Folk Art Center#8 in Best Things To Do in Asheville, NC
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At milepost 382 off the Blue Ridge Parkway, you'll find the Folk Art Center, home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The guild dates back to the 1890s and still represents the artists and craftsmen of Southern Appalachia.
One of the most popular spots off the Blue Ridge Parkway, welcoming 250,000 visitors annually, the center displays traditional and contemporary crafts in three galleries, and is home to a bookstore, a parkway information desk, a library and the Allanstand Craft Shop – the oldest of its kind in the nation. From March to December, the center also features daily craft demonstrations, and hosts special events that highlight materials (such as glass, fiber and clay) used in Southern Appalachia crafts.
Recent visitors to the Folk Art Center said it was well worth the pit stop off the parkway, and many grabbed a souvenir or two. The center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and until 6 p.m. from April to December); it's only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit the Southern Highland Craft Guild's website.
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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 the 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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