Honolulu, St. Lucia and… Asheville, North Carolina? They may not have much in common, but these destinations were all ranked at the top of U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Places to Visit in Spring.
Asheville is known for being a charming, eclectic city with plenty to offer, but the list puts it in the rarefied company of more well known worldwide destinations that seem more glamorous. The city earned its No. 3 ranking by offering something for every type of traveler, the report states, and its spring temperatures make it comfortable for outdoor activities.
Asheville, located in western North Carolina, is about 3½ hours from Atlanta, making it ideal for a weekend trip — or longer. And as you get close to the city, you’ll have a very scenic drive along the way. The Blue Ridge Parkway, which goes through Asheville, offers spectacular views of some of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi River.
When you get to Asheville, here’s some of the best things to see and do:
Visit the stunning Biltmore Estate
The stunning residence, known as America’s largest home, was built for George Vanderbilt and his family, and after six years of construction, he opened it officially to family and friends in 1895. You can tour the luxurious home and see three floors and a basement with vintage arts, furniture, clothing and more, learning about the Vanderbilts and their guests and employees along the way.
Spring brings a burst of color to Biltmore’s 8,000 acres of grounds and gardens, and it’s celebrated with Biltmore Blooms. Thousands of tulips bloom in the estate’s perfectly manicured gardens, creating a beautiful display of spring. The multi-sensory experience Italian Renaissance Alive is also at Biltmore this spring, and it illuminates works from artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael, all accompanied by an operatic score. The estate also has a winery and vast grounds with six gardens, a Conservatory, nature trails and more. If you’d like to stay overnight, three lodging options are available on the property.
Sample the beer and food scene
If you’re into craft beer, you’ll have plenty to choose from in Asheville. The city has about 25 breweries and consistently ranks among the top cities in number of breweries per 100,000 residents. To visit the city’s breweries, tap rooms and beer bars, explore the Ale Trail map.
Asheville has also been ranked No. 10 on Tripadvisor’s list of Best Food Destinations in the U.S, so you’ll want to make sure to treat yourself to meals out at some of the local restaurants. The site mentioned the city’s farm-to-table and local restaurant scene, local and sustainable agriculture and farmers markets as reasons for its high ranking. With 17 farmers markets, it’s easy for residents, visitors and restaurants to find fresh seasonal produce.
Pay a visit to the River Arts District
Visit Asheville’s River Arts District (the “RAD”) to see the working studios and galleries of hundreds of artists. The mile-long district is located just minutes from downtown, so it’s a convenient destination to visit on a trip to or from this area. On the second Saturday of each month, there’s even more to see and do as RAD hosts gallery walks with demonstrations, workshops, wine tastings and more. Free trolley rides are also available.
Explore the great outdoors
With more than a million acres of protected wilderness, the Asheville area has plenty of natural beauty as it’s surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you’re into hiking, fishing, biking, paddling, or ziplining, you’ll find many locations to choose from. And when you’re ready for a break, you can drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see natural wildflowers and appreciate the other outdoor scenery.
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