View of the Great Craggy Mountains, one of the best things to do in Asheville, North Carolina

45 Best Things to Do in Asheville, North Carolina (in 2022)

A lively city packed with local culture, art, and Southern Appalachian charm, there is a plethora of fun things to do in Asheville, North Carolina. 

Nestled in the heart of Western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is an outdoor paradise with incredible scenery.

I should know – I grew up in western North Carolina!

With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that this mountain city is a real charmer. In this article, we’ll cover the very best things to do in Asheville so you can make the most out of your visit. And while you’re here, check out our guide on the 29 best places to visit in North Carolina!

👉 Jump to: Best Things | Outdoors | Sites & Attractions | Museums & Culture | Food & Drink | Wellness

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45 Best Things to Do in Asheville

Downtown Asheville

Explore a lively downtown full of art, restaurants, and local culture

View of stores and cars parked alongside the road in Downtown Asheville
Views of downtown Asheville

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 258-6129 | Website | 👉 Asheville Walking Tour

Asheville is a unique city all around, but its downtown scene is what truly sets it apart from other North Carolina towns and cities. 

Downtown Asheville has a real local feel to it and is very walkable, with tons of cool and independently owned restaurants, shops, museums, and galleries.

I recommend walking around Pack Square, the Grove Arcade, and checking out the shops and restaurants around Pritchard Park. Some other great stops include the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Malaprops Bookstore, Old Europe Pastries, and some of the many metaphysical shops scattered around the city.

Blue Ridge Parkway

One of Asheville’s most popular attractions for scenic drives and outdoor activities

Overlooking view of blue mountain peaks from Blue Ridge Parkway
The beautiful blue ridges that give these mountains their name

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 670-1924 | Website | Entrance: Free | 👉 Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfalls Hiking Tour

Experiencing the magic of the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best things to do in Asheville, no matter what kind of traveler you are. 175 miles of the 469-mile parkway extends through North Carolina, and Asheville is a prime central location for exploration.

For outdoor enthusiasts, there are tons of opportunities for mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, and more. Pisgah National Forest near Asheville can also be reached through the Blue Ridge Parkway, which has tons of waterfalls, hiking, and biking trails. 

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Immerse yourself in this mountain paradise, perfect for the whole family

Overlooking view of the Great Smoky Mountains during fall season
Fall in the Great Smoky Mountains is a sight to behold

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (865) 436-1200 | Website | Entrance: Free | 👉 Great Smoky Mountains Private Day Tour

Only a two-hour drive from Asheville is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This park, which is known for its incredible scenery, is the most visited national park in America and a great destination for outdoor family fun. 

Some must-do activities in The Great Smokies include hitting up the scenic trails, visiting Cades Cove, and enjoying a nice picnic outdoors. And, because this national park is situated on the North Carolina and Tennessee borders, it’s a great destination to hit up if you’re doing regional travel. 

Biltmore House & Estate

Step back in time and wander through America’s largest private residence

The Biltmore House & Estate and its wide greenspace on the foreground
The iconic Biltmore mansion (photo: RozenskiP / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (800) 411-3812 | Website | Hours: open everyday, hours vary | Entrance: $89+ adults, discounted rate for ages 10-16, ages 9 and under are free

Minutes from downtown Asheville is the Biltmore House & Estate, one of the most popular and family-friendly things to do in Asheville. This nearly 8,000-acre estate has everything you need to enjoy a fun-filled day of history and beauty. 

A tour of the mansion is a must, not just because it’s the largest private mansion in America, but also because it’ll wow you with its size, decor, and beautiful view out back. 

The Biltmore Estate grounds are worth exploring for the greenhouse, flower gardens, and walking trails. Be sure to check out the estate’s winery and small village, called Antler Hill Village, to get the most out of your Biltmore experience. 

Omni Grove Park Inn & Spa

Enjoy a relaxing overnight stay or day trip at this beautiful and historic hotel

The Omni Grove Park Inn & Spa from the outside
This historic and rustic-inspired inn blends well with the mountain scenery

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (800) 438-5800 | Website | 👉 View the Omni Grove Park Inn on Booking

Not too far from downtown Asheville (in the historic Montford neighborhood) is the Omni Grove Park Inn. A place brimming with a rich history and unique atmosphere. 

The inn itself is gorgeous with a stone exterior and bright red roofing. Inside, the lobby will wow you with its luxury-lodge feel that extends onto a wide porch outside. The inn has a one-of-a-kind stone spa as well.  

Whether you choose to stay the night (I’d recommend this hotel for couples) or just visit for a few hours, exploring the Omni Grove Park Inn is sure to impress you. Famous previous guests include Albert Einstein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Barack Obama—just to name a few.

👉 Pro Tip: Visit during the holidays to see the famous gingerbread house display that the inn puts on every year!

