Asheville makes Huffington Post list of ‘Terribly Overrated Destinations’

Asheville made another top ten list today, but this one’s not going to please the local chamber of commerce.

Huffington Post columnist David Landsel features Asheville in his list of the world’s “10 Terribly Overrated Destinations”. He calls the city a “physically and emotionally fragmented mountain town full of people who seem really annoyed by everything” and “a bottlenecked blot on a lovely landscape, seething with urban stressites searching fruitlessly for somewhere to park their Georgia-plated Hummers.”

Other areas on the list include Austin, TX, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Buenos Aires, and Colorado.

Here’s what he writes about Asheville:

This physically and emotionally fragmented mountain town full of people who seem really annoyed by everything—including your presence here—is no fun anymore. The traffic can be atrocious, the main attraction is the soulless estate of yet another Vanderbilt, those famous hotels are sadly average and overpriced, the food is just fine. The worst bit, though: Asheville today is the furthest thing from relaxing. A Hamptons with no beach, it has become a bottlenecked blot on a lovely landscape, seething with urban stressites searching fruitlessly for somewhere to park their Georgia-plated Hummers. Next.
Instead, try You probably came for the mountains. So go to them. Start with magnificent Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, running an impressive 6,684 feet above sea level. Next, hop back on the Blue Ridge Parkway =- which runs straight past Asheville—and head down to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the very few places in this country where sitting in a ridiculous traffic jam is worth your time and trouble.

Read the piece in its entirety here.


About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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36 thoughts on “Asheville makes Huffington Post list of ‘Terribly Overrated Destinations’

  1. Tom

    Well at least they said our good was fine? One persons opinion does not a town make

  2. Ketty

    I respectfully disagree with the author’s take on our great city. Asheville is a Mecca for those who want to “live and let live.” It has a thriving and rich arts community, the desire to live greener and more sustainable lives is ever present here in the people. The food is local, fresh, tasty, and affordable. Families find that they have an array of outdoor and indoor activities for themselves and their children to choose from. No beaches here that’s granted but Lake Lure and Chimney rock are nearby as well as other rivers, lakes, parks and nature trails. I’m proud to be raising my daughter here after living in Nashville, then Knoxville for years. The traffic is the same as any other place of beauty which serves only as a teastament to its appeal. The city enchanted me with its charm and I feel that this article has misrepresented the true spirit of Asheville.

    • Disillusioned 2015

      Well Ketty….I disagree with you. If you don’t have a whole bunch of money to either buy a home or live on until you find a place to rent that you can afford due to the lack of even life sustainable jobs in this slowly dying city, then you are toast. Life is good for the one percent…for the rest of us (especially us single folk not unfortunate enough to be stuck in a soul sucking marriage of convenience), not so much.

      • The Pontificator

        Should have gone to nursing school instead of getting that $250K degree in French Art Studies.

    • Sa Ga

      No way…this city is AWFUL, completely set up for those with more money than brains, and more time to screw off than to be a productive member of society. Its is not for the poor, the working middle class or anyone but the rich. It has ALWAYYYYYYYYYYYYYSSSSSSSSS been that way, and WILLLLLLLL NOTTTTTTTTTTT change.

  3. Laura

    I would have to agree in someway with this blog. My job moved me here in AVL and I love the city itself, but the cost of living REALLY sucks. We ended up buying a house in Mars Hill b/c of our budget and quality of the home. I wish I could be one of those job-less people sitting at the bar right now on this beautiful sunny day.

  4. mat catastrophe

    I bet the person here in Charleston, SC that gets paid a ton of cash to get us on every one of the “good” Top Ten lists sabotaged ya’ll.

    /can’t stand it
    /know you planned it

    • The Pontificator

      When’s the last time you got stuck in the traffic on I-526 outside of Mt. Pleasant? Charleston’s overrated in its own right.

  5. boatrocker

    Uh… We brought that label upon ourselves by collaborating with every single travel mag and kow-towing to the Avett Brothers and similar Pollyanna noveau bottom feeders.

    And you’re pissed off now? If only there were an Asheville version of the Nuremburg Trials.

    Congrats, Asheville. When you tell all your social media “friends” about your favorite fishing hole, well, guess what happens.



  6. sharpleycladd

    Houston? If you’re looking for oilfield equipment or long-chain hydrocarbon cracking compounds maybe.

