Asheville’s leaf-lined downtown streets, neighborhoods and an encircling ring of colorful summits would make the city an autumn destination even if it weren’t a national hotspot of hip. Explore Asheville’s downtown on the city’s landmark- and shopping-dotted Urban Trail (

Asheville’s outdoors beckon at many events, including the N.C. Arboretum’s Bonsai Expo, Oct. 11-12 ( This is a great chance to buy and marvel at these miniature works of horticultural art surrounded by the arboretum’s gardens and easy trails.

The foliage fiesta should be underway for the Oct. 16-19 Biannual Craft Fair of the Southern Appalachians – a historic twice-annual gathering of the very best traditional and contemporary craftspeople from nine states ( at the U.S. Cellular Center (Asheville Civic Center).

Biltmore Estate ( may be relentlessly famous, but America’s Downton Abby keeps evolving as a memorably multifaceted destination. Check in to the Inn on Biltmore Estate ( for access to 8,000 acres of options (tours of the house and guided recreation costs more). A trail winds down to the most-visited winery in America (don’t miss the subterranean tunnel into the 100-year-old edifice), then amble beyond to new-ish Antler Hill Village.

Antler Hill is also home to the Outdoor Adventure Center, a hub for the estate’s trails and outdoor options. Bring or rent a bike, or just hike.

If you haven’t seen the house, pedal up to the “porch” while everybody else parks a car. Or shake up your previous look at the country’s increasingly accessible largest private home by taking a butler or architect’s tour. Or revel in the foliage of Frederick Law Olmsted’s masterpiece grounds by gliding along the French Broad on raft and kayak trips.

The gravity-defying Land Rover Experience Driving School is another way to immerse in autumn. The estate’s best season may be post-fall, when Christmas decorations illuminate daytime (Nov. 7-Jan. 11) and nighttime events (Nov. 7-Jan 3).

Nov. 8-9, the River Arts District Studio Stroll ( explores artist-adopted historic structures beside the still leaf-colored corridor of the French Broad River ( Randy Johnson