Asheville Pinball Museum

Go old school in this arcade of pinball machines and classic video games

A girl having fun playing a pinball
(photo: Zyabich / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 776-5671 | Website | Hours: 2 pm – 9 pm Wednesday – Friday, 12 pm – 9 pm Saturday, 1 pm – 6 pm Sunday, Monday | Entrance: $15 adults, $12 for ages 10 and under

Head to the Asheville Pinball Museum for some old-school arcade games. Located adjacent to the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, this is the perfect place for gamers of all ages. Here, you can choose from over 75 pinball machines, as well as other classic arcade games from the 1950s onward.

There’s no need to bring spare change to play these games either. Ticketed entry gives you access to all the games you could want. 

There’s definitely a sense of nostalgia here that really draws older generations, but the Asheville Pinball Museum is the perfect place for anyone to come enjoy a little arcade fun. 

River Arts District

Peruse Asheville’s district of local art and culture

View from the River Arts District in Asheville, North Carolina
(photo: Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 552-4723 | Website | Business Hours Vary | 👉 River Arts District Walking Tour

Asheville’s River Arts District lies along the French Broad River and is an artsy, eclectic destination full of galleries, local studios, cafes, restaurants, and shops. One spot in particular that includes all of the above is Pink Dog Creative. 

If you’re looking for something interactive, the River Arts District hosts art events and classes. A variety of antique and vintage shops are here too. So, if you’re looking to spend time in an area with that classic funky, artsy Asheville vibe, head to the River Arts District outside of downtown Asheville.

Mount Mitchell State Park

Witness awe-inspiring mountain views at the highest peak east of the Mississippi River

The number of elevation in Mount Mitchell State Park and the overlooking view from it
At an elevation of 6,578 feet above sea level, it’s safe to say the views are fantastic

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 675-4611 | Website | Hours: vary seasonally | Entrance: Free | 👉 Private Parkway Full Day Tour

Looking for a scenic, mini-day trip from Asheville? Mount Mitchell State Park is your answer. This state park, which can be accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway, has the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

From the parking lot, visitors of all ages can walk up the short walkway to the observation deck, which offers dramatic, 360-degree views of the mountains. And, because Mount Mitchell is over 6,000 feet above sea level, the topography is unique with lots of spruce trees. 

There are a variety of hiking trails nearby, ranging from short walks to more challenging treks. The state park also has a small museum, gift shop, and restaurant. 

Craggy Gardens

Climb this high-elevation summit for beautiful views and wild rhododendrons 

Overlooking view from the Craggy Pinnacle trail
Views from the Craggy Pinnacle trail are stunning

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 775-0976 | Website | Entrance: Free | 👉 Private Parkway Full Day Tour

Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway is Craggy Gardens, a pinnacle with hiking trails and something extra special: wild rhododendrons. To see Craggy Gardens’ iconic floral display, hit up Craggy Gardens Trail or Craggy Pinnacle Trail anytime between spring and fall. Douglas Falls Trails is also located here and is a great choice for those wanting a more challenging trek. 

Craggy Gardens is a must-see spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and only a 15-minute drive from Mount Mitchell State Park, so be sure to add it to your itinerary. There is also a visitor center and picnic area, which makes it great for families and groups. 

Gem Mining

Become a gem miner and go searching for gold (or other rocks) 

Kid's hand using a sifter on sand

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 774-0488 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 6 pm Monday, Wednesday – Saturday, 1 pm – 5 pm Sunday, Closed Tuesday 

For families and especially those with younger kids, hitting up a gem mine is a great activity. Your kiddos are sure to have fun playing gem miner for the day and sifting through buckets of sand to find their very own gemstones. This is an especially great activity for rainy days. 

Asheville’s Best Gem Mine, located 15 minutes southwest of downtown, is a fantastic spot for gem mining. The staff is super knowledgeable. If you’re looking for something closer to the city, Asheville Gem Mine is another shop located right downtown. 

North Carolina Arboretum

Wander through beautifully landscaped gardens and a plethora of accessible trails

Bonsai Collection in the North Carolina Arboretum
Be sure to check out the arboretum’s incredible bonsai collection (photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 665-2492 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 9 pm daily, hours vary seasonally | Entrance: $16-$100 for parking | 👉 Arboretum Running Tour

Located about 20 minutes from downtown Asheville by Bent Creek is the North Carolina Arboretum. This 434-acre garden is open to the public and checks off as being one of the more leisurely, relaxing things to do in Asheville. 

It’s a great activity for anyone, and because it’s close to the Blue Ridge Parkway and French Broad River, it’s easy to work into an itinerary with other attractions. 

The park has 65 acres of landscaped gardens, 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, rotating exhibits, and educational programs. An impressive collection of bonsai trees can be found here, too. The arboretum is open year-round and even puts on a fantastic winter lights show during the holidays. 

Things to Do Outdoors

Grandfather Mountain

Walk across the highest suspension footbridge in America

View from the swinging bridge in Grandfather Mountain

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 733-2013 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 7 pm daily, hours can vary seasonally | Entrance: $24 adults, $22 seniors, $10 ages 4-12 

If you aren’t afraid of heights, then be sure to take a trip to Grandfather Mountain. Located an hour and a half from downtown Asheville, this mountain peak is sure to be a hit for the whole family. The mile-high suspension footbridge is the highest in America and makes for a unique and scenic experience. 

