Asheville, North Carolina is a town that always seems to make the “best places to live” lists in Outside Magazine or the like. I’ve met a handful of people who have gone to school there, lived there, or traveled through and always rave about this little outdoor-hippy-progressive-southern infused-beautiful town. Luckily our friends Kristy and Seth moved there a few years ago so we could go visit. Together with their two adorable kids, Maya and Samuel, they hosted us for almost a week, showed us the cool parts of town, and pointed us in the right direction to explore the mountains.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is an almost 500 mile road that meanders through the Appalachian Highlands and our first stop after we picked up a new pair of running shoes. Paralleling the parkway just outside of Asheville is a rolling trail perfect for trail running. We visited the parkway a couple times to enjoy the scenery and the running. The parkway is also a great place to bike as there are few stops, big climbs, and gorgeous scenery. We may have to come back in the fall just to take in the fall colors. We also drove out to Mt. Mitchell, which is the highest point east of the Mississippi. You can hike to the top, but we opted to be lazy and drive to the top. We planned on hiking around a bit more up top but the thousands of weevils flying around and landing on us deters us from that plan. We took a few photos and made our way back down.
Adding to our tour of National Parks we had to cue up some of my best bluegrass tunes on our drive out to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Something about that place just makes you want to put on a pair of overalls, grab a fiddle, your banjo playin’ neighbor, and a nice cool drink. The visitor’s center even has bluegrass playing as you walk through the exhibits. It was raining when we visited so our plan to do a long day hike on the Appalachian Trail didn’t work out, but we did go for a short run on the iconic trail. True to form, the hills were covered in a cloudy mist which gave the park a mystical feeling and reminded us of the Pacific Northwest, cool and rainy, just like home.
When we weren’t exploring the nearby trails and parks we walked around the city checking out the many eateries which have lots of vegan options, unique shops, and hanging out at home with our friends. Kristy made sure we found the vegan ice cream places on BOTH ends of town (YES!) and walked us around their favorite parts of the city. Unfortunately we just missed the drum circle…next time! Their kids provided entertainment just in their cuteness factor. They were great with the dogs and we spent quite a bit of time on the front porch just hanging out with the dogs and watching the kids play with them. Kristy and Seth cooked us some amazing food and we went out a couple times as well.
We had a lovely few days in Asheville with good conversations, beautiful sights, friends, and food. It doesn’t get much better than that. -Alison