Recreation & Nature

Complete with breathtaking scenic vistas and the highest peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville is an outdoor destination perfect for all-season exploration. Surrounding our vibrant city center are miles of off-the-beaten-path adventures, whisking you away from the routines of everyday life. Step outside and discover, at your own pace, the natural wonders that have attracted visitors to this region time and again.

Discover
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Astronomy in the Mountains

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\"StargazingSurrounded by the tallest mountains this side of the Mississippi, Asheville is the perfect place to homebase your stargazing adventure.  There's nothing quite so spell-binding as looking up into a starry sky filled with constellations, distant planets and a golden moon. As a small city, Asheville produces minimal light pollution so you can easily make your move from the excitement of downtown to ponder starry skies in the mountains.

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Asheville's glow can easily be escaped with a short drive into the surrounding mountains. With over 50 named peaks above 6,000 feet, Western North Carolina reigns for those who seek higher elevation.

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Stargazing Equipment

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Stargazing is mesmerizing, even when done with just the naked eye. Of course, things really start to get interesting when you magnify that view. Whether it's a pair of binoculars or an advanced telescope, how you stargaze is up to you.

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Refracting vs. Reflecting Telescopes

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\"StargazingThere are two kinds of optical telescopes, refracting telescopes and reflecting telescopes. Galileo first observed Jupiter's moons with a refracting telescope, and its simple rugged design persists to modern day. However, if you want a large aperture, you will most likely save money with a reflecting telescope.

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Reach for the Stars 

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Experience extreme stargazing with Star Watch Night Vision Tours. This unique adventure tour company provides guests with an opportunity to see the sky as never before, using Alpha Generation 3 Military-Issue Night Vision Equipment. Search the skies for shooting stars, satellites, and unidentified aircraft using their equipment. You will be able to see thousands of stars that cannot be seen with the naked eye!

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Enjoy a Pet-Friendly Vacation

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Your beloved pet deserves a little fun, too, and Asheville offers unique opportunities for your four-legged friend. Whether you want to explore the city or the mountains, you’ll find plenty of things to do. You can even give your pup the grooming of a lifetime while you relax with a spa treatment.

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Get Outdoors

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  • The Blue Ridge Parkway has trails for every experience level, and pets are welcome as long as they are leashed and owners clean up after them. So plan accordingly, and don’t forget to bring water for you and your pet.
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  • Check out the Craggy Pinnacle trail at Craggy Gardens (milepost 364.4 on the Parkway), which ends at a 180-degree breathtaking view. Or take your pet to Graveyard Fields Loop, where he or she can enjoy splashing around in the cool creek or swimming below one of the two waterfalls.
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Places to Visit

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Explore the city with your four-legged companion on the Urban Trail. The fully interactive trail is marked by 30 stations decorated with plaques and sculptures, each describing an interesting fact about the city. Visitors may choose to walk the trail with a guide or rent an audio narration of the tour.

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  • Biltmore allows leashed dogs on its grounds, and owners can also enjoy the trails at the North Carolina Arboretum, though only service animals are allowed in the buildings or garden areas of both attractions. Please respect each area's pet policy; pick up after your pet, and never ever leave your furry friend in the car.
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  • Nearby Chimney Rock State Park is a pet favorite, with miles of trails suitable for all levels. The Park borders the Rocky Broad River and is an excellent place to let the dog cool off from the summer heat. As long as they are leashed and accompanied at all times, pets are allowed on all of the trails. They are not permitted in the elevator, restaurants or gift shops (service animals are allowed on the elevator). Do not leave pets in vehicles.
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  • Bring your leashed pet to any of the Asheville parks for some outdoor fun and frolicking. The French Broad River Park and Azalea Road Park include Asheville's dog parks, which have a fenced-in areas so that you can let your pooch off the leash to play with other dogs. Water and baggies are available on site.
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Places to Eat

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\"\"Most area restaurants allow pets to tag along with their humans if they stay on their patios or decks. Check out the Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company, which serves award-winning craft beers, or the gourmet vegetarian Laughing Seed Café, where Fido can lounge on an outside patio. Peruse used books while sipping fine wine or champagne at the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar. Even the dogs beat a path to their door.

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 A few of the other area restaurants that allow pets on their outside decks or patios include:

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Check out a full list of restaurants with pet-friendly dining areas.

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Shopping

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Shop until you bark—er, I mean drop—with an assortment of pet-friendly stores.

