Visitors to Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds often marvel at how amazing it is that they could be nearly in the center of the city and still feel like they are mountain adventurers. Asheville vacation cabins aren’t rustic in the sense that you feel you’re “roughing it,” but they are situated in the mountain woods just below the Blue Ridge Parkway. You don’t ever have to leave the city limits to return home with stories fit for a mountain explorer.
Making the Lists
Asheville has been making “Best of” lists around the country due to its rather eclectic culture that seems to thrive in the midst of its natural beauty. Asheville was named Best Craft Beer City in America in 2009 and continues to build craft breweries available for tours and tastings all year round. As Southern Living’s Best of the South Travel Awards winner in 2010, the town made it to the big time. The Huffington Post pegged Asheville in its Top 10 Undiscovered Local Food Cities. Chefs flock to Asheville to be a part of the bursting foodie scene. There are so many dining treasures in the city now that you won’t be able to taste them all in just one visit. Many people visit Asheville vacation cabins only to return later to live here. And it’s no wonder, when the city made MSN’s Top Five Best Places to Retire list, AARP The Magazine’s list of Top 15 Best Places to Reinvent Your Life and number 21 on Forbes’ Best Places for Business and Careers list.
Culture in Every Corner
For a city with a population of only 85,000, it’s surprising that so many cultural experiences abound on a weekly basis. From art galleries and museums to theaters and live music, the city offers expanded entertainment options every week — so many that you have to choose between the “can’t miss” and “must see” events. Right downtown, you’ll find exciting top-notch performances at the 500-seat Diana Wortham Theatre, world-class performers in the black-box Altamont Theatre Company, superb comedies, musicals and dramas at the Asheville Community Theatre and professional theater, local performers and dance at NC Stage. Music comes in all varieties too. While bluegrass plays everywhere, the Asheville Symphony and touring groups provide a jam-packed schedule at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Asheville Lyric Opera plays at the Diana Wortham Theatre, just blocks away from rock and roll at the Orange Peel. Listen to a range of musical styles in Asheville at places such as the Asheville Music Hall, Isis Restaurant and Music Hall, the Grey Eagle and the Odditorium.
Walkin’ and Shoppin’
You don’t have to drive up to the Parkway to get in a good day’s worth of hiking. Start downtown at the foot of Broadway and work your way up to Patton Avenue, then up and down Lexington, Haywood Street and Wall Street. Start early because you’ll want to stop in every local shop — that’s right, Asheville has exactly one chain store in its downtown — selling everything from local crafts and woodworking to clothing, jewelry and games. Find hundreds of local artists under one roof at Woolworths and the Kress Emporium. And eat all along the way as you walk and shop — it’s one of the more popular activities to include in your Asheville vacation. You can expect to be entertained in more ways than one as you hike the urban trails too. Musicians of every ilk, ranging from old-timey banjo pickers to new-age pan drummers, perform on the sidewalks of downtown Asheville.
View the Architecture Too
While you explore the insides of the shops and restaurants, don’t forget to look up as you walk, shop and eat. Asheville prides itself on its heritage and diversity, but the city also boasts beautifully restored art-deco buildings. In the early 1900s, Asheville became known as the “Paris of the South” because of its architectural styles and the level of talent attracted to the city. If you’re visiting Asheville for the first time, no doubt you’ll spend a day at the Biltmore House, which lies a short drive from downtown. If you are into grand old buildings, the Biltmore Estate has competition in the Grove Arcade. Notice the building’s designs and playful sculptures dotting the exterior. As you walk the streets of downtown, make sure you see the City-County buildings at Pack Square and the Battery Park Hotel. Is Asheville worth a trip? It will take your breath away.