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The Ultimate Guide To Asheville and the Western North Carolina Mountains
Relocation Guide to Asheville


Susanna Pantas, Artist



  Prints of Asheville by Lee James Pantas -available online thru Fine Art America

Prints of Paintings & Drawings by Lee James Pantas

Online Maps
City of Asheville Interactive Map

Google Map of Asheville & Buncombe County

     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.


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Surrounded by thousands of acres of majestic mountains, plateaus, rolling valleys and mystical cove
s, Asheville is a city not easily forgotten once visited. With its winding hilly streets graced by architectural gems from the past, Asheville has been referred to as the “Paris of the South.” Every section of this enchanting city is blessed with unique and irreplaceable buildings that few cities in America can match. From the awesomely majestic Biltmore House to the Art Deco masterpiece S&W Building to the stately rock-hewn beauty of the Grove Park Inn, Asheville is overflowing with architectural treasures. More than 170 historic buildings have been preserved, some of which were designed by world-famous architects Richard S. Smith, Douglas Ellington, Richard M. Hunt and Rafael Guastavino. Couple this with all of the cultural, business and entertainment possibilities and you have an extraordinary city to experience.

     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.

   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.
    Asheville is also a major medical center. Modern hospitals and numerous specialized medical facilities, as well as a large resident population of doctors and medical professionals combine to make Asheville the regional center for health care.

    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, cafes, galleries, theatres, coffeehouses, 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. 
    Surrounded by towering mountains, Asheville was a small crossroads town when it was founded by pioneer town planner John Burton in 1792. Known as Morristown during the early years, the city was also called Buncombe Courthouse until 1797, when it was incorporated and named Asheville in honor of North Carolina governor Samuel Ashe.
    Buncombe attained county status in 1792 and was named for Revolutionary War hero Col. Edward Buncombe. Growth was slow until 1880, when the first
railroad system was constructed. This first steam train changed Asheville forever, bringing in the outside world. This small mountain settlement went from a population of 2,616 to 10,328 in just ten years. A trickle of summer visitors that had journeyed to Asheville for half a century turned into a torrent. By 1886, an estimated 30,000 “summer people” visited the city annually. In 1885, the building of the first Battery Park Hotel was noted as the beginning of a great period of expansion for Asheville. Near the turn of the century, George Vanderbilt also began construction of the now world famous Biltmore House.
    The greatest boom period in Asheville’s history came during the 1920s with the construction of many new buildings throughout downtown, including the Grove Arcade, City Hall, Buncombe County Courthouse, Flat Iron Building and others. Many Art Deco buildings were also constructed in this period, the best example being the S&W Cafeteria building.
   Today, Asheville is experiencing another period of tremendous growth and revitalization. The downtown district, with its wealth of historic buildings, is one of the most vibrant city centers in the South. Major, ecologically sound riverfront development is also occurring along the French Broad River, with parks, greenways and cultural centers emerging. Asheville continues to attract people from around the world as an exciting vacation destination, and as a wonderful place to live.


    The mountains 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.
     Spring in the Appalachians is a wondrous time, with mild days and nights. Wildflowers are blooming  abundance a
nd all chance of snow has virtually disappeared by April. Summer brings more humidity and heat, although nothing like what the lowlands experience. Late afternoon thunderstorms are common and August usually brings a few weeks when it is hot enough for air conditioning. Temperatures can reach over 90 degrees in Asheville and Hendersonville. Such extremes are rare, however, at elevations over 4,000 feet. Winter doesn’t make its presence shown until after Christmas, and January and February can be very cold with temperatures dipping down below 20 degrees occasionally. Light snows and ice storms occur frequently, although the snow rarely stays on the ground for more than a few days. Big snowfalls can occur but they are rare. The Blizzard of ’93 dumped three feet of snow on the ground in less than 24 hours! 

