Instead of typing out the same suggestions to friends of friends who are coming to visit, I thought I’d organize my thoughts on the top 10, best things to do in Asheville NC! Some of the lists that pop up on google’s first page are…. way off and will totally mislead you. Obviously there is some range of opinion in lists like these, but I was looking to hit the highlights! This list is for any visitor and I have links to bigger lists more specific to families, couples, and folks looking for more hikes in Asheville.
Asheville is a quickly growing mountain town in the western side of North Carolina, often considered a progressive bubble with an artsy, hippie vibe. It has something to offer for every traveler and is within driving distance of many major airports and bigger cities, so be sure to plan ahead and expect crowds if you’re coming anytime from May-November!
While you’re here, check out these other posts!
- 7 steps to plan a family vacation
- Drive a bit further and hit up some hikes in smoky mountain national park
- 40+ Asheville date ideas from a local
- 40+ things to do in Asheville with kids
Pin this list of the best things to do in asheville nc with this link or collage image:
Top 10 things to do in asheville nc
Presented in no particular order!
1- Take a hike or drive with beautiful mountain views: There’s nothing like gazing out into the distance and seeing row upon row of forested mountains! The Max Patch hike pictured above is a bit of a drive from Asheville and very popular; Bearwallow Mountain is not quite as picturesque but has similar long-range views and is closer to town. A quick drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway will provide lots of pull-out options to get out and just look if you aren’t interested in trails. For more ideas, check out this list of easy hikes near Asheville!
2- Check out guaranteed wildlife at the WNC Nature Center: A small nature center with animals that live in the area on display, this is the easiest way to make sure you see a bear! There are quiet paved trails for adults to stroll and nature play areas for kids to burn energy.
3- Explore the waterways: Asheville is full of beautiful water options – consider playing on the famous sliding rock (recommended only for kids age 8+ if you have little ones!), tubing under waterfalls in the nearby Deep Creek area, or kayaking down the French Broad.
4- Explore some local art in the River Arts District: This is a busy hive of different buildings where artists work and sell their wares in small studios. There is visible street art, demonstrations, shops, and restaurants to spend a full day exploring. I’ve taken my kids in short stints, but the tight aisles and fine art isn’t exactly geared for little bodies.
5- Visit the famous Biltmore Estate: Between touring the house, the greenhouse, and the formal gardens you can easily spend most of a day here. I shared my best tips for visiting the Biltmore Estate with kids and most of them would be helpful without kids too! Be sure to buy tickets in advance and have a plan for the day before you go.
6- Listen to live music: Wandering the streets of downtown make it impossible to miss musical buskers, or try one of the many restaurants that host local gigs to listen to while you eat.
8- Take a hike or drive to a waterfall: There are more waterfalls than you could hope to see in a month in the area and you have to see at least one when you come! Popular options to hike to try Catawba Falls, Moore’s Cove Falls, or Tom’s Creek Falls but be sure to get there early to avoid full parking lots. If you don’t want to get out of the car, try a drive-by waterfall that you can see from the road like Glassmine Falls or Looking Glass Falls. For more ideas, check out this list of easy hikes near Asheville!
9- Try some local cuisine and/or libations: Asheville restaurants have lots of variety; try a popular farm to table option like Posana or Early Girl to really connect to the city! A few of our family favorites are Sunny Point Cafe, Suwana’s Thai Orchid, and Black Bear BBQ.
10- Wander through one of the nearby small towns: There are so many cute tiny towns with picture perfect main streets. Wander around downtown Black Mountain, Sylva, or Spruce Pine and pop into little boutiques!