Are you planning a trip to Asheville, North Carolina in 2023? With its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and rich history, this city is a must-visit destination for travelers worldwide.
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, an art lover, or a foodie, Asheville has something to offer everyone. In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive list of 25 things to do in Asheville, NC, so you can make the most out of your trip.
From hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains to exploring the city’s vibrant arts scene, Asheville’s no shortage of fun stuff. In the following sections, we’ll provide you with a range of options, including outdoor activities, tours and attractions, cultural experiences, arts and entertainment, and off-the-beaten-path adventures.
Tours & Things to do hand-picked by our insiders
So, whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, or with family, you’ll find something on this list that will make your trip to Asheville unforgettable. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to discover the best of Asheville, NC.
Outdoor Activities – Fun Things to Do in Asheville
When you’re in Asheville, you won’t want to miss out on the fantastic outdoor activities available. Start by checking out the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, where you can learn about the history and ecology of the area before taking a scenic drive along the famous parkway.
Then, head to Craggy Gardens for a hike with stunning views of the mountains. For a more adventurous experience, try water activities like kayaking or tubing on the French Broad River.
Also, visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center and the Botanical Gardens at Asheville to glimpse the local flora and fauna. And if you’re up for a challenge, tackle a section of the legendary Appalachian Trail.
1. Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center
Step into the LEED-certified Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, where you can explore interactive exhibits and learn about the Blue Ridge Parkway’s history, culture, and natural beauty.
This visitor center in North Carolina offers a 24-minute film showcasing the parkway’s stunning views, wildlife, and iconic landmarks.
If you’re up for a hike, the center has a 1.4-mile loop trail that connects to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, allowing you to explore the mountains of North Carolina.
Don’t miss this opportunity to discover more about the Blue Ridge Parkway and its surroundings.
As you leave the visitor center, go to the next stop on your trip: Craggy Gardens.
2. Craggy Gardens
You’ll be amazed by the twisted trees, fog, and overabundance of rhododendron at Craggy Gardens, a mountaintop area along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, NC.
This beautiful and unique destination offers several hiking and biking trails that provide breathtaking 360-degree views of the mountains of western NC.
In addition to the natural beauty, Craggy Gardens has a nature center and a picnic area and is a popular spot for watching the sunrise and sunset.
If you’re planning a trip to Asheville, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore Craggy Gardens and all it offers.
Why not try water adventures on the French Broad River as you continue your adventure?
Get ready for a wild ride and experience the beauty of North Carolina with Water Adventures on the French Broad River. This Asheville area adventure center offers a variety of outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting, ziplining, canyoneering, e-mountain biking, and calm water rafting.
With the guidance of professional and friendly guides, you can paddle through Class II to Class IV rapids, soar through the canopy and enjoy panoramic views of the river valley and the mountains, explore hidden waterfalls and canyons, ride on dirt roads and trails that offer stunning views, or relax and unwind on a calm water float trip.
You can also combine two or more water adventures and save 10% on everything. The French Broad River is the world’s third-oldest river that flows through Western North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest, offering an unforgettable experience in the heart of nature.
From here, transition into the subsequent section about the Western North Carolina Nature Center and discover more about the wildlife and natural wonders of the region.
4. Western North Carolina Nature Center
Discover the awe-inspiring wildlife and natural wonders of Western North Carolina at the beloved 42-acre zoological park, the Western North Carolina Nature Center. Located in Asheville, this attraction is perfect for kids of all ages and offers a chance to see over 60 species of animals native to the Southern Appalachian region.
From black bears to red wolves, otters to red pandas, there are many things to see and learn about. As an Association of Zoos and Aquariums member, the center participates in several Species Survival Plans to conserve endangered animals.
With experiences like animal encounters, behind-the-scenes tours, and educational programs, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable experience during your trip to Asheville.
After exploring the Western North Carolina Nature Center, it’s time to explore the beautiful botanical gardens at Asheville.
