THOR Advantage
Asheville NC: Discover this southern hidden gem
By Kelsey Lindsey
Attracting artists, adventurers and musicians, Asheville, North Carolina, has grown to a city boasting plenty of hip spots to explore. Set between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, visitors can hike during the day and relax at a five-star restaurant (or one of the city’s many breweries) at night.

Below are some suggestions for a fun day in and around Asheville.

Step back in time

At the top of many must-do lists for Asheville is the Biltmore® Estate, America’s largest private home. Constructed in the 1880s in a French Renaissance style, the 250-room house sits on around 8,000 acres of land. Owned by descendants of George Washington Vanderbilt, who had the estate built, the house has been open to the public since 1930.

While exploring the expansive house and its collection of 16th-century tapestries and paintings by Sargent and Renoir will take up plenty of time, guests can also walk through gardens by Fredrick Law Olmsted, known for designing the grounds of New York City’s Central Park and the U.S. Capitol. Horseback riding, stand-up paddle boarding and tours of the estate’s winery are also available at an additional cost.

Once you have toured luxury, you’ll want to stay in it. More than a century-old, The Omni Grove Park Inn provides guests with their own pampered getaway, with access to a spa, multiple tennis courts, sports complex and 18-hole golf course designed by Donald Ross. There is a range of rooms to fit any guest’s needs, with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and accommodations on the Club Floor, an adult-only floor with concierge service. Relax in the 43,000-square-foot spa, which features mineral-based pools, waterfall pools, saunas, steam rooms and fireside lounges. Treatments include a collagen-enriched facial, mountain honey wrap and a massage in a special outdoor pagoda.

Lace up the walking shoes

For those that are looking to explore the historic Appalachian Trail, the town of Hot Springs is a small jaunt from Asheville and offers plenty of hiking trails for the enthusiast—after all, the trail runs straight through town. U.S. News & World Report suggests that visitors take the 35- mile drive from Asheville to Hot Springs and hike from the Silvermine trailhead to Lover’s Leap Ridge, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding area. Pisgah National Forest is also close to the city, with waterfalls, peaks and the first school of forestry in the U.S. Reviewers on hiking website named Looking Glass Rock Trail the No. 1 trail in the park, which includes a waterfall on its 5.3-mile trek.

Visitors wishing to stay closer to town (and enjoy a more immersive walk in nature) can visit the North Carolina Arboretum about 10 miles south of downtown Asheville. With 65 acres of gardens and hiking trails, guests can first enjoy the National Native Azalea Collection or the Heritage Garden then take a light walk through the forest. Exhibitions at the arboretum in May include Dream Silks by Kathy Goodson, featuring her silk jackets, scarves and wall art painted with French dyes.

Close to the Arboretum is the Red Roof Inn Asheville West, a discount hotel near I-40 and I-26. Completely renovated, the hotel is 100% smoke-free and is within walking distance of many restaurants. All rooms include free cable and are pet friendly. Select rooms include a microwave, minirefrigerator and coffee machine.

Kick back and relax

Financial advice company, SmartAsset, claims that Asheville had the third-most microbreweries per capita in the U.S. in 2016. That’s to say, there’s a lot of beer to try. Curate a fun tour of some of the breweries in the city, starting with Funkatorium, which focuses on sours and barrel-aged stouts.

Then, head on over to Green Man and enjoy a brew on its popular patio. Next, take a walk to Burial Beer Co. and try a flight filled with pilsners, stouts and sours. All of these breweries are located in Asheville’s South Slope, the city’s popular brewery district. Snack on three-cheese macaroni or crispy pig ears at Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro nearby when you get hungry.

After drinking your fill, head to the Asheville Urban Trail to walk off your buzz. Spanning 1.7 miles, the trail features 30 stops at sculptures, accompanied by a small history lesson (available at The trail’s stops span from the Gilded Age in 1880 to the present, starting and ending at Pack Square in downtown.

Less than a mile from Pack Square is the Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown, a premier boutique hotel in the center of the action. With amenities including a fitness center, business stations and concierge service, the hotel is ready to fulfill any visitor’s need. Both guest rooms and penthouse suites are equipped with flat screen TVs, MP3 capable alarm clocks and luxurious toiletries, and petfriendly rooms are available for your furry friends.

From touring historic locations to indulging in some of the country’s best beer, Asheville offers many luxuries for visitors.
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