Asheville, North Carolina is one of those “small towns,” like Jim Thorpe and Lititz, that consistently pop up on all sorts magazine and online lists. I put small towns in quotes as, with a population of close to 85,ooo ,Asheville is actually a small city. Asheville’s been named one of the top 10 most beautiful places in the US by Good Morning America, one of the “best outside towns” by Outside Magazine, the top “Beer City” USA three years in a row, top places to visit by Frommers and Rolling Stone dubbed it the “New Freak Capital of the U.S. Austin must be jealous.
Most of us PA residents who venture to North Carolina probably head towards the outer banks. Asheville sits smacks in the middle of the Appalachian Mountain in the western part of the state just on the edge of The Great Smokey Mountains National Park and much closer to Tennessee and Kentucky versus the coast. In fact, it’s 7 hours to the beach from Asheville, which is only two hours less than a ride down from Lancaster. Asheville’s a long hike, so make it a long weekend or take Friday off and drive all morning to maximize your time.
Asheville is primarily known for it’s nature, outdoor adventures, and art. It’s taking after Nashville as a music and movie mecca. Bands like The Avett Brothers and Band of Horses recently recorded albums there. It’s gained attention somewhat recently for being the locale for The Hunger Games, but one of my favorite older films, there Last of the Mohicans, was filmed there. Check out the film’s closing montage to see a demonstration of the natural beauty in the surrounding mountains.
The area around the city is world renowned for it’s whitewater rafting and kayaking, and many Olympic rowers move to the Asheville metropolitan area to train. You’d be remiss to not try it when you’re there or embark on some sort of outdoor adventure, like climbing school.
There’s plenty to do in the city itself from the annual 9PM drum circle that happens every Friday at Pritchard Park (the city’s gotta keep it’s freak title somehow), to visiting Biltmore (the largest house in the US), or ziplining or rope courses right in the city.
Asheville has a bunch of out of the box touring options: from a microbrewery tours to the Lazoon comedy tour (a haunted city tour hosted by a comedian with a BYOB policy) and a running tour between the city’s pubs.
Check out Asheville’s website. It’s really easy to use and great for planning your customized Asheville trip.