Besides walking across the bridge and taking in incredible views, Grandfather Mountain has tons of other fun things to do. Hiking trails are available for different experience levels, there are wildlife habits to check out, and there’s a center for nature discovery. 

The park also puts on engaging and interactive programs and events.

Pisgah National Forest

Enjoy infinite possibilities for outdoor recreation, and see tons of waterfalls

The author sitting at the top of Black Balsam with an overlooking view
Me at the top of Black Balsam in Pisgah National Forest

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 257-4200 | Website | Entrance: Free | 👉 Waterfalls & Blue Ridge Parkway Tour

Although Pisgah National Forest is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it has some unique features and opportunities for recreation that make it really worth a visit. A huge one? The waterfalls—especially around the town of Brevard, NC. Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, and More Cove Falls are popular. 

Pisgah National Forest is home to incredible hiking and biking trails throughout the lush forest, so there are tons of options for outdoor recreation of varying levels. The Davidson River runs through the forest as well, and has great swimming holes and spots for river tubing and fly fishing. 

🛎️ Need a Hotel? Hampton Inn Brevard, located at the top of the parkway is open seasonally and is a great place if you want to have the full forest and parkway experience. 

French Broad River

Find adventure and relaxation along one of the oldest rivers in the world

People enjoying kayaking in French Broad River

📍 Google Maps | 👉 French Broad River Kayak Tour

Did you know that the French Broad River is the third oldest river in the world? It’s no wonder that activities along this waterway make for some of the best things to do in Asheville. 

But just because the French Broad River is old, doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting. Activities like fishing, tubing, whitewater rafting, hiking, and picnicking along the river are just a few of the many activities that can be enjoyed here.

The River Arts District and even Biltmore Estate are great places to take a stroll and enjoy riverside activities.

👉 Love Outdoor Adventure? If you love water activities but are looking for something more slow-paced, check out this 4-mile guided paddleboard tour

DuPont State Park

Enjoy beautiful trails great for hiking and biking

People enjoying their day at the Triple Falls in DuPont State Park
Triple Falls is one of the waterfalls you can see on DuPont’s three waterfall trail

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 877-6527 | Website | Entrance: Free 

DuPont State Park is located an hour outside of Asheville and is a fantastic destination for outdoor recreation of all types. Tons of nature trails are all located here, along with many waterfalls. The park itself isn’t high elevation, so don’t expect mountain views, but the trails here are awesome and worth checking out. 

One popular trail is a three waterfall trail where you can hit up Triple Falls, Hooker Falls, and High Falls all in one go. This is actually where a scene from The Hunger Games was filmed, too! Overall, DuPont State Park has scenic, forest trails perfect for outdoor recreation. 

👉 Pro Tip: Doing the outdoor activities on this list means being outfitted with the proper gear. I definitely recommend a pair of hiking boots, hiking poles, and bug spray to keep you going all afternoon.

Linville Gorge & Falls

Witness the power and beauty of nature at this beautiful gorge 

View of the Linville Falls in Asheville
Beautiful Linville Falls

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 765-1045 | Website | Entrance: Free | 👉 Private Parkway Full Day Tour

Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians,” Linville Gorge & Falls is a sight to behold. This gorge is known for its rugged terrain and dramatic natural beauty. 

For 12 miles, the walls of the gorge surround a river that eventually feeds into Linville Falls, which has a cascade of over 2,000 feet. 

With Linville Gorge & Falls’ steep and jagged landscape, it’s a fantastic destination for more experienced outdoor enthusiasts—especially for activities like hiking, backpacking, camping, and rock climbing. The gorge and falls are surrounded by 12,000 acres of protected wilderness. 

Only an hour and a half from downtown, this is one of the coolest things to do in Asheville.

Adventure Center of Asheville

Swing through treetops and go mountain biking at this adventure-filled center

A kid enjoying his day in Adventure Center of Asheville
The Adventure Center of Asheville has activities for all ages

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (877) 247-5539 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $55+ 

Looking for something fun and a little different? Then ook no further than the Adventure Center of Asheville. 

Located right outside of downtown Asheville, this adventure park offers fun activities perfect for families and groups. You can choose activities such as treetop ropes courses, ziplining, and a mountain bike park. The adventure center is open all year round and anyone ages 4+ can participate. 

The Adventure Center of Asheville is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon, and you’re sure to leave with some new memories. And don’t be fooled, I’ve seen anyone from kids to older adults participate in activities like the treetop ropes course—anyone can do it!

👉 Love Biking? Asheville certainly has some great spots for mountain biking, including the Adventure Center’s bike park. But if you’re looking for something a little more laid back, check out this historic downtown guided electric bike tour with scenic views.

