In Asheville, North Carolina, there are historic attractions to tour, including The Thomas Wolfe Memorial and former Vanderbilt dwelling Biltmore Estate. The University of North Carolina at Asheville is the best known of more than half a dozen institutions of higher education in and near the city of 73,000 (as of 2007). A thriving arts community encompasses fine and visual arts, performing arts and crafts. Shoppers will enjoy browsing in the historic downtown area. It's no wonder Frommer's listed Asheville among its Top Travel Destinations for 2007.
Cool mountain weather also makes Asheville a mecca for health enthusiasts, who stroll, jog, hike, backpack, paddle, bicycle, float, fish, hunt, orienteer, camp and visit the plentiful spas.
Blue Ridge Mountains
Seventy-five years old in 2009, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers driving, biking and hiking trails, including sections of the Appalachian Trail. You may see some of the park on horseback. Photography is noteworthy year round, and fall colors will burn your lenses. Wildflowers amaze, and birds abound. Overlooks, picnic areas and campgrounds are plentiful.
Blue Ridge Parkway
199 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28893
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Great Smoky Mountain National Park is also celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2009, although any year is a good one to visit this reserve of trees, trails and watercourses. It's the most-visited national park in the U.S. Some of the park's superb hiking trails are part of the Appalachian Trail. Many tourists drive portions of the 384 miles of roads, especially during the autumn leaf display. Athletes enjoy hiking, bicycling, fishing and horseback riding to see waterfalls, mountain vistas, wildflowers and wildlife. The park has 800 miles of hiking, biking and horse trails and 700 miles of fishable streams, as well as camping, backpacking, ranger-led activities and historic buildings.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Water and Asheville get along beautifully. Find a swimming hole and spend the day, take in a few waterfalls or yelp your way down a natural waterslide. Fish with lures or bait. Take a lake tour or ride a jet boat. Challenge yourself with a whitewater canoe, kayak or raft outing on nationally ranked waterways. Go it on your own or hire a guide service.
Try something different: geocaching. This worldwide treasure-hunting game involves choosing a location, entering its coordinates into your global positioning system (GPS) and getting there by hook or crook. There are no routes to follow, only coordinates: you make your own trail over waterways, mountains and swamps. Once you find the geocache, leave your information for the next seekers to read.
A dash of physical pampering might feel heavenly. More than a dozen spas offer services from massage to body wraps, yoga to pet therapies. Some even bring spa services to you.
The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa features luxurious accommodation, all resort activities and a full spa. Its sports complex contains pools, gyms, racquetball and tennis courts, golf and offers classes for adults and children.
The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa
290 Macon Ave.
Asheville, NC 28804
Around Town Massage offers onsite integrative massage and packages, including aromatherapy and energy therapy for individuals, couples and pregnant women. Short notice is a specialty.
Around Town Massage
Thalia Morris, proprietor
Appalachian Spa brings massage and day spa services to you, or enjoy its facility in the shadow of the Smokies. Two locations and mobile units serve all of western North Carolina.
2018 Dellwood Road
Waynesville, NC 28786
Asheville accommodations run from primitive backcountry camping to five-star hotels. Hotels, motels, small lodgings and resorts offer room rentals and vacation packages. Camping also is plentiful at private and public campgrounds and nearby public lands.
Three miles from the center of Asheville, Crooked Oak Mountain Inn is a mountain retreat with six amenity-rich rooms.
Crooked Oak Mountain Inn
217 Patton Mountain Road
Asheville, North Carolina 28804
In a restored Victorian house, the Biltmore Village Inn offers elegance. Each of seven rooms or suites is unique.
Biltmore Village Inn
119 Dodge St.
Asheville, NC 28803