Downtown Asheville Districts

Online Maps
City of Asheville Interactive Map
Google Map of Asheville & Buncombe County

    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.
2. Lexington Park Neighborhood:
This is Asheville’s antique shop district. If you are at all interested in antiques, a visit to this district is a must. There you will also find trendy boutiques, the oldest store in town, coffeehouses, galleries and nightclubs.
3. Pack Square Neighborhood:
The heart of Asheville is Pack Square, a wonderful space surrounded by stunning architecture, from Art Deco to contemporary. This is a district that overflows with nightlife from the many art galleries, pubs, coffeehouse, theatres and restaurants. Asheville’s Pack Place and YMI Center for African-American Culture are also found here.
4. Thomas Wolfe Plaza Neighborhood: Crowned by the historic home of author Thomas Wolfe, the Thomas Wolfe Plaza area is home to the Asheville Community Theatre, historic churches, craft shops and art galleries.

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
    Arden is an unincorporated area located in southern Buncombe County, south of Asheville. It is considered part of the greater Asheville area. Arden is primarily residential, with a concentration of businesses and stores located along the major highways.

Biltmore Forest -South of Downtown
    Biltmore Forest is a planned residential community in Buncombe County, surrounded by the much larger city of Asheville. Population of Biltmore Forest is estimated at approximately 1700 residents and the town is 99% residential. It is located between the historic Biltmore Estate and  Biltmore Village, and is culturally and historically affiliated with both. In 1916, a flood caused significant damage to portions of the Biltmore Estate and the affected land was sold to lessen the upkeep and tax burden of the Biltmore Company, owners of Biltmore Estate. The town was created from this parcel of land and chartered & incorporated in 1923. The first houses were built on White Oak Road. The town hall is located at 355 Vanderbilt Road, Biltmore Forest NC 28803.

Candler -West of Asheville
    Candler is an unincorporated community in Buncombe County, located to the west of Asheville. It is primarily agricultural and residential, with some light industry and businesses centered on the main highway, NC 151 and 74. Candler is home to the locally famous Pisgah View Ranch, and a number of private mountain communities.

-West of Asheville
    Enka is an unincorporated community in Buncombe County, located on the west side of Asheville.  Enka was developed in 1928 as a company town for the Dutch-based American Enka Company which at the time was the nation's largest rayon producing manufacturer. In 1929 the company began developing a community plan that included employee houses and that area became known as Enka Village. Enka Village is now an historic community, with most of the area around the former Enka Lake transformed into a private mountain community, Biltmore Lake. There continues to be some light industry along the major highways although most of Enka is still agricultural and residential in nature.

Fairview -Southeast of Asheville
    Fairview is an unincorporated community in Buncombe County located on the southeast side of Asheville. It is primarily a residential community of about 3000 residents which still retains a rural and agricultural dimension. Over the years, Fairview has seen considerable growth of residential subdivisions, luxury developments and private mountain communities due to its proximity to Asheville and its unspoiled natural beauty. Fairview is at a higher elevation than Asheville, over 3000 feet, and is in a 10 mile-long mountain valley surrounded by 5000 foot peaks. Fairview is home to many artists and crafts persons. Fairview also has a monthly newspaper, the Fairview Town Crier.

Leicester -Northwest of Asheville
    Leicester is an unincorporated community in Buncombe County, located on the northwestern border of Asheville. Population is estimated to be around 12,500 residents. The community has seen considerable development in the past ten years, and today has numerous residential developments and a number of private mountain communities. Parts of Leicester however, remain rural with agriculture still very much in evidence.
    Originally known as Turkey Creek, Leicester had a post office beginning April 7, 1829. The name was changed in 1859, in honor of Leicester Chapman. Post office records reveal that Leicester Chapman was Postmaster at Turkey Creek from 1852 to 1856. Leicester has a commercial area that stretches along Leicester Highway, heading west through the town from Asheville.

Historic 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
Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: The Ultimate Guide To Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains
County Website:  Buncombe County
County Offices, 205 College Street, Asheville NC 28801; 828-250-4000
Chamber of Commerce Website:  Asheville Chamber of Commerce:
36 Montford Ave., Asheville, NC 28801; 828-258-6101
Asheville Visitor Center: Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Centerr, 36 Montford Ave., Asheville, NC 28801; 800-257-1300