Year Established: 1797
At A Glance
With a population of 90,000+, Asheville is the largest city in both Buncombe County and Western North Carolina. Asheville serves as the area's economic and cultural nerve center in many ways, including as a hub for education, healthcare, local arts and crafts, entertainment, and innovative food and drink. The four-season temperate climate with average snowfall of only 13 inches makes year-round living easy, and the broad range of elevations and corresponding climates and plant growth (both in town and around the area) make it one of the most biodiverse in the United States and the world.
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ASHEVILLE'S RICH HISTORY
Asheville has been renowned as a place to retreat and take in natural wonders since the 1800s, when George Vanderbilt built a railway through the area and settled in his Biltmore Estate, the largest private home in North America. Completed in 1895, today the 250-room, French Renaissance-style house and the 8,000-acre grounds are open to guests for tours, dinners, concerts, and outdoor activities. The gardens, stables, restaurants, winery, and hotels all help make this North Carolina's top tourism destination, with more than a million people visiting each year.
Much of downtown, North Asheville Biltmore Village, and the town of Biltmore Forest exist because of the pre-Great Recession development boom begun by Vanderbilt and continuing through the 1910s and 1920s. Asheville's downtown is home to scores of historic buildings, many of which are noted for their Art Deco accents. In fact, Asheville is now recognized for the finest collection of existing Art Deco buildings in the nation, second only to Miami Beach.
Downtown Asheville is today a booming central business district, exploding with commerce, dining, art, and entertainment. The renovation of old buildings and careful construction of new ones in recent decades represents the delicate balance of tradition and innovation seen throughout Asheville's many arts and industries.
FINE AND PERFORMING ARTS IN ASHEVILLE
Simply put, Asheville is an arts mecca, ranking 13th in the nation for the number of art galleries in town. In both 2010 and 2011, the readers of American Style magazine voted it the "Top Small-City Arts Destination" in the country.
Fine Arts and Crafts
The Western North Carolina region has a storied history of fine arts and handmade crafts, ranging from weaving to woodworking, pottery to jewelry. From the passed-down traditions of Cherokee rivercane baskets, made for thousands of years, to innovative multimedia art from the area's newest residents, there is an overwhelming amount of art to experience, beginning in downtown Asheville.
The Asheville Art Museum, which has helped anchor the arts scene for decades, has recently begun undergoing major expansions. The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, also downtown, hosts exhibits, talks, and workshops that celebrate the legacy of the college, a noted avant-garde institution operated from 1933-1957. A rising jewel of the arts scene is the River Arts District, an ever-expanding complex of studios and galleries near the French Broad River that's also becoming one of Asheville's culinary and entertainment hubs.
Some of the area's biggest art events take place in Asheville. In July and October, the U.S. Cellular Center is home to the four-day Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, which has taken place for more than 65 years. At the event, more than 200 local and regional craftspeople fill the center, offering their creations of clay, fiber, glass, leather, metal, mixed media, natural materials, paper, wood, and jewelry. A newer event, The Big Crafty, has exploded in popularity in recent years. Held in July and December at Pack Place, it's a kind of community bazaar, with quirky handmade crafts, local food and beer, and music.
Music and Comedy
The performing arts also abound in Asheville, with dozens of venues hosting live music, readings, theatre, and comedy. The downtown U.S. Cellular Center is the largest, with both a 7,600-seat arena and the 2,400-seat Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. The center hosts everything from performances by the Asheville Symphony Orchestra to roller derby bouts starring Asheville's own Blue Ridge Rollergirls. More intimate performances take place at the Diana Wortham Theatre, a 500-seat venue within Pack Place cultural and educational center, and Altamont Theatre, a 120-seat performance spot that boasts some of the best acoustics in the area.
The Orange Peel, a renovated 1970s-era music club, draws national acts on a nightly basis and was once named one of the best rock venues in America by Rolling Stone. The Grey Eagle, a smaller but still substantial establishment in the River Arts District, also brings in top talents from around the region and the country. And on just about any given night, dozens more smaller bars and clubs feature live music of various kinds.
Of course, traditional music also gets its due in Asheville. On Saturday nights throughout the summer, thousands of mountain-music fans gather for the Shindig on the Green. The outdoor event was founded back in 1930, as the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, by legendary Appalachian song collector and folk historian Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Over the decades, the event has changed remarkably little: It's still one of the best ways to take in mountain music and dance performed by the young, old, and everyone in between.