Navitat Canopy Adventures

Sail through the trees and zipline through the forest

Two people trying out zipline in Navitat Canopy Adventures
Ziplining through the treetops is a great activity for the whole family to enjoy

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 626-3700 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $100+ 

Adventure seekers listen up! Navitat Canopy Adventures located in Moody Cove, just 30 minutes from downtown Asheville. Not only is Navitat one of the best places for ziplining in Western North Carolina, but the entire Southeast. In fact, it’s been named “one of the best in the nation.”

Navitat offers a variety of tours and packages, so you can choose from a basic treetop tour to the ultimate adventure package. No matter what your style is, you can expect a memorable and thrilling experience that has you zipping and adventuring through the trees. 

French Broad Adventures

Have an adventure-filled day of whitewater rafting, ziplining, and canyoneering

People whitewater rafting in French Broad Adventures
Whitewater rafting on the French Broad River makes for a great group activity

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (888) 373-4781 | Website | Hours: 8:30 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $40+ 

The North Carolina mountains may be calling, but so are the rivers! 

The French Broad River is a 218-mile-long river that meanders through Tennessee and North Carolina, and right through parts of Asheville. This wide, scenic river is ideal for river activities like whitewater rafting and canyoneering, which you can do through French Broad Adventures.

This is a fun, family-friendly activity and a great way to get out into nature. You can expect to glide through calm waters and paddle over river rapids. In addition to whitewater rafting and canyoneering, French Broad Adventures also offers ziplining. Tours range from easy to moderate, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. 

Asheville Sites & Attractions

LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours

Laugh until your belly hurts with an off-the-wall comedy tour

The LaZoom Comedy Bus during a tour in Asheville
LaZoom’s iconic purple bus (photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 225-6932 | Website | Entrance: $27-$39, age limits vary per tour

There’s an unspoken motto that says “keep Asheville weird,” and there’s no better way to embrace that mentality than a comedy ride with LaZoom. With its purple buses and boisterous energy, LaZoom tours are a recognizable part of the downtown Asheville scene.  

Four types of tours are offered, but the Hey Asheville! City Comedy Tour is the classic option. This will take you through downtown Asheville and other neighborhoods while your off-the-wall tour guide will entertain you with Asheville history and crazy comedy skits. 

This is a great activity to do with friends, but if you’re traveling as a family, there’s a kids’ comedy tour, too.

Grove Arcade

Go shopping and dining in “Asheville’s Original Mall”

A couple holding each others hand inside the Grove Arcade
Inside the Grove Arcade (photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 252-7799 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 8 pm Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm Sunday

Known as “Asheville’s Original Mall” since it opened in 1929, the Grove Arcade has a rich history. Located downtown, this historic and ornate building houses over 30 local businesses. These businesses include shops of local makers as well as a variety of restaurants and cafes. 

Strolling through the Grove Arcade is already an activity in and of itself, but the diverse range of businesses also makes it a great place to shop for local goods and gifts. 

A personal favorite spot is Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, where you can enjoy reading and wine all in one place. Whether you shop, dine or do both, you’re sure to find something you love here. 

👉 Pro Tip: Right outside the Grove Arcade along Battery Park Ave, there are usually local makers selling crafts and handmade goods.

Malaprops Bookstore

Get lost in between the shelves of Asheville’s favorite bookstore  

Creative metal art work in front of Malaprops Bookstore
Statues outside of Malaprops (photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 254-6734 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 7 pm Monday – Saturday, 11 am – 4 pm Sunday 

In my opinion, no town or city is complete without a good bookstore, and Malaprops is a local favorite. The shelves are stocked with a great selection of books that span different genres and the staff is always friendly and helpful. 

Malaprops has some unique sections, too, including “Western NC Picks” which are all about Asheville and the region. The “Blind Date Books” section is great for those who aren’t sure what to read and are down for a surprise. And if you’re worried about the kids being entertained, don’t fret because there’s a great section for them as well. 

👉 Pro Tip: Interested in rare and used books? Hit up Malaprops’ sister store, Downtown Books & News, which is only a block away.

The Orange Peel

Sing, dance, and enjoy great vibes at this downtown music venue 

The Orange Peel in Asheville from the outside
(photo: Jeffery Edwards / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 398-1837 | Website | Hours: vary per show | Entrance: $10+ | 👉 Asheville Music History Walking Tour

The Orange Peel, a rock and indie music venue located downtown, is one of the best things to do in Asheville for music lovers. Acts like Bob Dylan, Neon Trees, The Killers, and even Post Malone have played here. The venue holds up to 1100 guests and the vibe is fun but still really intimate. 

Tickets are pretty affordable and they offer a good selection of local beer. The Orange Peel has an overall great sound and depending on who you’re seeing, the venue can be cool and intimate or upbeat and dancy. Do note that for the most part, shows are standing room only and there’s typically an age limit of 18+. 

👉 Pro Tip: If you’re super into music, be sure to check out the Moog factory downtown!

