Asheville Urban Trail#2 in Best Things To Do in Asheville, NC
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Weaving through downtown, the 1.7-mile-long Asheville Urban Trail walks visitors through the cultural and architectural history of the city. Created by the city of Asheville to showcase its unique past, each of the trail's 30 stops is marked with a public sculpture that captures an important person or moment in the area's history.
The self-guided tour is divided into five time periods – from the Gilded Age to the present Age of Diversity. The trail starts at Pack Square at the intersection of Biltmore Avenue and Patton Avenue and circles around the downtown area, arriving back at the square for the final bronze statue. Visitors who want to explore all 30 landmarks should set aside about two hours. Even if you choose not to explore the entire trail, you'll likely see one or two statues during your time downtown.
Travelers and locals alike say the urban trail acts like a scavenger hunt and is the perfect low impact outdoor (and free) activity on a pleasant day. For more information, to obtain a map of the trail or to listen to descriptions of each station, visit the City of Asheville's website.
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#1 Biltmore Estate
This enormous French Renaissance-style estate of George Vanderbilt has a storied past dating back to 1889. Considered America's largest private home, the 250-room estate – with 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and a whopping 65 fireplaces – took six years to construct. The 8,000 acres of gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (the same landscape architect responsible for Central Park) and feature 2 ½ miles of walking paths.
Amassing 125,000 acres at its peak, 87,000 acres were sold after Vanderbilt's death in 1914 to form what is now Pisgah National Forest. But its history doesn't stop there: During World War II the estate stored pieces from the National Gallery of Art, and in the 1970s a winery was added. In the 2000s, inns and hotels were opened on the property.
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