Great American Road Trip – Asheville, NC and the Appalachian Trail

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Last Updated on January 12, 2012 by Jess



We feel so lucky to have been able to avoid the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene, and can’t imagine how difficult it is for everyone in the affected areas at the moment. We also feel pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to discover Asheville, North Carolina, a spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains we otherwise would not have ever visited on this  New York to New Orleans road trip.

asheville street north carolina

‘Keep Asheville Weird’ is the motto of this small but strong city filled with proud independent shops and a population of creative artist types who fight to keep it that way.  Being on the road we pass through countless restaurant and hotel chains, and start to wonder where the individuals have all gone. What a relief it is to find an entire town so focused on keeping things local.

asheville mural

Asheville is also a great base to explore the truly stunning mountains of western North Carolina. Just 30 minutes north is the town of Hot Springs, set smack dab on the Appalachian Trail, which makes its way over 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine. We hiked just a small portion of the trail, and spent some time in town, where there was an eclectic mix of hardcore mountain hikers resting and refueling, groups pumped up for white water rafting which leaves from Hot Springs, and friendly bikers giving their Harleys a break from day cruising through the endless green mountains.

hot springs rafting north carolina

15 minutes south of Asheville is the charming village of Biltmore, purpose-built in the 1890s at the entrance to the Biltmore Estate, still the largest home in America. The village is packed with shopping and independent restaurants, and for the road-trippers out there, a great aspect of a visit to Biltmore is the free parking throughout the entire town!

biltmore buildings north carolina

Tonight we sleep in Charlotte, NC and are ready to explore here tomorrow morning before heading back to the coast, on to Charleston, South Carolina. We would love some advice on what to see and do in Charleston, our next two-day stop, or the following stop in Savannah, Georgia! Tweet us, leave us a comment on our Facebook page or comment here. We will try to do as many of your suggestions as possible and let you know here that day if we took your suggestion!

Tags : Great American Road TripNYC2NOLA


  1. Now you’re in my neighborhood! I adore Charleston, Savannah and Asheville. I can’t even begin to tell you what to do, but the best things are walk around the historic district, eat lots of delicious Southern food and go to the beach. Check out some of my blog posts for restaurant, hotel and activity recommendations. Hope you have a blast!

    1. Caroline, thanks so much for pointing us towards your Charleston post! I wish we could’ve tried more of the delicious restaurants, but there’s only so much food that one can eat in one day 😀 We are in Savannah now and loving it!

  2. My wife (age 32) and me (age 31) love doing old-lady tourist activities in Charleston. It’s all about having the right attitude! 🙂

    We took a carriage ride with the well-reviewed (and cheapest carriage tour we could find!) Olde Towne Carriage Company and really enjoyed it. Fascinating tour. We also toured the Aiken-Rhett House (actually owned by Historic Charleston Foundation and thus non-profit, unlike most of the historic house tours in Charleston; also unique because the house is not RESTORED, but rather PRESERVED) and went to the Old Slave Mart Museum, which is a very unique museum that gives a one-of-a-kind historical perspective on the long and sordid history of slavery in Charleston and South Carolina.

    It’s always nice to walk in the historic district and we love the waterfront trail. I spot dolphins swimming nearby nearly every time I go to the harbor.

    I would avoid the Aquarium…we’ve been to many aquariums all over the country and the Charleston Aquarium seems over-priced and very small, not worth it.

    There are so many delicious restaurants in Charleston, I could never begin to recommend just enough for two days. Use Yelp to find well-reviewed restaurants near you. You can’t really go wrong…just maybe avoid the super touristy restaurants which cater to a one-time visitor and sometimes serve sub-par food.

    Enjoy Charleston!

    1. Camilla, thanks so much for your comments! We had a great time in Charleston and took much of your advice – we stayed away from the Aquarium, but toured a few of the historic houses, the historic center and checked out the Old Slave Mart Museum. We also made it out to Boone Hall Plantation and the beaches of Palm Island. A tight schedule, but we wish we would’ve had more time to stroll along the streets in the French Quarter, definitely our favorite part of Charleston.

  3. I hear Asheville is very nice – I have never been there – should have done it while I was on the East Coast. You may have already left Charleston, but my wife has been to both Charleston and Savannah recently, and she like Savannah better (that’s not to say that Charleston was not nice). Feel free to tweet her at CAroundTheWorld or on Facebook. She has written about both and could give you some tips.

    I think the phrase “Keep xxxx Weird” originated in Austin – I could be wrong. Portland, OR also has co-opted the phrase, and has a big mural painted with “Keep Portland Weird”. Between Austin and Portland, I think Portland take the prize (in a good way).

    1. Don, Asheville is really worth a visit! Should you ever find yourself traveling in this area, you should definitely stop there. It’s a good base if you are into hiking and want to do parts of the Appalachian Trail. Interesting about the ‘Keep XX Weird’ slogan, I didn’t know other cities used it as well! Will look up some posts on Savannah now on CAroundtheworld 🙂

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