For more than a century, Asheville and its surrounding region of the Blue Ridge Mountains have inspired authors, artists, and celebrities, including George Vanderbilt who built his home here, the 250-room Biltmore House at the Biltmore Estate, which is now open to the public. Asheville community leaders were also instrumental in the establishment of the Blue Ridge Parkway and its route through the high peaks of Western North Carolina. After successfully seeing the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville visionaries recognized the opportunities that a scenic byway would create, along with its ability to preserve and showcase some of the most extraordinary views in the Southern Appalachians. The region has even been designated as a National Heritage Area because of its importance to the history and culture of our country.
A primitive outpost in 1797, Asheville was a crossroads of Native American trails on a plateau surrounded by mountains and rivers on all sides. The railroad transformed Asheville and Buncombe County into a resort and therapeutic health center when it arrived in 1880. Then, as now, Asheville became an appealing destination for visitors searching for a mountain escape. The nearby towns of Hendersonville and Black Mountain boast small town charm with big city culture including crafts, museums, breweries and a wide variety of lodging.