North Carolina


Best Of Asheville Blue Ridge Parkway
Published on March 10, 2013

Foodies, artists and outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to the Blue Ridge Mountains and one of America's best college towns. Named America's Happiest City by Self Magazine, the outdoor cafes, street performers and abundant art galleries provide fun ways to play in Asheville. George Vanderbilt built America's largest private home here named The Biltmore Estate. Today, over one million visitors tour the estate annually to see the priceless art, home furnishings and exquisite gardens. The Grove Park Inn is the second most visited tourist attraction designed with fascinating Hansel and Gretel architecture. Sunset views on the veranda of the Grove Park Inn gently fall over the city skyline providing memorable photo opportunities. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway travels through the heart of Asheville at an elevation averaging 5,000 feet and is one of the best places to view the fall foliage in Western North Carolina. Mount Mitchell State Park is the highest peak in North America at 6,684 feet clearly visible from downtown, one of the best places to live in North Carolina. 

Asheville North Carolina is a fabulous walking city both day and night and is pet friendly. Ashevillian’s are advocates and environmentally conscious people. They are quick to peacefully protest the destruction of any natural resource in the area in Pack Square. The diversity of people who call the city home stretches from hippies wearing tie dye clothing to affluent American's at retirement decked out in expensive blue jeans attending the Asheville university. It's hard to distinguish the trust fund babies wearing backpacks from the average Joe.

Over 30 years ago, the leaders of Asheville had a grand vision for the city launching the Bele Chere Festival, America's largest music and art street festival. The festival is gone but art and more music festivals take place year round in the heart of the city including the impromptu weekly Friday night Drum Circle. Just beyond the fringes of the city are a number of best neighborhoods in Asheville NC. The 'spill over' cities too are quickly becoming more appealing to folks who don't live in a fast growing city. To the north are the towns of Burnsville and Mars Hill. To the south, Hendersonville and Cashiers. To the east, Black Mountain and Lake James. To the west, Waynesville and Maggie Valley. 

If you're searching for where to retire in the mountains, here's reasons to consider one of the best college towns in America:


Asheville was named the #1 Best Small City by American Style Magazine for its art influence. The preserved Art Deco architecture, number of working art studios and art galleries have given this mountain city recognition for its creative culture. In fact, the Asheville Arts Council created the City of 1,000 Easels which is a self guided walking tour of art displays in downtown Asheville. The Asheville Art Museum is home to art exhibitions, social events and art classes. The Asheville Symphony Orchestra and Asheville Lyrical Opera present Masterworks and Professional Opera performances year round. The Orange Peel was named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top five rock clubs in America and the club draws headline music bands from around the world. The Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre and Asheville Community Theatre present professional dance, comedies and dramas throughout the year. The Asheville Community Theater has been voted the Best Theater Group in Western North Carolina. The Montford Park Players are known for their Shakespeare festival Theatre Under the Stars.The Folk Art Center is located in Asheville at mile post 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and has an impressive collection of Appalachian art on display and for sale. There are a number of historic museums near the Asheville university to explore.


At an elevation of 2,000 feet, the city of Asheville’s average winter temperature is in the high 30k’s December through February. The average annual snow fall is about 15 inches. When it does snow in Asheville, the snow quickly disappears from the warm sunshine. May through September, the average temperature ranges in the high 60k’s to low 70’s. The city is located in a valley with mountains surrounding it in every direction. The region experiences four distinct seasons.


Asheville North Carolina is unquestionably one of the best college towns in America. There are 3 college campuses in the area: Warren Wilson College, UNC Asheville and Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College. At the UNC Asheville campus, the Creative Center for Retirement offers over 100 lifelong learning courses designed specifically for mature adults such as classes in architecture, arts and crafts, film, history, language, literature, music, personal development and wellness. In addition to the college campuses, many of the art galleries, museums and local clubs offer more lifelong long classes.


Mission Hospital and the VAMC Hospital are the two primary hospitals in downtown Asheville. Mission Hospital is rated a Top 100 Heart Hospital and is ranked as one of the Top 15 Health Care Systems in the country. Specialties include cancer care, chronic disease management, heart care, genetics, neurosciences, orthopedics, surgery, sleep disorders and weight management. The VAMC also known as the Asheville Veterans Hospital provides quality medical care to more than 100,000 Veterans in Western North Carolina.


