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First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

Santa Monica...
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First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

I'm a Californian, but thinking of Asheville (like lots of other people) as a possible retirement location. This year I don't have a lot of time (week to 10 days at most). I know that being sensible I should stay in Asheville the whole time to get a feel for being there (and I should probably come in the dead of winter to get the worst weather, but I'm unable to do it this year) but I've never been to the South, not once--so I want to spend a few days at least in Charleston and/or Savannah. So--for a one week's trip, what do you suggest--3 days Asheville, 2 days Savannah/2 days Charleston? How long is driving time between all these places? Which is best airport to fly in on and get the best deal from LAX (if you know)? (Maybe Atlanta I guess? If so, how long is drive from Atlanta to Savannah? I guess I should get a good guidebook and start checking this stuff out on my own but..any help is very welcome! If you know a better place to get this info that the Asheville forum, what would you suggest! Thanks from rain soaked Southern Cal!

Charlotte, North...
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1. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

Hi,

I'm so sorry that you all are having such terrible weather problems out there now, I hope all will be better soon. We've had unusually mild winter temps. here since Christmas. High's in the upper 60's and low 70's, a few degrees cooler in Asheville. The trees are beginning to bud. Sadly, we are expecting winter to come back this weekend.

We were up in Asheville just before Christmas; we have friends who relocated there last Spring. They absolutely love it there. The lifestyle and culture there are great. There are many nice new neighborhoods, with a lot of great amenities. I think Asheville would be a great place to enjoy retirement.

As for your vacation plans, you definitely don't want to fly into Atlanta, it's really not close to anything. You'd think that Atlanta would be close to the NC mountains but it's a 3+hour trip, also it's at least 5 hours to the nearest beach. More and more people are flying directly into Asheville, and also Charleston. You may find you can fly directly into where you want to be. If not, Greenville, SC would be you're next best bet; it is only around an hour from there to Asheville. Charlotte, NC would come after that with a little less than a 2 hour drive to Asheville.

Asheville to Charleston is a 4 hour drive, and Charleston to Savannah is a little less than 1 1/2 hours. My advice would be to just see Asheville and Charleston, this trip. Savannah and Charleston are similiar, but Charleston and surounding areas have so much to do and see 2 days is definitely not enough. You could easily spend a week in Charleston and still need more time. I'd split my time between Asheville and Charleston, with maybe an extra day for Charleston. Once you relocate to Asheville, Savannah would be a great long weekend adventure.

Yes, go buy good guidebooks on both the Asheville area and Charleston, I'm always going through a good tourbook at night. Also, here's some helpful websites: ExploreAsheville.com & CharlestonCVB.com

Hope this helps.

Best Wishes!

West Metro Atlanta
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2. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

I agree with UNC..... Atlanta is not the locaton to fly into unless you want to visit Atlanta/ Chattanooga, which would be ok, but your other locations are better choices.

If you want to do Savannah/ Charleston. Fly into Jacksonville. You can get to Savannah for Jacksonville in 2 plus hours (Atlanta to Savannah is a 4 hour plus drive depending on how bad traffic is out of the Atlanta metro area).

Personally, If you have a week I would hit the Golden Coast Fly in to Jacksonville, Drive up to Savannah, Drive to Charleston, and if you have time take a side trip from Jax and go to St. Augustine. Asheville is too far in my opinion to drive from these locations. I would make Asheville a trip on to its self.

Let me know if you have any questions about any of these areas. I am a resident of Metro Atl, born in Savannah, and have travelled to all of these locations.

Asheville, NC
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3. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

Asheville is such an incredible area and what a place to retire. Spring is beautiful with everything in bloom and fall is breathtaking with the changing of the leaves. I lived in Savannah for 5+ years and where is it a nice town, it never really felt like "home". Asheville felt like home right away. The weather is great, the people are great, and the mountains are great. You will love a trip to Asheville. There is plenty to do to fill up your week and then some. If you are interested in land for your retirement, I can put you in contact with someone who can show you fabulous lots that are only 4.5 miles from downtown Asheville and overlooks the downtown area and the surrounding mountains. Absolutely beautiful!! Charleston is a great town too. We used to take weekend trips there all the time and love the Market Street area. The Doubletree Hotel is right off of market and close to numerous restaurants, bars, and within walking distance of pretty much everything. Savannah has River Street which is a cobblestone street along the river full of restaurants and shops and really a lot of fun. Asheville's weather is great year round (4 seasons but nothing in the extremes), but Charleston and Savannah are HOT and HUMID in the summer so I would suggest Spring or Fall for a trip. If you have any questions about these areas, I would be happy to help you.

Durham, North...
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4. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

Samoca--

Asheville is a wonderful place. The winters are really not that severe. The spring and fall is spectacular. And, to top that the Summer lacks the humidity of the rest of the South. All-in-all, a great place to live year-round. I suggest you take a look at the communities just South of Asheville in terms of where you might actually live.

Santa Monica...
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5. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

Thanks everyone for your generous responses! I'm getting more and more excited to see Asheville and...I guess Charleston since everybody seems to think I won't have enough time for Savannah (unless I take another few days) which might be a possibility. There are definitely no nonstop flights to Asheville of course from LAX. So the closest major airport to Charleston where I could get a nonstop would be??

But otherwise, there's one question nobody noticed I guess, with all my others--choosing between, say, April or May and, say, late October with the leaves turned, which would be the better season for a visit--least humidity is important to me.

And by the way, how are the Asheville winters--I read somewhere there is black ice occasionally, which being from California, I'm not even sure exactly what it is but it does sound like not driving on mountain roads if you can help it would be a real good idea...but other than that, are the winters pretty liveable?

