Top 25 Things To Do in Asheville

From misty mountain hikes to avant-garde art, craft beer to Gilded Age opulence, Asheville's eclectic charms captivate every type of traveler.

West Parker
West Parker
July 18, 2024

It's Friday night in downtown Asheville, and the air is electric with the rhythmic beats of drums. Locals and visitors alike gather in Pritchard Park, forming an impromptu orchestra of percussion and dance. This is the Asheville Drum Circle, a weekly tradition that perfectly encapsulates the city's free-spirited, artistic soul.

But the drum circle is just one beat in Asheville's complex symphony. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, this vibrant city harmoniously blends outdoor adventure, artistic expression, and culinary delights. With its stunning natural beauty, thriving arts scene, and laid-back mountain vibe, Asheville offers an experience that's both invigorating and soul-soothing.

Whether you're here to hike misty mountain trails, explore avant-garde galleries, sample craft beers, or step back in time at America's largest private residence, Asheville has something to captivate every type of traveler. So grab your hiking boots (and maybe your drumsticks) as we explore the 25 best things to do in this mountain paradise.

Drive the Scenic Blue Ridge Parkway

Car on Blue Ridge Parkway surrounded by vibrant fall foliage, showcasing the scenic drive's beauty
The Blue Ridge Parkway in fall is a leaf-peeper's dream! Pro tip: start early to catch the misty mountain sunrise.

The Blue Ridge Parkway isn't called "America's Favorite Drive" for nothing. This 469-mile scenic road winds through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, offering breathtaking vistas at every turn. As you cruise along the parkway near Asheville, you'll be treated to panoramic views of mist-shrouded peaks, cascading waterfalls, and dense forests that burst into a riot of colors come fall. Don't rush - this drive is all about savoring the journey. Pull over at overlooks like Craggy Gardens or Mount Pisgah for short hikes and stunning photo ops.

  • Location: Access points throughout Asheville
  • Hours: Open 24/7, weather permitting
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience the raw beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the comfort of your car, with plenty of opportunities to get out and explore.

Insider Tip: Visit during October for the most spectacular fall foliage views, but be prepared for crowds. Early morning drives offer the best chance for solitude and wildlife sightings.

Explore the Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate's grand facade and manicured gardens, America's largest private residence in Asheville, NC
Felt like royalty exploring the Biltmore! Did you know it has 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms? Talk about a cleaning nightmare!

Step into the Gilded Age at America's largest private residence. Built by George Vanderbilt in the late 19th century, the Biltmore Estate is a testament to American ambition and European-inspired grandeur. As you wander through the 250-room château, you'll marvel at priceless art and antiques, opulent furnishings, and architectural details that will leave you slack-jawed. But the 8,000-acre estate offers more than just the house tour. You can stroll through meticulously manicured gardens, visit the on-site winery for a complimentary tasting, or even go horseback riding through the grounds.

  • Location: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
  • Hours: Daily 9 AM - 5 PM (hours may vary seasonally)
  • Admission: Varies by season, starting at $76 for adults

Why Visit: Experience the opulence of America's Gilded Age and explore stunning architecture, art, and landscaped gardens all in one place.

Insider Tip: Book the "behind-the-scenes" tour for a fascinating look at the estate's innovative technology for its time, including a look at areas not open to the general public.

Wander the River Arts District

Vibrant street art murals in Asheville's River Arts District, showcasing the area's creative spirit
Stumbled upon these amazing murals in the River Arts District. Every corner is an Instagram opportunity!

Creativity flows as freely as the French Broad River in Asheville's River Arts District. This former industrial area has been transformed into a vibrant community of over 200 artists' studios housed in historic buildings along the riverfront. Spend an afternoon popping in and out of galleries, watching artists at work, and maybe even trying your hand at a workshop. From pottery and painting to glassblowing and textile arts, you'll find every medium imaginable here. The district is also home to some of Asheville's coolest cafes and eateries, perfect for refueling between artistic adventures.

