain (the novel's namesake is located just 35 miles (56km) from Asheville) have had significant impacts in the literary world. Shoppers will delight in the many antique shops, funky boutiques and farmers tailgate markets found throughout the area, as well as in historic Grove Arcade, another of Asheville's architectural gems, a bustling marketplace with unique shopping and dining options.

Asheville is the ideal gateway to the magnificent North Carolina mountains, in the west of the state, which are an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, with hiking and biking trails through miles of national parks and forests, grand landscapes and beautiful mountain roadways, and attractive towns that are the perfect base for exploring the area.

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