The most memorable vacations are those that introduce you to new experiences you wouldn’t be able to have anywhere else in the world. While it may require a little bit of extra planning, it’s always worth the effort to track down the unique offerings of your destination. Thankfully, we’re giving you a head start on some of the most exciting things to do in Western North Carolina. Discover the vibrant artsy town of Asheville, the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains, and the fascinating cultural history of this strip of Appalachia with these bucket list items!
Asheville Hot Air Balloons
There’s no more magical way to experience the Appalachian Mountains than from the 3,000-foot vantage point of a charming hot air balloon! Not a big fan of heights? There’s no need to get anxious when hot air balloon safety is the top priority for the expert pilots and crew members at Asheville Hot Air Balloons. For an hour-long tour of unbeatable scenes of red, gold and yellow, book your hot air balloon ride during peak leaf season from September to November. As the gentle slopes of the Pisgah National Forest unfurl before your eyes in bluish layers, you’ll understand why this particular range is known as the Blue Ridge Mountains!
Craft Brewery Tour
Recognized nationally as “Beer City USA,” Asheville is king in locally-made craft beer. Sit outside on a sunny day at Zilicoah Beer Co. or Wedge Brewing for a relaxing afternoon by the French Broad River. Cold wintry nights are best at Burial Beer Co. or Green Man Brewery, loved for their rich stouts, ambers and ESBs. Visiting Asheville for the holidays? Don’t miss out on the limited release Cold Mountain Ale at Highland Brewing. A brewery tour of the 828 wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Wicked Weed Brewing, known for their hop-tastic IPAs and sippable summer goses, or Hi-Wire Brewing, whose funky aesthetic suits the South Slope vibe only too well. In a town where you’ll run into a new and eclectic brewery almost every other block, a brewery tour is one of the hippest ways to get to know the locals, enjoy the whimsical small-town sights, and taste some of the finest beer in the country!
The Biltmore Estate is a quintessential monument to Western North Carolina’s history. Constructed in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt as a summer home, the Biltmore Estate architecture imitates the French Renaissance style and incorporates over 250 rooms across four acres of flooring! Today, the property comprises a luxury hotel, the charming Antler Hill Village full of shops and restaurants, the Biltmore Estate Winery, and acres of pristine landscaped gardens and hiking trails. As you stroll through the garden displays, taste locally-made wines, and admire the grandeur of Western NC’s most legendary philanthropist, you’ll start to understand why Vanderbilt came to love this region so much. If it weren’t for the Vanderbilt family, Asheville would not be what it is today.
Film Location Hiking Tour
The cinematic arts are just as much a part of Western North Carolina’s cultural history as the historical architecture. If you love hiking as much as you love cinema, plan a day trip to Chimney Rock State Park to hunt down the filming locations of The Last of the Mohicans. Check out DuPont State Forest to find backdrops matching still frames from The Hunger Games. Black Mountain is also a must, especially if the billboard scenes from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri had you on the edge of your seat. Want an excuse to splash around in the local lakes? You can tour the actual cabin used to film Nell at Fontana Lake and attend the Dirty Dancing Festival at Lake Lure in honor of the shooting location of Dirty Dancing. The timelessness of the oldest mountain range in the world has long been a favorite among Hollywood directors across the eras.
Visitors come from far and wide to partake in the mountains’ picturesque splendor, both on the trails and high in the sky. Artists are drawn to the solitude of nature, hoping to perfect their craft beer-making skills or to capture a cinematic slice of their story world. Philanthropists have long been attracted to these mountains, not only for their beauty but also for their personal vocation of environmental stewardship. Through all these bucket list activities, you’ll soon realize that the unique culture of Western North Carolina is all thanks to the one-of-a-kind Blue Ridge Mountains