Or maybe you have! But we still like the city a whole lot. Asheville native Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain and the Civil War epic Varina (April), tells us where to go.
Take the Air
There are many people who have been in Asheville, North Carolina, awhile who complain constantly about the tourists, but it was a tourist town in 1795. The location and altitude drew a lot of people from the lowland South in the summer for cooler temperatures. For me the draw will always be the mountains. If you drive just outside of Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway is views all along. Up near Craggy Gardens, you can see that layering of the ridgelines and mountain peaks. Bent Creek Experimental Forest and the adjoining North Carolina Arboretum occupy almost 6,000 acres of southern Appalachian cove and ridgeline. For many of us, this is our everyday hike, run, or mountain-bike route. The guy at the bike store where I go said, “Oh man, I bet that's where you go to think about your books.” No, Jason, that's where I go not to think about my books.
Buy My Books
There are a lot of writers in Asheville these days, and a lot of bookstores. For a quiet, bookish couple of hours, start downtown at The Captain's Bookshelf, which is into its fifth decade as an Asheville feature. Afterward, cross the street and walk down the main hallway of Grove Arcade to Battery Park Book Exchange, where you can pick up a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne and wander two floors of used books and reading nooks.
The Cold Mountain author loves cold mountains–the Blue Ridge Mountains, to be exact.
If you want real local beer—not the stuff that looks craft but is owned by a giant international corporation—try Wedge Brewing Company. They do a whole lot of small-batch things. The granddaddy of Asheville beer is Highland Brewing Company, also indie but with a big mountain-view deck. (Even though I wrote Cold Mountain, I make zero money off their popular Cold Mountain Winter Ale. Not even from the leather pint-glass koozies.)