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All about the Asheville Diamond

I arrived in Asheville in 2006, after living in Washington DC, Los Angeles and Miami. Quite a change!

The #1 reason the mountains became home for me, was because of the welcoming southern nature of the people here. On a final trip home to South Florida, the contrast was so stark in everyday attitudes, that the choice to move up here was an easy one.

Most people looking at Asheville are considering Asheville itself, as well as what I call the Asheville Diamond™ - Weaverville to the North, Hendersonville to the South, Waynesville to the West, and Black Mountain to the East. Small town America is still available here - in these and the plethora of small towns surrounding the area. Asheville is home to around 90,000 people, with about 14,000 in Hendersonville, 10,000 in Waynesville, 4,000 in Weaverville and 8,000 in Black Mountain.

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Prices of homes vary dramatically, some come here looking for acreage, some for views, some for downtown living. A 3 bed 2 bath can be as little as $150,000 20 minutes out from Asheville, with downtown residences being close to twice that amount. Condos and townhomes range from $150,000 in the main. Views add a considerable amount - one caution here, once you live in the mountains, there are views everywhere, and views from your home is often coupled with higher elevation, and cooler temperatures and more ice in the winter. More upscale homes are found at the 500-1m range, with some homes exceeding that, of course. The rental market is fairly tight - vacancy rates are low which as we know, drives up prices. Rentals start around $1,000 per month for a modest abode, with most rentals being considerably more.

Many come here to escape extreme temperatures - we even have a term for the many people that head from the North to Florida, and then land in Asheville - half way back. We’re known as half-backs! Our temperature is moderate with 4 distinct seasons, and the elevation brings cooler temperatures in the summer than much of the South.

Let’s talk about the main towns: All of the towns in the Asheville diamond are within 30 minutes or less from Asheville, and each has a heart of a downtown, often missing in our American suburban sprawl. Hendersonville, 30 minutes to the south has a downtown filled with antique stores and restaurants. Weaverville, 15 minutes to the North, has a vibrant medium-sized downtown, Black Mountain, revered for its summer camps, has a small downtown and is known as the front porch of western north carolina, and Waynesville, 30 minutes to the west has a medium-sized downtown with more of a ‘country’ feel.

If you are interested in things to do, or things for the visiting grandkids to do;

There are hundreds of waterfalls, many within easy walking distance of parking

The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway passes right through Asheville, and is great for a scenic drive and biking.

There are hundreds of hiking trails, with the highest peak east of the Mississippi at 6000 ft being Mt Mitchell.

40 minutes from Asheville is the wonderful Chimney Rock Park, with some incredible tours and majestic views. Don’t miss Lake Lure down the road while you are there.

Fishing is a very popular sport here.

Tubing, rafting and kayaking on the French Broad and other rivers is a great way to spend a summer day. For some more activity, there is plenty of choice for white water rafting.

Western North Carolina is home to some of the most challenging golf courses in the country, with incredible views, of course. There are many golf course communities to choose from, with prices ranging from the 200s with relatively low fees, to millions for the upscale locations.

Two of the most famous places to visit in Asheville, are the Omni Grove Park Inn, home to one of the top spas in the country. Eat on the terrace with some breath-taking views. There’s also the largest independent home in the country, George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore House, one of the top attractions in the country. Allow at least a day to explore this one, and take in the winery tour as well as the house.

If you are interested in living in downtown Asheville, there are many reasons to call this one home. Asheville has a vibrant mountain vibe. Stroll around the shops and restaurants downtown, and take in the art and music scene. We are a FOODIE town, gaining in notoriety with top chefs coming to enjoy the local produce that is plenty here; from the many local farms. It’s worth noting that we are a key target area for those wanting to start micro farms. If you like to shop for food, there are so many farmers markets that they have their own magazine.

One word sums up Asheville Vibe - Independent. From the many independent restaurants, boutiques and stores, Asheville is proud of its independent spirit.

A great way to take in the city is a trolley tour, as well as the great LaZoom - an irreverent and fun look at Asheville’s history. There are also guided walking tours.

Downtown is also home to many independent bookstores. Malaprops, Captain’s Bookshelf and the Battery Park Book Exchange are all notable examples.

Galleries and opportunities to experience art are everywhere, both downtown and in the River Arts District to the West - this is home to hundreds of working artists, based in old warehouses along the river. This leads us to what is known as HOT west Asheville, home to the most favored restaurants in town. If I start going through my favorites here, we’ll be here for a week!

Asheville is also known as a music town, blessed with many intimate venues to enjoy live music, after you’ve spent the day being entertained by the many buskers, or enjoyed Friday night at the drum circle. There are numerous festivals throughout the year, with downtown after 5 and the Leaf Festival being the best known. If the classics are your passion, check out the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and the Asheville Lyric Opera among others.

If theatre is more your style, we have numerous theater troupes, and venues such as the Diana Wortham Theatre, the NC Stage, the Asheville Community Theatre and many others. We should note here that the Flat Rock Playhouse, the state theater of North Carolina is about 30 minutes drive to the South.

If you like rooftop bars, there are many to take in the views, and you can take a tour around the key ones if that takes your fancy.

Last but not least, we have to talk about the Beer scene in Asheville. Asheville currently has over 30 breweries, and the local region boasts 60! Voted Beer City USA many times, we have become a mecca for those who want to sample over 100 local beers. If wine is more your tipple, there are more than a dozen wineries close to Asheville. Perhaps a cocktail is more your style - many local restaurants make their own mixers, from ginger beer to fermented delights.

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