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Rustic Charm & Mountain Air: An Introduction to Asheville

There’s a thriving city in western North Carolina that’s embraced by the Blue Ridge Mountains, exudes rustic romance, and has been dubbed “the Paris of the South.” Wildflowers bloom from March to October, craft beer reigns supreme, inventive cuisine is emphasized by freshly foraged produce, and the French Broad River tumbles through downtown. But it’s the waterfalls and endless Appalachian views that will steal your heart. Pack your Birkenstocks, backpack, and favorite beer koozie. We’re exploring Asheville, North Carolina

Winni Wanderer | Aheville Spotlight

You Belong Among the Wildflowers

With eight months of bloom time, Asheville has one of the longest wildflower-blossoming seasons in the country. Western North Carolina’s landscape and botanical gardens are revered by self-taught green thumbs, expert horticulturists, and people who simply love pretty flowers. Depending on when you visit, count on seeing a kaleidoscope of flora including Rosebay and Catawba Rhododendrons, Eastern Redbud, Flame and Pinkshell Azaleas, Mountain Ash, and Dogwood, the official state flower of North Carolina.

Hazy, Hoppy, Piney, Roasty

Asheville’s growing collection of 20+ craft breweries has established the town as a mecca for outstanding beer, drawing connoisseurs from around the world. Natural resources like nutrient-rich soil and clean, cold water from Pisgah National Forest help to produce world-class hops. Oscar Wong—the godfather of Asheville craft beer—started the town’s first legal brewery in 1994. Highland Brewing sits on a perch that overlooks Cold Mountain and remains near the top of every beer afficionados list. Whether you’re already a fan of cold pints or are up for trying something new, Asheville will take care of you. Standout establishments like Burial Beer Co., Hi-Wire Brewing, and DSSOLVR have joined the scene, all producing exciting and inventive brews.

Find Your Waterfall

North Carolina boasts thousands of waterfalls, and many are easily accessible. Here are some magnificent options that will extend your adventure beyond Asheville.

  • Looking Glass Falls: Though you’ll have to commit to the 45-minute drive to Pisgah National Forest to admire this beautiful waterfall, you won’t have to dedicate additional energy once you’re there. The 75-foot cascade is right off the highway and can be experienced from the roadside observation deck. Or take the staircase down to wade in the cool water.

  • Moore Cove Falls: This is one of the few falls you can walk behind safely—a rare opportunity that you’ll never forget. Moore Cove is a gentle 50-foot waterfall just down the road from Looking Glass Falls and can be found after an easy .7-mile hike.

  • Upper Whitewater Falls: At a mighty 411-feet, this is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies and surprisingly easy to reach. Located in the Nantahala National Forest, the fall’s paved, ¼-mile walkway leads from the parking lot to its overlook. To get even more exceptional views, follow 154 steps down to the lower deck.

Old Money Opulence

One of Asheville’s most popular destinations is America’s largest home: the Biltmore mansion. Sitting on an 8,000-acre estate, the mountain oasis features 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. There are several different tours and three overnight options: the hotel, the inn, or a private cottage. In addition to walking slack-jawed through various parts of the Vanderbilt’s home, you can also explore the property’s rare tropical plants inside the conservatory and acres of renowned landscape. Antler Hill Village (yes, there’s an entire village on the grounds) offers dining, shopping, and a winery (no, you can’t move in). Make an entire day of exploring the estate by walking, biking, or hiking 20 miles of trails, some of which follow along the French Broad River.

Your Love Language is “Rooftop”

Sometimes our idea of spending time outside means sauntering up to a rooftop bar for charcuterie and a chilled bottle of Rosé. In Asheville, you can do just that without wasting the Southern Appalachian views.

  • At The Montford, snack plates and small bites are sourced with the freshest ingredients from nearby farms and the panoramic range will inspire you to consult Zillow to see what’s available.

  • Pillar Rooftop Bar opens every day for dinner, offering southern-fusion small plates and seasonally inspired cocktails to accompany the expansive Asheville skyline. If there’s a chill in the air, warm up by the fire pit while swaying to music from the night’s local band. Pillar’s hospitality doesn’t stop there: take advantage of their free shuttle—it will drop you off anywhere downtown.

  • Finish the day watching the warm Appalachian sunset with a slice of rum-soaked pound cake and a Cuban Daquiri from Hemingway’s Cuba. In the winter months, they repurpose greenhouses and adorn the patio with cozy cabanas so you can stay toasty watching snow fall over the peaks.

Don’t Forget to Rejuvenate

After trekking across the Biltmore estate, discovering waterfalls, and perusing rooftops, your tired body may need some attention. Fortunately, Asheville has a legacy of prioritizing health and wellness. Pamper yourself with undeniable luxury at the Omni Grove Park Inn’s top-ranked, 40,000 square-foot underground spa or seek healing properties inside one of Asheville’s salt caves. At Wake Foot Sanctuary, 45-minute soaks are on the menu. Add a head, neck, leg, or hand massage to lavish in as your feet are immersed in warm lavender oil. When you’re done, call Pillar’s shuttle—you’ll be too relaxed to walk.

Delight in Holiday Magic

There’s a reason every beloved Christmas movie takes place in an enchanting mountain town. If you prefer to travel for the holidays rather than sip eggnog at your cousin’s, consider dashing through the snow to Asheville. Each year the Omni Grove Park Inn becomes a wonderland that promises to deliver a memorable experience with trimmed trees, thousands of twinkling lights, crackling fires, and opulent, Christmas-themed buffets. Can’t travel in December? Grove Park’s festivities start in November with its annual National Gingerbread House Competition. What began as a community event in 1992 is now one of the country’s most anticipated and beloved holiday marvels, drawing talented participants from all over the U.S. who roll up their sleeves to construct exquisite—and edible—gingerbread masterpieces.


By Nicole Foster


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