In fact, Asheville was recently rated the coolest town in the US by the Matador Network. It’s a definite oddity in the South and a rarity for the entire country that a city so laid back, beer friendly and vegan friendly would exist in such a compact package. My closest comparison would be Portland, Oregon or Austin, Texas , except they’re both much larger cities, and Austin is a sports crazy college town.
When we decided to stay there for a few months over the winter we didn’t know what to expect with the weather, but we knew we’d never go without good food, beer, live music or outdoor activities. The weather was mostly reasonable and we even rode our bikes well into November. We expected much more snow, and we never did go skiing. I always think the cold is much more worth it if there’s at least a few inches on the ground but it wasn’t until Winter Storm Remus in mid February that we finally had some. By then we were over it and ready to move on, but Sherlock enjoyed it.
We visited just about every brew pub in downtown and most the restaurants that served vegetarian or vegan food. We went to the Smoky Mountains a few times, for short hikes down snowy closed roads or driving through the main part of the park during flurries. We drove part of the Blue Ridge Parkway many times on our bikes, and a few time in the truck and hiked some pretty decent trails. We also saw a couple great bands at the famous Orange Peel venue in downtown and several movies at The Carolina, a movie theater with couches, beer and pizza (something we have missed about Portland). When the weather was bad, we caught up on video games and movies – one of my favorite parts of winter.
Asheville is very dog friendly
Another thing I like about winter is that I can pretty much take Sherlock anywhere with me, even if I’m just running errands. We adopted her just at the weather was getting hot last year and she couldn’t go anywhere with us most the time. When she did, it was usually a hike that she could barely enjoy because of the heat. She LOVED the cooler weather, snow, ice and riding in the car just about every time I left the house. I would usually taker her to a dog park near the campground after groceries, til she got kennel cough, then I took her less…but she still went on many hikes and walks around the very dog friendly downtown area.
While walking around taking photos one day, the week before we left, I kept an eye out for dog friendly places. I found Malaprop’s bookstore and cafe where I could take her in, get a coffee, and browse around the books with a coffee and a dog in hand. I found another cafe with a “dog friendly” sign in the window where, even though I didn’t really need another coffee, I bought one anyway just so I could taker her inside. Lastly, an art store, who didn’t have a sign but allowed her in anyway, so it seems if there isn’t a sign, you just need to ask.
Although most of the city doesn’t have sidewalks the downtown area does and is very pedestrian friendly, bike friendly, motorcycle friendly (aside from the steep hills to stop on) and is safe and easy to walk around.
If I was to spend another winter in the South, I would again suggest Asheville. There’s not many places that I can imagine spending so much time in at once anymore, and with Asheville we were never bored.