Gay and lesbian visitors to Asheville, North Carolina, often decide to relocate after the first visit. Why? According to www.RomanticAsheville.com, the beautiful mountain town is eclectic, artsy and very diverse with so many things to do. Within a few blocks, visitors can dance with hippies at the drum circle, browse galleries for exquisite art, dine at world-class restaurants and sample 50 local craft beers. All of this could be after a day of seeing waterfalls. Home to famous Biltmore House, Asheville is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide, a 600-page online free resource with 2,000-plus photographs, gives plenty of “insider” tips. Here are their top 10 favorite outings for gay and lesbian visitors to Asheville:
- Restaurants: The farm-to-table craze is really cooking with dozens of locally-owned restaurants downtown that create menus with seasonal bounty from North Carolina farms. After dinner, stop by French Broad Chocolate Lounge for dessert.
- City B&B or Mountain Cabin: There are many gay/lesbian-owned or friendly grand bed and breakfast inns and secluded cabin vacation rentals. So all can relax and be themselves with other guests.
- Drinks: From beer to wine to coffee, there’s no chance of getting thirsty. Since Asheville is Beer City USA, there are many pubs downtown (including 10 breweries). Smokey Tavern is a friendly gay bar.
- Shopping: Downtown Asheville has more than 200 locally-owned stores. Don’t miss Malaprops, “Best Bookstore in the Southeast.” Walk to 30 galleries in downtown or explore nearby River Arts District studios.
- Biltmore Estate: After touring America’s Downton Abbey, enjoy grand gardens, restaurants, shops, winery tastings and the equestrian center with horseback riding.
- Live Music & Theatre: Listen and dance to jazz and blues at Tressa’s. For a variety of music headliners, check out The Orange Peel. This summer, don’t miss Brevard Music Festival or Folkmoot. And enjoy mobile comedy on the zany LaZoom Bus Tours.
- Antiques: The Biltmore Village area has a great variety of antique stores and malls, including Antique Tobacco Barn. Brunk Auctions are highly recommended for collectors.
- Mountain Exploration: Choose from hundreds of hiking trails, many to waterfalls and mountaintop views. The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Zip line on canopy tours or go whitewater rafting in the Great Smoky Mountains.
- Dance Bars: The premier nightclub for dancing is Scandals at Grove House in downtown. Two other gay clubs, Club Hairspray and O.Henry’s, are nearby.
- Festivals: Street festivals abound, and the biggest is Bele Chere on July 26-28, 2013. The local pride group has a Gay 5K & Rainbow Romp on July 13 and the big Blue Ridge Pride Celebration downtown on October 5.
For more information, go to the Asheville LGBT Visitors Guide here.