Written by Emily Glaser
On a sunny summer day in downtown Asheville, they’re everywhere. They laugh raucously from the windows of a purple bus and balance steadily on the heavy wheels of Segways on Pack Square. They peddle the chained mechanics of an oversized bike with comradely zeal and trip along the cracked sidewalks between South Slope’s breweries.
Sunglasses-adorned locals perched on picnic tables outside neighborhood haunts roll their eyes in condescending derision and mutter a knowing aside: “Tourists.”
But these aren’t just tourists, they’re tours. And they’re a booming biz for the scenic region we call home.
With a trusty local at the helm, thousands of visitors explore the ales, cuisine, and culture of Western North Carolina through guided tours every year, in automobiles and on foot. Despite the industry’s affiliations with credulous rubbernecks, with a growing and diverse spectrum of specialized guided tours, it’s a business that’s increasingly suited to local residents, too. Whether you’re a native Carolinian or a recent transplant, guided tours and their informed leaders will impart you with new knowledge of your hometown—and a good time, too.
If you want to dig deep into a local niche—from our literary history to foraging for indigenous plants to the ghostly archives of the city’s landmarks—there’s likely a tour to help you do so. They’ll lead you down trails both figurative and literal, take you behind-the-scenes of our cultural stalwarts, and vest you with a library of esoteric trivia sure to make you the star of your next cocktail party.
The full article continues below. Click to open in fullscreen…