Asheville

Asheville is just 25 minutes from Cummings Cove. Frommer named this city of about 70,000, one of twelve must-see travel destinations. Asheville has a thriving downtown, easily explored on foot. Similar to a mini San Francisco, the streets are lined with art galleries, book stores, restaurants, shops, theaters, striking art deco architecture and historic landmarks.

Asheville’s Urban Trail is a self-guided walking tour with thirty “stations” delineating five periods in Asheville’s history: The Gilded Age, The Frontier Period; The Era of Thomas Wolfe; The Rebirth of Civic Pride, and The Age of Diversity. The historic Grove Park Inn (groveparkinn.com), set on 140 acres of lush mountain terrain, offers a four star resort just five minutes from downtown, including a world class spa and sports complex. The Grove Park Inn showcases talent such as Artie Shaw’s Orchestra, The Manhattan Transfer, and John Pizzarelli, to name just a few. Enjoy this city in which Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Margaret Mitchell, O. Henry and many other renowned authors found inspiration.

img014Sightsee Asheville in style aboard the vintage Asheville Historic Trolley Tours. Visit many Asheville North Carolina Attractions on this live, narrated tour including the Grove Park Inn, Montford Historic District, Grove Arcade, Biltmore Village and much, much more. The ticket price includes admission to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and Grove Arcade Building. 888-667-3600

Biltmore Estate (biltmore.com) is America’s largest and most frequently visited private home. Built by George Vanderbilt in 1895, this 250 room French style home on an 8,000 acre estate includes antiques, fine art, spectacular gardens, a winery, casual and fine restaurants, shops and a four star hotel.

With the romance and mystique of an era gone by, guests on board the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad will enjoy year-round scenic train journeys across fertile valleys, through tunnels and across river gorges in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Tuckasegee River Excursion (3 1/2 hour round trip), Nantahala Gorge Excursion (41/2 hour round trip) and the Gourmet Dinner Train (2 1/2 hours) are just a few of the wonderful excursion trips available to passengers. 800-872-4681 or 828.586.8811

The Blue Ridge Parkway (nps.gov/blri) stretches almost 500 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains through North Carolina and Virginia. The Parkway encompasses some of the oldest settlements of both pre-historic and early European settlement. One of the most scenic roads in America, the Blue Ridge Parkway has breathtaking vistas, lovely spots for picnics, waterfalls and hiking trails. With the use of the milepost system, motorists can easily find points of interest along the way. From May through October, depending on the weather, six campgrounds are open to the public.

Asheville Arts & Entertainment

The River Arts District is reminiscent of New York City’s Soho and Tribeca. Located on the right bank of the French Broad River, more than 70 artists have made their studios in a score of buildings on both sides of the railroad tracks. Although most of the studios are open to visitors and prospective customers only by appointment or limited hours, twice a year, in June and November, the River District Artists of Asheville conduct a Studio Stroll. Displaying their talents are painters, crafters, dancers, writers, woodworkers, glassblowers, quilters, potters, musicians, musical instrument craftsmen, furniture makers, print makers and fiber artists who have been drawn to Asheville from all over the world.

img013The Folk Art Center, located just east of the heart of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 382, is a center for one-of-a-kind, handmade crafts that are a part of the very fiber of the mountains. Feature Story 828.298.7928

The Pisgah National Forest (cs.unca.edu/nfsnc) is located on two sides of Asheville. Wth over 490,000 acres of heavily forested land, numerous waterfalls, trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, the Pisgah National Forest is ideal for outdoor recreation.

The North Carolina Arboretum (ncarboretum.org) is located within the Pisgah National Forest, off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 393, and is often described as America’s most beautiful public garden. Encompassing 434 acres, with 65 acres of cultivated gardens, 10 miles of forested hiking and biking trails, the finest Bonsai collection in the Southeastern United States, and a state of the art greenhouse production facility, the arboretum is an attraction not to be missed. The Visitor Education Center offers tours, educational programs, and exhibits by regional artists.

Asheville Community Services

Mission Hospitals of Asheville (missionhospitals.org) is the regional medical referral center for the western quarter of North Carolina and parts of several adjoining states. This not-for-profit hospital is licensed for 633 acute care beds. Mission Hospitals in Asheville is located on two adjoining hospital campuses, Memorial and St. Joseph.

University of North Carolina at Asheville (unca.edu) is designated as the only all liberal arts college in the 16 campus University of North Carolina system. Chartered in 1789, it is the nation’s first public university. The North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement (unca.edu/nccr), an integral part of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, promotes lifelong learning, leadership and community service opportunities for those seeking new-found creativity in midlife. The College for Seniors is a program within the Center for Creative Retirement whose members keep mentally and physically fit through participation in classes. Opportunities also are available for teaching classes in one’s area of expertise. The College for Seniors also offers opportunities for educational travel. The Kellogg Center for Creativity and Design has 2,460 square feet of galleries featuring the work of professional artists and the faculty and students of the three UNC mountain campuses: UNC Asheville, Appalachian State University, and Western Carolina University. Other exhibits and lectures provide an educational focus to the craft heritage and design of Western North Carolina.