Axis Recommends – Asheville, NC!
One of the most frequently requested job locations I’ve heard from my travelers is Asheville, NC. Asheville has become quite the trendy hotspot in the last several years, with many young professionals relocating to the area due to lower living costs than some of the other major cities in the country. Additionally, for an outdoors enthusiast, you can’t do much better than living next to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smokies!
Recently, Axis published a Live Like a Local blog about Asheville, which fantastically encapsulates some of the hot spots in the city. With this blog, I aim to give you a more personalized feel of the area from the perspective of someone who recently spent about a month exploring Asheville. Granted, I just scratched the surface of things to do, but this should be an excellent start for anyone interested in traveling to this area soon!
Where I Stayed
While in the area, I decided to rent an Airbnb just outside the small town of Weaverville, NC. The housing costs were less than they would have been if I’d stayed in Asheville, but I was still just a 20-minute drive to downtown. The place I booked was out in the countryside, which allowed me to enjoy beautiful, sweeping views of the mountains. Weaverville is a cute little down with a charming main street area with some excellent restaurants and shops. Plus, I didn’t have to deal with much traffic, and I was a quick 15 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, which gave me convenient access to several local trails and attractions.
My Favorite Parks, Trails, and Nature Spots
Again, I barely touched the tip of the iceberg here, but there were some beautiful spots that I visited and will fondly remember.
We mentioned this in the Live Like a Local blog, but I wanted to emphasize how beautiful this location was! I also caught a sunset here during my first week in the area that was one of the most spectacular I’d ever seen. I was also lucky to be here right at the tail end of the rhododendron bloom season, which made for some fantastic pictures and beautiful hikes throughout the area.
DuPont State Recreational Forest
There are numerous trails here, but you should plan on visiting Hooker Falls and Triple Falls. These are easier to moderate hikes, which are great for beginner hikers, and who doesn’t love waterfalls? I’d recommend getting there early as parking fills up quickly and bringing your swimsuit during the summer months. There’s nothing better than a dip in cool, refreshing mountain water!
Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak in the U.S. east of the Mississippi! Some hikes take you up to the top if you’re a seasoned hiker, or you can drive up and park right near the top and take the short path up to the peak. There, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The overlook at the top would be another great place to catch a sunset; just be careful driving at night. Wildlife abounds here, so keep a lookout for bears and deer, Bigfoot, and other random forest critters. (Kidding about Bigfoot. Or… am I….?)
This is a gem located about an hour’s drive from downtown Asheville, nestled in the Linville Gorge Wilderness. There are numerous popular trails nearby, so you could make a weekend out of hanging out in this area. You can take three different paths to view the falls from different perspectives. These trails seemed to be family and dog friendly, too. After your cardio fix, you can chill out and rejuvenate at the nearby Linville Falls Winery. The staff is very welcoming, and the winery has live music on the weekends!
Other Fun Hangouts
The River Arts District
I wouldn’t classify myself as an art enthusiast, but this is still a neat and unique part of the city to check out. One thing to note is that the RAD (as it’s called locally) is spaced out in sections, so you may need some transportation to get between the various areas. This would be a great place to take or rent a bike. Here at the RAD, you can visit local artists’ studios, even meet the artists themselves and ask questions. Sometimes they even let you participate in the artmaking. There are also a few unique coffee shops and breweries. New Belgium Brewing is just across the river.
Few things are more “American” to me than a small town with a cute, walkable, historic-looking Main Street area. Brevard checks off all these boxes! It packs a punch with restaurants, breweries, boutique shops, and even a vintage movie theater for a small town. This would be a worthwhile stop back from Sliding Rock or Looking Glass Falls! Grab a pie and a pint at Blue Ridge Pizza Co while you’re at it.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
I met up with one of my former travelers at Sierra Nevada on a hot summer day, and we had a great time! I was impressed with the outdoor areas, and the restaurant inside the brewery had terrific food. They have an excellent stage for live music, which occurs regularly. They also have bocce ball courts and a lovely garden where they grow their produce used directly in their on-site restaurant! You’re surrounded by a forest near the French Broad River, so you feel like you’re far from the busy city.
Asheville Pinball Museum
This museum was a surprise for me! I expected to go in, spend 10 minutes looking around to satisfy my curiosity, and then head over to a brewery or something more interesting. Two hours later, I’m having some good ol’ nostalgic fun on one of the many pinball machines on display (and for play!). How many museums can boast that you can play with the exhibits? All but 2 or 3 of the machines are free – you pay an entry fee, and beverages (adult and otherwise) are available for purchase. What a fun way to spend a rainy or extremely hot day! (Hot Tip: Take a peek at the Asheville Lunchbox Hall of Fame that just opened in 2022, next door to the Pinball Museum! Only $1 admission.)
Tips and Advice for Your Time in Asheville
Wi-Fi and Phone Signal
Being in the mountains is incredible for the views but sometimes not-so-awesome regarding cell coverage and the internet. If you plan on booking your lodging through a site like Airbnb or Furnished Finder, I would look for reviews that include comments about the signal and check out your cell phone provider’s coverage map for the area. I want to make sure there aren’t any issues with you being able to get in touch with your favorite recruiter. *ahem*
Mountain Weather is Unpredictable
If you plan on going on a day hike or taking a pleasant drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, be always weather-aware. The weather can change quickly; a beautiful sunny day can soon become a severe thunderstorm without much-advanced notice. Be prepared for any scenario! Once you get on the Parkway, the gas stations are few and far between, so make sure you fill up once you get below a half tank.
Get to Know the Local Wildlife
As someone petrified of snakes, I often let my phobia get in the way of enjoying a beautiful area to its fullest. One thing that’s helped me immensely is joining local Facebook groups that give me an idea of what wildlife I could encounter and how to handle specific scenarios. You can also get a realistic idea of how often you might (or might not) see the critters you are afraid to see or can’t wait to see. Doing this gave me some relief and helped me feel better prepared. (It turns out I never once saw a snake while hiking.) Bears are also prevalent, but bears hurting humans rarely happens unless they’re provoked or feel threatened. Or if you aren’t doing your part to help prevent forest fires. (Love you, Smokey!)
Plan for Construction Delays
Your commute times could vary greatly if you travel during peak periods, mainly if you are commuting between Hendersonville and Asheville. This stretch of road seems to have been under construction for quite some time, much to the chagrin of the locals. Additionally, being in the mountains means lots of curves in the roads once you get off the interstate, so take extra care and plan on your GPS losing signal periodically. All part of the adventure, right? *nervous laugh*
I crammed as much as I could into a month, but I would have loved to have more time to spend in Asheville. I look at it this way; I now have an excuse to go back! I hope you get a chance to explore this area, be it on a travel assignment or vacation. Asheville has something for everyone. I hope this blog has given you plenty of inspiration!