Online travel guide RomanticAsheville.com celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. The popular website launched in July 2003 and promotes travel to Asheville and its surrounding areas to more than a million readers annually in 150 countries.
What started as a hobby for founder and owner Mark File is now a comprehensive 600-page online travelogue drawing visitors to Western North Carolina from around the world.
RomanticAsheville.com’s focus is providing accurate, in-depth guides sprinkled with insider tips. And, it’s illustrated with plenty of photographs and videos.
“I visit every place I feature and I’m always carrying my camera,” File says. “I especially love the outdoors, so our hiking and waterfalls sections are the biggest – more than 100 pages.”
While the original focus was strictly Asheville, the website quickly expanded to include most of the mountains of North Carolina. For example, the Blue Ridge Parkway guide covers 193 miles from Cherokee to Grandfather Mountain. Meanwhile, there are features on more than 20 small towns from Saluda to Beech Mountain to Highlands, with many things to do in between.
Recently, RomanticAsheville.com expanded again with 12 additional waterfall photo guides, 150 new images, and 10 videos. Overall, the website contains more than 2,500 photos showcasing the beauty of Asheville and Western North Carolina.
Many photos and videos are also shared on social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. In fact, Romantic Asheville’s YouTube channel has logged nearly 900,000 views.
The guide grows organically based on reader interests. The most popular feature each year is the fall color guide, highlighted with a week-by-week peak color forecast. All content is free for readers, funded by advertising partners such as bed-and-breakfasts, hotels, cabin rentals and attractions.
In its next decade, File plans to keep growing the site: “Every week I learn about something new in Western North Carolina,” he says. “And while I’ve been to places like Biltmore, many times, I always discover something with each visit.”