  7. Jeannie

    Asheville counts on tourist dollars and positions itself as a destination city and therefore will be looked at on that basis and on that basis I agree that we fail. I live here. I like a lot about this place. But if I was trying to figure out where to go for fun, joy, an amazing experience, I can think of a lot of places I would go first. Driving and parking downtown is worse than anyplace I’ve lived and worked, and that includes San Diego, LA, Chicago, Minneapolis – and we’re supposed to be a destination city? A huge part of this city is dedicated to the ugliest possible landscape we could figure out (hello, Patton Ave and Tunnel Rd). On the merits of being a great vacation spot, we do indeed suck.

    • hauntedheadnc

      If we suck as a vacation spot, why are we a tourist town? Do people in Atlanta, Charlotte, Florida, Michigan, New York, and DC just have low standards?

      (By the way, I used to work in hotels. Those were the top places people were coming from.)

  8. Dionysis

    I think the criticism is a little harsh, but not without some validity. Yes, the food overall is pretty good, although when compared to other metropolitan areas, it does not rise to the top.

    Prices are too high for pretty much everything, most notably property.

    While there is a vibrant arts scene, which is great, there are also a lot of untalented hacks too. The number of pan-handlers seems to grow by the week, taking the fun out of meandering downtown.

    But in spite of some legitimate negatives, Asheville does have a very unique atmosphere, not found anywhere else. Plus, the generally progressive political sentiment of the City (City Council faux progressives excepted) is a main attraction for many of us.

  9. luther blissett

    Weirdly, Landsel’s own website contains another piece where he recommends a BR Parkway-Smokies road trip, and says: “If you only have a bit of time, head towards the southern end and hit Mt. Mitchell, Craggy Gardens and Asheville, all doable in a day.”

    Anyway, he’s playing contrarian, prefers the mountains to the city, and there are some decent points there. “Physically fragmented” is accurate enough: downtown, Montford, West Asheville and Biltmore Village are disjointed, separated by rivers, interstates, and an ever-expanding hospital complex, with mediocre public transit between them. And “emotionally fragmented” reflects how Asheville is a fine place to live but a tough place to make a living.

  10. Big Al

    The only reason Asheville is “overrated” is that it promotes itself far more loudly than a very small city would be expected to. Expectations are raised far higher for anything short of NYC to meet.

    As for parking and walking downtown, I too was frustrated at firtst, until I learned not to even try for street parking and go straight to the parking decks, which provide cheap, easy access to walkable downtown, which is the biggest asset Asheville has (or at least should). The fat-assed tourists who want to pull up and park at the front door of everything should stay out of Asheville, for their sake and ours.

    Having said that, there are far too many wannabe buskers getting literally underfoot. It is often times hard to tell them from the homeless.

  11. William Robert

    I love watching pedestrians run for lives at street crossings. I might even get a car and join the party.

  12. Irene

    I use to live in Black Mountain,NC for almost 3 years, from Charlotte,NC. The only reason I moved back to Charlotte last December of 2012, was because my elderly dad wanted me closer to help him out. I loved the Mountains, and would go into Asheville alot. Whenever I was down and out, I only need look to the beautiful mountain view, the top of one mountain from my back porch, and that would make me feel better. The small home-town feel, the restaurants which are the best anywhere, and slower pace of life. The traffic in Asheville is nothing, compared to the real traffic jams here in Charlotte.

  13. Scott Collett

    This article is not accurate enough. Ashevilleis th pits. It is full of lazy asses. The average iq is oobviously low. The left lane morons are rampant and people think they are so smart. It takes at least two months to find a job, where you will be exploited. Noone here cares about anything, even personal hygene. I recommend staying far away, as once you get here, you will be trapped forever!

    • Cathy

      I totally agree. I lasted almost a year. Can’t wait to leave. Never felt so intensely put off by one place in my life and I’ve lived in a number of places. I didn’t expect it all to get to me as much as it did. At first I thought it was all great.

  14. Celene Syntax

    Thank you, Huffington Post. I am so weary of my town being on top-ten lists that encourage more people to come here. This town once was ‘cool’, but now it’s overrun by hipster yuppie drunks who have made it a “physically and emotionally fragmented mountain town full of people who seem really annoyed by everything” and “a bottlenecked blot on a lovely landscape, seething with urban stressites searching fruitlessly for somewhere to park their Georgia-plated Hummers.”

    • Chris Brady

      It was three years since your post. Hippsters nor has anyone else other than bad government and greedy corporate developers caused the high rents, low wages, crappy jobs and brutal traffic that has caused the rapid decline in the quality of life in this once desirable area.

  15. Harold Johnnesson

    Since so many of your hate Asheville, move immediately. You have no idea how good you have it. Come to Washington, DC if you think that you can do better. DC is now hell, period!

