Asheville is the largest city in northwestern North Carolina, and is almost completely surrounded by national forests and national parks. It is the launching point for most explorations of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most beautiful scenic areas in the United States. There are numerous waterfalls, wineries, picturesque old mills, and a wealth of other attractions both in the city itself and in the surrounding area.
The downtown area of Asheville North Carolina offers much to keep the visitor occupied. The city is rich in well-preserved architecture with a variety of neoclassical, art deco, and beaux-arts buildings, which you can explore on foot or on the Gray Line Trolley that has routes through the most interesting districts. You can also book guided tours—walking, cycling, or on a Segway.
There are a number of downtown museums, several of which are housed in historic buildings. The shopping is also excellent. This area is known as a thriving arts community, and you will find an eclectic mix of galleries offering unique paintings, pottery, handmade jewelry, and other handcrafts from the area. Your choices for Asheville dining are just as varied. There are special events and festivals throughout the year, with particular emphasis on summer festivals when the weather is at its balmiest. Come for three days at the end of August for the Bele Chere Festival, the largest free street festival in the southeast United States.
The number one attraction in Asheville North Carolina is the magnificent Biltmore Estate, which contains the largest privately owned home in the United States. It was built by George Washington Vanderbilt during the Gilded Age, the Post Civil War period of rapid economic growth that also saw construction of the opulent mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. You need a full day to explore the estate's stunning gardens and experience its winery, which is housed in one of the former dairy barns. The 8,000 acre estate is still owned by the Vanderbilt family.
In the early twentieth century, 85,000 acres of the estate's original forest were gifted to the federal government and is now part of one of the other Asheville attractions, Pisgah National Forest. This pristine area spreads over more than 500,000 acres and includes part of the Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Great Balsam Mountains. It is a popular vacation destination for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities. Also part of the vast wilderness surrounding the city of Asheville are the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Nantahala National Park.
Asheville North Carolina offers many choices for lodging that will suit most all budgets and tastes. For four-star pampering, you can try the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa at 290 Macon Avenue in the northeast part of town. This grand historic resort was built in 1913, and offers a full-service spa, an 18-hole golf course, and an extensive sports complex with swimming pool, tennis and racquetball courts, and a fitness center. There are also charming bed and breakfast inns, a variety of hotels and motels, cabins and vacation rentals, can plenty of campgrounds. The Asheville Regional Airport offers flights from around the country, including flights from New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and Charlotte.