As its largest city, along with its central location in the southern Appalachian mountains, Asheville has become the nerve center of the area known simply as 'WNC', Western North Carolina. Set in the beautiful French Broad River valley, which flows northwest to the Mississippi basin, Asheville is surrounded by the highest mountains in eastern America, some of the oldest in the world.
The temperate climate enjoys four distinct seasons, with comfortable summers, mild winters, early spring and panoramic fall colors. The geographic features, combined with the climate, allows the area an abundance of year-round outdoor activities from hiking to fishing to skiing and golf. A vibrant downtown Asheville offers a cultural diversity hard to find anywhere else. Theatre and symphony, to traditional old time music and local arts and crafts, Asheville attracts internationally known artists and is home to artists of world renown. Shops, antiques, artist's studios and restaurants, from local grills to fine dining, are part of what makes Asheville unique.
Asheville has excellent health and medical facilities and has one of the top rated 'heart' hospitals in the country. It's central location in the southeast, and it's proximity to larger metropolitan areas such as Charlotte, Atlanta, Knoxville and Greenville-Spartanburg enhance Asheville's 'small town / big city' feeling.
From country living to private communities, downtown condo's to quiet neighborhoods, Asheville has become one of the most livable cities in the southeast… maybe the country.
Although within the city limits of Asheville, Biltmore Forest is a planned residential community that is autonomous, with it's own ordinances, town hall, administration and police force. The town, incorporated in 1923, was planned in accordance with the concept of Landscape Architecture to preserve and protect the natural beauty of the environment. The planners had been associated with other designed areas such as Central Park in New York City and the grounds of the Biltmore Estate.
A country club and golf course, and some of the finest homes in the area, are set in a rolling, wooded, almost rural setting, yet minutes from downtown Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway or Biltmore Village and the Biltmore Estate. It's south side location also makes it convenient to the Flat Rock / Hendersonville area, as well as the Asheville Regional Airport.
Biltmore Forest, perhaps the most elegant living in the Asheville area.
Black Mountain / Swannanoa
Located about 15 miles east of Asheville, in Buncombe County, Black Mountain is a charming small town set at the base of the tallest mountains east of the Mississippi River. An eclectic variety of shops. cafes and inns have long drawn vacationers and year-round tourists. A golf course, fine parks, vacation rentals and recreational facilities are enjoyed by tourists and residents alike. Older neighborhoods and newer residential developments provide housing options to both old timers and newcomers.
About 5 miles west, Swannanoa is home to Warren Wilson College, a small college emphasizing the combination of work and service ethics with academics, providing a unique education experience. Summertime brings the Swannanoa Gathering, a multi-discipline traditional music program, offering workshops, concerts and dances, with a staff of the finest in the folk arts from around the world.
The unofficial 'welcome center' from the foothills into the mountains, Black Mountain says 'we're glad you're here!'
Just 8 miles north of Asheville in Buncombe County, Weaverville has that 'one light', 'one block main street' small town atmosphere hard to find in this century, or most of the last for that matter. Small shops, cafes, the school yard, the drug store with a soda fountain, a nice park, quiet neighborhoods are all part of Weaverville's charm. Settled in the Reem's Creek valley, along the Dry Ridge (aptly named for the low incidence of precipitation), Weaverville boasts quality schools and excellent community services.
Venturing a little ways from town finds some major industry, as well as more residential developments, including a fine golf community just up the valley. Lying along the I-26 corridor, recently finished into Tennessee, Weaverville has seen much new interest and activity the north end of the county. And yet, as the area continues to grow, Weaverville strives to maintain its small town charm and character.
Marshall / Mars Hill
About 20 miles north of Asheville, in Madison County, lie the small towns of Marshall and Mars Hill. Set in the rural ridges and valleys between the Blue Ridge and Newfound mountains, Marshall lies on the Hwy 25/70 route toward Newport (then Knoxville) Tennessee, while Mars Hill is located on the newly opened I-26 corridor to Erwin and Johnson City Tennessee.
Mars Hill College, established in the 1850's, is the focal point of that small community, and has a strong commitment to preserving and promoting the local music and dance traditions of the southern Appalachian area. Marshall being the county seat, the courthouse, with all of it's administrative business, is the center of activity. This mostly rural county is starting to see more residential and economic development, as the activity from Asheville/Buncombe to Tennessee continues to grow.
About 35 miles northwest of Asheville in Madison County, near the Tennessee border, Hot Springs is a 'small' town with a 'big', rich history. Known originally to the native Americans for the hot mineral springs, traders and the early settlers following the French Broad River discovered the springs and the healing properties of the waters. By the late 1700's folks coming from all over to 'take' the curative waters. The Buncombe Turnpike, completed in the early 1800's along the French Broad, connected Kentucky and Tennessee to Charleston SC, on the coast, and was the 'superhighway' of the south for its' time. 'Warm Springs', later renamed Hot Springs, would become one of the pre-eminent spa/resorts in the country.
Today, while not the picture of its' former elegance, Hot Springs still attracts health and outdoor enthusiasts. Situated where the Appalachian Trail intersects the French Broad River, hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding or fishing may accompany, or simply give way to, soaking in the mineral baths and a massage in the beautiful setting of the southern Appalachian mountains.
