The trees are bare, the ground is cold, the last of the leaves are on the ground. Winter is fully settled in our mountain peaks. Asheville, NC has been a popular tourist destination for many different reasons but I can’t remember ever hearing about the beauty of winter. It should be mentioned more as winter is a great time to visit!
Home to the Biltmore estate, this is a great time of year to plan to visit and make sure you set aside at least one full day to tour the grounds and enjoy the perks of off peak travel. With discounted ticket prices and freebies not normally offered during the rest of the year you can’t pass this up!
The Biltmore House is the largest privately owned house in the United States, built by the Vanderbilts and a major attraction for many years. It was first opened in 1930 by the only child of the Vanderbilts, Cornelia, in an effort to survive the financial disaster of the Depression. Today it spans over 8,000 acres, offers different types of tours of the house, wineries that host wine tasting events, formal gardens and the four star Inn on Biltmore Estate. With close to one million visitors each year, you will more than likely experience shorter lines and less traffic this time of year.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a draw for out of towners that enjoy tour driving and landscape site seeing to visit Asheville but not so much so in the winter months. Don’t plan on traveling the Parkway between January and March unless you use their website and track closures and watch the weather to anticipate closures. If it is calling for ice or snow, no parkway. Realistically, the views would be amazing without the trees blocking the long distant sites there are to see but unfortunately, it just isn’t a good idea to drive on top of mountain ranges when there is ice or snow.
To enjoy driving the wonderful windy roads and soaking in the true spirit and essence of the cultures in Asheville, NC, plan your trip around back roads and avoid the major roads. Look for state roads and two lanes, most of them go right through the populated areas surrounding Asheville and give you a truer view than just staying at your hotel, visiting some tourist attractions and driving around down town. Actually, down town is a whole different culture that represents a hodge podge of college kids, creative arts district people milling around local art stores and bistros while the majority of the population lives in the surrounding areas.
Fletcher has the biggest flea market and it is open year round. If its not snowing or raining, it will be busy to at least noon every Saturday and Sunday. Swannanoa is home to the smallest but friendliest flea market and you can spend just as much time there as you can the larger one but have a lot more fun, its a unique place.
Oteen is between Asheville and Swannanoa on the east side and is an access to the Blue Ridge Parkway Corridor. So named as it is a stretch of the parkway that runs between Oteen and Bent Creek to the south of Asheville and has many accesses to major roadways surrounding Asheville. Its much nicer to go a little out of the way for a shopping trip by way of the corridor than always using the main roads and its a little perk for living here. Its also usually open year round and there are some great pull offs for star gazing and site seeing. They are lower look out points and you can see East and South of the mountain range that surrounds downtown Asheville.
With snow and ice storms so unpredictable it can be challenging to vacation in this area between January and March. You could rent a vehicle for your stay here and allow a couple of extra days on the end of your trip in case you have to wait out a storm. Our snow or ice events typically on slow things down for a day or two at the most. Watch the local news station while you are here, WLOS channel 13 is pretty accurate, at least more so than the national weather channel.
There’s plenty to do in the winter months and you will find lots of bargains and friendly people. With the leaves gone and the trees bare you will gain a unique perspective from anywhere you go with the increased visibility afforded during these winter months.