I may not have lived in a ton of places, but I have lived up and down the eastern coast of the United States (and have visited a handful of domestic and International places over the years). Out of all the places I have lived, as a city, Asheville is my favorite. .
Why do I love Asheville so? Well, let me enumerate the many reasons that Asheville is a great place to visit AND to live. I’m going to write this post in multiple parts because it is just too long to cover in one.
1) The PEOPLE – I grew up around the melting pot of Washington, DC so was exposed to many different cultures from a young age. But DC is just HUGE and congested, not to mention expensive, and it’s not just DC, it’s the entire DC Metro areas in Virginia and Maryland as well. I just returned from a very enjoyable trip to northern VA for my 25th high school reunion and was disappointed with the amount of time I spent inching along in traffic, whether it was in the mid-afternoon on the weekend or at night. Just a waste of time getting from point A to point B. Asheville is a small version of DC from a cultural perspective (but without the raging politics and hours long congestion). The people here are so unique, and I don’t just mean friendly as in southern hospitality. I mean, the people are interesting. Many come from educated, well-traveled backgrounds and bring a wealth of experience to the city. I find most to be laid back and friendly and they care about their community on so many levels.The city is growing, but there is still a sense of the small town in many ways from the support we give to our local charities and non-profits (Asheville Humane Society, MANNA Food Bank, Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project, RIVERLink) to a way of life that includes a large contingent of farm-to-table foods, tailgate markets (WNC Farmers Market, French Broad Food Co-op) and restaurants (Chestnut Restaurant, Tupelo Honey Cafe, Frankie Bones Restaurant & Lounge), as well as a desire for repurposing and recycling instead of throwing stuff away in the landfills (The Regeneration Station, Habitat Home Store, Screen Door Antiques).
Asheville is home to a large number of entertainers, be they musicians, comedians, storytellers, or actors. We have a varied and interesting artist community from the River Arts District to the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Instead of panhandlers, we have street musicians, mimes, magicians, and other colorful entertainment acts. Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park is a mainstay in the summer and something that people of all ages come from all over to experience. The LGBT community is a welcome and supported (and supportive) part of the city. They bring a rainbow of colorful personalities along with educational opportunities for our citizens that has strengthened this area. Lastly, the 70s are alive and thriving in certain respects within Asheville with all of the free-spirits and live and let live personalities here.
I don’t want to forget the 4-legged people in this city either. I have become passionate about animal rescue (dogs in particular) and hope to have my own dog rescue some day or have some involvement in the rescue community (at least more than I have thus far). Asheville loves its dog people and we have passed legislation to become Chain Free. Don’t confuse this with leash-free because our puppies still need to be on leashes, but there is a strong movement for people to refrain from chaining their dogs to trees and other chain-restraining systems for long periods of time. As our guests know, Blake House offers 6 of our 7 rooms to people and their pets. We have no breed or size restrictions and welcome all well behaved pooches. We offer dog walking services while mom and dad are out and provide dog amenities in our rooms including blankets, pet beds, bowls, and toys. Our tag line is Asheville’s Dog Friendliest B&B and we try to exemplify this to the fullest. There are several dog parks in the area and quite a few restaurants with outdoor seating areas for dogs and people. Like me, Asheville has a strong contingent of animal lovers and we truly feel our dogs are our family members.
In closing Part 1 of this blog, I especially appreciate that anyone and everyone is made to feel welcome in Asheville, at least that has been my experience and what I have witnessed. The feel of this breathtaking city is uplifting. I enjoy telling people why I love Asheville and hope that visitors feel the positive energy as much as I do and that it comes out when they meet me. In Part 2 of this blog, I will address the BEAUTY of Asheville and the surrounding area, including the plethora of things to do while living or visiting the city.