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  • Treasured Pets is an all-animal boutique, selling designer collars, pajamas, treats for dogs, cats, small animals and birds, and specialty foods. Check out their doggie strollers and animal umbrellas-for the pooch that has everything.
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  • Three Dog Bakery, located in downtown Asheville near the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, offers treats and toys for the canine crowd.
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  • The Bone-A-Fide Pet Boutique in nearby Black Mountain offers a wife variety of homemade treats, toys and other goodies for dogs and cats, and even pet birthday cakes.
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  • And when it's time to kick back, stop by Woof Gang Bakery for snacks or The Hop Ice Cream Cafe in North or West Asheville for a special puppy ice cream.
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Get in the swing at Asheville area golf courses

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Mountain golf courses offer spectacular scenery as well as unique playing experiences that coastal and flat-land courses can't duplicate. The area is home to many challenging courses that follow the undulating curves of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Many of these courses are known for their tight narrow fairways with steep slopes and tall trees on each side that make the playing experience a thrill.

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In the late 19th century, visitors escaped the heat of southern summers by traveling to the mountains and brought their love of golf with them. The game's popularity has grown since then, and while summer is still the best-known season for golf in the mountains, it truly has become a four-season activity at courses all over the area.

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Autumn provides a spectacular display of leaves on the mountain slopes and bright sunny days that last well into November at the lower elevations.

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Winter is the greatest surprise for the visiting golfer. Snows rarely cover the courses for more than a few occasional days and the sun often warms daytime temperatures into the 40s and 50s.

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As spring approaches, golfers tired of the long winter and ready to get out their clubs find that the season of play begins in late March, with cool temperatures and colorful spring flowers through May.

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Want to improve your game while you're here? Many mountain resorts offer golf schools for new players who want to learn and experienced players who want to take their game up a notch. You can find 3, 5, and 7-day schools that are packaged with lodging and dining to provide the perfect educational vacation.

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The region boasts more than 40 championship golf courses, including resort, municipal and daily play courses, most within a one-hour leisurely mountain drive from Asheville. So, if you're looking for a way to combine your game with your stay, check out our Golf Packages.

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Golf Legends

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The challenge of course design in the mountains brought Donald Ross from Pinehurst in 1925. He re-designed the 1899 course at the Omni Grove Park Inn to provide a challenge to players of all abilities, and also to convey a sense of history and the heritage of the sport. Renowned golf course designer Tom Fazio retired to nearby Hendersonville and lives at the Champion Hills Course, one of his great design achievements.

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The lure of the mountains has also attracted many golf "greats," including Jimmy Demaret, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Tiger Woods and others.

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Golf & Touring Go Together In The Mountains

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While golf is a major attraction of the area, there are plenty of other things to do and see, so include your friends and loved ones in your golf vacation. The Blue Ridge Parkway, the nation's most popular scenic highway, winds through Western North Carolina and passes within an hour drive of all the region's courses. The beautiful scenery, unique mountain crafts, quaint mountain towns, abundant antique shops, pleasant weather, and fine dining provide plenty of diversion.

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Those looking for a little something different may consider the Black Mountain Golf Club--known for its record-length par 6--and the charming town nearby. And movie lovers can visit (and play) the 16th hole of the Bald Mountain Course at Lake Lure, which appeared in the hit movie Dirty Dancing.

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Downtown Asheville Skyline in Fall

Top 10 Ways to Experience Fall in Asheville

by Jason Tarr

As the weather grows cooler, the brisk mountain air paints the leaves of the forest trees in brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. In the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina, fall color experts are forecasting a longer-than-usual fall … read more

Sweeping mountain views, great food, and lively music create the vibe in Asheville

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by Del Holston

If you’re looking for things to do in Asheville, then consider this list your primer to the many activities available in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you’re a first-time visitor, or perhaps well acquainted with the flare of this … read more

What's New 2016 - Header

What You Can't Miss in Asheville in 2016

by Asheville Insider

Park celebrations, new hotels, a major exhibit at Biltmore and Grammy winners releasing an Asheville soundtrack—here’s a round-up of what’s hot in Asheville in 2016: National and North Carolina State Parks Mark 100 Years With close … read more

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Asheville Hiking Guide: The Trail Starts Here

by Joanne O'Sullivan

Thousands of miles of trails twist, meander, dip and climb through the peaks and valleys around Asheville. In this world-class hiking destination, you can take your pick from peaceful hikes along mountain streams and technical scrambles up steep … read more

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Stargazing in the Asheville Area

by Asheville Insider

Surrounded by the tallest mountains this side of the Mississippi, Asheville is the perfect place to homebase your stargazing adventure.  There's nothing quite so spell-binding as looking up into a starry sky filled with constellations, … read more

Pet Friendly Dining at the Grove Arcade

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by Asheville Insider

Your beloved pet deserves a little fun, too, and Asheville offers unique opportunities for your four-legged friend. Whether you want to explore the city or the mountains, you’ll find plenty of things to do. You can even give your pup the … read more

Golf at the Omni Grove Park Inn

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by Asheville Insider

Mountain golf courses offer spectacular scenery as well as unique playing experiences that coastal and flat-land courses can't duplicate. The area is home to many challenging courses that follow the undulating curves of the Blue Ridge and Great … read more