BY TERRI BRYCE REEVES, Editor
Asheville, N.C. wins so much it might be getting tired of winning by now. Forbes magazine has named it one of America’s prettiest towns, while Good Morning America has proclaimed it of the 10 most beautiful places in America. Money magazine says it’s one of the best places to retire; the Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world, crowned it the top U.S. destination in 2017.
So what is it about this hippy zippy, mountain town with its eclectic architecture and diverse cultural scene that seems to generate such positive vibes?
For starters, it’s pet- and pedestrian friendly, inclusive, and a magnet for artisans, musicians, buskers, actors, movie makers, balladeers, brewmasters, chefs, vegans and endless amounts of entrepreneurs. Travelers and bon vivants come to consume, imbibe,
relax, and refresh, all while enjoying the gorgeous blue mountain vistas in
As it that weren’t enough, Asheville
will be a prime viewing spot on August
21st, weather permitting, to witness
the cosmic event of the decade –
the first total solar eclipse visible
in the continental U.S. since 1979.
Everyone in North America will be
able to experience some degree of the
eclipse, but Western North Carolina
will offer one of the best chances to see
a total eclipse.
“Asheville will experience a 99 percent eclipse,” said Landis Taylor, a spokesperson for the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Those that want to be in the path of
totality will need to travel to nearby Jackson, Swain and Graham counties (about 50-70 miles away).” The drive might be an hour or so, depending on where you land, but it would make an excellent day trip.
There will be plenty to see and do when you get back including:
• Biltmore Estate, Asheville’s crown jewel, built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt, a distant relative of CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
The 250 rooms on four acres of floor space make it the largest private home in America (it’s owned by Vanderbilt’s descendants). A concert series runs this summer and a new
restaurant, the Village Social, opened as part of the Village Hotel.
• Sweet Honey Scene — The city now has BEE cred as the homegrown pollinator protection initiative “Bee City USA” goes national (Seattle recently joined the hive). Honeys here are both grown locally and imported from all over the world. A sweet escape could include foraging for hyper-local honey, a tasting at
the downtown honey bar, sips of local mead and honey cocktails, or a honey body
wrap in a world-renowned spa. The Sourwood Honey Festival gets buzzing August
12 and 13.
• The outdoors is even greater in Asheville with ziplines, paddleboarding,
whitewater rafting, hiking, fly fishing, mountain biking and more. Checkout the Adventure Center of Asheville, Navitat Zipline Canopy Tours, the Smoky Mountain Adventure Center and Cimbmax Climbing. Take in the area’s beautiful waterfall cascades or natural swimming holes.
• Asheville a.k.a. Beer City USA has more breweries per capital than anywhere else in the nation. So, cheers. Asheville’s Wine and Food Festival, Aug. 18 & 19, pays homage to the area’s field-to-table culture allowing attendees to taste their way through a bounty of wine, craft beer and artisanal food.
• The city is also becoming one of the nation’s top music cities with all genres from bluegrass to opera, drum dance parties, funky festivals, and street musicians on nearly every corner. Stage shows and informal jam sessions take place during the summer at
Pack Square Park.
• Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands takes place July 21 to 23 and features
traditional and contemporary crafts made by members of the Southern Highland
• The nation’s longest running folk fest, the 90th annual Mountain Dance and
Folk Festival, runs Aug. 3-5. It showcases a repertoire of mountain performers
who share songs and dances from Scottish, English, Irish, Cherokee and African
• The hip River Arts District, with its art studios and galleries set in old industrial buildings, is undergoing a Renaissance and features fresh experiences for travelers.
For more information visit www.exploreasheville.com