Best Places to Live in North Carolina: Top 4 Small Cities in Western NC

North Carolina Small Cities

Many of the people who come in to tour Derbyshire are still considering Western North Carolina in general as a place to live. Some people are concerned that, since they are looking at such rural area, there won’t be much to entertain them once they move here.

There are so many great small cities in this region that offer so much to do, we’re always happy to offer a little advice. If they end up picking our community as their home, then they have several great, short roadtrips that they can make whenever they want. Of course, Tryon would be our favorite, but all of these cities are the ones that we would consider to be the small cities to live in when considering Western North Carolina.

Asheville, NC


Asheville is the city that has, without a doubt, received the most exposure. It is a great place to live, work, and have fun.

This is the largest small city that we have on our list. Asheville offers a more urban setting with access to many dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

The restaurants in Asheville have been making it into many national and regional publications, and it truly is the place to go for great dining in this area. Tupelo Honey Café is one that has been publicized the most. It’s one of our favorites, but you definitely need reservations! In addition to all of the restaurants, there are also multiple local breweries in the area.

Asheville has a great downtown filled with lovely little boutiques. It’s certainly a location that you could go and spend a long day shopping around. As you move out of the central downtown area, there are many national chain stores in the Biltmore area, and there’s also a mall.

Speaking of the Biltmore area, the Biltmore Estate is located in Asheville, and this in definitely the biggest tourist attraction in all of Western North Carolina. Each year over one million people visit the property.

In addition to touring the Biltmore Estate for entertainment, there are also many opportunities to enjoy the performing arts, including multiple theatres and the ever-present population of street performers downtown.

One thing to consider when looking at Asheville is their access to healthcare, which is really incredible. Mission Hospital, located right downtown, is nationally ranked for multiple specialties, including a 3-star ranking for cardiac surgery.

Asheville is located up in the mountains, and because of that you have the opportunity to enjoy some incredible views. The weather can be a bit cooler in the winter, with some snow, but the summers are cooler as well.



Brevard is small town that has recently made it on the map for being the location where a portion of The Hunger Games was filmed (there’s a tour, in case you are interested). It is also home to the Brevard Music Center, a great music institute for both high school and college students.

Smaller than Asheville, it still boasts a great main street with shopping and dining options. One of the best Brevard restaurants we have tried recently is The Square Root. They serve a great brunch, and they’re located right across the street from a local chocolate shop.

A new addition to Brevard is the Oskar Blues Brewery. They opened this third location in January of 2013 (with the other two located in Colorado) and it offer tours and an Oskar Blues only bar. As a bonus, they partner with the breweries located in Asheville and run a shuttle back and forth on the weekends.

As with Asheville, you are up in the mountains when you are in Brevard, so there are some great long-range views. You will experience a cooler winter with some snow, but the nicer summer will make up for it!



Hendersonville, which is located a bit further down the mountain from Asheville, is a small city with a really great Main Street. It is what you would expect from an older town where the majority of the focus was on that main strip. They offer shopping, dining, and even a children’s museum.

One place we always like to go when we head to downtown Hendersonville is Lime Leaf Thai, but there is such a variety of restaurants, there’s something to make everyone happy.

This city would certainly keep you busy for a nice, long day trip, and it’s large enough to sustain national chain stores so that you don’t have to go far for the necessities if you live there. As Hendersonville has continued to grow, they’ve expanded beyond their Main Street and have



Tryon is the smallest city that we have on our list. We may be partial, but we think it’s definitely one of the best. Unlike other cities that have grown rapidly and brought it many new chain stores, Tryon has actually focused on sustaining their Trade Street stores and only bringing in locally owned shops and restaurants.

The city has a rich history of being a retreat for those wishing to escape the hot summers. Tryon is actually in the foothills instead of the mountains.  Located in the Isothermal Belt, the city still boasts cooler summers but also milder winters. Snow is still a novelty here and only lasts for a day or so.

Due to the milder winters, Tryon is a haven for the local vineyards. There are actually three local wineries located within a thirty minute drive, and even more vineyards who sell grapes to other locations in North Carolina (including the Biltmore Estate).

In spite of its smaller size, the city is still conveniently located with easy access to groceries and national chain stores within a fifteen minute drive. One of the great things about Tryon is the fact that it does feature some great shopping and dining options on Trade Street (with Sidestreet Pizza being an all-time favorite of ours). There’s even a quaint little movie theatre that dates back to the 1930s.

One unique feature of Tryon is its equestrian heritage. The city, which was once a training location for the US Olympic Equestrian Team, continues to have a focus on all things equine. It is reflected in the shops downtown, the attire of its residents, and even the town mascot, Morris the Horse.


Each of these cities have some great features that would appeal to both a potential resident and a visitor. From a growing urban city to a quaint little town that focuses on preserving its heritage, there are options for everyone. If you are looking at moving to Western North Carolina (or just want to explore a little bit), these are definitely some small cities that you should visit!

all of the things that you would want such as access to higher end grocery stores (Fresh Market), superstores (Walmart), and a mall.


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A unique lakeside community in the
Foothills of Western North Carolina.