If you are new to Asheville, the place to start exploring it is downtown beginning with the Arcade—a beautiful historic mall that serves as the anchor of Asheville’s city center. Downtown Asheville has its own unique feel and energy. It is a highly diverse place and host to a mix of culture, music, and art. It is where street performers abound among its museums, restaurants, and gorgeous stores. There are some one hundred restaurants and more than two hundred locally owned stores and boutiques. Dubbed the Paris of the South, among other names, Asheville can find almost any reason for a free street festival. You can walk to craft breweries, picnic in the park, or take any one of several guided tours including LaZoom Fun City Tour in a bright purple bus full of laughter, or the Rooftop Bar Tour for a scenic view of the city and its surrounding mountains. There is the self-guided tour of the Urban Trail. You can tour the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, the novelist’s rambling and fascinating boyhood home located in the middle of town. At night, you might want to take a ghost tour or take in Asheville’s night life. You will always find plenty of live music in center city.
There are five distinct shopping areas in Downtown Asheville:
- The Grove Arcade—Its restaurants range from upscale ones to hot dogs and coffee shops. Outside dining is a favorite activity for locals and tourists. And there are plenty of shops and galleries to visit.
- Haywood Street—Whatever you are looking for you are likely to find on Haywood Street from furniture to chocolate with craft supplies, books, and art in between.
- Wall Street—It is a pedestrian street with great restaurants and unique shops that is often called the most charming street in downtown Asheville.
- Broadway & Biltmore—This area has lots of local color, like Mast General Store and Blue Sprial 1 Gallery along with restaurants and outdoor dining.
- Lexington Avenue—The area is a unique collection of locally owned boutiques, gift shops, restaurants, and galleries. Locals describe it as funky and eclectic. It has its own motto, “Where world culture meets counterculture.”
For reference, it is an easy one mile walk from Applewood Manor to the Grove Arcade, the city’s center. Asheville is a walking town. Even if you drive the one mile, you will want to park and explore the city on foot. For those comfortable on a bicycle, it is a great way to get around without the hassle of finding parking places. The Manor keeps a supply of bikes on hand for guests, including high performance bikes for the serious cyclist. However, because the supply is limited, they are not always available. There are several bike rental services. Asheville Bicycle Co. is one—they will deliver and pickup, and they offer bikes for children as well as adults. Their phone number is (828) 774-5215. Electric bikes are another alternative. The Flying Bike not only rents the bikes, they conduct electric bike tours exploring Asheville. Find out more by going to htps://flyingbiketours.com.
Another option is one of Asheville’s trolley tours. I favor Gray Lines Hop-on/Hop Off Tour for flexibility. Learn more by going to https://graylineasheville.com/tours/hop-on-hop-off-tour/.