Helen’s Bridge

Get chills as you pass under one of Asheville’s most haunted spots

View of the Helen’s Bridge in Asheville
There’s definitely an eerie ambiance around Helen’s Bridge

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Asheville Walking Ghost Tour

Are you into all things paranormal? If so, you might want to plan a visit to Helen’s Bridge—one of Asheville’s most haunted spots. Legend has it that this 1909 stone bridge on Beaucatcher Mountain is home to the distressed spirit of a woman named Helen. 

Helen reportedly lived at or around the nearby Zealandia Mansion, and hung herself on this bridge after her beloved daughter died in a fire. People who have tried to call out Helen’s name or conjure up her spirit report paranormal activity and car trouble as they drive under the bridge. 

Western North Carolina Nature Center

Learn about and connect with the wildlife and plant life of Southern Appalachia

A black bear in Western North Carolina Nature Center
The WNC Nature Center even has a black bear habitat!

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 259-8080 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4:30 pm daily | Entrance: $13.95 ages 13+, $9.95 ages 3-12, Free for ages 2 and under

Less than 15 minutes from downtown Asheville is the family-friendly WNC Nature Center. This educational center and zoo features animals native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. If you have any interest in wildlife at all, this is one of the best things to do in Asheville so you can interact with animals up close. 

The nature center has tons of native animals from otters, turtles, and salamanders, to endangered species like red wolves. They even have a black bear habitat so you can experience these furry friends from a safe distance. 

WNC Nature Center also has interactive activities like play areas and gem mining for younger kids. 

Metaphysical Shops

Unlock something new and connect with yourself through the metaphysical

A woman reading tarot cards in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is one of the best places in NC for all things metaphysical (photo: Oksistyle / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 707-7802 | Website | Hours vary with each store | 👉 Private Tarot Reading 

Asheville has a bit of a reputation for its spirituality scene and all things occult. This is why, throughout the downtown and surrounding areas, you’ll find a variety of metaphysical shops. Think everything from tarot cards and psychic readings to crystals and sage.

If you’re into this sort of thing and want to have a reading done, I recommend visiting Earth Magick downtown. Here, you can book tarot, astrology, and other readings. Gaea Gifts has a great selection of tarot cards if you’re looking to purchase your own, and Enter the Earth in the Grove Arcade has tons of crystals and jewelry. 

Local Farmers Markets

Feel like a local and shop from regional farmers and makers  

Local apples from the Local Farmers Markets
Be sure to snag some local apples if they’re in season!

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours vary based on farmers’ market and season

Farmer’s markets (also called tailgate markets) are a classic North Carolinian thing, so hitting one up during your trip to Asheville is a no-brainer. Even if you’re visiting for a short trip, you can still pick up things like local honey, baked goods, and even crafts to take home with you.

Asheville City Market takes place downtown every Saturday, and it even runs through the winter. This is a classic Asheville farmer’s market with tons of vendors to choose from. Other Asheville neighborhoods have their own markets, too, including the River Arts District Farmers Market, WNC Farmers Market, and tailgate markets in East, West, and North Asheville.

👉 Pro Tip: The city of Asheville is all about sustainability, so be sure to bring your reusable tote bags if you attend!

Lake Lure, NC & Chimney Rock State Park

Enjoy a day trip to this beautiful lake and state park

View from the Lake Lure’s beach
View of Lake Lure’s beach and historic inn & spa

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 625-9983 | Website | 👉 Kayak Tour at Lake Lure

For the best of what mountain life has to offer, add Lake Lure to your itinerary. Just under an hour from Asheville, this town makes for a relaxing, yet fun-filled day trip. 

Lake Lure itself is the real attraction of this area, and visitors can enjoy a plethora of activities from swimming to boating. Simply put, if you visit while it’s warm, definitely take advantage of the lake! 

Chimney Rock State Park is also nearby and is a must-see destination. Here, you can enjoy spectacular views of Lake Lure and surrounding mountains at the park’s iconic stone monolith (hence the name “Chimney Rock”), as well as hiking trails and rock climbing.  

Hendersonville, NC

Take a day trip to this charming town with tons of activities for the whole family 

View from the outside of Henderson County Historic Courthouse and Heritage Museum
The historic county courthouse now serves as a heritage museum (photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 693-9708 | Website 

Hendersonville, NC is located just half an hour away from downtown Asheville and is full of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. 

Main Street has a variety of local businesses including shops, restaurants, cafes, and even a few museums for the kids. Main Street is also full of cool, painted bear statues that are fun to see and take pictures with.

The surrounding areas near Hendersonville are filled with scenic apple farms and vineyards, which make for fun outdoor activities. Another great attraction? The Flat Rock Playhouse, where you can see amazing plays, musicals, and other productions. For a small town, Hendersonville will keep you busy with all its attractions.

🛎️ Need a Hotel? Kanuga Inn & Lodging is located 15 minutes outside of downtown Hendersonville. 

