10 Asheville Hikes with Epic Mountain Views


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While there are thousands of miles of hiking trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains thanks to our national and state parks and forests, here are our ten top mountaintop hikes with the best panoramic views near Asheville, North Carolina. And they are all free to enjoy! Take a picnic and allow time to enjoy the view.

Mt. Mitchell: After enjoying the 360-degree vistas from the observation deck atop the highest peak in eastern USA, hike the Deep Gap Trail to four more summits over 6,000 feet, including Mt. Craig just a mile away.

Craggy Pinnacle: A 1.5-mile roundtrip hike offers spectacular 360-degree panoramic views and a great spot for a picnic along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Max Patch: Hike the 2.4-mile loop around the grassy summit or continue further on the Appalachian Trail in Pisgah National Forest.

Black Balsam Knob: Hike across multiple mountain balds near the Blue Ridge Parkway. These treeless mountaintops in the Pisgah National Forest offer sweeping views all along the trail.

Looking Glass Rock: Hike this iconic rock face summit with a 1,700-foot elevation gain in the 6.5-mile roundtrip trail.

Whiteside Mountain: This two-mile hike in the Nantahala National Forest near Cashiers takes you on top of sheer 750-foot high cliffs with outstanding views.

Table Rock Mountain: Enjoy spectacular views of Linville Gorge from atop this distinctive summit. This 2.2-mile hike can be combined with a 1.5-mile trek to the top of nearby Hawksbill Mountain.

Roan Mountain: Hike through summer Catawba rhododendron and along a lofty, grassy ridge for five miles along the Appalachian Trail.

Mt. LeConte: The restored Alum Cave Trail is the most hiked in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’ll see why with interesting geological features and stunning views along the 11-mile roundtrip hike that climbs 2,853 feet in elevation.

Cold Mountain: This strenuous 10.6-mile roundtrip hike takes you to the summit of the mountain made famous by the novel and movie, in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area of the Pisgah National Forest.

All of these hikes were selected by the readers of RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide. For info on these and others, go to their Top 75 Hikes near Asheville.

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Asheville Spring Updates


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What’s new for 2017 in Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains? There are even more things to do during your vacation.

The biggest event of the year will be a total solar eclipse on August 21st with total darkness for a couple of minutes of darkness in far western tip of North Carolina (in towns like Cashiers, Cherokee and Robbinsville).

For the first time ever, you can take a very fun helicopter tour above Asheville and Biltmore – beginning in March 2017.

At Biltmore, see a new exhibition from February 10 through July 4th with 40 elaborate period costumes from well-known movies. The most visited winery in the country received a makeover with a bigger tasting room.

Downtown Asheville continues to grow with many new restaurants and breweries and several major hotels under construction. The drum circle returns on Friday nights. Many festivals are planned for 2017. Be sure to check out the several new rooftop views and watch the mountain sunsets.

The Tryon International Equestrian Center continues to expand and will host many weeks of Olympic-caliber horse jumping competitions. In addition, find a variety of restaurants and shops. Saturday Night Lights is free to enjoy. In 2018, they will host the FEI World Equestrian Games.

A new trail in the Hickory Nut Gorge area will open April 1. The 3-mile hike to Little Bearwallow Mountain takes you by a 100-foot waterfall and to Wildcat Rock for panoramic views.

PARI (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute) near Brevard is a former NASA Communications Center that is now a world-class space and science research campus. This year, they are adding more events and tours to welcome all visitors.

The River Arts District in Asheville is getting many road upgrades and more artists and businesses are moving in.

Go to our Asheville Travel Guide for info about all of these – with a handy search feature to help you plan your trip.

Tryon International Equestrian Center


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Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) near Asheville, North Carolina, holds many weeks of international competition during the 2016 season from spring through fall. The tremendously popular “Saturday Night Lights” series offers spectators an evening of heart pounding action and entertainment, as grand prix show jumping highlights a week of equestrian competition in the George Morris Arena. Come enjoy family activities and live performances at this impressive new campus in Polk County near Columbus.

It has already become a haven for American equestrian competitors and enthusiasts, and a year-round destination for many that love horses. In addition to hunter/jumper horse shows, TIEC also hosts dressage horse shows and, in 2016, will host the United States Pony Club Championships East and the American Eventing Championships.

Admission to all horse shows and events is free and no reserved tickets are required for the 6,000-seat stadium. The special Saturday Night Lights Grand Prix show jumping events are also free – carousel rides, music and live entertainment included. Parking is free also.

The hunter/jumper shows generally run Wednesday through Sunday, approximately 8 AM-5 PM. For the most action, visit late morning and afternoon to go from arena to arena to see the horses.

Horse shows at Tryon International Equestrian Center are casual outdoor events. Wear sensible walking shoes so that you are comfortable while exploring the entirety of the show grounds. Dining options include a 50s inspired Roger’s Diner open seven days a week. Also find Legends Grille, Ginger Sushi & Noodles, Siesta Cantina and more.