5. Botanical Gardens at Asheville
After exploring the Western North Carolina Nature Center, continue your family-friendly adventure by visiting the Botanical Gardens at Asheville. This 10-acre non-profit garden offers unique things to do with kids.
You can take a half-mile loop trail through a variety of habitats showcasing over 600 species of native plants, some of which are rare and endangered. Take a break from the city and enjoy the peaceful surroundings while learning about the flora of the Southern Appalachians.
Admission and parking are free, but donations are appreciated. If you’re looking for more activities in Asheville, the garden offers educational programs and special events throughout the year.
The garden is conveniently located on the edge of the University of North Carolina – Asheville campus, just 10 minutes from downtown. And when you’re ready to hit the trails, the Appalachian Trail is just a short drive away.
6. Appalachian Trail
Ready for an epic adventure? Lace up your hiking boots and hit the Appalachian Trail, one of the most iconic hiking trails in the world.
As you explore the trail, you’ll witness breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains, traverse deep valleys, and cross crystal-clear streams.
The trail spans 14 states, including 95 miles in North Carolina and another 224 miles along the border between NC and Tennessee, making it a must-visit attraction for adventure seekers in Asheville, NC.
Whether you’re a day hiker, weekend warrior, or thru-hiker, there’s no shortage of fun things to do on the Appalachian Trail.
Follow the white blazes to experience scenic spots near Asheville, such as Max Patch, Roan Mountain, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hot Springs, Nantahala National Forest, and Fontana Dam.
So pack your backpack, grab your water bottle, and get ready for an unforgettable Appalachian Trail adventure.
As you finish your hike, why not check out some of the fun tours and attractions in Asheville, NC?
Tours and Attractions, Asheville NC
Looking for a fun way to explore Asheville’s rich history and beautiful sights? Look no further than Gray Line Trolley Tours!
Hop aboard one of their charming trolleys and enjoy a guided tour of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Highlights include the Biltmore Estate, Asheville History Center, Thomas Wolfe Memorial, and Adventure Center of Asheville.
With knowledgeable guides and exciting stops along the way, this is the perfect way to experience Asheville’s unique charm and history.
7. Gray Line Trolley Tours
Explore Asheville effortlessly with Gray Line Trolley Tours – hop on and off at any of the 10 stops along the route to discover the city’s history, homes, and hot spots while enjoying a nostalgic trolley ride.
Whether visiting Asheville for the first time or looking for new ways to experience the city, Gray Line Trolley Tours is a must-do. You’ll better appreciate the city’s past and present with fully narrated tours highlighting the city’s early settlers, famous citizens, and illustrious authors.
Plus, with the hop-on hop-off privileges, you can take as much time as you want to explore downtown Asheville, Montford Historic District, The Grove Park Inn, Biltmore Village, and River Arts District.
Make sure Gray Line Trolley Tours is on your list of Asheville attractions to visit. And when you’re done exploring the city, hop on over to the next section to learn more about the iconic Biltmore Estate.
8. Biltmore Estate
Immerse yourself in the opulent world of America’s Largest Home® at the Biltmore Estate, where you can explore the grand chateau, stroll through the breathtaking gardens, and indulge in the winery’s finest vintages.
But the Biltmore Estate is just the beginning of the many things to do in Asheville, North Carolina. Take a scenic drive to the North Carolina Arboretum, where you can hike, bike, or simply admire the stunning flora and fauna.
For a more adventurous experience, head to Pisgah National Forest, where you can go camping, fishing, or even zip-lining.
And if you’re looking for a taste of Asheville’s vibrant arts scene, visit the River Arts District, where you can browse galleries, watch artists at work, and purchase unique souvenirs.
But before you go, don’t forget to learn about Asheville’s rich history at the Asheville History Center.
9. Asheville History Center
You don’t want to miss out on the Asheville History Center! Opening in Fall 1845 at the Smith-McDowell House, this new museum will surely be a must-visit attraction. Learn about the diverse stories of Western North Carolina’s land and people, all while being located in the heart of downtown Asheville. As part of the Asheville Urban Trail, the center offers an immersive and educational experience that will be worth your time.
Despite potential concerns about museum crowds or ticket prices, the Asheville History Center is a great option for anyone interested in the city’s cultural, educational, social, and architectural history. After exploring the rich history of North Carolina, continue your journey through downtown Asheville. This vibrant entertainment hub has independent shops, farm-fresh eateries, and a distinctive mountain vibe.
Before heading off to your next adventure, stop by the nearby Thomas Wolfe Memorial. Here, you can glimpse the life and work of one of Asheville’s most celebrated authors.
10. Thomas Wolfe Memorial
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to discover the childhood home of Thomas Wolfe at the Victorian-style Dixieland house, open for public tours from Tuesday to Saturday at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial on North Market Street.
Located in downtown Asheville, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial is a must-visit for literature enthusiasts and history buffs alike. As one of the most famous writers of the 20th century, Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home is a fascinating place to visit and learn about his life and work.
Take a guided tour of the house and see where Wolfe grew up and where his mother rented rooms to tourists and visitors. The admission fee is affordable, and there are even discounts for groups and free admission for children under six.
This is a great activity for kids and adults alike, as it offers a glimpse into the past and a chance to learn about one of Asheville’s most famous residents.
After visiting the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, head over to the Adventure Center of Asheville for some outdoor fun.
11. Adventure Center of Asheville
Looking for some adrenaline-pumping activities to do in Asheville with kids? Head to the Adventure Center of Asheville, where you can experience the thrill of ziplining, climbing, biking, and more!
If you’re up for a challenge, check out the Asheville Treetops Adventure Park, an elevated obstacle course with 7 aerial trails and 77 elements that range from ground level to 50 feet in the air.
And if you’re looking for something more laid-back, Kolo Bike Park offers 4 miles of trails, 2 pump tracks, and a variety of options for beginners, advanced riders, and kids.
Don’t forget about the Asheville Zipline Canopy Adventures, which offers breathtaking views of downtown Asheville and the mountains.
After you’ve worked up a sweat, consider checking out other nearby attractions, such as the Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina Arboretum, or the Great Smoky Mountains.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Asheville’s unique culture, there are several must-see spots you won’t want to miss.
Start at the Folk Art Center, where you can explore Southern Appalachian art’s rich history and traditions.
Then, head to the stunning Basilica of Saint Lawrence for a glimpse of the city’s religious heritage.
Finally, take a stroll through Downtown Asheville, Grove Arcade, Woolworth Walk, and Grovewood Village to experience the city’s vibrant arts and crafts scene firsthand.
12. Folk Art Center
You’ll love exploring the Folk Art Center outside of Asheville, just a few miles southeast of downtown. This cultural attraction is a must-see for anyone interested in the arts and crafts of the Southern Appalachian region.
As the headquarters of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, the Folk Art Center showcases the work of over 900 craft artists from nine states. You can browse the three galleries filled with handmade items like pottery, jewelry, textiles, woodwork, glass, and metalwork, and even purchase souvenirs to take home.
Don’t miss the daily craft demonstrations from March through December, where you can watch Guild artisans create their works and interact with them. The center also has a library with an extensive collection of resources related to crafts from around the world and an auditorium that hosts various educational programs and events throughout the year.
Admission and parking are free, so add the Folk Art Center to your list of things to do in Asheville and the surrounding area.
Let’s move on to the next attraction, the Basilica of Saint Lawrence.
13. Basilica of Saint Lawrence
As you step inside the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, you’ll be awed by the intricate Spanish Renaissance architecture and the stunning stained glass windows depicting scenes from the life of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This is a must-see attraction when looking for things to do in Asheville, especially if you’re visiting with kids.