Brevard, NC

Take a day trip to the “Land of Waterfalls” 

View of the Glass Falls in Pisgah Forest
Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah Forest, just outside of town

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 884-8900 | Website | 👉 Mountain Summit Hiking Adventure

Chasing waterfalls? Plan a day trip to Brevard, NC—a charming mountain town that’s been dubbed North Carolina’s “Land of Waterfalls.” Located just under an hour from downtown Asheville, it makes for the perfect day trip destination for outdoor enthusiasts and families.

Pisgah National Forest is Brevard’s backyard, so there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to do here. Hiking trails like John Rock Trail Loop or the Art Loeb Trail are fantastic treks. The Davidson River is also great for river tubing and a visit to Sliding Rock, where you can slide down a sloping waterfall into a cool river pool below. 

When you’re done with outdoor adventure, grab some dinner and spend some time walking around Brevard’s charming downtown area.

👉 Pro Tip: If you’re leaving Pisgah National Forest and don’t have time to go into Brevard for a meal, Hawg Wild Barbeque and Dolly’s Dairy Bar are located right at the entrance to Pisgah Forest.

Museums & Culture

Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Walk through this historic site, which was the childhood home of American novelist Thomas Wolfe

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial from the outside
Thomas Wolfe’s boyhood home, also known as the Old Kentucky Home (photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 253-8304 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm Tuesday – Saturday, Closed Monday, Sunday | Entrance: $5 adults, $2 ages 7-17, 6 and under is free 

Wander back in time and step into the pages of a 20th-century story. The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is a historic home located in downtown Asheville, best known for its impact on American novelist, Thomas Wolfe.

During his childhood, Wolfe lived in this Queen Anne-style home that also served as a boarding house. It was this home in Asheville that inspired Wolfe’s famous book, Look Homeward, Angel

Today, the historic site can be toured daily and visitors can learn all about Thomas Wolfe’s life and writings. Although not a light read, I recommend picking up a copy and giving Look Homeward, Angel, a read in preparation for your trip to Asheville!

Asheville Museum of Science

Let your kids play, explore, and learn at this downtown science museum

View from the entrance of Asheville Museum of Science
AMOS is located in the middle of downtown! (photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 254-7162 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Monday, Wednesday – Saturday, 1 pm – 5 pm Sunday, Closed Tuesday | Entrance: $9 ages 3+, ages 2 and under are free

Looking for something for the kids? The Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS) is one of the best educational things to do in Asheville. Here, your kids can play, explore, and learn to their heart’s content through interactive exhibits and displays. Think dinosaur bones with fossil digs, a variety of gems and minerals, and games about local ecology (including the French Broad River!). 

If you’re visiting Asheville for the summer, consider enrolling your kiddos in AMOS’ summer camp, where they can immerse themselves in all things science. Or, if you just want to visit for the day, it’s the perfect downtown Asheville activity since it’s located in the heart of the city.

Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center

Experience the history and innovation of the arts and their impact

View from the outside of Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center
(photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 350-8484 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Monday – Saturday, Closed Sunday | Entrance: Free but donations are encouraged | 👉 Asheville Music History Walking Tour

If you haven’t heard of Black Mountain College, here’s a quick rundown: between 1933 and 1957, Black Mountain College served as a progressive, one-of-a-kind college institution for intellectuals and artists alike. Today, Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center celebrates that legacy. 

Over 3,000 permanent works of art from the early 20th-century era are displayed at Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center—all of which have been donated by Black Mountain College alumni and their families. This includes sculptures, paintings, photographs, and more. 

👉 Did You Know? Famous alumni from Black Mountain College include Josef Albers, Ruth Asawa, Merce Cunningham, and others. 

Asheville Art Museum

Browse an exceptional collection of American and regional art

View from the outside of Asheville Art Museum
The outside of Asheville Art Museum leads right into North Pack Square (photo: Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 253-3227 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 6 pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Sunday, 11 am – 9 pm Thursday, Closed Tuesday | Entrance: $15 adults, $13 seniors, $10 students, Free for children under 6 

Located in Pack Square is the Asheville Art Museum. This museum features over 7,000 works of art from American artists, as well as regional and local work from throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Work includes paintings, prints, photographs, and sculptures, as well as a collection of fine crafts from Cherokee artists. Asheville Art Museum also has a collection of work from Black Mountain College artists. 

Folk Art Center

Get in touch with the history and creativity behind Southern Appalachian art

View of Traditional Appalachian basketry in Folk Art Center
Traditional Appalachian basketry that dates back to the 20th century (photo: EWY Media / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 298-7928 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: Free 

Exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway? Plan a stop at the Folk Art Center located at milepost 382 near Asheville. Here, you’ll find traditional Southern Appalachian crafts all made by local makers. This can range from woodwork and pottery to basket weaving and quilts—all of which tell the rich crafting story of the Southern Appalachian mountains. 

Feel free to browse local work or purchase something as a keepsake of your Asheville trip. If you’re lucky, you may also catch one of the Folk Art Center’s special events or demonstrations aimed at celebrating Southern Appalachia’s craft traditions.