  16. StuckInAsheville

    I have lived here almost two years. I feel like I have died and gone to hell. At best there are the hippies. BTW, many of these hippies are extremely wealthy retirees who think they are gods. Then you have the seemingly really friendly locals; but you better hang on really tight to your wallet. Whatever you do, don’t let them work on your home. You will be tied up in court for years with a kangaroo court. Everyone in the courtroom will most likely be related to the Plaintiff. Finally, there are the super gooey sweet church people who can’t discuss anything past the weather. Of course, they do this deliberately to keep that special distance. Speaking of church; even when I visit a church, no one speaks to me. They have their own special click. Just when you think you may have a friend and exchange phone numbers, they turn into crickets. Believe me, if you move to Asheville, it will be loneliest time or your life!

    • StuckInAsheville

      Regarding my response above. In the section about being ignored at church. It should read, “They have their own special clique.” I guess there isn’t an edit section on here.

  17. Negativityisuseless

    Just a comment on the pettiness and negativity in some of these writeups. There is a huge wide world that you can venture out into if you are so miserable being in western nc. Stop complaining so much and go find your perfect spot wherever that may be! If you go, it will also lessen any congestion around here and people can continue to enjoy and contribute to the betterment of the area without having to encounter such pessimism in their daily schedule!

    • Chris Brady

      That is naive. The quality of life in Asheville by every metric is on a rapid decline and it is because of the insatiable greed or outsiders and inept leadership..

  18. Irene C.

    I moved to Asheville May of 2016, from Charlotte, NC. Having come from there, Asheville has alot less traffic in my view, less crime and I’d rather see mountains than cement sidewalks and bank buildings. I’ve already met more people here than I ever could have where I use to live. The weather is alot colder here in the winter, but there is so much to do here, great places to eat and I live in a good area of town. The options are limited here for medical needs, depending, but otherwise I have no problem being here. I’d just like to know where the single men are, as even seems to be married. Lol.

  19. Stuckinashithole

    I have to say Asheville does suck. Uptight, uptight, uptight. That is a word that describes the people very well. Many here can’t stand the people not from here but what’s really messed up is neither are they. Duh. Talk about stupid. Many seem pissed because of their living situation in an overpriced city. A large population of young naive liberals without much of a clue. Most can’t have a conversation with any meaning or substance. Then there’s the homeless begging for money constantly. This population seems to be on the rise and rising quickly. Streets are pot hole infested and beat up. How many months does it take to pave Martin Luther King Dr? Or years maybe. Go somewhere decent if you’re going to spend money on a trip and why would someone want to move here? Don’t be stupid.

    • Chris Brady

      I knew someone would in a clueless manner try to blame a non existent political philosophy for the decline of Asheville. If there is an applicable political philosophy which would explain the downfall of Asheville it would be corporatism or as Ron Paul called it, soft fascism. Clearly, the corporate gangs of developers have made sure that local governments won’t institute regulations or rent control but as we know, corporations are exempt from the rule of law.

      If these real estate developers were from the North, the long time locals would be calling them carpetbaggers and that would actually be quite accurate. The fact is and regardless of political stripes, the residents in the greater Asheville area are suffering for the insatiable greed of the corporate anarchists. It is not the fault of rednecks, hippsters, hippies, trustifarians, goobers, righties, lefties, moderates, progressives etc… The cause of the decline of this area is caused by weak, inept short-sighted and corrupt political leadership. Rednecks, hippsters, hippies, trustifarians, goobers, righties, lefties, moderates, progressives etc.. did not cause the horrible traffic, crime, high cost of living, poor air quality and the rapid decline in the quality of life in this part of Western NC.

      What would help is to create a general fund in the form of a brutal tax on the corporate developers who suck money out of this area and tax breaks for non corporate businesses so that they can survive the unfair competition of corporate gangs while putting money back into the pockets of the locals. If the greedy developers want to come here, stress our services and infrastructure, suck out revenue, while destroying our quality of life, they need to pay the price but as we all know, corporations fail but the people running them cozy up with the banksters here and overseas and get loans, pocket the money and move on.

  20. Chris Brady

    I would not have agreed with the article a few years ago but thanks to the infestation of greedy developers, an inept city government (probably on the take) increasing crime rate, horrendous traffic, lack of rent control, and low wages, the quality of life for residents in Asheville sucks. Now it is an OK place to visit and I definitely don’t want to live here.

    Asheville today is a monument to poor city planning, disdain for its residents and insatiable corporate greed. Trump could not have screwed up a good thing any worse than the idiots in City Hall have.

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