Asheville, North Carolina; the Beautiful City by the Blue Ridge Mountains
Written: Apr 4, 2012
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Biltmore Estate, downtown, ambiance, arts, restaurants and stores, Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Bottom Line: Asheville, North Carolina, is small beautiful city situated by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Despite its size it has a lot of interesting experiences to offer.
A couple of months ago I had not even heard of Asheville, North Carolina. Well surprise; this is one of the most interesting small cities in theUnited States. A hidden gem if you will. We’ve been there twice lately in family business, and we will most likely return. As I learn more about Asheville I will update this review.
Overview of Asheville, North Carolina
Ashevilleis located in Western North Carolina close to theTennesseeborder. Asheville is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and is not far from the Great Smoky Mountains. Therefore the scenery is beautiful. The Swannanoa River and the French Broad River meet. The history of Asheville goes back all the way to 1784. Today Asheville has around 80,000 inhabitants and more than 400,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area.
Ashevilleis also home to the Biltmore Estate and the Biltmore House. The Biltmore Estate is a large Estate open to the public, featuring gardens, vineyards, stables, restaurants, a village (Antler Hill Village), a hotel (or a lodge), a winery, as well as the Biltmore House. The Biltmore House is a mansion that looks like a European Royal Castle. It is the largest privately owned home in theUnited States. That in itself makes Asheville an interesting tourist destination.
However,Ashevillealso features an art museum, an arboretum, a beautiful city hall, a River Arts District, and a nice old country style artsy downtown with lots of restaurants, art galleries, and other shops. According to Wikipedia, in 2011 Asheville was picked as one of the “10 Most Beautiful Places in America” by Good Morning America.
Visiting Downtown Asheville
DowntownAshevilleis not very big but it features several buildings with an interesting and eye catching architecture, a park with a monument, and a number of artistic creations. There are more 40 restaurants featuring a variety of domestic and international cuisines. We saw Greek, Spanish, French, Italian, Indian, Moroccan, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Latin American, and more. We ate at Pack’s Tavern and the Lobster Trap. Pack’s Tavern, which is an American restaurant, offer a variety of dishes of various kinds, they a large selection of beers, a large bar, and entertainment. Here I tasted a very odd Belgian beer (Lindemans Framboise Lambic), which tasted fruit juice. We also walked around and took a look at various stores and art galleries.
Downtown is small but it still offers many experiences. Best of all, everything is so close that you don’t need to drive.
Visiting the River Arts District
A few miles from downtown Asheville is an area called the River Arts District. I think it is awesome that a small city like Asheville has a River Arts District. However, it was not that much to it. In the River Arts District there were eateries/cafés, and a number of art galleries. However, the River Arts District was not next to the river and it was embedded in an area with dumpy looking storage buildings and office buildings. The galleries were also spread out at it was not easy to walk between them. In addition the place was shutting down between 5PM and 6PM. It was more like an “almost River Arts District”. That does not mean it wasn’t enjoyable, but just not what I had hoped for.
We did happen upon a gallery featuring the work of a local artist by the name Jonas Gerard. We were quite impressed by his quite varied and colorful works. He blended cultures from around the world into his paintings and statues and his pieces did not look like anything we’ve seen before. Because his pieces were beautiful and seemed unique we bought a few of his pieces. The young woman in the gallery, who obviously was an admirer of Jonas Gerard, told us about Jonas Gerard including his interesting background. His parents were Jews living in Morocco who had to flee to France during a nationalist upheaval. He later came to theUnited States where he established himself as an artist inAshevilleand now lives quietly and somewhat secluded in his own art gallery. The River Arts District seemed dumpy but there still is clearly interesting stuff going there.
Visiting the Biltmore Estate
The first time we visited Asheville we visited the Biltmore House but we stayed at a hotel downtown Asheville. The second time we visited Asheville we stayed at theInnon Biltmore Estate, a luxurious lodge that we got for a good price ($159.00 in March).
The Biltmore House is a Châteauesque-styled mansion, which is said to be the closest you can get to a Royal Castlein the United States. After seeing many European palaces I have to agree that it looks like a Royal Castle, at least if you consider those you often find in small European countries (Versailles, and the Winter Palace St. Petersburg are significantly bigger).
The Biltmore House was built 1889-1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II and it has 250 rooms and it is 135,000 square feet. The tour tickets are somewhat expensive ($45.00). However, the self guided tour of the Biltmore house is still worth it. You’ll see a lot of nice art, impressive decorations, trophies, and beautiful furniture, as you walk through the 42 rooms that you are allowed to walk through.
Summary and Conclusion
In summary, Asheville is a quiet and interesting small city that has a lot to offer for its size. There is art, culinary experiences, architecture, history, nice hotels and the astonishing Biltmore Estate. The surroundings and scenery is also beautiful. For a small city I think Asheville is a quite interesting. I highly recommend Asheville, North Carolina.
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Best Suited For: Families
Best Time to Travel Here: Jun - Aug