Fresh air! Pack Square! Hello Asheville!
On any typical day in downtown Asheville you will encounter crowds of people casually roaming the streets, admiring the art galleries or stopping to watch a strolling street performer. The sidewalk cafes are packed with locals and tourists alike. After all downtown has over 60 restaurants, coffee shops and bars to choose from.
Don’t be surprised if you encounter many diverse people from all walks of life. There may be a group of protestors on any given corner since Asheville is know to be a very liberal and open minded conscious community of individuals. Here I have experienced what it is like to “Live and let Live”. Yes here in the south is a very unique town. One that once visited you are not likely to forget. Many leave it’s beauty either making plans to return soon or to call it home. In fact this year Asheville was honored as one of the top 12 international destinations by Frommer’s Travel Guide. The cool mountain breezes are a reminder that you are in the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Here you will experience the four distinct seasons of the year. If you look out from certain points downtown you can see Mt. Mitchell the highest point east of the Mississippi.
Less than 5 miles from downtown you have access to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a spectacular drive around these mountains. While on the Parkway in either direction within an hours drive you can visit Little Switzerland, Celo, Boone, Banner Elk or Blowing Rock. How about a walk across the mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain?
Going in the other direction you can visit Brevard and view hundreds of waterfalls or how about a day at Sliding Rock? I dare you to slide and not just watch as I do. Whitewater rafting is abundant in this area. If hiking is your thing Asheville has access to the Appalachian Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail. So lace up your boots and enjoy! Afterwards you can go to Hot Springs and relax in a natural mineral bath to ease those aching feet.
Another place of interest may be Chimney Rock, Bat Cave and Lake Lure just minutes away. Come see where they filmed Last of the Mohicans and Dirty Dancing.
In Hendersonville just a half hour drive away see where Carl Sandburg spent his last days and pet the goats that are direct descendants of the ones his wife raised during the years they spent on this peaceful farm. It’s free unless you want to tour the house which is $3.00. They say it is untouched since his death. Imagine stepping back into time and seeing the world through the eyes of a famous poet and author.
You are also less than an hour from Gatlinburg, TN and The Great Smoky Mountains. A day trip is all you need to escape, but hey there is no need to leave Asheville. It has something for everyone. For me there is no better place to live, work and play. So I invite you to come along with me for the day and let’s explore what many call “God’s Country”.
If you are interested in big homes then we must visit the Biltmore Estate completed in 1896 for George Vanderbilt this home attracts tourists from around the world. Be sure to visit the winery and sample some of the Biltmore Wines. This is included as part of your tour and will be welcomed after viewing many of the 250 rooms of this mansion and walking some of the 8000 acres that surround it.
If luxury and history combined is your style then you must visit the Grove Park Inn and world class spa. Stay where F. Scott Fitzgerald and many other famous people have. Walk the halls of this old glory and view the pictures of the many who have been here before. If you are lucky you might even see the Pink Lady the famous ghost of the Grove Park Inn. At sunset sit on the sunset terrace and watch the sun go down on Asheville while sipping on your favorite glass of wine or beverage. I am fortunate enough to sit on my own porch a few blocks from here and where all of this beauty and adventure surround me.
There are a variety of places to stay including cabins, bed and breakfasts and of course camping is always an option if you are the adventurous type.
While staying at either place be sure to drive or take the trolley downtown and spend the day. Visit Thomas Wolfe’s boyhood home and the Riverside Cemetery where he and O’Henry are buried. Visit the many art galleries, museums, unique stores and feel what it is like to be in an actual real downtown. All of the original buildings remain and are occupied. Businesses are locally owned and are thriving.
Need a massage or want to try some Yoga no problem finding it here. Choose from at least one on every block.
Oh what’s that noise and where is everyone going? It is the Friday night Drumming Circle. Didn’t bring your drum, no need to fret, just dance and listen and mingle with the hundreds that are gathered for this weekly ritual.
If all that dancing made you thirsty why not check out some of the local brewery’s and sample the beers while listening to some of the local and international talent. Hungry?
There are so many local chef owned and operated restaurants downtown so you may want to go to a few and try something different on the menu. Trying to stay healthy? Asheville is known for it’s vegetarian and organic restaurants.
Had enough for today? Tomorrow awaits you with more adventure and beauty. So get some rest and if it happens to be Sunday when we meet in the morning to begin another day maybe we should get some coffee and either visit Jubilee the diverse spiritual community, catch a Pagan Ritual on the Courthouse lawn or maybe just take a walk in the woods and have our own spiritual experience. After all you are in God’s Country.