  • Location: Along the French Broad River, primarily on Depot Street and Lyman Street
  • Hours: Individual gallery hours vary
  • Admission: Free to explore, costs for workshops or purchases

Why Visit: Immerse yourself in Asheville's thriving arts scene and watch creativity in action.

Insider Tip: Visit on a "Second Saturday" when many studios host special events, demonstrations, and sales.

Hike in Pisgah National Forest

Hikers enjoying a trail in Pisgah National Forest with a scenic waterfall, highlighting outdoor adventures near Asheville
Found this hidden gem in Pisgah National Forest. The sound of the waterfall was so soothing after our hike!

Lace up your hiking boots and head to Pisgah National Forest for an outdoor adventure you won't soon forget. This vast forest offers over 500,000 acres of pristine wilderness, with trails for every skill level. Chase waterfalls on the moderate Moore Cove Falls trail, or challenge yourself with a steep climb up to Looking Glass Rock for panoramic views. For a uniquely refreshing experience, don't miss Sliding Rock, a 60-foot natural water slide that's sure to give you a thrill (and a chill) on a hot summer day.

  • Location: Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, NC 28712
  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Admission: Free (some recreational areas may have fees)

Why Visit: Experience the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains up close, with options for both casual nature lovers and serious outdoor enthusiasts.

Insider Tip: Pack a picnic and spend a day at the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, where you can easily access several short trails and picturesque spots.

Sample Craft Beers in South Slope

Craft beer tasting at a brewery in Asheville's South Slope, showcasing the city's renowned beer scene
Beer flight in South Slope - because one beer is never enough in Beer City USA! Asheville has more breweries per capita than any other US city.

Asheville isn't called "Beer City USA" for nothing. With more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city, this town takes its craft beer seriously. The South Slope neighborhood, also known as the "Brewery District," is ground zero for hop heads. Start your sudsy adventure at Wicked Weed's Funkatorium, dedicated to sour and funky brews. Then, make your way to Green Man Brewery, one of Asheville's oldest craft breweries, for a taste of traditional English-style ales. End your tour at Burial Beer Co., where the apocalyptic-themed decor is as intriguing as their experimental brews.

  • Location: South Slope neighborhood, centered around Coxe Avenue
  • Hours: Vary by brewery, typically open afternoon to late evening
  • Price: Expect to pay $5-$8 per pint

Why Visit: Taste why Asheville is considered one of the best beer cities in America.

Insider Tip: Join a guided beer tour to learn about the brewing process and Asheville's beer history while ensuring safe transportation between breweries.

Stroll Through Craggy Gardens

Hiker enjoying panoramic views from Craggy Gardens, showcasing the Blue Ridge Mountains' beauty near Asheville
The view from Craggy Gardens left me speechless. Pro tip: bring a jacket, it's chilly up here even in summer!

For a moderate hike with jaw-dropping rewards, head to Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This high-elevation area is famous for its twisted, gnarly trees and stunning panoramic views. In June, the mountainsides explode with purple rhododendron blooms, creating a magical landscape. The Craggy Pinnacle Trail, a short but steep 1.5-mile round trip, leads you to a 360-degree viewpoint where you can see for miles on a clear day. Even on a foggy day, the ethereal atmosphere among the mist-shrouded trees is something special.

  • Location: Milepost 364.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Hours: Open 24/7, but facilities are seasonal
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience a unique high-altitude environment and some of the best views in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Insider Tip: Bring a jacket even in summer - at 5,892 feet elevation, Craggy Gardens can be significantly cooler than Asheville.

Visit the Folk Art Center

Traditional Appalachian crafts on display at the Folk Art Center in Asheville, showcasing regional artistic heritage
Amazed by the skill behind these Appalachian crafts at the Folk Art Center. Each piece tells a story of mountain traditions.

Immerse yourself in the rich craft traditions of the Southern Appalachians at the Folk Art Center. Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this museum and gallery showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary crafts of the region. From intricate woodcarvings to stunning quilts, the center houses a permanent collection of 3,500 craft objects. Don't miss the daily craft demonstrations where you can watch skilled artisans at work and even try your hand at some traditional techniques.

  • Location: Milepost 382 Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, NC 28805
  • Hours: Daily 9 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Gain a deeper appreciation for Appalachian craft traditions and maybe take home a unique, handcrafted souvenir.

Insider Tip: Check the schedule for special exhibitions and events, which often feature hands-on workshops with master craftspeople.

Take a LaZoom Comedy Tour

Tourists enjoying the LaZoom Comedy Tour on a purple bus in downtown Asheville, capturing the city's quirky side
LaZoom Tour was hilarious! Who knew Asheville history could be so entertaining? Laughed my way through downtown!

Prepare for a hilarious ride through Asheville's history and quirky culture with LaZoom Comedy Tours. Hop aboard their purple bus for a 90-minute tour that's part history lesson, part improv comedy show. As you cruise through downtown and the historic districts, costumed guides and surprise street performers keep you entertained with outrageous skits and local lore. It's a great way to get oriented in the city while laughing your socks off. Just be prepared for some good-natured audience participation!

  • Location: Tours depart from 76 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Hours: Multiple daily tours; check schedule for times
  • Price: Starting at $31 for adults

Why Visit: Get a fun, offbeat introduction to Asheville's history and culture that you won't forget.

Insider Tip: For a truly unique experience, try their "Band & Beer" tour, featuring live local music and stops at breweries.

Explore the North Carolina Arboretum

Visitor admiring bonsai exhibit at North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, showcasing the botanical gardens' diversity
These tiny trees at the NC Arboretum's bonsai exhibition blew my mind. Some are over 100 years old!

Nature meets art at the North Carolina Arboretum, a 434-acre public garden nestled in the Pisgah National Forest. Wander through meticulously cultivated gardens, including the Bonsai Exhibition Garden with its miniature masterpieces. The Arboretum's extensive trail system offers options for both casual strolls and more vigorous hikes. Don't miss the unique "quilt garden," where flowers are arranged in patterns reminiscent of traditional Appalachian quilt designs. Throughout the year, the Arboretum hosts special exhibits, including a spectacular winter light show.

  • Location: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806
  • Hours: April-October: 8 AM - 9 PM, November-March: 8 AM - 7 PM
  • Admission: $16 per personal vehicle

Why Visit: Experience a perfect blend of natural and cultivated beauty in a serene mountain setting.

Insider Tip: Rent a bike to explore the Arboretum's 10 miles of smooth paved trails, offering a different perspective on the gardens and forest.

Attend a Show at The Orange Peel

Lively concert crowd at The Orange Peel music venue in Asheville, capturing the city's vibrant music scene
Rocking out at The Orange Peel! This place has hosted everyone from Bob Dylan to the Beastie Boys. Asheville knows how to party!

No visit to Asheville is complete without experiencing its vibrant music scene, and The Orange Peel is at the heart of it. This nationally renowned concert venue has hosted everyone from Bob Dylan to the Beastie Boys in its intimate 1,050-capacity space. The standing-room-only setup and excellent acoustics create an electric atmosphere, whether you're seeing a big-name act or discovering a local band. With a diverse lineup spanning rock, indie, hip-hop, and beyond, there's bound to be a show that piques your interest.

  • Location: 101 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Hours: Vary by show, typically doors open at 8 PM
  • Price: Varies by performance

Why Visit: Experience Asheville's legendary music scene in one of the Southeast's most respected venues.

Insider Tip: Arrive early to snag a spot on the balcony for the best views of the stage and the crowd.

Relax at the Omni Grove Park Inn

Guest enjoying the spa at Omni Grove Park Inn with mountain views, highlighting luxury relaxation in Asheville
Living my best life at the Grove Park Inn spa. Those mountain views from the hot tub are unbeatable!

