The Daily Gamecock

Road tripping: Asheville, North Carolina

A charming kind of quirkiness instantly engulfs visitors who make the drive to the small mountain town in North Carolina. With the kind of charm that makes you wonder when the soonest date you can move there is, Asheville is a surprisingly modern yet naturally down-to-earth playground for artists, visitors and residents alike.

Situated near North Carolina’s irresistibly gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, this town is the soil of mountaineer roots and the largest city in Western North Carolina. Asheville has a booming economy and continues to grow every day, adding new restaurants, art venues, stores and homes. 

Just a two and a half hour drive from Columbia, Asheville is a splendid place to go for a weekend getaway. If you’re into winter sports, this is the place to be, with ski lodges like Wolf Ridge and Cataloochee less than an hour drive up the mountain. 

If you’re looking for some shops to browse or coffee shops to relax in, this mountain town is ideal. With shops ranging as mod as Urban Outfitters and as natural as Enter the Earth rock shop, visitors will not be bored with the diverse selection of stores. 

When it comes to selections of coffee shops, Asheville has everywhere else beat. Stop by Double D’s Coffee and Desserts and find out just how comfy a double-decker bus turned coffee shop can be. In classic vintage form, with a little shabby-chic accenting, Double D’s offers customers delicious coffee and bakery treats. Find reprieve from the chilly mountain air on the top floor of the bus, where there are benches with small tables for guests to sit. 

If you want somewhere a tad roomier to chill for the afternoon, visit Green Sage Cafe. Offering an assortment of local organic breakfast foods and sandwiches for lunch, Green Sage is one of the more modern coffee cafes downtown. Green isn’t just a name, it’s a way of business for the cafe, with solar thermal panels installed on the roof.

When lunch rolls around after a morning out on the town or your drive up the mountain, park a plate at the Bier Garden, a laidback pub with the largest drink menu you may have ever seen — over 200 beers are offered. Delicious fare is served at old wooden tables where you can watch the latest news on huge flat screens. Bier Garden has menu specials going on every day of the week and never disappoints.

On weekends, visitors are sure to find local street musicians jamming out on their instruments. Many street performers have a folk or bluegrass influence, playing out their pleasant melodies on banjos and guitars for those who pass by to enjoy. For a historic perspective of Asheville, visitors can schedule a tour of the legendary Biltmore Estate, an enormous, elegant historical home complete with its own village and winery, first opened in 1895 by George Vanderbilt. For guests who wish to enjoy this beautiful property for more than a day visit, the Biltmore offers overnight stays at the Estate. Located at 1 Lodge St. in Asheville, the Biltmore is the largest family home in America.

Whether you’re coming for an adventurous weekend or a romantic getaway, Asheville is one of the finest cities to visit.