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Escape the City This Summer With These Affordable Road Trips

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asheville

Asheville, North Carolina

Population: 86,000

2:00 from Charlotte
3:45 from Raleigh
4:20 Lexington

Asheville is considered a real gem and is located in the Blue Ridge foothills of Western North Carolina. It’s home to artists, foodies, and outdoor adventurers. Downtown Asheville is extremely walkable, with lots of art galleries, local crafts, and boutiques within beautifully restored Art Deco buildings.

Asheville is fast becoming a foodie destination, with 15 farmers markets and more than 250 independent restaurants. It’s also another mecca for microbreweries, believed to have more breweries per capita than any other city in the nation.

The Biltmore Estate is a 250-room mansion, built by George W.  Vanderbilt in 1895. Within the 8,000-acre grounds you can tour the mansion and its gardens, the Biltmore Winery, a farm, and outdoor recreation.

Asheville is the base camp for wilderness adventures: it’s surrounded by one million acres of forest, and it’s the gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains, and the Western Carolina Mountains. The wilderness around Asheville alone has more than 2,000 miles of trails. The area is also known for its waterfalls and swimming holes.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road that runs for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina—and actually runs right through Asheville and dead ends about 50 miles away in Cherokee. It’s the most visited unit of the National Park System in the entire country.

Mount Mitchell, which is accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, stands at 6,600 feet in elevation, and is the highest peak in the Appalachians, and the highest in the Eastern United States.

Photo Credit: Vicki Dameron

Next: Bloomington, Indiana

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