A heroine’s travel guide to
Asheville, North Carolina
/ by Meghan Corneal
The mountains are calling and I must go…
Like an inviting first line in a storybook, these words magically appear to one upon arrival and linger long after you are gone from the charming town of Asheville, North Carolina. Nestled in between the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains of the Western part of the state, your eyes won’t be able to resist tracing the craggy, bluish hued ridges.
A magnetic quality permeates the air around Asheville, drawing you naturally into a fold of peace and ease. This is the first sign that magic brought you here.
You may have heard that Asheville is a high vibe kind of place. Located in the epicenter of a powerful vortex of electromagnetic energy, the city continues to attract an eclectic group of individuals: especially creatives, healers, and those seeking spiritual enlightenment.
Asheville’s historical and modern reputation as a place of healing and inspiration is a result of its energetically charged and biodiverse landscape.
Natural beauty and magic working in unison – the stuff good stories are made of and so it would only be appropriate that Asheville is a place of literary abundance and adventure – a combination ripe for a visit from you, dear story-lover and fellow heroine.
Join me in my tiny journey of explorations fit for a heroine across Asheville…
Bask in heroine stories by visiting an indie book merchant.
I have a confession – book shops are my safe and happy place. These are the places I seek if I ever need to get myself centered and relish in some moments of peace and quiet. In this region, word culture is revered in all forms, written and oral storytelling alike.
Here you will find bookshops galore, dedicated bibliophiles, famous writers, aspiring writers, and a deep tradition of storytellers residing in and around the nooks of this rugged mountain range. For more than a century, the city has entranced famous authors and poets such as Thomas Wolfe, O. Henry, Carl Sandburg, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Zelda Fitzgerald to call it home.
Malaprops is the oldest and most established. It is an overall gem to the indie book scene, with a diverse selection of mainstream and esoteric recommendations alike, handpicked by fellow book addicts.
A growing demand for an eclectic range of literature (whatever your inner heroine’s specialty might be), has popped up: Firestorm Books (social justice and holistic healing), Battery Park Book Exchange (unique used), Captain’s Bookshelf (rare and collector editions), Spellbound Bookshop (children), and Downtown Books & News (used books and independent magazines).
Some of these (Malaprops, Battery Park, and Firestorm) also moonlight as charming gathering spots to have fiery discussions over politics and prose while one sips on coffee or a libation.
Get inspired by real world heroines at the aSHEville Museum.
An entire museum dedicated to female power, aSHEville celebrates the legacies of modern day heroines and how they have paved the road towards a more equitable world.
Experience the power of each of the stories, walking away with inspiration as you write your own story and contribute to the Future is Female.
Have an introverted heroine hour at Dobra Tea.
We heroines always need a place and a moment to recharge before we carry on our merry way. This cozy Asian tearoom with its unique offerings make it a wonderfully zen spot to pause for some internal reflection.
Warm or cold – sweet or savory, whatever your palate or craving, one can choose a scrumptious creature comfort (I recommend the hot Tulsi Chai with a Pistachio Rose Cardamom Cookie!) as you delve into a novel or write in your journal.
The peaceful back area of Dobra’s downtown location contains floor cushions, perfect for sitting in quiet reflection before you continue your daily explorations.
Play wild and sophisticated heroine at a fairytale estate.
Biltmore Estate is the largest private home in the United States, with the entire property spanning over 8,000 acres of both groomed and wild grounds. More than a century old, it is the legacy of the Vanderbilt family and still resplendent of the Golden Age in America.
Meander through the great rooms of the manor, imagining anecdotes of grand parties of yore. The incredible two-storied library, with its splendid fireplace, windy staircases, and abundance of books, is a room to be coveted by any bibliophile.
Make sure to bring a good book and blanket and settle into a private grove in the extensive gardens or hike up to one of the hills outside of the house with spectacular views of the surrounding forests. I would recommend arriving early and blocking out most of the day to give yourself the freedom and ease to take in the entire experience.
Take a heroine’s road trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Every journey begins with a road of some sort and it would be apropos for the ultimate heroine’s roadmap of this region to embark from the windy parkway. Carved into the side of the enchanted mountains, breathtaking views of green valleys and colorful palettes of treetops await you at any time of year.
The convenience makes it impossible to skip, since one can hop on the parkway right in Asheville and drive as much or as little of its tarmac path as you desire. I recommend packing lunch and heading north.
Make sure to stop at Craggy Gardens. After a quick trek through some gnarled native rhododendron groves, you will be paid in kind with magnificent views and little grassy enclaves, perfect for a peaceful picnic before continuing your journey.
Meghan is a soul doula, writer, and mama to a sweet little boy (with another tiny babe on the way). Lover of stories and travel, she finds it practically impossible to say no to a good book and to any adventure that will lead her to a faraway land (especially one with pretty landscapes and good food). She is passionate about supporting women in navigating that journey to discover and reclaim their true self, rewrite their stories, and live a life aligned with their soul’s purpose.
Xandra recommends: Start with Meghan’s extensive guide to bringing the Danish art of hygge into your day!