Two of Asheville’s neighbors to the north — Woodfin and Weaverville — have truly come into their own in the past few years.
Ensconced squarely between Asheville and Weaverville, Woodfin is quaint, blue-collar and sometimes overlooked. Everyone knows it's there, but some don’t quite know where — just that it occupies some nebulously defined area that may or may not be part of north Asheville. Having trouble figuring out Woodfin's borders? If you go on Merrimon from downtown Asheville, you'll run into a Pizza Hut. You are now in Woodfin. Keep driving, you'll run into another Pizza Hut. You have left Woodfin.
Less than 10 miles north of Woodfin, folks in Weaverville still slow down for pedestrians, hold open doors in shops and look up numbers in the phonebook.
But don’t write off these quiet towns because of their size — there’s a lot to see, and its citizens have a lot to say. So let's take a short drive up Merrimon Avenue, shall we? Don't worry. Odds are you've been here before. You just didn't know it.
Did you know?
At 9 square miles, Woodfin is the second-largest municipality in Buncombe County and third-largest in population.
Famous American writer O. Henry lived in Weaverville for a brief time and based his short story “Let Me Feel Your Pulse” on his time here.
Woodfin has most historic motor courts around: The Log Cabin Motor Court, on Weaverville Highway, was used in the classic 1958 film Thunder Road. Another, Sanders Motor Court, was a combination motor court and restaurant run by a gentleman named Harland Sanders — shortly before he went to Kentucky to found a somewhat-famous fried-chicken franchise.
Weaverville’s Lake Louise underwent a name change back in 1910. Before that, the body of water was known to locals as Lake Juanita.
Western North Carolina’s oldest commercial building still in use today can be found at 55 N. Main Street in Weaverville.
Where to Go
In Woodfin, visit The Pink House for a unique craft and furniture-restoration store (and, yes, the house is indeed pink) and Common Ground for upcycled and whimsical repurposed works. (There's a lamp made from a saxophone that deserves to be in someone's house somewhere.) Cruise a bit farther to Thyme in the Garden for horticultural bliss. And for the nerds out there, check out Pastimes comic-book store for all the sequential art a megafan needs. The Pink House, 99 Weaverville Road. pinkhousetreasures.wordpress.com; Common Ground, 97 Weaverville Road; Thyme in the Garden, 190 Weaverville Highway, thymeinthegardenAsheville.com
History buffs can explore the restored log-cabin homestead where North Carolina's Civil War governor was born at the Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace Site in Weaverville. The site is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sundays, Mondays and most major holidays. Admission is free. 911 Reems Creek Road, nchistoricsites.org/vance.
Check out the Craggy Mountain Railway in Woodfin for an in-depth look at a niche part of Asheville's legacy. You might even get to ride a trolley. Want to feel like Indiana Jones? Visit the Dry Ridge Historical Museum housed within the Weaverville Public Library. Open Saturdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., the museum documents the life of the area’s first settlers dating back to 1787 and displays a collection of artifacts. After doing your research, go find the set of Civil War graves located just behind Weaverville Elementary School. Craggy Mountain Railway, 111 North Woodfin Ave., craggymountainline.com; Weaverville Public Library, Lower Level, 41 N. Main St.
Carnivores, make sure you check out the Fireplace for its succulent prime rib. Looking for something from the Old World? Bellagio Bistro is the place for you. How about cuisine from our Southern neighbors? Taqueria Fast has got you covered, and on the cheap. In need of a boost? Visit Asheville Coffee Roasters for a caffeine injection (and breathe some flavored oxygen — yes, you read that right). And any blurb on Woodfin's culinary tradition would be incomplete without Magnolia Ray, voted the No. 2 “hidden restaurant” in the area. Fireplace, 287 Weaverville Highway; Bellagio Bistro, 133 Weaverville Road, bellagiobistroavl.com; Taqueria Fast, 175 Weaverville Road; Magnolia Ray, 72 Weaverville Road, magnoliaray.com.
It’s no secret that Weaverville’s Well-Bred Bakery and Café is a favorite. But if you’re more into pizza than pastries, walk on down to Blue Mountain Pizza for a slice or a whole pie. Both of these spots double as neighborhood social hubs. Well-Bred, 26 N. Main St., well-bredbakery.com; Blue Mountain Pizza, 55 N. Main St., bluemountainpizza.com.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the French Broad at Woodfin River Park on Riverside Drive, or take the kids to Lake Louise Park after a day in these towns. Woodfin River Park, 1050 Riverside Drive.
Most Unique and Noteworthy
The Reynolds Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn is a beautiful antebellum home dating back to 1847. It's on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the only surviving brick structures in WNC that was built before the Civil War. 100 Reynolds Heights, thereynoldsmansion.com.
In the early 1900s, an entrepreneur named Rex Howland built a trolley line that could carry hotel guests and day-visitors 6 miles from Asheville to Weaverville's downtown for 35 cents, and in just 45 minutes. The trolly closed after about a decade.
In 2011, the Woodfin Board of Aldermen approved an ambitious plan that would create a greenway, starting from Town Hall on Elk Mountain Road curling around and down Riverside Drive. The first phase, from Town Hall to Riverside Drive, has been completed. Eventually, the town hopes to combine its sidewalk infrastructure with Asheville's.
In Their Own Words
"The way I understand it, the town incorporated because there was concern that they were going to be annexed by Asheville. By that time there were a lot of facilities separate from [Asheville] in Woodfin, like the Metropolitan Sewage District, and they wanted to maintain control of those resources. The town came together because they wanted to control their own destiny. … Also — and I'm not 100 percent sure on this — but if I’m not mistaken, Vanilla Ice got arrested out here one time." — Jason Young, Woodfin town administrator
“We just love the small-community feeling. Everybody’s so nice. We say we weren’t born here, but we got here just as quick as we could.” — Karen Van Der Elzen, co-owner of Shop Around the Corner
"The challenge is making Woodfin a place to stop instead of just a place to pass through. There's a lot of traffic through here, and people come here and have no idea that they're in Woodfin. They'll think they're in Weaverville or still in Asheville. I think Mayor VeHaun and Jason [Young] have done a great job getting the word out." — Sherry Campbell, owner of The Pink House
"I moved to the area just because it was so beautiful. And the people are so friendly. You need directions, you just go up and ask, and they're immediately like, oh yeah, you take a left here and a right there and so on, you know? It’s not a problem." — Priscilla Miller, Woodfin resident