Few vacations allow you to combine the best of big city culture and dining with opportunities to raft, zip-line, mountain bike, and hike like a trip to Asheville. The mountains of western North Carolina abound with options on the rivers, streams, and trails of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The area includes the highest peak east of the Mississippi, Mt. Mitchell, which offers breath-taking views of the region from its summit at 6,684 feet.
You can also experience the beauty of the area with a drive along the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway. Construction of “America’s Favorite Drive” began in 1935 and the stunning vistas of three different mountain ranges and hikes to nearby waterfalls are as impressive as ever. Stops along the way provide introductions to the people, culture, and history of the region. The Folk Art Center, home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, has three galleries and hosts daily craft demonstrations at 10 am and 4 pm each day from March to December. The 434-acre North Carolina Arboretum includes an array of permanent and visiting exhibits. Some might be expected—like an azalea collection that includes every species of this flower native to the Southeast—but others are more surprising. The Arboretum’s bonsai collection, for example, has been recognized as one of the country’s best.