In the cradle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has been home to everyone from railroad barons and New Age hippies to global foodies and serious craft brewers. Today, it has a reputation as a mecca for artists and musicians, thanks to its near-perfect blend of natural beauty and culture. Whether your passing through on a road trip or spending a long weekend, don't miss these 8 points of interest in Asheville, North Carolina.
The Biltmore Estate
Asheville’s most famous house is also its largest: George Washington Vanderbilt II’s 1889 sprawling mansion covers 178,926-square-feet, and is perched on a nearly 11-square-mile estate. It's also the largest private residence in the United States.
There’s something to listen to every night of the week in Asheville, between its array of nightclubs, seasonal festivals, and impromptu open air performances, whether from touring big-name bands or local traditional musicians. But for a guaranteed performance, check out the live music at The Mothlight.
A rich food scene awaits the hungry traveler, with chefs from around the world — Spain, India, even Brooklyn — having opened restaurants in this new culinary capital. (One of Asheville's best-loved restaurants is the Spanish tapas bar, Cúrate.) But don’t neglect to sample the local cuisine, either. Biscuits, barbeque, and mountain trout are all popular here.
Bhramari Brewing Company
Asheville has some of the most breweries per capita in the United States, with about 100 types of local brews to sample. Get started with an individual brewery tour, or a beer-themed tour of the city’s offerings. We love Bhramari Brewhouse's taproom deck, which is perfect for sampling craft beer and (of course) live music.
A construction slowdown during and after the Great Depression essentially froze Asheville’s Art Deco downtown in time, much to residents’ and visitors’ lasting gratitude. City Hall and the S&W Cafeteria building are two prominent examples of the city's famous architecture.
Thomas Wolfe House
Before dying at age 37 of tuberculosis, Asheville native Thomas Wolfe experienced a meteoric rise with the publication of his 1929 bestselling first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, set in a fictionalized version of his family home, now open to the public.
Blue Ridge Parkway
One of the country’s most famous — and most beautiful — roads, the Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles across the top of the Appalachian Mountains. A park as well as a road, it links Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the south to Shenandoah National Park in the north. And it goes right through Asheville.
Strap on a pair of hiking boots and hit the trails: Craven Gap offers great views less than 15 minutes from downtown Asheville, though travelers can also try a stretch of the nearby Appalachian Trail.