Dorothy was wrong – there is no place quite like Asheville, South Carolina. Tourists tend to stick to the more well-known parts of the state like Raleigh and Charlotte, but don’t overlook a visit to Asheville if you find yourself in the state.

Our stay in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a private idyll in the heart of the city, was my favourite part of our three-week road trip from Boston to Louisiana.

Where to stay

Harrow Times:

Our lodgings for the evening can only be described as the most beautiful and luxurious villa I have ever seen.

Yonder NC’s portfolio boasts homes on the coast and in the mountains so you are bound to find something that suits your needs.

Our three-storey house was perfect and had sensational views of the French Broad Overlook. Our particular  home is no longer available for rent unfortunately, but it was exquisite. 

The deck at the top had a barbecue and a hot tub and we couldn’t resist a little midnight dip.

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Mountains and waterfalls

I thought Southern Hospitality was a myth embellished for pop culture, but I was oh so wrong. 

Mark Bastin, the vice-president of marketing, woke up at 5am to drive us through the mountains to see the sunrise at the French Broad Overlook.

It was about an hours’ drive but the view became more and more overwhelming the higher up we got.

The rolling vortex of hills and cliffs is a sight to behold, and the sight of the sun gently rising over the peaks is nothing short of awe-inspiring. It is something that will stay with me forever.

Asheville has waterfalls aplenty and you can swim, tube or float across most of them:

1. Sliding Rock in the Pisgah National Forest, where you can slide down a 60ft smooth rock into the chilly waters below.

2. Skinny Dip Falls features a 3.4mile hiking trail but you won’t be disappointed by its beautiful waterfalls when you reach it.

3. Deep Creek Tubing on the side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

4. Lake Lure is nestled in the Hickory Nut Gorge, surrounded by lush mountains and cliffs

5. Turtleback Falls in the Horpsepasture River drops into a deep pool – not for the faint hearted.

6. Silver Run Falls near Cashiers in the Nantahala National Forest, which includes a family friendly pool

7. Looking Glass Falls, a 60ft waterfall in Pisgah National Forest along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway

Where to eat

There are some amazing restaurants and my only regret is that we only spent two days in the city.

Dinner was at The Market Place in the centre of town, an upscale farm-to-table restaurant which serves delicious, healthy food like pan roasted gulf snapper ($26) and smaller dishes like the pear and blue cheese salad ($10.)

We picked up some doughnuts for breakfast from Vortex Doughnuts before heading out to explore Asheville a little more. As a coffee shop its not exactly remarkable and unique, but it was a pleasant experience nonetheless.

We didn’t have time to pick anything fancy up for lunch, even though we had a bank of recommendations from various natives we met along our travels.

We would have liked to check out some breweries like Catawba Beer and Wicked Weed, but this at least gives us an excuse for another trip.

Where to go

Towns in the US can sometimes blend into one, but Asheville is easily distinguishable from neighbouring cities. It is known for its bohemian art scene but has a trendier vibe than some more established, hipster areas.

Asheville features funky graffiti, street arts and murals painted absolutely everywhere, from bridges to buildings to garages. Stop by the River Arts District to explore more of the city’s art history.

If you’re looking for culture, head to the Biltmore Estate.

The chateau style mansion is America’s largest home and was once owned by George Vanderbilt.

It is an impressive view into North Carolina’s opulence and charm. Take the guided tour and learn about its history at your own pace for an elegant yet educational tour.

It is the ultimate masterpiece and the perfect way to round off any stay in Asheville.