Asheville, NC is a lively, sophisticated Smoky Mountains city that’s home to the Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, the leading attraction of the Great Smoky Mountains, second only to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).
Asheville NC was just another small western North Carolina town until 1889 when the venerable George Vanderbilt visited and was impressed by all he saw. He returned shortly after his visit and purchased over 100,000 acres to develop the beautiful estate now called Biltmore. Nearby, Vanderbilt founded a model village–Biltmore Village–and also brought in experts on forestry, architecture, landscape design to deveop the European look the estate retains.
In addition to the Biltmore Estate, Asheville NC has much to offer the traveler. Asheville has some great lodging accommodations including hotels and many wonderful B&Bs–not to mention the rustic and luxury cabins in the surrounding mountains. Choose from a fine selection of restaurants with a wide variety of cuisine (More on restaurants). Entertainment-wise, the city of Asheville has a symphony orchestra, minor league baseball (Asheville Tourists), and offerings at community theaters. For those especially interested in shopping, enjoy the Lexington, Pack Square, and Battery Hill shopping Districts.
Asheville’s downtown comprises 60 square blocks with architecture dating from the years 1890-1930. Asheville NC is surrounded by mountains: the Newfound Mountains, the Bald Mountains, the Pisgah Mountains, and the Great Balsams. This group of mountains boasts the highest peak in the east–Mt. Mitchell at 6,690 feet. And at the base of these mountains sits Asheville NC in the impressive valley through which the French Broad River runs.
Asheville’s special events include Lake Eden Arts Festival the last weekend in May; the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival the first weekend in August; Village Art and Craft Fair the first weekend in August; Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands in mid-October, and Belle Chere festival during the last weekend in July. Belle Chere events control the downtown area for 3 days and offers rock and pop, jazz, and bluegrass music, plus street food vendors providing many types of cuisine.
Asheville puts a lot of effort preparing for very active travelers. Gardens and parks offer fishing and walking; outdoor outfitters are available to help with rock climbing, ballooning, and whitewater rafting; bicycle shops assist you with bikes; and there are several resort golf courses and horseback-riding stables.