Tryon Resort is one of the world’s premier equestrian lifestyle destinations, and with shops, restaurants, entertainment, lodging and more. This new facility opened in June 2014 with sanctioned horse shows and amenities including 10 riding arenas, 850 permanent stalls, a covered riding facility and fitness center. Future expansion includes a resort hotel, condos and apartments, additional mixed-used retail, sports complex, sporting clay course, and 18-hole golf course, plus a full calendar of equestrian competitions and activities.

TIEC is open every day. It’s located about 48 miles from Asheville. It’s located in the rolling foothill between Lake Lure, Rutherfordton and Tryon, at exit 170 on US Highway 74, at 4066 Pea Ridge Rd., Mill Spring, NC 28756.

For more, see our Tryon International Equestrian Center Guide.

Farmers Markets near Asheville


Find fresh farm bounty at markets through the Blue Ridge Mountains in and near Asheville, North Carolina. Tailgate tents are going up, and area farmers markets are opening outdoors for the season. Get a taste of what Appalachian Grown™ farms are growing. Produce offerings will differ from market to market based on the location of vendor farms—micro climates vary greatly in the region.

Thanks to ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) for this list for 2016 with opening days and weekly times.

Central Mountains Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Asheville City Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Asheville City Market – South: April 6, Wednesdays 12:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Black Mountain Tailgate Market: May 7, Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • East Asheville Tailgate Market: May 6, Fridays 3:00 – 6:00 pm
  • French Broad Food Co-op Wednesday Tailgate Market: April 13, Wednesdays 2:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Leicester Farmers Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Madison County Farmers & Artisans Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • North Asheville Tailgate Market: April 2, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Oakley Farmers Market: May 5, Thursdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm
  • River Arts District Farmers Market: May 4, Wednesdays 2:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Sundays on the Island: April 9, Sundays 12:00 –
  • Weaverville Tailgate Market: April 13, Wednesdays 2:30 – 6:30 pm
  • West Asheville Tailgate Market: April 5, Wednesdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm
  • WNC Farmers Market: May 5, Open Everyday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Yancey County Farmers Market: April 16, Saturdays 8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Foothills Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Caldwell County Farmers Market: May 7, Saturdays 7:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Hildebran Farmers Market: May 3, Tuesdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Historic Marion Tailgate Market: May 3, Tuesdays 3:00 – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Lenoir Downtown Farmers Market: April 1, Wednesdays – Saturdays 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Morganton Farmers Market: May 7, Wednesdays 2:00 – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Rutherford County Farmers Market: April 30, Tuesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm, Thursdays 3:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Sawmills Farmers Market: May 3, Tuesdays 3:00 – 6:30 pm
  • Valdese Farmers Market: May 11, Wednesdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and Fridays 2:00 – 6:00 pm

Southern Mountains Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Columbus Tailgate Market: April 9, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Flat Rock Farmers Market: May 5, Thursdays 3:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Henderson County Curb Market: Year-round; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Henderson County Tailgate Market: March 14, Saturdays 7:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Mills River Farmers Market: May 7, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Saluda Tailgate Market: May 6, Fridays 4:30 – 6:30 pm
  • Transylvania Farmers’ Market: April 23, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Tryon Tailgate Market: May 5, Thursdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Near West Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Cashiers Tailgate Market: June 1, Wednesdays 12:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Cowee Farmers Market: May 10, Tuesdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm
  • Franklin Farmers Tailgate Market: April 2, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market: April 16, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Jackson County Farmers Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Original Waynesville Tailgate Market: May 14, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Swain County Farmers Market: May 6, Fridays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • ‘Whee Market: April 5, Tuesdays 4:00 – 7:00 pm

Far West Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Andrews Farmers Market: June 4, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Brasstown’s Farmers Market: May 25, Wednesdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Cedar Valley Farmers Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Graham County Farmers Market: July 9, Saturdays 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
  • Hayesville Evening Market: May 5, Thursdays 4:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Mountain Valley Farmers Market: May 7, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

High Country Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Alleghany County Farmers’ Market: May 2, Tuesdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Ashe County Farmers Market: April 16, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Avery County Farmers Market: April 21, Thursdays 4:30 – 7:00 pm
  • Bakersville Farmers Market: March 26, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Blowing Rock Farmers Market: May 26, Thursdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Spruce Pine Farmers Market: May 4, Wednesdays 2:00 – 5:00 pm

Read more about Farmers Markets in the Asheville area.

Christmas in Asheville


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Find much to do in Asheville and the mountains of western North Carolina during Christmas Weekend. Savor holiday buffets in many great restaurants, tour the Biltmore House or see the Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum. There are plenty of options on Christmas Day – with even more during the weekend.

If you plan to dine or tour on Christmas Day, make your reservations in advance. Find many things to do with the family, including getting outdoors for a hike or to find a waterfall. Take a zany tour with LaZoom, go shopping downtown or Asheville Outlets, and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. Explore one of our favorite NC Mountain Christmas Towns decked out for the holidays and filled with local stores, breweries and galleries (like Forest City in the photo at top). Or relax with a massage in a spa or with a local beer at a craft brewery.

