The great wheel of the west, Asheville, is the largest city in Western North Carolina, an economic engine and vibrant force of art, culture and influence in the state. As such, the region’s surrounding towns and communities are cogs in the machine, each engaging and putting the region’s gregarious gears in motion. Friendly, warm, and welcoming are words to describe the cozy communities that radiate out from Asheville. Moreover, they are independent towns each worth getting to know, too.
Next, head north to encounter historic Weaverville. The home of the Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace State Historic Site, the town is also known for its grand hotels of the 1800s, former respites from the heat of summer. Main Street today is still a draw for town residents and guests who escape into the world of Weaverville art and culture, entertainment and eateries. Restaurants such as the Glass Onion, Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe’ and the Twisted Laurel serve fare from the Mediterranean, Italian, and American traditions that are sure palette pleasers. Nearby Lake Louise is an outdoor sanctuary and playground for all ages. Art galleries, boutiques, shops and festivals round out the allure of Weaverville.
At the Tennessee border is Mars Hill, a town small in size but large in character and quality of life. Near the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail, and numerous state and national parks, the town is also big on a year-round outdoor adventure. Warm weather brings hiking, white water rafting and mountain biking, while the winter season offers the thrill of skiing at the local Wolf Ridge Ski Resort. It’s also a college town, home to the historic Mars Hill University, the oldest educational institution still in its original location in Western North Carolina. The bond of college and town is evidenced by the bevy of businesses, buildings, and historic homes along Main Street that champion the connection. Rich in art, music and mountain craft heritage, Mars Hill is not a destination to miss.
Bordering a portion of the scenic French Broad River and mere minutes from Biltmore Estate and downtown Asheville is the well-loved town of Woodfin — a town dedicated to being a place of quality living, quiet and safe community, and neighbors knowing neighbors. Bisected by Weaverville Highway, specialty shops and interesting stores line the street and beckon visitors inside. Grab a bite at any one of the restaurants, BBQ and burger joints, or homestyle cafes along the way. Don’t miss Reynolds Village, new to the commercial area with storefronts such as Spellbound Children’s Bookstore and the Thirsty Monk pub. The village turns up the vibe on the fourth Friday of the month with food trucks of all kinds.
To the southeast is the Village of Flat Rock, home to the Pulitzer-Prize winning writer and poet Carl Sandburg’s home and farm, Connemara; Flat Rock Playhouse, The State Theater of North Carolina; and numerous homes and properties on the National Register of Historic Places. Natural beauty lies in The Park at Flat Rock, s 66-acre site of open green spaces, wetlands, scenic trails and native wildlife, flora and fauna. Tourists often flock to Flat Rock’s vistas, many choosing to put down roots and stay in this lovely North Carolina locale.