Perched on Sunset Mountain, the Omni Grove Park Inn offers luxurious relaxation with a side of history. This grand resort, built in 1913 with granite boulders, has hosted ten U.S. presidents and countless celebrities. Even if you're not staying overnight, it's worth a visit for the stunning mountain views and world-class spa. Treat yourself to a massage or simply unwind in the subterranean spa's mineral pools and waterfall pools. End your visit with a drink on the Sunset Terrace, watching the sun dip behind the Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • Location: 290 Macon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
  • Hours: 24/7 for guests, spa and dining hours vary
  • Price: Spa day passes from $200, dining and drinks vary

Why Visit: Indulge in some pampering while soaking in breathtaking mountain views and over a century of history.

Insider Tip: Visit during the holiday season to see the hotel's famous National Gingerbread House Competition display.

Join the Asheville Drum Circle

Energetic drum circle gathering in downtown Asheville, showcasing the city's community spirit and artistic vibe
Joined the Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park. The energy was contagious - even I busted out some moves!

Feel the heartbeat of Asheville at the weekly drum circle in Pritchard Park. Every Friday evening from spring through fall, drummers of all skill levels gather to create a spontaneous, infectious rhythm that gets the whole crowd moving. It's a true community event where everyone is welcome to participate - bring your own drum or just dance to the beat. The energy is infectious, and it's a great way to mingle with locals and visitors alike. As the sun sets and the rhythms intensify, you'll feel the unique spirit of Asheville come alive.

  • Location: Pritchard Park, 67 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Hours: Fridays, roughly 6 PM until 10 PM, weather permitting
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience Asheville's free-spirited, community-oriented culture in its most rhythmic form.

Insider Tip: Bring a blanket or camp chair if you want to sit - the park can get crowded, especially on warm evenings.

Discover Art at Woolworth Walk

Local art displays in Woolworth Walk, Asheville, showcasing the city's artistic talent in a historic setting
Woolworth Walk is a time capsule of art and history. Love how they've transformed this old department store into a gallery!

Step back in time and into a world of local art at Woolworth Walk. Housed in a beautifully restored 1938 Art Deco building - a former F.W. Woolworth store - this unique gallery showcases the work of over 170 local artists across two floors. From paintings and sculptures to jewelry and textiles, you'll find an incredible variety of handcrafted items. The original soda fountain on the first floor has been lovingly restored, offering a nostalgic spot to enjoy an ice cream float or sandwich after browsing the art.

  • Location: 25 Haywood St, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 AM - 6 PM, Friday-Saturday 11 AM - 7 PM, Sunday 11 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Free to browse

Why Visit: Support local artists and find unique, handcrafted souvenirs in a piece of Asheville history.

Insider Tip: Visit during one of their frequent "Meet the Artist" events to chat with creators and maybe see a live demonstration.

Kayak the French Broad River

Kayakers paddling the French Broad River near Asheville, highlighting outdoor recreation opportunities
Kayaking the French Broad River was so peaceful. Did you know it's one of the oldest rivers in the world?

Get a different perspective on Asheville by paddling down the French Broad River, one of the oldest rivers in the world. Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or a first-timer, there are trips suitable for all skill levels. Gentle float trips offer a relaxing way to take in the scenery, while whitewater sections provide more of an adrenaline rush. As you paddle, keep an eye out for local wildlife like herons, turtles, and even the occasional river otter. Many outfitters offer guided trips that combine paddling with local history and ecology lessons.

  • Location: Various put-in points along the river
  • Hours: Vary by out fitter, typically offering morning and afternoon trips
  • Price: Guided trips start around $50 per person

Why Visit: Experience Asheville's natural beauty from a unique vantage point and cool off on a hot day.

Insider Tip: For a truly memorable experience, book a sunset paddle trip and watch the sky change colors as you float down the river.

Explore the Asheville Pinball Museum

Visitors enjoying classic pinball machines at Asheville Pinball Museum, showcasing nostalgic entertainment
Unleashed my inner pinball wizard at the Asheville Pinball Museum. With 75+ machines, it's a nostalgia overload!

Unleash your inner pinball wizard at the Asheville Pinball Museum. This interactive museum houses over 75 pinball machines and classic video games, all set to free play once you've paid admission. From vintage electromechanical games of the 1960s to the latest digital marvels, you can trace the evolution of pinball through hands-on play. It's a nostalgia trip for older visitors and a fascinating introduction to analog gaming for younger ones. The museum's passionate owner is often on hand to share pinball history and repair tips.