See our full list of restaurants open Christmas Day and many things to do.

Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy your time in Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains with your family and friends.

 

Christmas at Biltmore House 2015


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The biggest event of the year in Asheville has begun! Christmas at Biltmore runs through January 10, 2016. Biltmore’s design team has woven this year’s theme – “A Gilded Age Christmas” – throughout every element created for the season across the estate, incorporating grand and elegant details that are rooted in authentic Vanderbilt Christmas stories.

The towering 35-foot Christmas tree in the Banquet Hall is a nod to a tradition started by George Vanderbilt on Christmas Eve in 1895 when he opened his 250-room home to friends and family for the first time. As tradition dictates, the tree is decorated with 500 ornaments and wrapped packages tucked into its branches.

During the magical Candlelight Christmas Evenings, thousands of ornaments and over-the-top wreaths and garlands sparkle with the reflections of candlelight and cozy fires in the home’s fireplaces. Despite the home’s enormous size, sounds of choirs and musicians create an intimate atmosphere. Outside, a 55-foot Norway spruce tree, lit by 45,000 tiny white lights and surrounded by hundreds of hand-lit luminaries, welcomes guests for evening tours.

See photos of this year’s Christmas decorations inside Biltmore House.

Christmas at Biltmore 2015 Events

  • Nov. 6 through Jan. 10, daily: Christmas at Biltmore daytime experience
  • Nov. 6 through Jan. 2: Candlelight Christmas Evenings
  • Nov. 6 through Jan. 10, daily: A Gardener’s Place Holiday Seminars. “Decorate with Christmas Wreaths” is offered at noon and “Create Holiday Tablescapes” is offered at 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 6 through Jan. 10, daily: The Conservatory’s annual poinsettia and tropical plant display.
  • Nov. 6 through Jan. 10, daily: Complimentary wine tasting at the Winery. The “Red Wine and Chocolate” seminar is offered, as well as the “Biltmore Bubbles” tour. Additional price and reservations required.
  • Nov. 6 through Jan. 10, evenings: Live music in Cedric’s Tavern in Antler Hill Village.
  • Nov. 7 through Dec. 20, Saturdays and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m., and on Friday, Nov. 27: Visits with Santa in Antler Hill Village.
  • Nov. 7 through Jan. 10, Saturdays and Sundays, 3 p.m., and on Friday, Nov. 27: Roving Holiday Carolers in Antler Hill Village.
  • Dec. 17, 18 and 19: Inn on Biltmore Estate’s Annual Gingerbread House Tea. Guests assemble gingerbread homes with the help of a pastry chef while enjoying afternoon tea. Additional price and reservations required.
  • Ongoing: Festive holiday meals prepared by award-winning chefs will be served in all of the estate’s restaurants.

Guests looking to extend their holiday stay at Biltmore will have several options. For a retreat with personalized service, the Inn on Biltmore Estate offers four-star accommodations with sweeping views in a private hilltop setting. Special holiday packages starting with Thanksgiving will be available during Christmas at Biltmore.

Biltmore’s newest lodging offering, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, opens December 1, 2015. Designed for the guest looking for a casual overnight stay, the hotel is located in Antler Hill Village. It is steps away from shopping, dining, the Winery, live music and outdoor activities. Special holiday packages will be available during Christmas at Biltmore.

See the complete Christmas at Biltmore Guide that includes ticket special offers, along with Asheville vacation packages.

Saturday Night Lights at Tryon International Equestrian Center

Saturday Night Lights at Tryon International Equestrian Center


After a fantastic first year of grand prix competition, Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) is concluding its fall season and “Saturday Night Lights” event series with two last show jumping competitions on Saturday, October 17 and 24, 2015. It’s an easy 48-mile drive from Asheville, and there’s free admission, entertainment and parking!

Event gates open at 5 PM and the grand prix begins at 7 PM. Kid’s activities include face painting, street performers and carousel rides. There are a variety of food options, ranging from carts with carnival favorites to restaurants that are open year round. Roger’s Diner, Legends Grille and Blue Ginger Sushi will remain open following the final grand prix giving locals and visitors ongoing ways to enjoy the equestrian center in the off season.

Each “Saturday Night Lights” evening culminates with a sponsored grand prix competition held under the stadium lights in the George Morris International Arena, with riders competing for $125,000+ of prize money.

Tryon Resort is one of the world’s premier equestrian destinations, and with onsite shopping, dining, entertainment and plans for more. This new facility opened in June 2014 with sanctioned horse shows and initial supporting amenities including 10 riding arenas, 850 permanent stalls, a covered riding facility and fitness center. Future expansion includes a sports complex, two hotels, sporting clay course, and an 18-hole golf course plus a full calendar of equestrian competitions and activities.

The Tryon International Equestrian Center is located at 4066 Pea Ridge Road, Mill Spring, NC (off Exit 170 on US Highway 74. From Asheville, take I-26 E / US 74 E, to exit 67, then US 74 E to Columbus/Rutherfordton. Drive 8 miles to exit 170.

Read more on RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide.