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Travel Guide – North Carolina

Asheville Travel Guide

Asheville, North Carolina is a city of around 80,000 and with a metropolitan area of about 400,000 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. It is also the seat of Buncombe County. The city is well known for being a center of the arts and for being surrounded by scenic, mountain woodlands.


The area where Asheville now sits was long the abode of the Cherokee Indians, who used it as a hunting ground. Though explored briefly by the Spaniard Hernando de Soto in 1540, the first white settler was American Samuel Davidson, who built a log cabin there in 1784. He was killed by the Cherokee, and his family escaped to safety. However, his extended family soon returned and set up residence again and went on an expedition to avenge their relative. By 1790, 1,000 people lived in the area, and in 1797, Asheville was officially incorporated. After the coming of the railroad in 1880, the city steadily grew. Economic hard times from the 1930’s through 1980’s resulted in Asheville becoming a center of Art Deco architecture since few new homes were built in the period.

Things to see and do in Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina

The Basilica of St. Lawrence was designed by Rafael Gustavino and Richard Sharpe Smith, architects of the Biltmore House and Grants Tomb. The Basilica was completed in 1909 and has the largest freestanding dome in the United States. Located at 97 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville, NorthCarolina, it is open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Go on an art and architecture tour of Ashville. You can see the impressive Basilica of Saint Lawrence, with its dome on top, the artwork on display in the Biltmore Estate, art studios, museums, and galleries throughout the town, and just outside of town, the arts and crafts at the Folk Art Center.

Go on a scenic drive of the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, which takes your through the Pisgah National Forest, past mountain streams and waterfalls, and in the fall, past a forest alive with color. Along the way, you can stop to hike, bike, camp, and visit the nearby North Carolina Arboretum, a botanical garden with collections of bonsai trees, holly, and many native and non-native plants. Also Tour the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, right in town, where you will find a focus on local plant life.

Gatehouse of the Biltmore Estate – Asheville, North Carolina

The gatehouse for the Biltmore estate lit up at Christmas time.

Tour Asheville’s main historic sites, such as the Biltmore Estate, a Chateau-like mansion built in the late 1800’s, the Thomas Wolfe House, which doubles as a museum and is built in the Queen Anne Style, and the Smith-McDowell House, a brick structure that is Asheville’s oldest building.

Biltmore House – Asheville, North Carolina

Tourists wander the grounds of the Biltmore Estate during its annual Festival of Flowers in Asheville, North Carolina.

Stop by the nearby village of Flat Rock to tour the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. This famous poet and writer moved to this “island of tranquility” to focus on his writing and stay close to nature.

Climate conditions

Asheville has a humid subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and mildly cool winters. Summers are noticeably cooler than in lowland areas of North Carolina to the east, however. Freezing rain and 10 inches of snow come during the average winter, but both rainfall and snowfall vary greatly from year to year.

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