Asheville Fine Arts Theatre

Enjoy blockbuster movies and indie films at this cool, independent cinema

Cars parked outside the Asheville Fine Arts Theatre
The Fine Arts Theatre still has its old-school movie marquee (photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 232-1536 | Website | Showtimes vary | Entrance: $11 general admission, $9 for matinees, seniors, military, & students 

The Asheville Fine Arts Theatre, which is located downtown and just a short walk from Pack Square, is Asheville’s premier theatre for art and independent films. The theatre is family-friendly, but also great for a date spot.

A mix of popular movies and art & indie films are premiered here with both matinee and evening showings. The vibe is nostalgic and will charm you with that classic small cinema experience.

👉 Pro Tip: Want to do dinner and a show? I recommend making reservations at one of the many great restaurants located just across the street from the theatre like Shanghai Dumpling House or Curate.

Food & Drink

12 Bones Smokehouse

Get a taste of real North Carolina barbeque (and see why it’s the best!)

Pulled pork on a plate from 12 Bones Smokehouse
Can’t go wrong with a platter of pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, and collard greens

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 253-4499 | Website | Hours: 11:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday – Friday, Closed Saturday, Sunday 

A trip to Asheville isn’t complete without some classic Carolina barbeque. Even though states like Tennessee and Texas claim to be the competition, North Carolina’s barbeque is hard to beat. And you can’t go wrong with a barbeque at 12 Bones Smokehouse located in Asheville’s River Arts District.

This is the perfect place to come after a long day of outdoor activities and exploring. The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and the food never misses. I recommend going for the plates option so you can pick from meats like ribs or pulled pork, and then sample a couple of fixins like mac & cheese and collard greens. 

You’re sure to leave feeling full and hopefully biased towards Carolina barbeque!

Tupelo Honey

Get your fill of all the Southern classics from fried green tomatoes to grits

Fried green tomatoes on pan in Tupelo Honey
Try Tupelo Honey’s famous fried green tomatoes!

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 255-4863 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 9 pm Sunday – Thursday, 9 am – 10 pm Friday, Saturday

Part of what makes Asheville such a great destination is its food scene, and that includes classic Southern cuisine. If you’re looking to go ham on all of the South’s rich, fried, and buttery goodness, look no further than Tupelo Honey. 

With locations in downtown Asheville and South Asheville, it’ll be easy to squeeze in a meal, no matter the day’s activities. 

I recommend trying their famous fried green tomatoes and fried chicken, which you can get on its own, with waffles, or in a sandwich. The restaurant atmosphere is inviting but still casual and perfect for the whole family. 

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Sit back and relax at one of Asheville’s best brew spots

View of the entrance to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
The entrance to Sierra Nevada’s main taproom (photo: digidreamgrafix / Shuttertock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 681-5300 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 9 pm Sunday – Thursday, 11 am – 10 pm Friday, Saturday 

It’s no secret that Asheville has a thriving beer scene. And while there are an endless amount of breweries to choose from, Sierra Nevada’s flagship location just outside of Asheville is a must-see for any beer lover.

Upon arrival, the state-of-the-art facility is a sight to take in—it’s massive! Once inside the taproom (you can make reservations, but walk-ins are also welcome) you can either settle into a table or head to the back porch to enjoy some outside ambiance, weather permitting. 

Although there are a number of beers to choose from, I recommend ordering a flight so you can sample a variety. Don’t miss out on the food here, either! The duck fat fries are to die for. 

👉 Pro Tip: For the full Sierra Nevada experience, go on a brewery tour and tasting. It’s a great way to learn about Sierra Nevada and sure to be a memorable experience, too. 

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Indulge in these decadent, handcrafted chocolates   

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge from the outside
(photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 252-4181 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 10 pm daily

Chocolate lovers, brace yourselves because the French Broad Chocolate Lounge is going to blow you away. Located in Pack Square downtown, this chocolate shop creates decadent and sustainably sourced handcrafted chocolates in the tastiest of flavors. 

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge creates bars, chips, and chocolate-covered beans and nuts, but what they’re really known for is their bon bons. Flavors range from classics like salted honey caramel, to innovative flavors like rose, cardamom, and pistachio. 

You can customize a box of your own, or choose from one of their signature boxes like the Asheville Grown Collection. My recommendation? Purchase some bon bons to eat on-site, and take another box home with you. Trust me! 

No Taste Like Home

Go foraging with professional guides for a food experience unlike any other

View of Chanterelle mushrooms on a basket
If you’re lucky you’ll find Chanterelle mushrooms like these during your foraging tour!

Phone: (828) 209-8599 | Website | Tickets: $42 – $77 

What better way to immerse yourself in nature than a foraging tour? If you’re a foodie, this is the perfect activity and one of the best things to do in Asheville. It’s open to people of all ages and is a truly educational and unique experience. 

What you can expect is to go out on location (anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes from downtown) with a professional guide. Over the course of three hours, you’ll learn about local and native goodies—anything from wild mushrooms and sassafras, to other edible plants. 

