If you’ve been keeping up with the country’s most buzzed-about hipster destinations of late, you’ve probably heard of places like Austin, Brooklyn and Portland, Ore. Also mentioned in that mix is Asheville. This small mountain metropolis in western North Carolina has long been a relatively progressive island in one of the nation’s more socially conservative regions.

LGBT-owned businesses, art galleries and furniture studios, along with inviting Victorian and Arts and Crafts-style inns — and independently owned shops, clubs, theaters and cafes — have thrived here for decades. More recently, Asheville has cultivated an urbane, artisan-driven food and drink scene that’s particularly impressive for a city of about 85,000.

With a reasonable cost of living and a moderate climate, Asheville is becoming a popular place to relocate among not just hipsters but all sorts of professionals of all ages, many from larger and more crowded cities. Additionally, young college grads are moving in at a steady pace — something that seldom happened in Asheville before the city began to undergo a renaissance a couple of decades ago. This leafy, hilly community — two hours from Charlotte, 3.5 hours from Atlanta and 4.5 from Nashville — has become a top weekend destination, too, with a sizable gay following.

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