I arrived to Asheville by car driving 270 miles from Natural Bridge, Virginia. On Thursday evening/night traffic was light or moderate, no traffic jams.
On the way I stopped in Pulaski (exit 94, I-81). In Bristol I took exit 3 to I-381 and crossed Virginia-Tennessee state line. It was late, so I didn't stop in Bristol. I continued souththards crossing an Appalachian mountain range and Tennessee - North Carolina state line at Sams Gap.
I stopped there at North Carolina Welcome Center. A huge, almost empty parking lot looked a bit strange at night but I managed to get a map and a leaflet with discount coupons for accommodations I usually used on the way. They were put in a box in front of closed entrance :-). I found out a few motels conveniently located in Asheville (along Tunnel Road) and finally arrived to Mountaineer Inn at about midnight.
Asheville is located in western part of North Carolina among ranges of the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains, 36 mi north of South Carolina, 50 mi southeast of Tennessee and 90 mi south of Virginia. A very scenic road called the Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 469 miles (755 km) through Asheville and the famous Blue Ridge. It reaches Great Smoky Mountains National Park (50 miles west of Asheville) and Tennessee.
Distances to Asheville:
Washington, DC - 480 mi
Richmond, VA - 380 mi
Raleigh, NC - 230 mi
Columbia, SC - 170 mi
Charleston, SC - 270 mi
Atlanta, GA - 200 mi
Savannah, GA - 310 mi
Knoxville, TN - 110 mi
Nashville, TN - 300 mi
Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) and more: follow the links below. For Greyhound bus info call free 1-800-231-2222
Asheville's downtown is easy to walk. From Civic Center parking garage I walked less than half a mile one way to cover the area.
But if you stay a few miles away you first have to get to downtown from your motel. Ask at the lobby or:
- call a taxi (numbers here)
- take a bus; there are almost 20 bus routes run by Asheville Transit Services Department. It's quite good mass transit system as I noticed, not common in the USA except in university towns.
- drive your car as I did as I first planned to stay only one night in Asheville.
Driving around downtown is slow due to numerous traffic lights. Traffic is low except morning and evening rush hours, but even that time it is not that bad. Well, navigating is a bit difficult as there are some one way streets in downtown. But I used to it in Europe.
I had to drive around downtown some 10 min. to find any place for my car. Surely there are parkometers (have quarters = 25c coins ready) in downtown (9 am - 6 pm Mon - Sat) and parking is limited to 2 hours during daytime on business days. My plan was to look at the downtown and drive to Biltmore Estate and so I did. I paid $1 or so.
The next day I found multistore parking garage of Asheville Civic Center which cost me $5. Well, regular price is $1 for all day but I had to pay parking fee for special event that was the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands). Directions: take exit 4C off I-240 (Montford Ave./Haywood Street/Visitors Center), left onto Haywood Street (at light at top of off-ramp); Civic Center is directly ahead. Once on Haywood Street, pass in front of Civic Center (street will curve south); parking garage on next turn after the Center (between Vanderbilt and Library). Maps: links below.
The famous Biltmore Estate starts over two miles south of Asheville downtown and covers large hilly area south of I-40 with the Broad French River down. It's accesible both by private cars and public buses run by Asheville Transit Services Department (bus stop Biltmore Village; map here).
I got there by car. Keep in mind that the only entrance road to the Biltmore starts NORTH of I-40. Take US Highway 25 (North off I-40 or South from downtown) or just main south-north street of Asheville called Broadway St. and follow the direction signs that's turn westwards in what is called Biltmore Village, almost 1 mile north of exit 50 off I-40 or over 2 miles south of downtown.
The Biltmore Estates Drive leads to huge parking lot located by the Reception & Ticket Center (open 8.30 am - 5 pm in October) when I bought entrance tickets. All points of interests in the estate (castle, farm, winery, stables etc.) are accesible by car. However there are no parking lots for cars by the castle itself (and nearby gardens). Take the Biltmore House Shuttle which runs from the parking lot to the castle. So, I first took it and after a visit to the castle and nearby gardens I came by the shuttle back to the parking to continue visiting quite large area driving own car. There are parking lots in front of other points of interest. However, in the Farm Village many cars had to park on a meadow (not very flat, so drive slowly and carefully) as asphalted parking lot was full.
I can't recomend visiting Biltmore Estate on foot at least for one day visitors as some points of interest are a few miles away from the others. You need a car to see more than the castle and gardens.
the asheville trolley is a great way to get an overview of downtown asheville. you get on the trolley at the asheville visitor center and the driver will point out the historic and architectural attractions of downtown asheville.
If you are going downtown, exit HY 40 onto 240. Take the Merriman Ave Exit and head toward downtown. If you go the wrong way, don't worry, there is an excellent Green Life Grocery one block up on the left. You can go in or just use the parking lot to turn around. Going toward downtown. Merriman is now Broadway.....go 3 or 4 blocks to College Street. Take a right and go a block or two to Haywood. Turn right on Haywood. Go through the light...see Wall Street up to the left. Turn right again on Walnut Street. There is a parking garage on the right. From this location you can walk to anyplace you want in downtown Asheville. If the sign says full, just pull in and wait a few minutes. There are always parking spaces here.
