I don’t disagree that this fella (the writer of this piece, The Quirky Guide to Hipster Asheville, NC) has produced a list of some top attractions. And I live here (and grew up here), so I’m a tough audience for a guy who’s visited once.
But quirky and hipsterish this guide is not. Whatever “hipsterish” means, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve the Urban Trail or the Biltmore House. Sometimes you just can’t take another fluffy and out-of-touch Asheville travel piece. Maybe that’s my day today.
This one comes from http://sharingtravelexperiences.com, which is featured on CNN and in Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler and other major publications, according to its website. Managing Editor Andy Hayes wrote the piece, which posted today (July 18).
As soon as Hayes gets off the plane at our “teeny-tiny airport” (at least that one’s accurate), he’s “ready and braced for whatever the hipster has in store for me.” Whomever or whatever that hipster might be, isn’t specified. But apparently the hipster turns him on to the quirky things he finds. Get ready for this list. Boy, is it quirky. I know we were trying to keep this stuff secret, but golly … the secret’s out now.
For example, the Urban Trail. That’s his first suggestion. Now, I’m not knockin’ the urban trail and it’s a great intro to the history and art around here. I’m not sure who all is hiking it, but I’m pretty sure they get those brochures at the Visitor’s Center. With its staff of quirky hipsters.
Also, it’s helpfully noted that downtown Asheville “is best seen on foot” (rather than, say, waiting for the trolley? Because we have been waiting for the trolley for a long time now), but “you’ll need a car” to visit the homes of Montford. That’s right. Montford, with its wide, tree-lined sidewalks, is definitely not for the pedestrians. Gas up those vehicles, people.
Hayes remarks that City Hall and the Buncombe County Corthouse (sic) are our two best “skyscrapers” (“note the sense of irony,” he writes, in his use of the word), and are the “most picturesque parts of the skyeline” (sic). And yes, thank goodness they both survived “a severe depression that hit the city right afterwards.” The underground historian will note that the “severe depression that hit Asheville” also coincided with the Great Depression, during which a number of beautiful American buildings collapsed.
At least Hayes finds the Biltmore House, which is definitely off the beaten path. Good for him on that front. He begins by describing the lead-in as “a winding drive of a couple of miles … a quirk intentionally designed to give the building, which is the largest private residence in the world [editor’s note: it is not], a lot of ‘wow’ factor.” A glance at the brochure could have revealed that the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (he of Central Park fame, among others) designed that approach road, but we all know hipsters don’t read brochures.
Unfortunately, Hayes runs out of steam when he returns downtown. “It’s next to impossible to make recommendations” of places to go in downtown Asheville. Despite the fact that he’s set out to write a “guide,” as he says in his opening paragraph (i.e., “here’s my guide”), he’s perhaps not up for it (quirky overload!). He made it down Haywood Street, as he offers up Malaprop’s and Woolworth Walk. Other than that, we’re on our own.
You can read the rest yourself. And get ready, because http://www.sharingtravelexperiences.com is soon to publish its Foodie’s Guide to Asheville. I can’t wait to see what surprises we’ll find. Perhaps some out-of-the-way, undiscovered place like Tupelo Honey or Sunny Point.