Asheville has seen a rapid rise in tourism over the last decade. Though it's always had a few popular destinations, the recent influx of creatives has brought a wider variety of opportunities. Old and new attractions come together to make for a very satisfying vacation. In fact part of what makes Asheville special is the unique combination of new and old, traditional and odd. Somehow it all works, and the young artists coincide happily with old-time mountain folks over beer and bluegrass. Wherever you go, keep your eye out for amazing art. From old Appalachian quilts to beautiful paintings and blown glass, Asheville has a thriving art community that is, again, both old-fashioned and new fangled.
This is a staple of Asheville attractions. While a bit pricey, it is worth every penny. In the spring and summer, the gardens are stunning. In the fall, it's the changing colors of the leaves. In the winter, the Christmas decorations are truly breathtaking. Any time of year, the house is a marvel. The Vanderbilt family spared no expense, and it has been beautifully maintained and preserved. The guides are very knowledgeable, and the house is rich with history.
Just a few years back, Asheville usurped Portland, Oregon as Beer City, and the beer craze grew that much faster. Two large microbreweries set up second locations in the area, and more small, local breweries popped up all over town, in some cases revitalizing entire areas. If beer excites you, take your time and do several tours, but even if you don't like beer, the brewing process is interesting and may still be worth a couple of hours. Different breweries specialize in different types, so do your research or hit one of the many beer tours to sample a wide variety.
Another Asheville staple, natural beauty surrounds this North Carolina city. Every season is gorgeous, and there are numerous opportunities to hike, kayak, or even drive scenic roads. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a lovely drive and offers numerous places to stop and take photos or go on short or long hikes. The Appalachian trail is also close by. Several rivers are perfect for kayaking or rafting at nearly all skill and thrill levels. If you can take the cold water, swimming holes and natural water slides are also abundant. If you come in the spring, ask locals about the best berry picking spots! If you come in the fall, leaf season really is just as amazing as people say it is.
While Asheville has always been known for certain types of food excellence like barbecue and diners, over the last decade or two, it has slowly but surely become a foodie destination known for both quality and creativity. There are simply too many good options to choose, so take one (or more) of the food tours to get a good sampling. Don't forget about dessert! There are very high quality chocolatiers and pastry shops in Asheville. Some of them even serve wine and beer.
What else is there to say? Asheville even has a Pinball Museum. Though some machines date back to the 40's and are only for show, everything from the 60's and newer is available to play. Right in the heart of downtown, a night of fabulous food, beer, and pinball sounds like a winner.