GETTING AROUND ASHEVILLE ON A MOTOR SCOOTER IS GREAT FUN. NO PARKING PROBLEMS. SO MANY GREAT RESTAURANTS AND BARS. FROM QUITE EXPENSIVE TO A GREAT DINNER FOR $12. TONS OF STORES TO SHOP AND BY VIRTUALLY ANYTHING. I WILL NEVER LEAVE ASHEVILLE!
What ever you do, do not use London Limo. I have never been treated worse. The driver got lost, took us over an hour out of the way (which we didn't mind- it can happen to anybody) on our wedding night... He told us to call the next day if we needed transportation anywhere and he would be happy to help us. We called and spoke with the owner, who told us we were drunk as $#@*, that it was our fault that the driver got lost, we should have been paying attention (I thought that is why you hired a driver, so that you didn't have to pay attention, you could enjoy each other's company). She cut me off and didn't even let me explain that we were willing to pay, if she would entertain the idea of a discount, given the the circumstances. She then proceeded to hang up on me. I was still giving her the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe that she had gotten disconected, but when I called back, she picked up, said she had nothing more to discuss with me, and then hung up on me again. She ignored my calls after that and the calls of my fiance. I have never been treated so ugly.
Hi were regular customers of Big Jon from blue bird. I cant gurantee this about other blue bird drivers and I wont but I guarantee you will not be disapointed after traveling to or from Asheville with big Jon or if you want to travel around in Asheville and could use a cab for any reason. Short version big Jon is a gentleman,will treat you like you are royalty, will not charge you for his mistake if he makes a wrong turn, he is not rude and actually defended us when the dispatcher was rude to us. You dont mess with big Jons customers. He will not let you lift a finger, he will put all your luggage etc in the cab,you pay him cab fee and thats what part of the pay if for for him to service you. He will never rip you off and you may have to wait for him the first time you call him but never after that. Google blue bird taxi review,Asheville,NC and you will find more reviews about him or google big jon AND blue bird taxi or go to localytes.com or similar. You will see tons of stuff of why he is the best.He will never overcharge you. There are no guarantees in life. Ok who ever said that did not meet big Jon. We used to believe this too before we met big Jon. There is a guarantee that you will not regret your trip with him. If you have a dog he will walk your dog without charging you for dogwalking while you are at a store or meeting.He has done that with our dog for both reasons and it was nice to see her after a meeting right afterwards outside the building and not havin to walk her that one time instead of having to wait til we get home to see her. Ok if you want to have a good time in Asheville,let big Jon know what you are interested in and he will show you around town or take you wherever. I only read part of what was said in the above review, that is so horible, you need to ride with big Jon any where to get destressed. Yap,we used big Jon just to destress at times when we were really stressed. Within seconds of riding with big Jon our stress went away and we smiled and loughed. When you call blue bird dont just ask for a taxi, ask for Big Jon to come get you. The cabs ph number is 828-258-8331. Big Jon is such a gentleman you may often feel like you are in a limo. So from what we learned here dont ever use the above limo,do always use big Jon from blue bird,yes the driver makes a difference and we guarantee you will want to use him again. From what we heard on our last trip with big jon,others who read some of the reviews we left have used him cause of the reviews and are now his regular customers cause they obviously did not regret using our advise on using him. Why else would they want to use him all the time.Almost ALL THEMES apply to this, he is great with seniors too and knows all about asheville and its happenings. Big Jon is also great with ppl with disabilities, he will lift wheelchairs when needed and he will always help everyone even in horrible wheather,he is great with kids and young adults of all ages,he is good with everyone.
I heard Asheville has a great bus system,how ever if like us you live in an area, a appartment building where the nearest bus stop is about 8 blocks or so away call blue bird cab company and ask for big Jon. The statement about him is correct. 1-828-258-8331
Just wanted to add the phone number for the best taxi driver in everyway,actual driving skills, courtesy,customer service and having a real good time while riding with him. His name is big Jon and like this person suggested if you dont have transpo call a taxi company and since big Jon works for blue bird call blue bird and here is their number 1(828)258-8331
Make sure you ask the dispatcher to please ask big Jon to get you. His cab number is 38 and he does not work most ths but can if you get a ride with him before a th and request for him to pick u up on a th.
Asheville is a thriving artsy community in the hills of western North Carolina. There is an airport about 15 miles south of the city itself, but as it's a smaller, regional airport, the flights are often expensive. Since you'll want to rent a car while you're visiting, I would recommend flying either into the Spartanburg/Greenville airport in South Carolina or into Charlotte, North Carolina. The first is an hour's drive away from Asheville, and Charlotte is two hours away. The drive from either is through the Blue Ridge Mountains and is beautiful in and of itself. If you want to take your time, you can even drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which rides all along the mountains themselves.
Either way, flying into one of the bigger airports can save you a couple hundred dollars per person, so it's worth looking into!
There are Biltmore shuttles that drive right up to the estate. They must be for large groups and handicapped people.
Asheville has a good mass transit system. There are more than 10 bus routes throughout the city. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised because Asheville is a university town.
If you park at the Welcome Center at the Biltmore Estate, you can take this bus to the mansion. It also serviced the handicapped and those with special needs.