The Ultimate Guide To Asheville
and the Western North Carolina Mountains
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Western North Carolina
This section will provide you with a good overview of Asheville North Carolina. More in-depth information about Asheville restaurants, hotels, attractions and things to do can be found in my best-selling guidebook The Ultimate Guide To Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains, available on Amazon.
Asheville is located at the hub of the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge mountains, 2,216 feet above sea level on the Asheville Plateau, Asheville is the largest city in Western North Carolina and the tenth largest municipality in the state, covering an area of 40.99 square miles. Asheville’s population is estimated at over 92,000 and the city is located at the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers in a river-formed valley that runs 18 miles north and south. Chartered in 1797 and named after Samuel Ashe, a former governor of North Carolina, Asheville attracts millions of visitors and tourists each year who come for the timeless natural beauty, the crisp highland air, the magnificent mountains and cosmopolitan vibrant hospitality the city offers. Every year publications of every type list Asheville and the Western North Carolina mountains as one of the best places in the world to live. Consistently ranked by major publications and organizations as one of the top cities in America to live or visit, and always on “Top 10 Lists,” Asheville’s recent accolades include “Top-10 Great Sunny Places to Retire (AARP), Top 10 River Towns (Outside Magazine), #10 Food and Wine Destination (TripAdvisor), #3 for Most Beautiful Places in the US (GMA), Top 25 Small Cities for Art (AmericanStyle Magazine), #4 Top College Small Towns (Best Place to Retire), America’s #1 Quirkiest Town (Travel and Leisure), Most Beautiful Place In America to Live and More (Real Estate Scorecard) and The Biggest Little Culinary Capital in America (Departures). In 2017 Condé Nast Traveler named Asheville as one of the Best Small Cities in the U.S.
A major tourist destination with more than 11,000,000 visitors annually, Asheville is also known for its varied and rich Arts & Crafts communities. Hundreds of galleries, craft shops, and artisans studios are to be found here. Asheville has become an important center for traditional Appalachian as well as contemporary crafts and the variety and quality of the craft galleries and the many craft exhibits and shows attest to this fact. Asheville has a wide variety and number of accommodations from world-class resort hotels to budget motels. The season of the year has a lot to do with accommodation availability. Summer and the fall leaf season in October are by far the most crowded and busiest times of the year. Also, the October leaf season, and Christmas and New Year weekends are all high-volume times. Reservations for these weekends can be hard to find if not booked in advance. While there are many fine accommodations for lodging, timeshare resales offer some of the best value. Buy a timeshare on the resale market and save up to 50%!
Located only minutes from national forests and green valleys, outdoor recreation
opportunities abound. White-water rafting, golf, hiking, fishing, horseback
riding, llama trekking, rock climbing, camping and ballooning are just a few of
the choices. Asheville also has a number of wonderful public parks, including
the small Pritchard Park where street musicians and chess players are often
found and the recently renovated 6.5 area city showpiece, the Pack Square Park,
complete with splash pad, bathrooms, information center and sculptures, where
major festivals and musical events take place throughout the year. Both of these
parks are located downtown and easy to find.
As you would expect, Asheville is rich in museums, nature centers, historic
sites and other attractions for the visitor. During your stay, you may wish to
attend a performance of the
Asheville City Ballet, the
Asheville Symphony Orchestra or
one of the many local theatre companies. A wonderful way to spend a summer
evening is to take in a game at historic
McCormick Field, where Babe Ruth once
played baseball. Throughout the year Asheville celebrates with many festivals,
from the renowned fairs of the
Southern Highland Craft Guild to
local street festivals.
The largest city in Western North Carolina, Asheville is the regional center for
manufacturing, transportation, banking and professional services and shopping.
Asheville has also in recent years experienced a downtown revitalization that is
establishing it as Western North Carolina’s entertainment mecca. Nightclubs,
pubs and superb
restaurants all add
to the mix that now creates one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan downtown
districts in the South. Voted an All-America City in 1997 by the National Civic
League, Asheville was one of only ten U.S. cities to receive this prestigious
award. An abundance of local craft breweries notably the
Highland Brewery, Sierra Nevada and others have also earned Asheville the
title of "Beer City USA". Asheville is home to numerous venues, included many
restaurants and most bars, where local handcrafted beers can be sampled, and in
September, the popular
Brewgrass Festival takes place, a celebration of Asheville's
many microbreweries and bluegrass music.
surrounding Asheville serve as a moderating influence from
extreme conditions. Major snow storms are rare and annual precipitation is
around 50 inches and average annual snowfall is about 15 inches. The mountains
serve to keep the area cool also during the summer months, and with their higher
elevations are usually 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the lowlands of the
Carolinas and Georgia.
Downtown Asheville Districts
Downtown Asheville itself has four distinct neighborhoods, each with their own distinctive qualities and ambience: Battery Park, the area that includes Haywood Street, Wall Street, and Battery Park Avenue; Lexington Park, spanning Lexington Avenue and Broadway; Pack Square, encompassing Pack Square, South Pack Square, Biltmore Avenue, and Patton Avenue; and Thomas Wolfe Plaza, centered on Market Street and Spruce Street.
1. Battery Hill
Neighborhood: This neighborhood is crowned by the magnificent
Basilica of St. Lawrence, D.M., the former Battery Park Hotel and the historic
Grove Arcade. This area contains some of Asheville’s best shopping and dining.
Be sure to take a stroll down quaint Wall Street and visit some of its
interesting and unusual stores. Farther down on Haywood Street is the Asheville
Civic Center and the main library.
Surrounding Communities in Buncombe County
Asheville has a number of unincorporated communities and distinct areas that are constellated in and around the city, and could be logically referred to as Asheville's "suburbs". These include Arden, Biltmore Forest, Candler, Enka, Fairview and Leicester. Of these Biltmore Forest is the most historic. An incorporated town located right in the heart of Asheville, this residential community is immediately adjacent to the world famous Biltmore Estate and is known for its many historic and elegant homes
Arden -South of Downtown
-South of Downtown
Candler -West of Asheville
-Southeast of Asheville
-Northwest of Asheville
One encounters Asheville today as a modern city that is rapidly growing and expanding out into the surrounding Buncombe County. Asheville today does not look at all like the Asheville from before the turn of the century. Regrettably, much of the best of that time has vanished, including the elegant Queen Anne style Battery Park Hotel and the very hilltop on which it stood and dominated the city landscape. Only scattered buildings remain from that period.
Much of the city landscape remains, however, from the early days of the century through to the present day, especially downtown Asheville, which retains a strong presence from the early third of this century. Asheville’s slow recovery from the Great Depression did not allow it to wholesale demolish these early buildings as did so many American cities, and because of that, they have been preserved intact to this day. Within the central downtown district for example, one can find excellent examples of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Georgian, Commercial Classical, Art Deco, Romanesque Revival and other style structures that make up the most extensive collection of early twentieth century architecture in the state. They remain an open-air museum, reminders of the optimism and unbounded investment that characterized Asheville in its boom period. Asheville is the only city of its magnitude in which such a urban landscape survives almost intact.
Asheville, through the efforts of local preservation and historic resources organizations, as well as the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, has been divided into a number of historic districts. These districts Albermarle Park, Asheville High School, Asheville School, Biltmore Industries, Biltmore Village, Chestnut Hill, Downtown, Eliada Home, Grove Park, Montford, Oteen VA Hospital and others.
City Website: City of Asheville: Asheville City Hall, 70 Court Plaza, P.O.
Box 7148, Asheville, NC 28802; 828-251-1122