  • Location: 1 Battle Square, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 12 PM - 9 PM, Friday-Sunday 12 PM - 10 PM
  • Admission: $15 for adults, $12 for children (12 and under)

Why Visit: Step back in time and enjoy hours of nostalgic gaming fun in a unique, interactive museum.

Insider Tip: Arrive early in the day, especially on weekends, as the museum has a capacity limit and can get crowded.

Savor Farm-to-Table Cuisine

Beautifully presented farm-to-table meal in Asheville restaurant, highlighting the city's renowned culinary scene
This farm-to-table meal was a feast for the eyes and stomach. Asheville's food scene is no joke!

Asheville's food scene is a locavore's dream, with numerous restaurants embracing the farm-to-table ethos. Start your culinary adventure at Cúrate, where traditional Spanish tapas meet Appalachian ingredients. For a true taste of Southern hospitality, head to Biscuit Head, where you can top your cathead biscuits with a range of homemade jams and butters. End your day with an elegant dinner at The Market Place, one of Asheville's pioneers in seasonal, locally-sourced cuisine. Don't forget to ask your server about the farms and producers behind your meal - Ashevillians take pride in their local food community.

  • Location: Various restaurants throughout Asheville
  • Hours: Vary by restaurant
  • Price: Expect to pay $10-$15 for lunch, $20-$40 for dinner entrees

Why Visit: Experience Asheville's acclaimed culinary scene and taste the flavors of the region.

Insider Tip: Visit during Asheville Restaurant Week (typically in January) for special menus and pricing at many top eateries.

Visit the Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Thomas Wolfe Memorial house in Asheville, preserving the famous author's childhood home
Stepped into literary history at Thomas Wolfe's childhood home. It's like walking through the pages of "Look Homeward, Angel"!

Step into the childhood home of one of America's most famous novelists at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. This Victorian boarding house, immortalized as "Dixieland" in Wolfe's autobiographical novel "Look Homeward, Angel," offers a fascinating glimpse into early 20th-century Asheville life. Take a guided tour through the 29-room house, learning about Wolfe's life, his complex relationship with his hometown, and the impact of his writing on American literature. The on-site museum provides further context with exhibits on Wolfe's life and work.

  • Location: 52 N Market St, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: $5 for adults, $2 for children (6-17)

Why Visit: Gain insight into the life and times of one of America's great novelists and early 20th-century Asheville.

Insider Tip: Read "Look Homeward, Angel" before your visit for a richer understanding of the house's significance.

Climb to the Top of Chimney Rock

Hiker enjoying panoramic views from Chimney Rock, showcasing breathtaking vistas near Asheville
The climb to Chimney Rock was worth every step. You can see for 75 miles on a clear day!

For panoramic views that will take your breath away, make the climb to the top of Chimney Rock. This 315-foot monolith in Chimney Rock State Park offers 75-mile views of Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge. While you can take an elevator most of the way up, the final climb to the top of the rock is worth the effort. The park also offers several hiking trails, including one leading to the 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls. Keep an eye out for peregrine falcons, which nest in the cliffs.

  • Location: 431 Main St, Chimney Rock, NC 28720
  • Hours: Open daily, 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM (hours may vary seasonally)
  • Admission: $17 for adults, $8 for children (5-15)

Why Visit: Experience some of the most spectacular views in Western North Carolina and enjoy hiking trails for all skill levels.

Insider Tip: Arrive early to beat the crowds and the heat, especially in summer. The morning light is also beautiful for photography.

Tour the Moog Factory

Visitor testing synthesizer at Moog Factory in Asheville, highlighting the city's musical innovation
Channeling my inner rock star at the Moog Factory. These synthesizers have shaped modern music in ways you wouldn't believe!

