PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Asheville, also referred to as “the Paris of the south” is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or Smoky Mountains, of Western North Carolina. Asheville, and the beautiful surrounding region, offers many amenities and enjoyable activities to keep you occupied before and after your race at the Asheville Marathon & Half.
There are many things to do in the area. Take your pick of fantastic restaurants and micro breweries, outdoor sports and activities, terrific antique and furniture malls, fine and rustic arts and crafts museums and galleries, and much more. Asheville is a very laid back and walkable city with lovely vintage architecture to discover. Branching out, explore Biltmore Village and its elite shops, wander the Grove Park Inn with it’s iconic roof, craft gallery and Spa, and wind through the mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
There are many resources. We’ve highlighted a few of them and attractions below for your consideration!
Asheville weather in March can be a bit unpredictable. Average temperatures range from 37°F to almost 60°F, and it can be mild and sunny or rainy at a moments notice and dry again as quick. When packing your bag, prepare for a wide variety of weather conditions, both for on the racecourse and for on the town!
Check out our blog on what to do around Asheville!
Outstanding scenery and recreational opportunities make the Blue Ridge Parkway one of the most popular sections of the National Park System. Named “America’s Favorite Drive,” the 469-mile scenic road, offers stunning vistas, hiking and cycling opportunities. Split-rail fences, old farmsteads, mountain meadows and scenic overlooks with endless vistas make the Blue Ridge Parkway a popular attraction. The Parkway incorporates numerous campgrounds, picnic areas and trails.
Guests have been staying at and visiting the Grove Park Inn for one hundred years. They come for relaxation, rejuvenation and to breathe in the clean mountain air. While there, visit the Grovewood Gallery showcases 9,000 square feet of handmade crafts that appeal to the serious collector and the causal shopper alike. The gallery is noted for its impressive second floor studio furniture collection and “Asheville Style” collection of handcrafted furniture, lighting, and decorative accessories for the home, carved wood, jewelry, fiber art, paintings and more.
Pack Place is a place for everyone! A vibrant centerpiece of downtown Asheville and the keystone cultural facility in the Pack Square Cultural District, this bustling complex includes the Asheville Art Museum, Colburn Earth Science Museum, Diana Wortham Theatre and the YMI Cultural Center. An Asheville landmark, Pack Place also offers meehttps://www.romanticasheville.com/packsquare.htmting rooms and creative spaces for hosting special events, exhibitions, conventions and receptions. They offer “one-stop-shopping” for visitors and sell tickets for various community events and attractions and are the starting point for numerous walking and guided tours of Asheville. Come, experience Pack Place!
The Asheville Urban Trail has often been called Asheville’s “museum without walls.” Started by a small group of citizens interested in helping revitalize downtown, the Urban Trail consists of thirty stations of bronze sculpture around downtown. Each station has a plaque illuminating some of the very interesting history of downtown’s development and the various notable people who once lived here. Mostly local artists helped to create the whimsical bronze sculptures and other art works that are found at each station. The tour is a 1.7 mile walk that begins and ends at Pack Place and takes about two hours to complete in its entirety.
There are several art districts in Asheville, and each provides visitors with richly diverse experiences. In the Downtown Asheville Art District, for example, more than 20 galleries within easy walking distance of one another feature a wide variety of fine art and studio crafts created by local, regional, national and international artists. The River Arts District, filled with dozens of working art studios, is one of Asheville’s unique arts neighborhoods. Asheville’s performing arts alliance also thrives.
The Asheville Art Museum, founded by artists in 1948 in Asheville, NC, annually presents an exciting, inviting and active schedule of exhibitions and public programs. Special exhibitions feature renowned regional and national artists and explore issues of enduring interest. The Museum also offers a wide array of innovative and entertaining educational programs for audiences of all ages.
