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Friday, April 11, 2014

Top 10 Things to Do in Asheville for Gay & Lesbian Visitors

Gay Pride, Asheville
LGBTQ visitors to Asheville, North Carolina, find so many things to do, especially in the artsy and lively downtown with  50+ local restaurants, 30 art galleries, antique shops, and a big variety of local shops. Home to the famous Biltmore Estate, Asheville is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains with limitless outdoors adventures. The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of most beautiful scenic drives in the country. You will find a diverse population, with a large gay and lesbian community that enjoys meeting visitors (since most of them were once visitors before they fell in love with the area and moved).

To help you plan a trip, here are ten favorite things to co for gay and lesbian visitors to Asheville:

1. Farm-to-Table: A food lovers mecca, great dining options abound with dozens of locally-owned restaurants that work closely with local farms. 

2. Bed & Breakfast or Cozy Cabin: Choose from many gay-owned or gay/lesbian friendly bed and breakfast inns and cabin vacation rentals that offer plenty of privacy and romance. Many B&Bs are near downtown, or find secluded log cabins in the throughout the western North Carolina mountains.

3. Drinks: From beer to wine to coffee, there are many options. Asheville is a Beer City for sure with many brew pubs downtown. Smokey Tavern is a friendly, cozy gay bar in the middle of downtown at 18 Broadway. Many wine and cocktail bars downtown, and a variety of wineries to tour in the foothills. Don't miss the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar! You will find 10 coffee shops in downtown Asheville with local flavor and great atmosphere. Don’t miss the French Broad Chocolate Lounge with French press coffee and liquid chocolate!

4. Shop: Downtown Asheville is a shopper's paradise with a wide variety of 200 locally-owned shops. To experience a true slice of Asheville, stop by Malaprops, voted "Best Independent Bookstore in the Southeast." The beautiful Grove Arcade has a great variety of shops in one location. For antiques, Biltmore Village area has a big variety of antique stores and malls, including the huge Antique Tobacco Barn. Or come for a Brunk Antique Auction, one of the premier houses in the south.

5. Biltmore Estate: Tour the largest home in America, with an amazing collection of art and antiques, grand gardens, wine tasting at the winery, and the outdoor equestrian center. Take a hike, ride your bike or dine in a variety of restaurants.

6. Live Music and Theatre: To listen and dance to some great jazz and blues, go to Tressa's at 28 Broadway, which has a mixed straight and gay crowd. For a variety of music headliners, check out The Orange Peel at 101 Biltmore Avenue. There are several community (including Asheville Community Theatre) and repertory theatre groups in town, with several choices for professional theatre (Flat Rock Playhouse). Or see a first-run independent film or often a gay-themed film at the Fine Arts Theatre at 36 Biltmore Ave.

7. Blue Ridge Pride: In early October, come to western North Carolina's largest gay pride festival in downtown Asheville.  Read more about Pride and other events.

8. Gallery Hopping: John Cram owns the two biggest galleries in Asheville, Blue Spiral I downtown at 38 Biltmore Ave and New Morning Gallery in Biltmore Village. Walk to 30 galleries in downtown or explore the River Arts District, home to many studios and galleries. There are many art festivals and events all year long.

9. Hikes & Waterfalls: Choose from hundreds of great trails, many taking you to a beautiful waterfall. Find something for all skill levels, from a short stroll to a strenuous full-day hike. Our guide has detailed features, photos and videos of the 40 best hikes and 50 best waterfalls.

10. Dance Bars: The premier nightclub for dancing is Scandals Nightclub, downtown at 11 Grove Street near Patton Avenue in a brick building that looks like a large house. It has a lively dance bar and various bars to escape the madness of the dance floor. There are two other gay clubs nearby, Club Hairspray at 38 N French Broad Ave and O.Henry's at 237 Haywood Street.

For more information, go to our Asheville Gay & Lesbian Travel Guide.

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