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Tucked into the French Broad River valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has long drawn outdoor lovers and artists with its natural beauty and independent spirit. Once a playground for the Vanderbilts and a counterculture hub, Asheville is now a vibrant city where food, music and art are at the forefront. Appalachian traditions are evident in Asheville, but they’ve been updated—think barbeque sliders paired with craft cocktails. This confluence of cultures is part of what makes Asheville so unique. You can explore the area near this Asheville hotel, with national parks and forests within an hour of the city or dining at downtown restaurants, the city’s mix of sophistication, creativity and scenic beauty is irresistible.
Top Things to Do in Asheville
Gilded Age Grandeur: Chief among Asheville attractions, George W. Vanderbilt’s iconic 250-room Biltmore House sits on an 8,000-acre estate surrounded by Frederick Law Olmsted-designed gardens and idyllic scenery. Kids visit for free all summer.
Eating in Appalachia: Asheville has been named on countless “best food city” lists. Find out why when you visit Rhubarb on Pack Square, which offers a seasonal menu with locally sourced specialties like farm-raised trout and sunchokes. This local restaurant, owned by chef John Fleer, was nominated for the prestigious James Beard award.
Outdoors in Asheville: Looking for a hike near the Asheville hotel? Take a 40-minute drive from downtown to Craggy Pinnacle at milepost 364.1 for a 20-minute climb through rhododendron thicket. The lookout at the top offers year-round views and spectacular sunsets.
Beer City, USA: Asheville is home to more than 30 craft breweries, each with a distinct flavor. Take a tour of the Sierra Nevada Brewery, opened in 2015, then grab a bite and a pint at its Taproom. On the Back Porch, you can sip a lager while listening to the live music on the outdoor stage.
Art on the Edge: In the River Arts District, former industrial buildings now house galleries and working artist studios. Stop in at Asheville Glass Center for daily hot glass demonstrations, then catch a meal at All Souls Pizza, featuring toppings such as goat cheese and leeks atop crusts made from locally milled flour.
From Bluegrass to Ballads: Bluegrass is at the center of Asheville’s musical heart, and you can hear it every weekend night near the Country Inns & Suites hotel at the Feed and Seed Music Hall, 20 minutes from downtown. But at the nationally famous Orange Peel downtown, weekly shows feature a variety of artists, from Trombone Shorty to St. Vincent.
Best Time to Go to Asheville
Asheville has four distinct seasons, each with its own draws. Visit in summer, when you can enjoy mountain music under the stars at the free Shindig on the Green, held each summer Saturday on downtown’s Roger McGuire Green. Take a lazy float down the French Broad River on tubes from Zen Tubing, and pull out at The Bywater, a club known as Asheville’s outdoor living room.
Leaf peepers flock to Asheville for the fall color. It’s a great time to visit Cataloochee Valley in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and hear the bugle call of the male elk during their annual mating season. From late November through early March, you can hit the slopes at Cataloochee Ski Area or Wolf Ridge, both less than an hour from Asheville and ideal for beginners.
Asheville Travel Tip
For a front-row seat to Asheville’s most free-spirited show, grab a ticket for the purple LaZoom bus, a 90-minute comedic tour with an on-board band, hosted by such entertaining characters as Augusta Wind and Sister Bad Habit.