The Black Mountain Center for the Arts, a community non-profit arts facility housed in the beautifully renovated Old City Hall, has exhibits in the Gallery along with programs in music, visual and performing arts. The Main Floor host Concerts, Theatre Performances, Authors’ Readings, Films & Special Events. The Gallery exhibits provide a wide array of subject and media, from contemporary and traditional paintings to sculpture, photography, and ceramics. Classes and workshops offer everything from dance to painting to dry stack stonewall to Asian papermaking.
The Folk Art Center, home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild representing craft artists from Southern Appalachia. Houses three fine galleries and offers daily craft demonstrations March through December. It is also the home to Allanstand, the nation’s first craft shop, and a Blue Ridge Parkway information desk and Eastern National bookstore.
At the center of Asheville’s vibrant downtown arts scene, the Diana Wortham Theater is the city’s finest theatre, offering the best in live performances of music, theatre and dance throughout the year by professional touring and regional arts groups. The intimate, 500 seat theatre is surrounded by numerous restaurants, museums and galleries, the Diana Wortham Theatre is at the heart of the Pack Square Cultural District. The theatre is home to the Asheville Lyric Opera, Asheville Ballet, Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, Asheville Puppetry Alliance, and many others offering diverse arts and entertainment programs throughout the year.
LaZoom Comedy Tours offer City and Haunted Tours With a Twist! Hop on LaZoom’s iconic purple bus and find the funny side of Asheville on our city-wide afternoon and evening City Comedy Tours – both historical and hysterical! Or Join us for our nighttime adult only Haunted Comedy Tour – real stories, real scary, real funny! You’ve never taken a tour like this before – it’s a show on wheels! LaZoom is a B.Y.O.B. bus tour, so grab your favorite beverage (or a local Asheville Brew) and do what the locals do… “Get on the Big Purple Bus!”.
At the Asheville Drum Circle, you might hear a fiddle or banjo thrown in the mix, but the instrument of choice for this 10+ year Asheville music tradition is the drum. Follow the pounding rhythm downtown to a dance party under the stars. You can’t help but move your feet.
The Thomas Wolfe Auditorium is home to opera and ballet performances throughout the year. Street performers entertain crowds on nearly every corner of downtown. Resident companies include Asheville Symphony and Asheville Bravo. Also hosts opera, ballet, dance, community events, meetings and conventions, and concerts.
The Thomas Wolfe Memorial, was home to Thomas Wolfe who was, perhaps, the most overtly autobiographical novelist in American literature. Wolfe himself foresaw the future of his mother’s boarding house when he wrote in his second novel, Of Time and the River, that the “old dilapidated house had now become a fit museum.” In 1998, the historic Old Kentucky Home suffered extensive damage in a fire that was later discovered to have been intentionally set. Approximately 30% of the original structure and 15% of the artifact collection was destroyed. After intensive restoration to both the historic house and surviving artifact collection, the Old Kentucky Home once again opened its doors to visitors in May of 2004.
For more than six decades, Asheville Community Theatre has been delighting audiences with high quality entertainment, making it the oldest continuously operating theatre in Asheville and one of the oldest community theatres in the nation! In the 66th season, they offer classic and contemporary comedies, musicals and dramas.
The Great Outdoors
Nowhere on the continent are the mountains and streams more ancient. Formed three hundred million years ago, these timeworn mountains provide countless adventures and exploration, making this mountain paradise the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable family vacation.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is approximately 300 miles of this Maine-to-Georgia primitive hiking trail spans North Carolina. Voted most popular outdoor destination by Blue Ridge Outdoors and favorite long distance trail by Backpacker Magazine.
One of NC’s newest state parks, Chimney Rock brings the best of the mountains together in one place. Stand atop the 315 foot Chimney Rock and admire stunning 75-mile views overlooking Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge. Scenic hiking trails, guided rock climbing, live animal education programs and ancient geological features attract visitors from around the world. The Park’s scenery was highlighted in the 1992 blockbuster The Last of the Mohicans. Trails range from the family-friendly Great Woodland Adventure trail with 12 animal discovery stations to the more adventurous Skyline trail that leads to Exclamation Point, the Park’s highest point at 2,480 feet. Book in advance for guided hikes, nature workshops and guided rock climbing lessons for beginner to advanced climbers. The Old Rock Cafe offers grilled sandwiches, a local burger and salads to get you fueled up for your hike, or enjoy one of the Park’s many picnic areas. The Park offers discounts for groups and is pet friendly.
