Road Trip

Asheville: Edgy, Artsy and Inviting

Asheville, North Carolina, is a special place that lingers sweetly in visitors' minds for years to come. The city's rich architectural legacy with its mix of Art Deco, Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical styles is the perfect retro-urban backdrop to the edgy energy that typically emanates from the bustling town. Once things have completely reopened, they'll surely roll out the red carpet.

A bastion of cutting-edge art and technology in the Blue Ridge, the city's citizens also pride themselves on its Appalachian past and celebrate this culture with annual events, such as Shindig on the Green. While many cities underwent major overhauls in past decades, Asheville's historic and architecturally diverse downtown remains beautifully preserved. It makes for a funky and eclectic mix: 30-plus art galleries downtown alone, a burgeoning culinary scene, a thriving live music scene, and, of course, the awe-inspiring scenery of the Appalachian Mountains.

Because Asheville had no money to invest in urban renewal projects that were so popular in other cities following Black Monday, its magnificent architecture built during the boom years at the turn of the last century were spared the bulldozer. 

George W. Vanderbilt came to Asheville in the late 1880s and quickly purchased 120,000 acres to build his grand Biltmore Estate. The endeavor took six years and Vanderbilt commissioned renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds and gardens and celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to help him plan the house. 

Asheville’s Foodtopia culinary scene ranges from dining with James Beard-nominated chefs to a thriving food-truck scene interspersed with craft cocktail mixologists. Locally grown/foraged/crafted ingredients flavor everything from traditional Appalachian dishes to globally inspired fair. It boasts more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S., but also makers of kombucha, cider, mead, wine and spirits. Markets feature local artisanal cheeses, fresh-roasted coffees, made-from-scratch jams, hot sauces, charcuterie, and handmade tortillas. There's even a chocolate factory! Indian street food, Parisian mussels, Spanish tapas? Check. Whole-hog barbecue, gourmet-inspired ice cream, and fried chicken? Check. Artisanal doughnuts, crêpes, and beignets? Absolutely.

To accompany it all, Asheville offers a sound all its own with performances humming around-the-clock. Guests can tart their day with an acoustic session at one of the city’s cafés, or hit a trendy brunch spot in West Asheville for breakfast with a side of blues. 

Catch Abby the Spoon Lady, with her toes tapping service bells, or feel the reverberations of a didgeridoo just around the corner. While out and about, be sure to check out local instrument shops, as well as the world-famous Moog Music Factory.

When evening falls, check the lineup at ExploreAsheville.com/Music for performance details at music halls and outdoor concert venues. 

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