The Blue Ridge Parkway is America’s Most Favorite Scenic Drive and the parkway passes through downtown Asheville. Hiking trails, waterfalls and scenic outlooks are stops along the parkway. The city is surrounded by more than 1,000,000 acres of protected forest; Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Nantahala National Forest. These large parks provide excellent hiking and mountain biking experiences. There are more than 100 more parks in the area. The French Broad River flows through downtown Asheville and provides exciting whitewater rafting or fly fishing opportunities in the slower moving sections of the river. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is accessed just north of Asheville and Chimney Rock State Park to the southeast overlooking Lake Lure. The are a number of private, semi-private and public golf courses in the Asheville area. We find Asheville to be one of the best places to live in North Carolina at retirement if you enjoy being outdoors.  


According to Yelp, there are almost 500 restaurants in the area and 40 of them are rated four to five stars. Asheville is considered a foodie hotspot because just about every type of cuisine can be found here. In 2010, the city was named Beer City USA, home to a large number of tasty microbreweries. As a walking city, there are more than 200 stores and boutiques to shop and explore in downtown Asheville without needing a car. Big box stores like Belk, Sears, JC Penney and Dillard’s are located at the Asheville Mall and the Biltmore Square Mall. Asheville has weekly Tailgate Market featuring locally grown organic produce and homemade items. Voted America's Best Vegetarian-Friendly Small City, the 38,000 square foot WNC Farmer's Market in Asheville provides a large variety of fruit and vegetables to the region.


Asheville homes for sale average in the $200’s. Urban downtown condominiums are a popular choice because the city is a walkable city. The city of Asheville is located in Buncombe County. The estimated real estate tax millage rate ranges from .0046 to .1064 per $100 which is the highest tax millage rate in the area supporting Asheville’s continuously growing infrastructure. Visit our library to learn how to calculate real estate taxes in Asheville. 

Population: 83,000
Median State Property Tax: 0.78%
State Sales Tax: 4.75%
State Income Tax: 4.99%
  • Asheville Regional Airport (AVL)
Arts & Culture
  • Asheville Arts Center
  • Asheville Community Theatre
  • Asheville Downtown Gallery Association
  • Asheville Lyrical Opera
  • Asheville Symphony
  • Asheville Vaudeville
  • Magnetic Theatre
  • North Carolina Stage Company
  • River Arts District
Events & Festivals
  • Festival of Flowers Biltmore Estate - APR-MAY
  • Downtown After 5 - MAY
  • LEAF - Lake Eden Arts Festival - MAY & OCT
  • Asheville Fourth of July Celebration
  • Bele Chere - JUL
  • Shindig on the Green - JUL & AUG
  • Goombay - AUG
  • North Carolina Mountain State Fair - SEP
  • Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival (LAAFF) SEP
  • Brewgrass Festival - SEP
  • Taste of Asheville - NOV
  • Gingerbread House Competition - NOV
Hospitals & Healthcare
  • Asheville VA Medical Center
  • Memorial Mission Hospital
  • Mission Children's Hospital
  • Park Ridge Health Medical Center
Colleges & Universities
  • Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
  • University of North Carolina Asheville
  • Warren Wilson College
  • Creative Center for Retirement - UNCA campus
Shopping & Retail
  • Appalachian Craft Center
  • Asheville Mall
  • Biltmore Square Mall
  • Biltmore Village
  • Grove Arcade
  • Asheville Tourist Minor League Baseball
  • Asheville Hockey League
  • Blue Ridge Rollergirls
  • UNCA Bulldogs
  • Warren Wilson Fighting Owls
State & National Parks
  • Chimney Rock State Park
  • Lake James State Park
  • Mount Mitchell State Park
  • Pisgah National Forest
Top Employers
  • Mission Health System
  • Buncombe School System
  • Ingles Supermarket
  • State of North Carolina
  • Buncombe County
  • Asheville VA Medical Center
  • City of Asheville
  • The Biltmore Company
  • Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
  • Eaton Corporation