Located just minutes from downtown Asheville, this basilica offers a serene and peaceful atmosphere in the heart of downtown.
After your visit, you can stay in Asheville and explore more of what the city has to offer, such as the vibrant downtown area with its eclectic shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
Speaking of downtown Asheville, let’s explore this exciting area further.
14. Downtown Asheville
To fully immerse yourself in the vibrant entertainment hub of Downtown Asheville, take the Asheville Urban Trail. It’s a self-guided walking tour of 30 stations commemorating the city’s cultural, educational, social, and architectural history.
Get lost in the rich art scene by visiting the Asheville Art Museum, exploring the many art galleries, and admiring the beautiful murals that adorn the city’s buildings.
Don’t forget to indulge in the many attractions that this remarkable mountain vibe has to offer. Check out the Asheville Community Theatre, the Pack Square, and the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. If you’re looking for a fun activity for the whole family, check out the playground for the kids.
After a long day of exploring, rest your head at one of the many hotels in Asheville, or sip on some locally crafted beer at one of the many Asheville breweries.
As you venture into the next section about Grove Arcade, keep in mind that Downtown Asheville truly has something for everyone.
15. Grove Arcade
Step inside the historic Grove Arcade and be transported back to a world of ornate Gothic Revival architecture, bustling shops, and tasty eateries.
As you wander through the Arcade, take in the intricate sculptures, archways, and motifs that adorn the building’s exterior and interior.
Browse the unique shops, including the Asheville Art Museum and local breweries, to find the perfect souvenir or gift.
When you’re ready for a break, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and cafes offering delicious cuisine.
And if you want to stay awhile, book a room at one of the luxury hotels in downtown Asheville.
As you leave the Grove Arcade and head towards Woolworth Walk, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the history and beauty of this iconic landmark.
16. Woolworth Walk
Check out the local art and grab a bite at the old-fashioned soda fountain in the historic Woolworth building on Haywood Street.
The Woolworth Walk is one of the best things to do in Asheville, especially if you want a unique and creative experience. This gallery and emporium showcase the works of local artists in various mediums, making it a must-visit during your trip to downtown Asheville.
While you’re there, don’t forget to stop by the old-fashioned soda fountain for lunch, ice cream, or a refreshing beverage.
Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just looking for a fun activity, the Woolworth Walk is definitely worth a visit during your trip to Asheville.
And if you’re looking for more art and culture, the next stop on your itinerary should be Grovewood Village, just a short distance away.
17. Grovewood Village
Suppose you’re looking for a unique and artistic experience. In that case, Grovewood Village is a hidden gem adjacent to The Omni Grove Park Inn, like a colorful butterfly nestled in a vibrant garden.
Located in Asheville, Grovewood Village is one of the best things to do in the area.
With its rich history as the former site of Biltmore Industries, visitors can explore the Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum and the Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum.
The nationally recognized Grovewood Gallery showcases American-made art and craft from over 600 artists and craftspeople, while the working artist studios offer a chance to see local makers at work and purchase their creations.
Kids will be entertained by the live craft demonstrations and history tours, and Elder restaurant offers seasonal dishes made with local ingredients.
Asheville is a unique destination, and Grovewood Village is a must-visit for anyone looking for an artistic and cultural experience.
As you move on to the subsequent section about arts and entertainment, you’ll find even more ways to explore the vibrant culture of Asheville.
Best Things To Do – Arts and Entertainment
If you’re looking for a dose of arts and entertainment during your visit to Asheville, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Check out the Asheville Art Museum for diverse exhibits and events.
For live music, head to The Orange Peel – a historic venue that’s hosted everyone from Bob Dylan to Arcade Fire.
If you’re in the mood for a movie, the Fine Arts Theatre is a local favorite with a great selection of indie films.
And for a night of theater, catch a show at the Asheville Community Theatre (ACT).
Finally, don’t forget to stop by Barley’s Taproom for a drink and some live music in a laid-back atmosphere.
18. Asheville Art Museum
You’ll love exploring the Asheville Art Museum, with its impressive permanent collection and diverse exhibitions featuring artists from around the world.
Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just looking for some fun entertainment with the kids, this museum has something for everyone.
You can spend hours browsing through the paintings, sculptures, prints, and other artworks on display or participate in one of the many educational programs or special events offered throughout the year.
And if you’re feeling creative, head over to the Wells Fargo Art PLAYce to make your own masterpiece.
Don’t miss the Museum Store or the Perspective Café, both of which offer unique and enjoyable experiences.
Once you’ve had your fill of art, step next door to The Orange Peel for some live music and dancing.
19. The Orange Peel
Get ready to rock out at The Orange Peel, one of the top live music venues in the Southeast, located in downtown Asheville. This legendary venue has a capacity for up to 942 people and has hosted some of the biggest names in music, including Bob Dylan and The Smashing Pumpkins.
But The Orange Peel isn’t just for music lovers; it hosts comedy shows and other events. If you’re looking for outdoor entertainment, check out Rabbit Rabbit, the Orange Peel’s outdoor venue across the street.
After a night of music and fun, make sure to explore Asheville’s other attractions, including the breweries in Asheville and fun activities for kids. But before you go, don’t miss out on the Fine Arts Theatre – the next stop in your Asheville adventure.
20. Fine Arts Theatre
Step into the historic Fine Arts Theatre in downtown Asheville, and immerse yourself in the world of independent cinema. With a rich history dating back to 1915, Fine Arts Theatre is a movie theater that showcases first-run, art, and independent films.
This theatre is perfect for a date night or a family outing, as it serves beer and has delectable popcorn. The Fine Arts Theatre is a must-visit for anyone seeking entertainment in Asheville, NC. It’s an ideal alternative to museums or other activities for kids, and a great opportunity to experience the culture of the city.
As you leave the Fine Arts Theatre, you’ll be eager to explore more, and the Asheville Community Theatre (ACT) is just the place to continue your adventure.
21. Asheville Community Theatre (ACT)
Don’t miss out on experiencing the oldest continuously operating theatre in Asheville and one of the oldest community theatres in the nation. You can enjoy high-quality performances and events put on by your very own community at Asheville Community Theatre (ACT).
Whether you’re looking for entertainment for yourself or for your kids, ACT has something for everyone. With a variety of shows and events, including Mainstage Season, Readers Theatre Showcase, Youth Productions, and Special Events, you’re sure to find something that interests you.
And if you have younger kids, you can even enroll them in the Youth Production program to nurture their budding talent. Plus, while you’re there, don’t forget to check out the Lobby Gallery, which showcases works by local artists.
With its mission to engage audiences, nurture talent, and inspire generations, ACT is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the vibrant arts scene in Asheville.
Now, let’s move on to the next stop on our adventure: Barley’s Taproom.
22. Barley’s Taproom
You can indulge in delicious food, craft beer, and live entertainment at Barley’s Taproom, located in a charmingly renovated appliance store in downtown Asheville.
This restaurant and bar offer a variety of food options, including classic sourdough crust pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and calzones. But what sets Barley’s Taproom apart is its extensive selection of Asheville craft beers that will surely satisfy any beer connoisseur’s palate.
Additionally, Barley’s Taproom hosts events like music and trivia nights that are perfect for both kids and adults. Specifically for kids, there are activities like pizza-making classes and arcade games to keep them entertained while you enjoy your drink.
After a fun-filled evening at Barley’s Taproom, you can explore off-the-beaten-path and discover more hidden gems that Asheville has to offer.
Off the Beaten Path
If you’re looking for something a little different to do in Asheville, you might want to check out the Asheville Salt Cave. This unique attraction offers a relaxing and rejuvenating experience through salt therapy.
