Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa
Photo: The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa

In Love with Asheville

By Renee Bradley

Leave it all behind and head to Asheville. The trendy mountain destination offers an abundance of local flavor and intriguing options for autumn family outings.

This charming, eclectic town is situated in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, approachable by the Blue Ridge Parkway. The scenery and fall foliage are absolutely breathtaking, so bring a camera and capture the multitude of vibrant colors along the route named "America's Favorite Drive."

Located in the heart of downtown, the historic Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa is a luxurious resort built in 1913. Many famous people have stayed at the inn—including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Franklin D. Roosevelt—but the most notable guest, who never goes away, is the Pink Lady ghost. A young lady died from a fall at the inn in the 1920s, either accidentally or maliciously, while wearing a pink nightgown, and she returns regularly to visit with guests during the night. What a great way to spend Halloween!

Downtown Asheville
Unique shopping in
downtown Asheville
Photo: Asheville Convention
& Visitors Bureau

If relaxation is at the top of your agenda, try out the inn's 40,000-square-foot lavish spa, which is designed to look like an underwater cavern equipped with mineral and waterfall pools and offering impressive views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Devote the afternoon to poking around the trendy River Arts District and discover an art and music scene delivering Asheville's unique local flavor. If you seek the extraordinary, the Asheville Downtown Gallery Association has 30 galleries featuring a variety of styles and flair. There are 150 artists at Woolworth Walk in the heart of downtown, with a mix of media that appeals to many.

Enjoy al fresco dining at one of the many sidewalk cafés. Savor the delights at the intimate Bistro 1896 overlooking the neo-gothic Jackson Building and I.M. Pei's modern Akzona Building. Or sample the fare at the Magnolia's Oyster Bar & Grille, offering views of Market Street.

A 15-minute drive away is Black Mountain, a quaint arts and crafts town offering unsurpassed Southern hospitality and great food. Splurge and treat yourself at Kilwin's Black Mountain, an old-fashioned confectionery with the best handmade fudge and caramel apples around.

White water rafting
White water rafting on Nantahala River
Photo: Wildwaterrafting.com

Do you have a hankering for outdoor adventure? Drive an hour west to Bryson City to experience the Wildwater Rafting trip on the Nantahala River, and find out why it's one of America's favorite white water playgrounds. While you're there, test your soaring abilities on a Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour. Enjoy gliding through the trees of the Nantahala National Forest on a zip line ride. It takes limited energy to indulge in and is not designed to frighten with drastic drops, instead eliciting the adrenaline rush of flying. These exhilarating ventures are worth the drive!

Go on a historic tour through the famed Biltmore Estate, America's largest home. The house—actually its more of a palace—occupies four acres, and the estate includes 8,000 acres of century-old gardens and other outdoor treats. Plus, experience the new Antler Hill Village winery tour.

Biltmore Estate
Walled Garden at Biltmore Estate
Photo: The Biltmore Company

If you are nature buff and feeling energetic, the Asheville area offers some of the region's best hiking trails. Try the Carolina Mountain Trail located within the North Carolina Arboretum. Admire the scenery during this 1.2-mile trail that winds through three types of forest. You can rest along the way and enjoy an overlook at Bent Creek. The surrounding views are absolutely stunning.

Make Asheville your next getaway destination. It offers fun and diversity—from an unsurpassed music and art scene to superb outdoor recreational activities. Join the fun this fall in Asheville, a destination that promises to be a lasting memory.

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