Nine Interesting Things You May Not Have Known about Asheville, NC
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time resident, you probably already know a fair bit about all that there is to love in Asheville, North Carolina. The quirky culture, the amazing food & beverage scene, and the astounding panoramic mountain views make this village truly unlike any other. And yet there’s so much interesting lore and so many unusual facts about this off-beat town that even the Asheville native may not be privy to all of her hidden secrets. There are lots to know about this unique mountain hamlet, but here are just a few of the coolest things that make Asheville, Asheville.
- Asheville is a mountainous mecca for aspiring performers and live music enthusiasts, equipped with its very own drum circle. Over the last few decades, Asheville has gained renown throughout the country as a great place to experience live music. Venues like The Orange Peel, The Grey Eagle, and ISIS Music Hall play host to an eclectic mix of both local and touring performers. But Asheville’s love of live music doesn’t end at the music hall door: it spills out onto the streets. On Friday nights, join hundreds of local residents in a community drum circle hosted downtown. All are welcome no matter their musical ability – it’s a chance to shirk responsibility, throw up your hands, and get down with the beat (in the middle of the street) – a chance you’re not likely to get in many other towns.
- Asheville celebrated farm to table dining… before it was cool. In a lot of American cities, farm to table dining is seen as eclectic and chic. In Asheville, it’s a way of life: Ashevillians pride themselves on knowing exactly where their food is sourced, and provide to visitors only the freshest local grub. Renowned restaurants across town (like, for example, The Admiral) make a point of creating complex and inviting menus that showcase the local meat and produce grown in the area. These restaurants make eating local an absolute point of pride.
- Asheville has been dubbed “Beer Town USA” multiple times since 2009. What does it mean to be Beer Town USA? It means that when you look at both bars per resident and breweries per resident, Asheville reigns supreme: number one among places both to create craft brews and enjoy craft brews. Great local brewing is a part of Asheville’s culture and heritage, and many major breweries (like Oskar Blues and New Belgium) have found a home here in Asheville, contributing to a thriving economy, a powerful tourist infrastructure, and an important component of Asheville’s “feel-good,” laid-back culture.
- The unofficial town mascot is a hula-hoop. Nowhere is this written in stone. Yet the hula-hoop stands as an unofficial town emblem: symbolic of its off-beat character, its quirky residents, and the light-hearted spirit that permeates its streets. At the Friday night drum circle, at music festivals, or just walking down the street, you’re sure to encounter some local engaged with a hula-hoop for play or for exercise, or just for whatever!
- It’s one of the country’s most yoga-friendly destinations. In 2011, Asheville was designated one of the nation’s “Top Ten Yoga-Friendly Towns.” Yoga practitioners of every skill level and every persuasion can find a place to practice among friends in Asheville. Don’t be surprised to find that your neighbor practices “heavy metal yoga,” “goat yoga,” or even “blacklight, glow-in-the-dark yoga:” if it exists in the US today, it surely can be found in Asheville.
- Asheville is home to the largest private estate in the United States: The Biltmore. This 11 square-mile property is a true piece of history. Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II in 1889, the property includes a winery, gardens, a farm, a full cattle ranch, and dozens of hiking trails, as well as a palatial home with 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms. It’s open to tourists today and well worth the visit.
- It’s the birthplace of “Bellyaking.” Never heard of bellyaking? You’re not alone: this off-shoot of kayaking remains relatively undiscovered. Lying face-first on what is somewhere between a kayak and a stand-up paddleboard, and with paddled gloves on your hands, practitioners propel themselves through the cool, refreshing water of The French Broad River, winding their way through town in a style that’s truly and uniquely Ashevillian.
- It’s also the birthplace of forestry. Sort of: what we think of today as modern-day forestry actually began in Pisgah National Forest, just thirty minutes outside of Asheville proper. Here, the world’s first forestry school, The Biltmore Forest School, broke ground in 1898. The curriculum focused on a hands-on approach and emphasized bringing theory out of the classroom and into practice in the forest.
- Asheville is weird, and proud of it. An unofficial town slogan is “Keep Asheville weird,” and if you’ve spent any length of time in and around Asheville, you’ll understand what “keeping Asheville weird” means. This mountain hamlet is home to hippies young and old, yogis, spiritual healers, survivalists, street performers, craft brewers… and everyone in between. The town has a character that’s wholly its own: whimsical, delightful, and yes, very, very weird.
Interesting stuff, isn’t it? There’s so much more to learn about (and love about) Asheville. Come visit any time of year to discover all that’s wonderful, beautiful, or wonderfully, beautifully weird about Asheville. For more information, visit https://www.visitnc.com/asheville-the-foothills.
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