Well, this time I’m just going to work on stuff to do in West Asheville. If I get as much as before it’ll be more than enough. So, what is West Asheville? For purposes of this blog the borders , of West Asheville are the French Broad River to the East, the Blue Ridge Parkway to the South, I-40 on the West and Erwin Hills to the north. For those of you familiar with the area, West Asheville basically west runs along Patton Avenue and Smoky Park Highway out to I-40, north along Leicester Highway to the Ingle’s near Erwin High School, south along Brevard Road down to Bent Creek and of course, the French Broad River limits it to the north and east. This is a lot of territory and some areas could be included or excluded(Emma and Enka). But for purposes of the blog I think it works.
So lets start with the southern part. Last time I left you in South Asheville near the Biltmore Park Town Square. If you continue out Long Shoals Road you’ll come to Brevard Road(NC Highway 191) running north-south. Turn right. The J. Crew Outlet store is somewhere along through here on your left. (I’m not giving them a plug, but it is relatively cheap and something to do.) Continue north and you’ll come to the French Broad River on your right. You’ll pass under the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the next traffic light, turn left and you;ll find your self at the gates of the NC Arboretum. This is an amazing place everyone should come to. Its free to get in but you have to pay for parking. They have had free parking on some days, but I haven’t kept up to date with this. Search them on the web and you should be able to find out when the free parking is.
Continuing north you’ll see a sign directing you to Lake Powhatan on the left. I’ve never been there but there are lots of trails and some camping. Check it out on the web if this appeals to you. Continuing through the next traffic light you’ll come to Celebrities Hot Dogs on your left. I mention them because in the past they have had displays of NASCAR memorabilia inside. Plus in the past they have put on one of the best car shows in the area. I’m not sure if they still do the car shows, but its worth stopping. And I’ve never stopped there but my friends assure the food is good.
Keep driving north and you’ll come to the Biltmore Square Mall on your right. The Biltmore Square Mall is worth a stop for several reasons. First, its beautiful architecture. It is a fantasy mix of arches and glass with live palm trees inside. Second, the Mall now features a more eclectic mix of stores than ever. You will find things here you won’t else where. Third, you’ve got to check out Cinebarre. Yes, I know this sounds like I’m endorsing this business, but I have a really good reason for mentioning this. It is the only theater west of the river and it is cheap. Cinebarre shows second run films for three dollars each ticket. Check their website for listings and times. They also serve food, which I’ve been assured is good.
If you continue north on Highway 191 you will come to the WNC Farmer’s Market on the right, just before you cross I-40. There are actually two attractions here. The first is the Moose Cafe. I’m not advertising them, just telling you about the seven foot tall stuffed moose just inside the door. They also have a rack with free attraction pamphlets out front. The moose is not a real moose, but like a stuffed moose(like a teddy bear isn’t a real stuffed bear, but just a rough facsimile). The moose actually kinda looks like a big stuffed Snoopy with antlers, but I’m not knocking it. Its really neat and kids will love seeing it.
The WNC Farmer’s Market is an attraction of its own. It has several levels. There are craft shops on the first level. I’ve been through these and they are top notch. Its a great place to wander through. There is Jesse Israel and Son’s across the drive from the craft shops. Right now they probably have a limited selection, but soon they’ll have lots of shrubs you can browse. Be nice and they probably won’t mind if that’s all you do. Finally there’s the market itself. There are several reasons to visit. First, its a good place to buy cheaper food. Second, its enjoyable to see what’s there. Third, its educational for children and even adults. Alot of restaurants get their food and produce from here.
After you cross I-40 turn left on Bear Creek Road. Go to the top of the hill and CAREFULLY turn around. Then drive back to Brevard Road and drive back across I-40. From the overpass you can see the Biltmore House off to your left. The large multi-story building on the hill closer is the Inn on the Biltmore Estate. And the sprawling buildings below the Inn is Antler Hill Village. Later I will blog about all this but I have to say these are worth checking out. After taking this in return to Farmer’s Market CAREFULLY turn and continue north on 191 (Brevard Road).
You will come to a traffic light and an entry ramp onto I-240. Take the entry ramp but don’t get on I-240. Stay to the right and continue down onto Amboy Road. Amboy Road used to be home to a scrap yard, a sand dredging facility and a race track. (Well, years ago there was an airport down there.) Now it is home to one of the most attractive greenways and parks in Asheville. (Unless its raining alot. I’m not knocking the park, just saying that if its been raining alot the area tends to flood. Just saying.)
This park–Carrier Park— is definitely worth a stop to look at. The Asheville Speedway used to be down there and it has been transformed into a bicycle track. Many of my readers will disagree when I say the Speedway is missed. But, like it or not, its important place in local culture cannot be denied. What ever one thinks of NASCAR those who attended the Speedway or raced there feel disenfranchised by the City and RiverLink. The balance of power has shifted into their hands and it is their responsibility to prove me wrong. The ball is squarely in their court. Yes, this is my opinion, but so is this entire blog. I applaud what RiverLink has done to the Speedway and believe it is an asset to our area. But appreciation of one thing does not automatically mean denigration of another.
Carrier Park is a definite asset to the area. I am not a active bicyclist, but if I ever become one Carrier Park will provide me with a safe alternative to riding on the shoulder of our local highways. I am a big fan of bicycle racing but believe that local bicycling is a dangerous proposition for two reasons. Yes, the first is the unreasonable attitude and behavior of some local drivers. But the second is the absence of regulation of cyclists. Cyclists have no license for officers to revoke if they are the ones at fault. Their bicycles are not subject to annual inspections. And they seen unaware that, under the North Carolina Legal Code, they are treated just like a car, not a pedestrian. Once again I’m sure I’m raising hackles and yes, this is my opinion. But this entire blog is my opinion and I believe I have a good point here.
Carrier Park’s bicycle track is not the only attraction. The infield has a beautiful playground which must be visited. There is a very nice baseball field and a wonderful walking trail. There is plenty of parking and a nice picnic pavilion just east of the Old Speedway. Walking trails run east through immaculately groomed park along the French Broad River. They pass under a bridge to the French Broad Dog Park, which is another great attraction in West Asheville. These parks are an improvement to the riverside area and should at least be driven by.
When you reach the bridge over the French Broad River take a left up the hill. I must warn you that this is a very steep hill, so be careful. At the top of the hill you will be reward by a beautiful view of Asheville and the River District. When you come to Beverly Road on your left take it and head for Haywood Road.
Haywood Road is the business center of West Asheville. It is the heart of West Asheville. As you drive along it admire the buildings that represent the natural evolution of architecture over the past hundred and fifty years. There are several remarkable churches on Haywood Road also. No matter what your taste in shopping, dining or living, you can find it on Haywood Road.
As you proceed up Haywood Road Westwood Place leads off to the right. This is a very nice neighborhood with several impressive homes. Turn at Westwood Baptist Church and return to Haywood Road. As you turn right notice the buildings on your right.
Once you cross I-240 you’re onto the busiest part of Haywood Road. This area has changed alot in the past twenty five years. Notice the Rainbow Mountain School on the left. It is in a very large house which is a remarkable example of Victorian architecture. (Its a private school, so slow down and look, but keep going.) On another interesting note, the Family Dollar used to be an A&P grocery store and there used to be a Winn Dixie on the corner where Ingle’s is now. (And when I saw on the corner I mean right on the corner.)
Well, this post has run a bit long. So I’m going to wrap it up. Next time I’ll finish up with West Asheville and we’ll start on downtown. Downtown Asheville is a fascinating area with lots to offer.