Graham Averill


When Not to Visit

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Summer is peak tourist season in Asheville, and weekends are packed with folks from Charlotte and Atlanta looking to capture a bit of the town’s “weird” vibe while escaping the heat. Thanks to Asheville’s elevation (2,200 feet), the city is typically 10 degrees cooler than neighboring cities. During summer, the Friday night drum circle dominates Pritchard Park in the heart of downtown, drawing hundreds of drummers and dancers every weekend. Regular free concerts like Downtown After Five and Shindig on the Green also entice folks downtown twice a month. But the Bele Chere Festival, in July, is the biggest event of the year, attracting half a million people to a downtown that’s filled with artists booths, food, and live music.

Fall is almost as popular as summer, thanks to the hardwoods covering the mountains surrounding Asheville. Temperatures rarely top the 70s and won’t trend much higher than the 60s when peak foliage hits in mid-October. Expect the inns to be full and the scenic roads to be crowded. The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs from the edge of town up to the High Country, is the most popular foliage-viewing spot. Fall also brings two beer-themed festivals: Brewgrass, a combo bluegrass and brewery festival, in September, and Oktoberfest (in October).

The city essentially takes winter off, so you’ll find the best deals at hotels and the shortest lines at restaurants. But the temperatures are often below freezing and snow is common. The carnival vibe that typifies Asheville in warmer months is tame as well.

Spring is your best bet for seeing the quieter side of Asheville. The temperatures are back in the 70s, and the mountains come alive with budding trees and wildflowers, but the city hasn’t hit its stride of street performers and festivals yet.