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With its rustic southern charm and hip-but-quaint restaurants and shops, Asheville combines the old and the new. In its centralized downtown, art galleries, restaurants, businesses and shops of all types give Asheville its distinct character. The Vance Monument is a good centralized place nearby many shops, gallaries and cafes, including Pack Place, The Fine Arts Theatre and restaurants. Visitors like to visit the Thomas Wolfe Memorial as well, which is located north of downtown. Thomas Wolfe is Asheville's most famous native son and references to him are found throughout the town.
West Asheville has a residential flair, with quaint restaurants and diverse shops where less tourists tend to flock. To the east of Asheville is Black Mountain, a town with a truly rustic vibe, much smaller than Asheville. Visitors can wander the streets for goodies and treasures, especially in the antique stores. Black Mountain makes for an excellent day-trip.
For those travelers who like to see how the locals live, the Montford area in the just north of downtown Asheville shows a classic Asheville mix of old houses and beautifully restored historic homes. The quiet neighborhood is lined with grand old Southern homes with ornate wood decorations and wide porches. Visitors will find its winding streets pleasurable and quiet. It is also home to a bedrock bed and breakfast community that defines the term "southern hospitality." Take a walk up to the door of your particular favorite. Most innkeepers are proud of their homes and would love to show you around.
South Asheville also holds the must-see Biltmore Estate and Biltmore Village that is home to some of the best restaurants in Asheville as well as unique and chain stores. Visitors can drive with awe through the gates and curve up to this privately owned estate. Built by George Vanderbilt, the Biltmore Estate was completed over 100 years ago as the largest house in American history. The intent was that it would help the community and sustain itself with luscious gardens and hiking grounds surrounded by breathtaking mountain views. Today, visitors can visit on a day trip to hike, tour and eat.
In the Western North Carolina Area, there are quaint, tiny mountain towns surround Asheville. Grandfather Mountain, Chimney Rock Park and Linville Cavern are all beautiful and have many adventure options. Connemara (Carl Sandburg's former home), Pack Place and Harrah's Cherokee Casino offer options for people who prefer to stay inside.
One of the treasures in Asheviille is the majestic Grove Park Inn. Built in 1913 and modeled after the grand old railroad hotels of the west, the Grove Park was constructed of mountain stone. It features one of the top-rated spas in the U.S. and has been among the playgrounds of the rich and famous since its opening. Even if you don't stay in the Grove Park, it's worth a visit. Sit in its cavernous lobby in front of the massive fireplace and listen to live music while sipping a drink. Or take the drink out to one of its patios to sit in a rocker overlooking Western Carolina's beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
For visitors who are more interested in outdoor activities, visit the NC Arboretum at the foot of the Pisgah Forest. There are miles of walking trails, permanent Bonzai collection, education center, restaurant and usually interesting seasonal exhibitions. For mountain bikers, visit the Bent Creek area, Dupont Forest or the miles of forestry roads in the Pisgah Forest. For hikers, the same areas mentioned for mtn bikers plus the Mountain to Sea Trail that runs parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is also horseback riding at Dupont and parts of the Pisgah Forest. Just north of Asheville, in Barnardsville, outdoor adventurers can try zip-lining over ancient forests from spring until late fall.