Set amidst the rolling green forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina, is an historic city where culture, art, food, and adventure converge to create a true Southern treasure worthy of anyone’s destination hit-list. And whether you want to explore your inner trail trekker, learn more about the deeper roots of our country’s past, or taste some of the best food that’s ever graced your ever-lovin’ lips, this is one city sure to have the perfect way to spend your day. So pack your bags and set your course for Asheville. These mountains will definitely get you on a high.
If you’re one who loves the great outdoors, Asheville certainly has you covered. Check out their famous Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests or drive along The Blue Ridge Parkway’s 469 miles of scenic road famously known as “America’s Favorite Drive.” For a rush of a different kind, trade out the roar of your engine for the beat of your heart as the wheels of your bike take you down paths your car could only dream of traversing. And if you feel like hoofing it, break out your trail shoes and hiking boots to explore one of the area’s many breathtaking trails, where you’ll get back to nature and enjoy some of the country’s best bird watching, wildlife spotting, freshwater fishing, and waterfall views as all that activity and clean mountain air fires up a monstrous appetite.
Speaking of which…Whether you’re craving some down-home cooking or something a little more refined, Asheville’s food scene is definitely one that will satisfy. From innovative chefs trained at some of the finest culinary institutes to food artisans whose craft has been honed through generations, dining in Asheville is an adventure for the palate and a feast for the soul. Sign up for one of the city’s food tours or gear up for a guided foraging expedition through the mountains, sample the region’s finest wines and cheeses as you tour local wineries and creameries, or stop in at the Farmers’ Markets for some locally-made craft foods and freshly harvested produce. From fruits and vegetables to meats, cheeses, and baked goods, these are but a foretaste of the beautiful ingredients and the talents at work in kitchens throughout the city at the many restaurants lining its historic streets. So break out the camera phone and get ready for Insta-worthy plates. This is a city that’ll make your social media followers salivate with jealousy.
It’s an ever-changing scene, as one can easily see from the tide of progress washing over its downtown hub. From new restaurants and cafes to a burgeoning beer district, Asheville is creating a buzz and a draw for foodies, cocktail connoisseurs, and lovers of the nightlife and bringing it well into the 21st century.
Not that history isn’t given its due. Quite the opposite, in fact, as historic sites like the Biltmore beckon countless visitors to the area each year. Built as the personal retreat of magnate George Vanderbilt in 1895, the grand estate was inspired by of the grand castles and estates of France and Britain. Consisting of 250 rooms, the four-acre home boasts the distinction of being the largest private home in the U. S. and is now open to the public as a museum filled with finely crafted furnishings, priceless art, and artifacts collected by Vanderbilt. Among the collection are portraits by Sargent, Renoir, and Whistler as well as a library whose shelves are lined with the spines of 20,000 rare books and walls adorned with five priceless 16th century Flemish tapestries. For an even greater experience, book a stay at the four-star, four-diamond rated Inn on Biltmore Estate or have some laid-back fun in nearby Antler Village.
History is both past and present in Asheville, where art, music, and some of the country’s strangest museums have something you’ll definitely want to check out. From ghosts and mysteries to pinballs and cars, the museums here certainly qualify as quirky and one-of-a-kind…And so, too, is the talent so vibrantly on display all throughout the city—most notably in art galleries and glass studios, where this May through October Asheville’s Summer of Glass will offer VIP glass experiences, exhibitions, working studio tours, and hands-on events throughout the city and nearby communities. As part of this celebration of the region’s connection to the birth of glass artistry in America, the Biltmore will feature the innovative works of contemporary glass artist Dale Chihuly from May 17 through October 7, combining Chihuly’s glasswork with the artistry of the Biltmore’s landscape team to create spectacular installations of art and light. Special event nights are paired perfectly with wine tastings and live music, proving that art is an experience for all the senses.
As summer draws near, put Asheville on your hit list…It’s sure to make you fall in love, and you might never come down from that Blue Ridge high.
For more information about things to do in Asheville and where to book your stay, visit www.exploreasheville.com or call (828) 258-6109.
EXPERIENCE ASHEVILLE'S GLASS SCENE
VIP Tours, Events and Packages Illuminate Art Hot Spots
On any given day in the region, places like Lexington Glassworks, the North Carolina Glass Center and studios in the River Arts District and beyond allow visitors to watch glass artists at work. Asheville is filled with art galleries and shops like Blue Spiral 1, Bender Gallery, Mountain Made Gallery and the Southern Highland Craft Guild's Folk Art Center, and tours like Art Connections and Asheville Art Studio Tours take guests on guided art explorations, often including glass blowing instruction and hands-on opportunities. Travel experiences and packages have also been created specifically for Summer of Glass:
VIP Glass Weekend: The Summer of Glass VIP Weekend Tour, available monthly in June, July, August and September, is a three-day itinerary looping in several of the top studios and galleries in Western N.C., special artist talks, art-themed meals, tickets to "Chihuly at Biltmore" and hands-on glass blowing experiences. Visit www.exploreasheville.com/summer-of-glass/ for more information.
Art Scene Trolley Tour: All regular Gray Line Trolley Tours May through October will stop in Asheville art scene hotspots, provide a map pointing to nearby studios and galleries and include narration on the region’s glass art scene and history.
Summer of Glass Travel Package: Aloft Asheville Downtown's Summer of Glass Package includes overnight accommodations, an exclusive behind-the-scenes glass blowing experience at Lexington Glassworks where guests will make their own beer glass, wine glass or ornament and two tickets to "Chihuly at Biltmore." TIP: Enjoy the bar in the back of the studio serving local beer in hand-blown pint glasses.
CHIHULY AT BILTMORE
Day & Evening Exhibitions Merge Masterpieces of Great American Artists
The works of America's most famous contemporary glass artist will highlight the designs of the country's foremost landscape artist May 17 through October 7 when the large-scale glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly are on display across Frederick Law Olmsted's legendary gardens and in the former home of George W. Vanderbilt. "Chihuly at Biltmore" is the first-ever art exhibition in Biltmore's historic gardens. Special garden plantings, designed in collaboration between Chihuly and Biltmore's landscape team, will complement the sculptures. On select evenings, the house and gardens will be open for special viewings after dark. "Chihuly Nights at Biltmore" combines these spectacular installations with dramatic lighting, Blue Ridge Mountain sunsets, live music and an alfresco wine bar.