The city of Asheville is nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. Asheville serves as the county seat of Buncombe County. The city is the largest in Western North Carolina with a population of approximately 85,000 and a metro population of 417,012.

Downtown Asheville


Asheville is a popular tourist destination and is known as a liberal, artsy community. This "Paris of the South," has also been described as the "San Francisco of the East," "New Age Mecca," and "Land of the Sky." It's a city of which Rolling Stone magazine dubbed "America’s New Freak Capital." But Asheville is by no means simply a haven for Hippies and 'Out There's', as Money magazine has called Asheville one of the "Best Places to Retire," and AARP cites it as one of the "Best Places to Reinvent Your Life." Self magazine proclaims Asheville as America’s "Happiest City." PETA lists Asheville as "America's Best Vegetarian-Friendly Small City." In 2007, Asheville was named one of the top seven places to live in the U.S. by Forbes, and in 2011 Asheville was picked as one of the “10 Most Beautiful Places in America” by Good Morning America. From its titles alone one can easily see that Asheville is a good place to go to see diversity in action.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 47 50 57 68 76 82 85 83 77 68 57 48
Nightly lows (°F) 28 30 35 45 53 60 63 62 56 45 35 29
Precipitation (in) 2.6 3.1 4.0 3.3 2.9 3.5 3.4 4.0 3.1 2.7 2.6 2.7

Asheville has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Year-round, the average relative humidity in the morning is 90% and in the afternoon is 58%. Summers are mild and afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon. In the fall (peaking in October), the area is very popular with "leaf lookers", people who visit Asheville and the surrounding mountains to see the area's splendid foliage. Winters are generally mild and major snow storms are rare- usually the area receives multiple snow flurries averaging an inch or two at a time, normally melting off in a day or two.

Get in

Downtown Asheville

By plane

The Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) is Western North Carolina's largest airport. It offers jet and commuter service on United, American, and Delta. Asheville has non-stop service to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, New York City, Newark, Orlando and Tampa. It is located fifteen miles south of downtown Asheville near the town of Fletcher. Ground transportation and major rental car companies are available at the airport terminal.

Flights into Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) located in Greenville, South Carolina, Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) located in Charlotte, North Carolina, or McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) located in Knoxville, Tennessee, are sometimes cheaper than flying directly to Asheville. Greenville is about a 1.5 hour drive, Charlotte and Knoxville are both about 2 hour drives.

By train

The closest Amtrak train station to Asheville is in Greenville, South Carolina or Spartanburg, South Carolina.

By car

Asheville is located at the junction of Interstate 26 and Interstate 40, with an I-240 connector that passes through downtown. Mountainous, curvy, and scenic sections of highway are found along the interstates in all four directions while traveling into Asheville. The Asheville area is also served by 10 US and state highways. The Blue Ridge Parkway has four primary accesses in Asheville at US 25, US 70, US 74A & NC 191. Maps are recommended as highways may have listed directions but may travel in different directions - For example a road signed "east" may tavel north/south for a significant amount of time.

By bus

Get around

By car

A car is definitely your best bet. Street parking is metered Monday through Saturday, 8AM–6PM at $1 per hour. Street parking is free on Sundays, evenings after 6pm and official city holidays (New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas). In addition to street and garage parking, there are several surface lots throughout downtown.

There are three parking decks: Civic Center Garage, Rankin Avenue Garage, and Wall Street Garage. All are accessible 24 hours a day and are free for the first hour then $0.75 per hour thereafter. Attendants are on duty 10AM–7PM Monday through Friday.

By taxi

Within the City of Asheville, fares are as follows: For the initiation (drop) of the meter - $2.50; For each one-tenth mile after initiation - $0.25; For each passenger in excess of two - $2; For each two minutes of waiting time or fraction thereof after the first two minutes - $0.40

Econo-line vans available for up to 10 passengers.

By bike

Bike rentals are available at BioWheels, 81 Coxe Ave,  +1 828 236-BIKE (2453). Self-guided tour routes, maps and guidebooks are available for bicycle rides on the area forest lands, on the Blue Ridge Parkway and around downtown Asheville. Tour Asheville by pedal assist electric bike with guided bike tours by Electro Bike Tours

All buses in the Asheville Transit System are equipped with bike racks.

