Asheville, North Carolina

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With a small-town feel and big-city cultural cred, Asheville, North Carolina is home to artists, musicians, and food and drink entrepreneurs who were making microbrews and serving farm-to-table meals long before such things were de rigueur. Now the mountain town is becoming more traveler-friendly than ever, with new offerings that showcase the sophisticated side of Appalachia. The Asheville Art Museum reopened in November with 70 percent more gallery space, including a new wing and rooftop sculpture garden. Last September, the city hosted the inaugural Chow Chow, an Appalachian food festival featuring chefs like Katie Button and John Fleer. There’s a slew of new watering holes, like cocktail bar and live-music venue Asheville Beauty Academy and neighborhood cocktail joint the Golden Pineapple. And Beer City still lives up to its nickname, with new openings like Burial Beer Co’s Forestry Camp Restaurant and Bar, set on a former Civilian Conservation Corps compound; Cultura, a restaurant from the Wicked Weed Brewing team; and Dssolvr, a taproom that goes beyond beer with experiments in cider, mead, wine, and more. Downtown, the Foundry Hotel and Hotel Arras both arrived in 2019, adding lively, urbane alternatives to the scene. —Lila Harron Battis (T&L Magazine, travelandleisure.com)