Perpetually at the top of lists of places both to visit and live, Asheville is the crowd pleaser of North Carolina destinations. It’s ideal for foodies, beer nerds, live-music lovers, history buffs, and especially anyone who appreciates the great outdoors.
With the most breweries per capita in the country, Asheville is sometimes called the Napa Valley of beer, as the incubator for Wicked Weed, Highland Brewing, and Burial Beer, to name just a few of the breweries and taprooms in town.
Over one million visitors come every year to view the Biltmore Estate‘s 250 rooms, winery, and 8,000 acres of formal gardens and grounds designed by Central Park landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted – especially around the holidays when the estate is decked out in festive lights, ornaments, and decorated Christmas trees.
Asheville hosts more than a dozen music festivals and even more outdoor concerts, ranging from Appalachian folk to bluegrass to electronic and funk. Independent music venues like the Orange Peel and Grey Eagle have hosted big-name acts and amateur jam sessions, with a variety of open mics and intimate sets every night of the week.
It’s outside where Asheville really dazzles, as the city’s location in the French Broad River valley, under the backdrop of the Blue Ridge mountains and between several national forests and parks, means it’s possible to spend a day kayaking, hiking, or mountain biking. There are also plenty of opportunities to stop for a picnic and a locally brewed beer.
Asheville is one of the gateways to the classic Blue Ridge Parkway, which has inspired many leisurely Sunday drives and photo opportunities along its scenic outlooks. The Pisgah National Forest was built on a land donation from the Biltmore Estate and within it is Mt. Mitchell, the Appalachian Mountains’ and east coast’s tallest peak at 6,500 feet, with an easily accessible observation deck.