Between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains sits Asheville, North Carolina – a city full of history but known for its innovation and culture. Some people even refer to its downtown hub as the “Paris of the South” for its abundant culture, music and arts scene.

For years, Asheville has been a great vacation spot and a great place to settle down. This year, they welcomed a new resident, the HGTV Urban Oasis 2015.

What kind of things can you expect to do in Asheville if you win the HGTV Urban Oasis house, or even if you just vacation there?

Here are the top eight things to do in Asheville, North Carolina.

1. Visit Biltmore Estate

8 Things to do in Ashville, North Carolina - Quicken Loans Zing Blog


Built in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II, Biltmore Estate is the largest privately-owned mansion in the country. The estate boasts over 250 rooms, multiple gardens and the most visited winery in the US.

The Vanderbilt family amassed their wealth through steamboats, railroads and other business endeavors. George Washington Vanderbilt II spared no expense to build this ornate mansion. Guests can see gorgeous works of art from all over the world thanks to his hobbies as an avid traveler and art collector.

Tours of the estate are self-guided, so guests can move at their own pace, although it’s recommended to reserve 1-2 hours to tour the house itself before embarking on the grounds.

The estate sits on 8,000 acres where you can go biking, horseback riding, take a carriage ride or a river float trip and so much more!

Don’t forget to check out the gardens ­– one of which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the same landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York City!

2. Grab a Taco at White Duck Taco Shop

8 Things to do in Ashville, North Carolina - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

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When you think southern cuisine, you probably don’t think tacos. But White Duck Taco Shop is a taco experience like you’ve never had before!

They’re committed to buying 99% American-made products that they sell on an à la carte basis to keep prices affordable. This means that you’re going to get high quality, fresh food, but the menu will change often. But that’s okay, because it gives you a reason to come back!

3. Take a Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway

8 Things to do in Ashville, North Carolina - Quicken Loans Zing Blog


The Blue Ridge Parkway is consistently rated America’s most scenic drive, and for good reason! The road winds through the mountains, taking you under a canopy of trees to scenic spots for you to get out, stretch your legs and snap a few pictures.

Be sure to stop at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center. They have information on the Parkway’s 75-year history and a 22 foot interactive road map.

If you need to stretch your legs a bit, go on their quick 1.2 mile hike!

4. The Corner Kitchen

8 Things to do in Ashville, North Carolina - Quicken Loans Zing Blog


The Corner Kitchen is located in the Biltmore Village, an area of Asheville that George Washington Vanderbilt II built up to be the town center to support his self-sufficient estate. This historic building from the 1890s was once a home, but has operated as a restaurant for the last 20 years.

The Corner Kitchen has extensive breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menus. You can get anything from pesto grilled mahimahi to jumbo shrimp massaman curry!

Even President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dined at The Corner Kitchen when they were in Asheville!

5. Tour the City With LaZoom

8 Things to do in Ashville, North Carolina - Quicken Loans Zing Blog


What’s better than touring the city with a beer and some sketch comedy?

LaZoom is a comedy tour that takes you on an open-air bus ride through the city with its cast of crazy characters to teach you about Asheville culture, history and architecture. The best part? You can bring beer and wine onto the bus.

The humor on the bus is PG-13, so keep that in mind before booking a ticket.

6. Spend Some Time in Downtown Asheville

8 Things to do in Ashville, North Carolina - Quicken Loans Zing Blog


Downtown Asheville is an arts and culture haven!

There are over 200 locally owned stores for you to browse through, and these aren’t your typical tourist shops. These are carefully curated stores with quality goods and a range of price points.

There are also countless restaurants, museums and festivals! It’s easy to spend a whole day in Downtown Asheville and not even scratch the surface.

7. Eat at Cúrate

8 Things to do in Ashville, North Carolina - Quicken Loans Zing Blog


If you’re looking for a trendy restaurant to sink your teeth into, then look no further than Cúrate .

Cúrate chef Katie Button was named one of Food & Wine Magazines best new chefs in 2015. With that kind of clout, you know her food is going to be good.

This award-winning restaurant celebrates traditional Spanish cuisine. They serve tapas style, so there are plenty of small plates to choose from that you share with your table.

The restaurant is located in downtown Asheville and is open Tuesday through Sunday, but is closed on Mondays.

8. Go Art Shopping at the River Arts District

8 Things to do in Ashville, North Carolina - Quicken Loans Zing Blog


The River Arts District is located near downtown. The art community here is inclusive, celebrating artists of all styles and mediums.

The district is composed of 22 factories and historic buildings along the French Broad River. There are more than 180 working studios open most days of the week.

While the district is walkable, you’ll want to bring some good shoes, because you could be on your feet for a while. If you want to take a break there are tons of interesting restaurants, cafes and breweries in this artist community.

So what do you think? Excited about all that Asheville has to offer? Tell us where you plan to stop, or if you’ve been there before, what other must-sees should be on the list!

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