Craggy Gardens is covered with purple rhododendron and other late-blooming wildflowers in June and July, and is blanketed in spectacular fall color in the autumn. Take along a picnic lunch to enjoy the cool, fresh mountain air.
Offering visitors easy access to its towering peaks, Grandfather Mountain is one of the most biologically diverse mountains and in the world designated by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve. Feel the rush when you cross the Swinging Bridge; marvel at 360-degree views from one-mile above sea level; photograph bears, otters, cougars, eagles and deer in natural habitats; hike rugged back-country trails or stroll gentle nature paths; eat in our restaurant or take your order out to one of many scenic picnic areas; chat with our entertaining, knowledgeable staff and let us help you find your own perfect mountain adventure.
This year the nation’s most popular park celebrates 75 years as the ‘people’s park’. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park extends 70 miles along the North Carolina/Tennessee border and contains over 500,000 acres of protected forest. The Mountain Farm Museum is a display of historic farm buildings on US 441 North.
Looking Glass Rock, less than an hour from Asheville, is probably the best-known rock climbing area in the state. It offers friction and face climbing of a 500-foot rocky face mountain. No permit required.
There are a few places in the world that still stand apart from the ordinary. Rising more than a mile high, Mount Mitchell State Park is one of these extraordinary places. In the crest of the Black Mountains lies the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. For those who ascend this mighty peak, what looms in the horizon is a feast for the eyes—breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rolling ridges and fertile valleys. The 1,946-acre Mount Mitchell State Park will provide you with some of the most tranquil moments you’ll ever experience.
The North Carolina Arboretum‘s 434-acre campus is nestled along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 393 in south Asheville and offers 65 acres of cultivated gardens including the Bonsai Exhibition Garden, 10 miles of forested hiking and biking trails, garden tours, Art Walk, nature activities for families, changing science, art and cultural history exhibits, a cafe and gift shop.
Operated by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education offers visitors an opportunity to explore the natural world of a mountain cove forest. Located at the states largest trout hatchery, feed brook, brown and rainbow trout which are raised from eggs and then released in local streams and rivers. Enjoy our wildlife garden, our award-winning film, and the NC WILD store. Wildlife education programs are also available for the public and groups. Located 10 minutes from Brevard in the Pisgah National Forest.
At Sliding Rock, a small parking fee is all you will need to pay to experience this 60-foot natural water slide located in the Pisgah National Forest.
Visit the Botanical Gardens of Asheville to hone your observational skills at this free garden, home to over 600 native Appalachian species. The Investigation Passports program allows kids to help identify animals, birds, insects, nature words and, of course, plants.
Enjoy a section of the epic Appalachian Trail on Max Patch Mountain. Once cleared for pasture land in the 19th century, the area is now a grassy bald with stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains to the southwest and the Black Mountains to the east. The wide open area makes for an amazing picnic.
Historic Biltmore Village today is truly one of the South’s most unique touring and shopping environments. Because of its history, its range of unique independent, locally-owned retailers, and its fine restaurants, Historic Biltmore Village has an international reputation. It’s the way shopping used to be – relaxed and enjoyable with top quality merchandise at realistic prices and wonderful customer service. Enjoy quaint tree-lined streets, brick sidewalks, open air dining, original historic houses from the 1900’s, all combined with amazing collections of one-of-a-kind merchandise of true quality and value.
Asheville’s Grove Arcade offers boutique shopping, unique dining and regional crafts in a downtown architectural wonder. The building is open daily and features an outdoor portico market. A downloadable building tour is available on the website. Each of these offers a uniquely Asheville experience. While locally-owned, the shopping and dining experience travels from our very own mountains and valleys to across the globe. Enjoy the best of what Asheville has to offer-located under one historically and architecturally significant building in the heart of downtown Asheville.