By bus

Asheville Transit provides bus service that is regular but infrequent outside of downtown; inside downtown walking is almost always faster. Buses run from 6AM-11:30PM Monday through Saturday. Routes radiate from the Transit Center, located downtown at 49 Coxe Avenue next to the U.S. Post Office. Bus fare is $1 for adults and $0.50 for seniors and riders with disabilities. A "fare-free" zone exists in the downtown area containing almost all of the businesses, restaurants and attractions of downtown. Riders can take any bus in the system within the Free Zone at no charge.



Asheville is nationally renowned for its unique architecture, especially downtown and around the Biltmore Estate. The city suffered greatly during the Great Depression, and consequently little development happened during the time. This actually had a positive effect, as the city's famous Art Deco Architecture of the Roaring 20's was saved from destruction. Therefore, today, Asheville boasts the nations most complete collection of Art Deco structures. Other architectural styles, of course, are present in abundance throughout the city; from the Neo-Gothic Jackson Building "Skyscraper" to the Modern BB&T Tower.

Buncombe County Courthouse
Asheville City Hall

Churches: Please note that most churches listed below are working churches. When entering, please be respectful of any activities occurring.

Basilica of St. Lawrence

Art galleries






Live music




The Blue Ridge Parkway









Asheville does not necessarily have a specific commercial district but rather it resembles a long line, curving through the mountains. Beginning directly north of downtown, Merrimon Avenue has many low density restaurants and small shopping strip malls. It is the typical American shopping street and many locals consider it “The Strip.” As you move south towards the city-center, Merrimon Avenue changes names to Broadway, then Biltmore Avenue after it intersects with Patton Avenue at Pack Square, home to the Vance Monument, located directly in front of City-County Plaza.

Surrounding this area, Downtown, you will find many boutiques, cafes, museums, and interesting historical buildings. At the eastern end of downtown, The Beaucatcher Tunnel is carved directly into Sunset Mountain. The recently renovated street leading out of downtown and into the mountain goes into the edifice as College Street and comes out as Asheville’s most celebrated shopping street, Tunnel Road.

Tunnel Road is very commercial and hosts mostly large corporate chains. Recently, construction has boomed along this stretch, and reaching towards the skies above the restaurants and stores you will see some brand new hotels. Finally, Tunnel Road transitions into South Tunnel Road, which is home to the city’s main mall and smaller chain shopping centers. This area of town is not at all touristy, and prices are average and intended for locals.

At the end of South Tunnel Road there is a vast shopping center that extends across the Swannanoa River and up over the mountain, eventually overlooking the Industrial district, containing a relatively new and quite controversial shopping complex along the river, having the city’s Super Walmart as its flagstore. It was built upon the rubble of the abandoned Sayles-Biltmore Bleachery, which used to bleach paper for the US Treasury's currency manufacture.

From Pack Square going south (away from I 240), Biltmore Ave continues down past Biltmore Village and into South Asheville and Arden, with many chain stores and strip malls, from which one can access via NC 146 Long Shoals Rd, Biltmore Park a recently built exurb with high end shopping around a reproduced downtown square.

Downtown Asheville is full of neat and quirky shops and prides itself on the lack of corporate chain stores. Spend some time exploring downtown (it's very walkable) and see what you can find. Here are some highlights:

Biltmore Village Just South of Asheville's downtown, and right outside the gates of the Biltmore Estate is the quaint village built around the 1890s called Biltmore Village. It is easily accessed from I-40 (Exit 50). A number of small independently owned retail stores which have carved out specialty niches can be found intermingled with restaurants beneath the shade of the tree-lined streets. Recently, National Specialty stores and a boutique Hotel have begun construction there. Of particular note are the following:

River Arts District Wrapped along the river, and visible from the bridge over the French Broad River (i.e. from I-240 or Patton Ave.) is an enclave of Art Studios, Galleries, and restaurants that is still not quite user-friendly but accessible to the adventurous. Some worthy points of interest are:

Head away from downtown and visit the WNC Farmer's Market for a huge selection of locally grown and produced crops 'n' crafts. You could spend hours and still not see everything.




