Getting Oriented

  • Asheville. Asheville is a base for exploring the region, but it is also a destination unto itself for its arts, crafts, food, beer, and music scenes; just a short drive away are mile-high vistas that will take your breath away.
  • Blue Ridge Parkway. This two-lane mountaintop parkway, the most visited site of all national park units, is one of America’s most scenic drives.
  • Black Mountain. Twenty minutes east of Asheville, Black Mountain, once home to a radical experimental college that helped birth the abstract impressionist art movement and the Beat poets, is now a charming and highly walkable small mountain town.
  • Hendersonville. Hendersonville has a classic Main Street filled with antiques shops, restaurants, and quaint boutiques.
  • Flat Rock. Flat Rock has poet Carl Sandburg’s home and farm and the state theater of North Carolina.
  • Blowing Rock. Blowing Rock is Boone’s more upscale sister town.
  • Boone. The heart of North Carolina’s High Country is a college town near several snow ski resorts.
  • Valle Crucis. The state’s first rural historic district is in a valley where you can shop at one of the oldest general stores in the South and enjoy a quiet, peaceful vacation in the mountains.
  • Banner Elk. Banner Elk, one of the highest elevation villages in the mountains, is home to ski resorts and the annual Woolly Worm Festival.
  • Brevard. This tiny, charming college town boasts a nationally known music center and festival and scurries of white squirrels.
  • Cashiers. Pronounced “CASH-ers,” perhaps for its pricey gated developments, this town has a year-round population of about 2,000, which jumps to more than 25,000 in the summer and fall, as flatlanders flock to the high mountains and cool waterfalls.
  • Highlands. Sometimes called Buckhead North for its summer migrants from Atlanta, Highlands, on a high plateau at 4,118 feet, has tony shopping, one of the mountains’ top resort spas, and stunning four-season views.

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