At the end, there is a small cooking demo and tasting, and you can take home the rest of your finds.

👉 Pro Tip: No Taste Like Home has an option to make arrangements with select local restaurants to have them whip up your foraged finds into a free appetizer. Purchase of entree is necessary, however. 

Wellness Activities

Shoji Hot Tub Retreat & Spa

Relax and unwind at this unique destination spa

A woman relaxing with a massage in Shoji Hot Tub Retreat & Spa
Relax at Shoji with a massage

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 299-0999 | Website | Services: $68 – $546  

With mountains and nature all around, a spa seems like a natural thing to add to the wellness mix. And no place does this better than Shoji Hot Tub Retreat & Spa, a retreat located 15 minutes southeast of Asheville and right off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This Japanese-inspired spa and retreat is nestled into the surrounding forest scenery in order to create the perfect nature escape. You can visit just for the day, or stay overnight at the Shoji Lodge. 

You can choose from a number of packages and spa treatments including a soak in the salt hydrotherapy tubs, as well as different types of massage and bodywork. Overall, this is an incredible thing to do in Asheville for a girls weekend or couples getaway.

Asheville Salt Cave & Spa

Take in negative ions and release negative vibes at this deeply relaxing salt cave

A couple relaxing on a salt cave in Asheville Salt Cave & Spa
Let your worries melt away in the salt cave

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 236-5999 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Monday, Tuesday, 10 am – 7 pm Thursday, Friday, 9 am – 8 pm Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm Sunday | Services: $24 – $525 

Are you really into wellness and meditation? If so, then the Asheville Salt Cave & Spa is one of the most unique things to do in Asheville. 

If you’re familiar with salt lamps for the home, then think of that on an even bigger level. The Asheville Salt Cave is full of 30 tons of pure pink salt, which creates a totally unique microclimate with healing properties. 

Visitors can sit in the cave while listening to ambient music, all to support relaxation and meditation. Massage therapy can be added to your salt cave experience, or booked separately. 

The spa also has a Turkish Hammam, which is a traditional bathhouse that is brightly decorated. Here, you can enjoy a ritual of steaming, exfoliating, and cleansing. 

👉 Love meditation? Check out this group guided meditation hike!

Skinny Beats Sound Shop

Immerse yourself in a sound healing experience 

Two people relaxing in Skinny Beats Sound Shop
Singing bowls are a big part of the healing soundscape

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 768-2826 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 5 pm Wednesday – Sunday, Closed Monday, Tuesday

If you’re into wellness, or just open to trying something new, head to Skinny Beats Sound Shop for a sound healing session. Here, you can do a private or group session of sound healing meditation. You can lie down in the shop’s meditative space while relaxing, atmospheric soundscapes are played around you. 

Shop owner Billy Zanski plays a number of instruments from harps, gongs, and singing crystal bowls to help soothe your mind, body, and soul. The sound shop is located in downtown Asheville and sessions last up to an hour. Whatever your therapeutic style, this is a unique experience that’s true to Asheville’s local vibe. 

Wake Foot Sanctuary & Spa

Recharge and treat yourself at this downtown Asheville spa

Close up view of a foot being massage in Wake Foot Sanctuary & Spa

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (828) 575-9799 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 8 pm daily | Services: $35 – $155

After a long day of exploring the Asheville scene, why not unwind with a relaxing foot soak and massage? Located downtown in the Grove Arcade, Wake Foot Sanctuary & Spa is the perfect place to do just that. 

For 45 minutes you can sit back and let your tired, aching feet soak in a relaxing bath of essential oils, revitalizing salts, and nourishing clays. Plus, there are a variety of foot soak combinations you can choose from, so you can customize it for your specific needs and preferences. I love the classic lavender chamomile option. 

FAQs about Asheville Attractions

Why is Asheville so popular?

Asheville is a popular destination because it is home to incredible mountain scenery, tons of outdoor recreation, and a huge beer and foodie scene. It’s also located centrally in Western North Carolina, which makes it ideal for day trips and exploring other areas. 

Is Biltmore Village free?

Biltmore Village is free and located right outside the main gates to enter the Biltmore Estate. This area has hotels and tons of local shops and boutiques, as well as restaurants.

What is the best month to visit Asheville, North Carolina?

May or October are the best months to visit Asheville, North Carolina, depending on if you want to come in the spring or fall. 

Is Asheville worth visiting?

Asheville is definitely worth visiting. The surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains make it a nature haven and the city itself has a unique vibe that sets it apart from other North Carolina cities. 

What is Asheville, North Carolina best known for?

Asheville, North Carolina is best known for the Blue Ridge Mountains, its craft beer scene, and the Biltmore Estate. 

***

Thanks for reading my picks for the best things to see in Asheville! This list is just the beginning of what makes Asheville such an incredible destination. Looking for more in the region? Tennessee is right next door to North Carolina and there are tons of fun things to do in Nashville.

Have fun explore the top things to do in Asheville!

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