The Asheville Allure
North Carolina’s charming city specializes in farm-to-table dining and imbibing, a tremendous art scene and a luxurious yet folksy ambiance
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The next morning I dine with Dan Brown, retired superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway is the longest (469 miles long) and arguably the most scenic drive in the United States, and it also hosts the most visitors (approximately 17 million people a year). “A lot of people like to come to this region because of the genuineness of the culture, the experience and what they can see and do here,” Brown explains. He says that fall is the most popular time of year to visit the parkway because of the fall foliage and tremendous views.
After breakfast I get a first-hand look at the gorgeous scenery by hiking 1.5 miles of Craggy Gardens, which is more than 3,500 feet higher in elevation than Asheville. The air at the top is cool and crisp, and a hazy fog drifts below.
Even though the hike isn’t strenuous, I’ve walked up an appetite and enjoy a picnic on the parkway, an Indian-inspired assortment of fresh wraps, lentils and potatoes served in a bento box, compliments of the Grand Bohemian. After lunch, I browse more of Asheville’s admirable arts scene at the Folk Art Center, home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The center showcases traditional and contemporary arts of the Southern Appalachians.