Modern American

Mexican/Latin American/Caribbean









Liquor is available by the drink in Asheville, but if you want to buy liquor by the bottle you must do it at state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) stores rather than at a traditional liquor store. These stores have limited exterior decorations so they can be difficult to find. If you plan to explore nearby counties keep in mind Madison County (to the north) and Yancey County (to the northwest) are "dry counties" and prohibit all alcoholic beverage sales. Open containers of alcohol are never permitted on the street; if you order a beverage you must finish it before leaving the restaurant or bar. Beer and wine are available for purchase at most markets, grocery stores and gas stations. The alcohol laws of the state prohibit the sale of alcohol after 2AM Monday through Saturday, and from 2AM until noon on Sundays. Pick up a copy or check the website of the local alternative newsweekly Mountain Xpress for an up-to-date, detailed guide for what is going on at each bar and club for the night.






Bed and breakfasts

Asheville is rightfully well known for its many Bed and Breakfasts Montford Historic District:

Chestnut Hill Historic District:

Other Areas:




Vacation rentals


The area code for Asheville is 828. For calls within the US or Canada, dial 1+area code+number. There are some public pay phones scattered around the city, but they are becoming increasingly rare with the predominance of cell phones. It is not safe to assume you will be able to find a pay phone at any given time. All ZIP codes in the city of Asheville begin with 288. The ZIP code of the downtown area is 28801.

Free wireless hotspots:

US Post Offices:

Go next

View from Grandfather Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A thirty-mile drive south to Flat Rock will bring you to the Flatrock Playhouse where dramas, comedies, and musicals are shown April through December. Also in Flat Rock is the Carl Sandburg Home. This historic site consists of a 22 room house, barns, sheds, rolling pastures, walking trails, two small lakes, ponds, flower and vegetable gardens, and an orchard.

A thirty-mile drive west to Waynesville during the last weeks of July will bring you to Folkmoot, a festival of song and dance staged by performance groups from around the world.

The town of Brevard, an hour drive southwest, hosts the Brevard Music Festival each summer. Lasting almost two months, a variety of musical events ranging from grand operas and symphony orchestras to Broadway musicals and pop concerts as well as renowned guest artists are featured.

A 45 minute drive north brings you to the Hot Springs Resort and Spa. Reserve the jacuzzi-style tub of your choice, all individually enclosed and private. Bring a bottle of champagne and spend an hour or two. Hot Springs also has a few campgrounds and is passed through by the Appalachian Trail.

The Cradle of Forestry is located about 20 miles southwest of Asheville off U.S. Highway 276 in the Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County. Visitors will find a number of hiking trails in the area. Open 9AM-5PM, mid April through the end of October. $5 for adults, 16 and under free.

A popular tourist attraction is Chimney Rock Park, located 25 miles (about a 30 minute drive) southeast of Asheville in scenic Hickory Nut Gorge. It's a privately owned park (not part of the US system) with a fairly high admission fee ($14 for adults as of 2009), but the views are incredible and there are six different hiking trails, ranging in difficulty from easy-to-moderate to moderate-to-strenuous. Open all year.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee and is the country's most visited national park. A variety of trails for hikers of any age or skill level are available.

Gorges State Park is approximately 45 miles southwest of Asheville, located in Transylvania County and joins the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. Gorges State Park has over 80 inches of rain a year making it a temperate rain forest. The plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock walls, and concentration of rare and unique species makes this a wonderful park to visit.

Routes through Asheville

Kingsport Weaverville  N  S  Hendersonville Spartanburg
Knoxville Newport  W  E  Black Mountain Winston-Salem
Kingsport Weaverville  N  S  Clayton Atlanta
Knoxville Weaverville  N  S  Hendersonville Greenville
Knoxville Weaverville  W  E  Black Mountain Lexington
Chattanooga Andrews  W  E  Hendersonville Charlotte

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, February 04, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.