Asheville is a beautiful town nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, and man do the tourists love it. While many people are drawn to it because of hiking, biking, good beer, and kayaking, there is plenty for a book lover to do in between exploring the great outdoors and breweries.
Asheville has quite a few lovely, independent stores that you should check out if you are in the area. Malaprop’s is a local favorite. They are very involved in the community in many ways and aren’t afraid to make political statements.
They’re also right downtown, so its a perfect stop in the midst of your Asheville wanderings, especially because if you come on a weekend, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see an author event (this also means they have quite a few signed copies of your favorite books). A couple streets over you’ll find Downtown Books & News, their sister store, full of used books you will need to take home with you. You can even stop over at the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, where you can peruse used books while drinking an alcoholic beverage of your choice. On Merrimon Avenue, you can find the charming Spellbound Children’s Bookshop, which is full of quality board through YA books that you will immediately want to purchase. Finally, if you haven’t spent enough of your money yet and you need to go to the best local comic shop ever to pick up the latest Ms. Marvel or Squirrel Girl trades, stop by Comic Envy on Tunnel Road and say hey to the lovely people who work so hard to make their store a fun, safe place to talk about heroes of all kinds.
Well, you’ve spent all your money, so time to walk around a bit. You can check out the Carl Sanburg Home National Historic Site out in Flat Rock, where you can not only tour the poet’s house, you can spend hours wandering around the beautiful grounds and even looking at goats.
Every literary tour needs more goats, in my humble opinion. Especially baby goats.
There’s the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, where you can visit the author’s childhood home. There’s a couple of references to Fitzgerald at the Grove Park Inn, and you can visit O Henry’s grave at Riverside Cemetery.
Almost every weekend you can find a good bookish event or signing to go to somewhere, because of the many active local bookstores. WCU hosts a yearly Spring Literary Festival, and there’s the Carolina Mountain Literary Festival in Burnsville every fall. There’s also bigger literary events hosted by UNC-Asheville or some of the local community colleges.
Basically, if you want a good beer and a good book, there’s no better place to visit than Asheville, NC. But, please, try to avoid driving on the wrong side of the road in the middle of the day. Some of us do still live here, you know.