About 45 miles northeast of Asheville, Burnsville is the county seat in Yancey County. The 'rooftop' of the eastern United States, Yancey County is home to Mount Mitchell and 18 other peaks over 6300 feet in elevation. Although the Appalachian Trail itself only briefly cuts through the northwest corner, Yancey has over 100 miles of hiking trails.
Burnsville, and the area, is rich in the arts and crafts traditions and downtown, around a beautiful town square, finds unique galleries, shops and antiques, restaurants and cafes. There are wonderful country inns and B&B's in town and throughout the region.
Come enjoy the true culture and hospitality of the southern Appalachia in Burnsville.
About 20 miles southeast of Asheville in Rutherford County, Lake Lure was conceived in the early 1900's as a resort community for western North Carolina. A dam, finished in 1926, was built on the Rocky Broad River to create a lake and Lake Lure was incorporated in 1927. It has been called one the most beautiful man-made lakes in the world by National Geographic.
While attracting thousands of tourists each year, Lake Lure has nearly 1100 full time residents and everyone enjoys a full variety of water activities, as well as golf, hiking and rock climbing. Other local attractions include Bat Cave and Chimney Rock, and its' relative proximity to Flat Rock/Hendersonville and Asheville provides access to theatre, music, fine dining and more.
Flat Rock / Hendersonville
About halfway between Asheville and Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina in Henderson County, Hendersonville and Flat Rock lie on the I-26 corridor linking Columbia and Charleston SC to Asheville north and west to Tennessee. While Flat Rock was established in the early nineteenth century as a summer haven for the affluent escaping the sweltering heat of the South Carolina low country, Hendersonville was known as an agricultural community, its' apple orchards and greenhouses driving the economy.
The Village of Flat Rock is on the National Register of Historic Places and strives to preserve the feeling of the 'Old South'. It is home to the Carl Sandburg Home, and the Flat Rock Playhouse was designated the 'State Theatre of North Carolina' in 1961 and is considered one of the 'Top Ten Theaters in the Country'.
While Hendersonville has become known over the years for the tourism industry, with downtown shops, boutiques and restaurants, at the Henderson County Curb Market, sellers must be county residents, some are third and fourth generation vendors. DuPont State Forest covers over 10,000 acres in Henderson and Transylvania counties, offering activities for any outdoor enthusiast. The city maintains eight parks as well, with excellent recreational facilities. There are private golf communities, as well as public and semi-private courses.
Quality health and medical facilities are available at Pardee Memorial Hospital, along with the excellent system at Mission St. Joseph's in Asheville. Being just minutes from the Asheville Regional Airport, only slightly farther from GSP in Greenville, escaping to or from Hendersonville is easy and convenient. Come enjoy the southern hospitality of western North Carolina in the Hendersonville/Flat Rock area.
About 30 miles southwest of Asheville, in Transylvania County, Brevard is a gateway to the southern Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Nearly 90,000 acres of the Pisgah National Forest lie in its' backyard and outdoor enthusiasts will find some of the best fishing, hiking and kayaking in the western mountains. With the highest annual rainfall east of the Rockies (part of the parkland is actually considered rain forest) the area is lush with beautiful rhododendron and is known for the many picturesque waterfalls throughout the county.
Established in1853, Brevard College is the oldest is the mountains, with a fine and well respected liberal arts curriculum. Brevard Music Center has offered a premier summer program for young musicians for nearly 70 years and presents more than 80 public performances during its' 7 week run.
Situated about midway between Asheville and Greenville SC, Brevard is just 25 minutes from Asheville Regional Airport and nearly as close to GSP Airport in Greenville. Heading out to the west will take you through Toxaway and the Sapphire Valley to the beautiful Cashiers/Highlands area.
Brevard is truly a wonderful place to visit and a great place to live.
Cashiers / Highlands
In a secluded corner of southwestern North Carolina, about two hours from Asheville (an hour from Brevard), Cashiers and the town of Highlands are set in a green valley at 3500 feet, surrounded by mountains, in Jackson County. With no 'straight' way in or out, the pace slows and offers welcome respite from the 'hustle and bustle' of everyday life. The abundant natural beauty lends a perfect setting for a hike or a drive in the country.
If you prefer your hiking on a golf course there are private and public courses, as well as tennis and health facilities. Enjoy the shops and fine restaurants in town, or the variety of water activities on the lake just north of Cashiers. Whether you prefer nature's amenities or those of a club, private communities or living in town, come experience the 'mystique' of the Cashiers/Highlands area.
Situated about 25 miles west of Asheville in Haywood County, Waynesville sits at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains and is a gateway to everything in the southern North Carolina mountains. The county seat, founded just after the Revolutionary War, it's a town with a rich history of the area.
Today a thriving artist community is reflected in the galleries and working studios that line Main Street, along with cafes, bakeries and coffee shops. Local music and dance traditions also thrive there and a summer Friday evening may find you circling up for a mountain square dance in the street. Folkmoot USA, a new tradition started by a local dancer in 1984, brings folk music and dance groups from all over the world for a two week festival each summer. The Haywood Arts Repertory Theatre (HART) provides fine local theatre and co-sponsers many other programs and productions throughout the year.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find whatever they like from hiking and horseback riding to fishing and camping to skiing and golf. With a short trip to the west you can visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, or catch a show or try your luck at the casino.
Preserving its' safe neighborhoods, promoting new developments, with respect for its' past and planning for the future, Waynesville strives to be 'the model town for the twenty first century'.