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Visitor's Guide to Asheville - Mountains, Craft Beer, and Outdoor Fun in North Carolina’s Quirkiest City

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Asheville offers a lively downtown filled with buskers, outdoor cafés, and more breweries per capita than any other US city. Many art galleries and music venues also line the hilly streets. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city offers plenty of outdoor recreational options. Visitors come year-round to enjoy the temperate climate along with music, food, beer, and art festivals.

Beer city

 

In downtown alone, dozens of breweries dot Asheville’s hilly, pedestrian-friendly streets. Visitors can find beer-related events daily, such as special bottle releases, food trucks, and live music. All brewers frequently rotate their taps to offer guests top-quality suds and new beer experiences. Three powerhouse craft breweries from the West - New Belgium, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada - have opened East Coast locations here, solidifying Asheville’s beer mecca reputation.

 

  • Oskar Blues Brewery, 342 Mountain Industrial Dr., Brevard 28712 ; Tel: +1 828 883 2337; Website: Oskar Blues Brewery
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  • Sierra Nevada, 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Fletcher 28732; Tel: +1 828 681 5300; Website: Sierra Nevada

Culinary scene

 

Asheville offers the assortment of cuisines people come to expect from larger cities, with an emphasis on farm-to-table freshness. There are plenty of local farmers' markets where chefs can select super-fresh produce, cheeses, and meats. Some eateries, like Sunny Point Café, opt to grow their own fresh ingredients. Culinary tourism activities abound here too, and you'll find many foraging, food, and beer tours. For those wanting to improve their culinary skills, cooking classes are on hand at UNC Asheville.

 

 

River Arts District and West Asheville

 

Artists have long flocked to western North Carolina for its lush, inspiring surroundings and all-are-welcome attitude. You'll find a full range of locally produced handcrafts, including glassware, paintings, ceramics, jewelry, and fashion items. In the buzzing River Arts District (RAD) alone, nearly 200 artists have galleries or studios; you'll also find places to eat and drink there, like White Duck Taco Shop at Hatchery Studios. RAD connects downtown to funky West Asheville, a lively neighborhood packed with restaurants, cafés, and boutiques, as well as 3 breweries and eclectic music venues like The Mothlight.

 

  • River Arts District, PO Box 294, Asheville 28802; Tel: +1 828 552 4723; Website: River Arts District
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  • Hatchery Studios, 1 Roberts Street, Asheville 28801; Tel: +1 941 914 3455; Website: Hatchery Studios

 

Day trips from Asheville

 

Head in any direction from Asheville and you’ll find a small mountain town with its own craft-driven economy. Black Mountain is home to several annual art and nature festivals, while Waynesville, with its classic shop-lined Main Street, hosts Folkmoot USA, North Carolina's annual international music and dance festival. A visitor must-see is Biltmore Estate, America’s largest privately-owned home, whose grand, French Renaissance-style mansion overlooks 8,000 immaculately landscaped acres and award-winning winery.

 

 

Outdoor adventures

 

Outdoor enthusiasts have lots of options when it comes to enjoying nature in and around Asheville. Brevard features 250 mountain waterfalls, while Maggie Valley offers Cataloochee Ski Resort, both about 40 minutes away by car. Hundreds of hiking trails, zip lines, and camping sites weave between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the French Broad River. This waterway provides ample kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, and tubing launches through outfitters like Nantahala Outdoor Center. Minutes from downtown, several riverfront breweries and restaurants also have docks for paddlers.

 

  • Catalooche Ski Resort, 1080 Ski Lodge Rd., Maggie Valley 28751; Tel: +1 828 926 0285; Website: Catalooche Ski Resort
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  • Nantahala Outdoor Center, 9825 Hwy 25/70, Walnut 28743; Tel: +1 828 785 4834; Website: Nantahala Outdoor Center