There's also a burgeoning comedy scene, with both amateur and professional stand-up comics performing several times a weeks at various venues. The annual summer Laugh Your Asheville Off is the biggest comedy festival in the Southeast.
Asheville's Literary History
Asheville also has a vibrant literary culture that springs from deep roots. The great American novelist Thomas Wolfe was born and raised here, and other noted writers of his era, including O. Henry and F. Scott Fitzgerald, did some of their best work while staying in Asheville. The Thomas Wolfe Memorial, a state historic site in Wolfe's restored childhood home, hosts tours, readings, and other events to celebrate his rich body of literature.
A CENTER FOR BREWING AND CULINARY EXCELLENCE
Asheville has a Food Scene for All Tastes
In recent years, Asheville has firmed up its reputation as a culinary center with a sizable and rapidly evolving food scene. They city has some 250+ independent restaurants and food trucks, as well as 13 farmers markets. Livibility.com named Asheville one of the country's "Top10 Surprisingly Vibrant Food Cities," and the Huffington Post listed it among the "Top Undiscovered Local Food Cities."
The best of the city's culinary offerings is celebrated at events like the Asheville Independent Restaurant (AIR) Association's Taste of Asheville, an annual gala featuring cuisine and spirits from dozens of area eateries, wineries, and breweries.
Asheville has also emerged as a center of local, specialized food production, thanks in part to Blue Ridge Food Ventures, an 11,000-square-foot kitchen that's part of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech), which is home to a renowned culinary education program. With its cooking and food storage capacity, along with classes and marketing assistance, BRFV has helped scores of food entrepreneurs find a recipe for success.
Asheville is Beer City, U.S.A.
If all that eating makes you thirsty, Asheville has the solution for that as well: our unparalleled craft beer scene. For four years straight beginning in 2009, Asheville was voted "Beer City U.S.A." in an informal poll managed by noted beer expert Charlie Papazian. Today, the city boasts 19 breweries, with a total of 39 in WNC, making Asheville the city with the most breweries per capita in the nation.
Asheville's reputation among beer lovers and our clean mountain waters brought national craft brew giants New Belgium Brewing Company (River Arts District), Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Mills River), and Oskar Blues Brewery (Brevard) to the area for east coast expansions.
Biltmore Winery and Local Cideries
The Biltmore Estate's Biltmore Winery is one of the largest in the area and features both tours of the vineyards and an expansive tasting room. Nearby Henderson County is one of the top apple-producing areas of the nation. Locals in Asheville and Hendersonville have capitalized on the abundance of local produce by opening several cideries.
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES IN AND AROUND ASHEVILLE
Outdoors enthusiasts find no shortage of activities in Asheville, whether it's hiking, biking, and climbing in nearby mountains; paddling and fishing on the French Broad River and local lakes; careening through the trees on a zip line; or golfing at one of the area's renowned courses. Asheville is such a outdoors destination that in 2015, SmarterTravel.com named it #5 on their " 10 Best Outdoor Towns in America."
And of course, no survey of Asheville's outdoor offerings would be complete without a mention of the area's stunning leaf season. TripAdvisor.com recently named Asheville the best place in the nation to view fall foliage. With our proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway (which runs through parts of the city), great mountain views are only minutes away.
Asheville has placed great emphasis on preserving the natural environment, and the city's government has instituted substantial greenways and bikeways programs.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND EDUCATION IN ASHEVILLE
Science and education loom large in the local Asheville community. The University of North Carolina at Asheville's 3,600 students participate in such projects as the local hub of the statewide Renaissance Computing Institute, or RENCI. RENCI's mission is to "bring the latest cyber tools and technologies to bear on pressing problems."
That mission is greatly advanced by academic collaborations with what might be called Asheville's "climate community." In fact, the city is home to the federal government's National Climatic Data Center, making it the nation's de facto headquarters for climate and weather research.
- Children's Programs
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- Conservation Trust
- Equestrian Center
- Equestrian Boarding
- Equestrian Trails
- Wellness/Fitness Center
- Golf Course
- Golf Learning Center
- Lake Access
- Mountain Biking/Cycling
- Outfitter/River Pro
- Planned Activities
- Swimming Pool
- Walking/Hiking Trails
- Lake Fishing
- Fly Fishing
- Mountain Biking/Cycling
- Snow Skiing
- Primary Education
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- Continuing Education
- Garden Club
- Working Out
- Kids Camp