Music lovers and tech enthusiasts alike will enjoy a tour of the Moog Factory, where the iconic synthesizers are still handcrafted today. Bob Moog, the inventor of the Moog synthesizer, chose Asheville as the home for his company, and his legacy lives on in this working factory. The free tour offers a fascinating look at the process of creating these complex instruments, from circuit board assembly to final testing. You'll even get a chance to play with various synthesizers in their showroom.

  • Location: 160 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 10 AM - 6 PM (tours at 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM)
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of instruments that have shaped modern music.

Insider Tip: While walk-ins are welcome, it's best to book your tour in advance, especially during peak tourist season.

Enjoy a Sunset at Mount Pisgah

Breathtaking sunset view from Mount Pisgah near Asheville, showcasing the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Caught this incredible sunset from Mount Pisgah. No filter needed when nature puts on a show like this!

For a memorable end to your day, head up to Mount Pisgah to watch the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountain, visible from much of Asheville, offers stunning 360-degree views from its 5,721-foot summit. The hike to the top is moderately strenuous but relatively short at 1.3 miles each way. As the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky in vibrant hues, you'll understand why the Cherokee considered these mountains sacred.

  • Location: Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 407.6
  • Hours: Open 24/7, but parking area gates close at night
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience a breathtaking Appalachian sunset and see Asheville from a new perspective.

Insider Tip: Bring a flashlight for the hike back down, and pack a light jacket - it can get chilly at the summit, even in summer.

Shop at the Grove Arcade

Shoppers exploring the historic Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, showcasing the building's beautiful architecture
The Grove Arcade is a shopper's paradise in an architectural gem. Don't miss the outdoor market for local crafts!

Indulge in some retail therapy at the historic Grove Arcade. This beautifully restored 1929 building is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in downtown Asheville. Today, it houses a variety of local shops, restaurants, and services. Browse handcrafted jewelry, locally made chocolates, vintage books, and unique home décor. The outdoor market features local crafters and farmers selling their wares. Even if you're not in the mood to shop, the building itself is worth admiring for its ornate architectural details.

  • Location: 1 Page Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 AM - 6 PM, Sunday 12 PM - 5 PM (individual store hours may vary)
  • Admission: Free to enter

Why Visit: Experience a piece of Asheville history while supporting local businesses and artisans.

Insider Tip: Visit on a Friday evening when many shops offer extended hours and there's often live music in the courtyard.

Take a Ghost Tour

Tourists on a nighttime ghost tour in historic Asheville, exploring the city's spooky legends
Asheville gets spooky after dark! This ghost tour was equal parts history lesson and goosebumps.

As night falls, uncover Asheville's spooky side with a ghost tour. Several companies offer walking tours that blend local history with tales of the supernatural. You'll hear stories of tragic lovers, restless spirits, and unexplained phenomena as you explore downtown's historic buildings and dimly lit alleyways. Whether you're a believer in the paranormal or just enjoy a good story, these tours offer a unique perspective on Asheville's past.

  • Location: Various starting points in downtown Asheville
  • Hours: Typically begin at dusk, around 8 PM or 9 PM
  • Price: Most tours range from $20-$25 per person

Why Visit: Discover a different side of Asheville's history and culture through its ghost stories and legends.

Insider Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket - Asheville can get chilly at night, even in summer.

Visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center

Child observing playful otters at Western North Carolina Nature Center, showcasing local wildlife education
The otters at the WNC Nature Center stole the show! It's a great place to learn about local wildlife.

Get up close with the wildlife of the Southern Appalachians at the Western North Carolina Nature Center. This 42-acre wildlife park is home to over 60 species of animals, including black bears, red wolves, and river otters. The center focuses on animals native to the region, offering a unique opportunity to learn about local ecosystems. Don't miss the Appalachian Station, where you can observe salamanders and other small creatures that play crucial roles in mountain ecosystems.

  • Location: 75 Gashes Creek Rd, Asheville, NC 28805
  • Hours: Open daily 10 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: $10.95 for adults, $6.95 for children (3-15)

Why Visit: Learn about the diverse wildlife of the Southern Appalachians and support conservation efforts.

Insider Tip: Time your visit for one of the daily animal feedings or keeper talks for a more interactive experience.