Another off-the-beaten-path option is McCormick Field, home to the Asheville Tourists minor league baseball team. You can catch a game and enjoy a classic American pastime in a charming setting.
And if you’re an art lover, the River Arts District (RAD) is a must-visit. This vibrant area is home to galleries, studios, and shops showcasing the work of local artists.
23. Asheville Salt Cave
The Asheville Salt Cave offers a variety of services and products related to salt therapy and massage, including private salt therapy sessions, massages, a salt shop, and events. Whether you’re looking for a holistic and relaxing experience or relief from respiratory issues or skin conditions, the salt cave has got you covered.
Also, why not check out the Asheville Pinball Museum or take a tour of the iconic Biltmore Estate? Walking the Asheville Urban Trail, you can also explore the city’s history and art scene.
If you’re in North Asheville, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to check out. And if you have kids in tow, there are many family-friendly activities to enjoy.
But first, let’s dive into McCormick Field, home of the Asheville Tourists baseball team.
24. McCormick Field
Experience the excitement of Asheville’s historic McCormick Field, home to the Asheville Tourists and some of baseball’s most legendary players. Catch a game and cheer on the home team as they take on their opponents.
But McCormick Field isn’t just for baseball fans – it’s also a great place for families and visitors to enjoy a day out. Take the kids to see a game and let them get in on the action with fun activities like the Kids Zone and the Tourist’s mascot, Mr. Moon.
And if you’re looking for other fun things in Asheville, why not check out the Asheville Pinball Museum or take a trip to the Biltmore Estate? With so much to see and do, a visit to McCormick Field is a must on your trip to Asheville.
And speaking of must-sees, up next we’ll explore another one of Asheville’s unique attractions – the River Arts District (RAD).
25. River Arts District (RAD)
Experience the vibrant and eclectic mix of art, dining, and outdoor activities in the River Arts District (RAD), home to 270+ working artists in various mediums and a beautiful 2-mile greenway alongside the French Broad River.
Explore the studios and galleries of local artists, purchase unique and local artwork, and engage in hands-on workshops.
The RAD is a foodie’s paradise with an array of dining options, from farm-to-table restaurants to food trucks.
Stroll down the Wilma Dykeman Greenway, enjoy public artwork, or rent a bike and explore the area.
Located just south of the main Asheville downtown area, east of the railroad tracks and the French Broad River, the RAD is easily accessible and located close to other popular destinations, such as the Asheville Museum of Science, West Asheville, and the north and south of Asheville.
Don’t miss this must-see destination during your visit to Asheville in 2023.
From hiking and biking to brewery tours and cultural experiences, this vibrant city has something to offer everyone.
Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or a foodie, Asheville is the perfect destination for your next adventure. So why not pack your bags and head to the mountains for a weekend getaway?
As they say, “The world’s your oyster,” and Asheville is the pearl waiting to be discovered. So go ahead and explore, indulge, and have a blast in this charming city. Who knows, you might even end up calling it home!
Ultimately, it’s all about creating memories and experiencing the best that life has to offer. So don’t wait any longer. Book your trip to Asheville today and get ready to be amazed. After all, “life’s a journey, not a destination,” and Asheville is the perfect place to start your journey. Happy travels!
Hello, and welcome to Travel Crog, a site where I share my travel advice for your dream vacations. My name is Molly Martin, and I’m the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. I have a passion for travelling and exploring new destinations, and I want to inspire you to do the same. Six years ago, I left my job as an HR professional and embarked on a three-month trip around the world. It was an amazing experience that changed my life and perspective. Ever since then, I have been travelling as much as I can, and writing about the best things to do, see, and eat in every place I visit. Whether you’re looking for a city break, a beach getaway, or a mountain adventure, I have something for you. Travel is not only fun, but also empowering and enriching. Join me on my journey and discover the world with Travel Crog. My motto is: “Life is short, travel more.”