Anyway, I will definitely save everybody's posts already sent and thank you all very much for your time!

Pat (SAnta MOnica CA)

Charlotte, North...
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6. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

Hi again,

As far as other airports near Charleston, I think it would be Columbia, SC (1.5 hours+) or Myrtle Beach, SC (1+hour)

These aren't really major however, Charlotte would be the only "major" with less than a 4 hour drive. It is about 3.5 hours from Charlotte to Charleston.

As far as the best season to visit, it would really be your call. Charleston is beautiful in the spring with all it's beautiful gardens; that is also the busiest tourist season around the historic district and plantations. Everything is packed, and hotel rates are high. Asheville's springs are beautiful too, but are later than Charleston's.

Personally, my favorite time to visit both Charleston and Asheville is in the fall. It can still be quite warm in Charleston then, or just mild. (The same can be said for April and May in Charleston, you just never know.) Asheville would be nice either time. In Charleston, there is a Fall Candlelight tour of homes, churchs, and gardens that runs from Sept.22-Oct. 29. It is fabulous. It is a great treat to experience one of the tours. The tours are sponsored by the Charleston Preservation Society; check out: PreservationSociety.org

You can sign up online to recieve their brochure. These tours are very popular, you would need to purchase tickets several months in advance. Even with the popular fall tours, Charleston isn't nearly as crowded in the fall, and hotel rates are lower, too.

Asheville in the Fall, breathtaking! Of course it is extremely popular then, and hotels book up early. Crowds in Asheville never bother me as much as in Charleston, I guess there's more room to spread out!

As far as Asheville winters go, we call Asheville, "the warm mountains" The Northern NC mountains, around Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk are the "cold mountains".

I went to college in Boone, NC and it is bitterly cold much of the time in winter, there are several ski resorts in the area, which do quite well. (That being said it's been in the high 50's up there for the past two weeks! The ski resort owners have been panicking. Things are finally looking up and returning to below freezing! I was enjoying the 70 degree weather here, we're now back in the low 50's) Anyway, back to Asheville, the area can also have some bitter cold spells, snow and ice, however these spells are short lived.

Black Ice is ice on the roads that you can't see. A thin layer that is clear and appears to be just the road. It is very dangerous. Snow you can drive in, "carefully". You can't get any traction on ice. Fortunately, black ice is only an occasional problem. There can be ice storms, but mostly it's after a snow, when melting occurs during the day, and refreezes at night. Yes, it's best to just stay off the roads, then.

I'd say that Asheville is very livable all year round. It's generally not too cold in the winter, and not too hot in the summer! Hope this helps.

Best Wishes!

New York, Baby
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7. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

While I would never leave California for Asheville, you obviously have your reasons. However, if you have never been to the area, it is imperative that you go in the winter. I spent Thanksgiving in the North Carolina mountains a couple of years ago, and it was brutally cold. I think California is US paradise, and you should definitely test a few Asheville winters. BRRRRRR!!!!!!

Fort Myers, Fl
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8. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

Samoca, I am a native of Asheville, NC. It is extreme hot weather in the summer and extreme cold in the winter, however the summer does not last very long. The nights start cooling off in late August and you really have more cool and winter months than summer. I live in Florida and go to Asheville each summmer and can't tell any difference in the heat an humidity except the mornings are cooler and the heat doesen't last as long. There is a lot of snow with ice and freezing tempertures in the winter. I have seen snow the last of October. so be prepared. Hope this helps you.

Northampton...
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9. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

If you're planning to spend a week in Asheviile, you might consider flying into Asheville (AVL). Sometimes USAirways has deals that favor Asheville over Charlotte or Greenville, SC. As an Asheville transplant (I moved here from Boston) I find the weather here pleasantly moderate--seldom over 85 in the summer, seldom under 40 in the winter. But your results may vary.

I'm sure I'll be roundly condemned for this, but if the choice is Charleston or Savannah, I'd choose Charleston. And you might just check out Atlanta on its own merits. The traffic is legendarily terrible, but if you're coming from L.A., it may not seem so bad.

Santa Monica...
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10. Re: First visit to Asheville--spring or fall?

Actually, I've already booked my flight (had Delta miles). I'm coming through Atlanta direct to AVL. Aside from the arrival time (12:15 a.m.) it looks like a decent flight. And I've decided to stay for a week in Asheville. My friend, a snowbird, will be meeting me in Asheville and staying in her RV somewhere around and she's already been to Charleston and Savannah and wants to stay put in Asheville, which sounds just fine to me at this point.

L.A. (esp Santa Monica may have great weather) but...the traffic steals your soul and the real estate prices are stratospheric. And I'd like to see if I could live in a town where you might run into your friends on the street. I don't know if I'm too spoiled to handle the weather but may give it a try in Asheville next year (I won't be giving up my L.A. apartment until I'm sure).

Anyway--I have been checking hotel prices and they are quite high at that time of year (last week in October)--still leaf peeping time obviously. Thought of seeing if I could get a good deal on Priceline for the Renaissance or Crown Plaza (only 3 stars they book), but in lieu of that--does anybody have a hotel under $100 that is decent and as close to town as possible? There is a motel called Forest Manor Inn which gets good reviews on Trip Advisor. Does anybody know anything about it?

Also, I see lots of ads for cabins. Many of them have fireplaces and other amenities. Would it be too cold at end of October to stay in a cabin? There are some that are quite close in to downtown Asheville, in fact.

Thanks everybody for picking up on this old thread and giving me an excuse to ask all my new questions since I'm finally going to arrive (and very excited to visit your city!!)

Pat from

SAntaMOnicaCA (SAMOCA)