Attend a Festival

Festivalgoers enjoying live music at LEAF Festival near Asheville, capturing the city's love for arts and culture
LEAF Festival is a music lover's dream! From world beats to local bluegrass, there's something for everyone.

Asheville loves a good festival, and there's likely to be one happening no matter when you visit. The LEAF Festival in May and October celebrates world music and arts. For literary lovers, the Asheville WordFest in April showcases local and national writers. Beer enthusiasts shouldn't miss Oktoberfest in October, where local breweries showcase their best brews. And for a truly unique experience, check out the quirky Asheville Fringe Arts Festival in January, featuring avant-garde performances across the city.

  • Location: Various venues around Asheville
  • Dates: Throughout the year
  • Price: Varies by event

Why Visit: Experience Asheville's vibrant community spirit and diverse cultural offerings.

Insider Tip: Book accommodation well in advance if you're visiting during a major festival, as rooms can fill up quickly.

Structuring Your Asheville Adventure: A 7-Day Itinerary

Now that we've explored the best things to do in Asheville, let's put it all together into a week-long itinerary. Remember, this is just a suggestion - feel free to mix and match based on your interests and energy levels.

Days 1-2: Downtown and Central Attractions

  • Start with a leisurely breakfast at Early Girl Eatery, known for its farm-fresh Southern cuisine.
  • Take a stroll through downtown, exploring shops and galleries. Don't miss Woolworth Walk and Grove Arcade.
  • Join a LaZoom Comedy Tour for a hilarious introduction to the city.
  • Spend an afternoon at the Asheville Art Museum or the Moog Factory.
  • End your day with dinner at Cúrate and drinks at a rooftop bar for skyline views.
  • On day two, dedicate a full day to exploring the Biltmore Estate and its gardens.

Days 3-4: Outdoor Adventures

  • Start early with a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Hike at Craggy Gardens or Mount Pisgah, depending on your fitness level.
  • Spend an afternoon at the North Carolina Arboretum.
  • The next day, go for a morning kayak trip on the French Broad River.
  • In the afternoon, explore Pisgah National Forest and cool off at Sliding Rock.
  • End the day with a sunset viewed from the Omni Grove Park Inn's terrace.

Day 5: Arts and Culture

  • Begin your day in the River Arts District, watching artists at work and maybe joining a workshop.
  • Have lunch at 12 Bones Smokehouse, a local barbecue favorite.
  • Visit the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Take a tour of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.
  • End your day at The Orange Peel for live music.

Day 6: Relaxation and Culinary Delights

  • Start with a morning yoga class or spa treatment at a local wellness center.
  • Take a food tour or cooking class to dive deep into Asheville's culinary scene.
  • Spend the afternoon at the Asheville Pinball Museum for some nostalgic fun.
  • Join the Asheville Drum Circle in the evening for a uniquely local experience.
  • Enjoy a farm-to-table dinner at The Market Place.

Day 7: Choose Your Own Adventure

For your final day, choose from these options based on your interests:

  • Take a day trip to Chimney Rock State Park for hiking and amazing views.
  • Explore the charming town of Black Mountain, just east of Asheville.
  • Dive into Asheville's beer scene with a brewery tour in South Slope.
  • Visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center to learn about local wildlife.
  • Simply wander downtown, revisiting favorite spots or discovering new ones.

Remember, this itinerary is just a starting point. Asheville is a city that rewards exploration, so don't be afraid to wander off the beaten path. You might stumble upon a hidden gem that becomes the highlight of your trip!

Asheville is a city that stays with you long after you've left. From the misty mountain vistas to the beat of the drum circle, from the taste of locally brewed beer to the warmth of Southern hospitality, it's a place that engages all your senses. Whether you've followed this itinerary to the letter or used it as a jumping-off point for your own adventures, we hope you've fallen in love with Asheville's unique charm. And who knows? Like so many visitors before you, you might just find yourself planning your return trip before you've even left. After all, in a city as vibrant and varied as Asheville, there's always something new to discover.

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:48 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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