Ok, it’s no secret around here that we love Asheville, North Carolina. And if you’re thinking about a trip, here are 30 fun things to do in Asheville you should think about adding to your itinerary.
(Also, you can check out our 2 day Asheville itinerary here!)
Eat Eat Eat
Honestly, one of our favorite things to do in Asheville is to eat. There are SO MANY GREAT RESTAURANTS. Every time we go we have full lists of new ones to try. A few of our favorites: Early Girl Eatery, Curate, Asheville Proper, and Tupelo Honey Cafe.
Take a Food Tour
If you really want to experience the Asheville food scene, take a food tour. These tours walk you through downtown Asheville, giving you a bit of the city’s history while taking you to a handful of different restaurants for food and drink samples. It is an absolute blast! But be sure to come hungry! This is probably one of our favorite things we have ever done in Asheville.
Visit the Biltmore
You can’t go to Asheville without visiting the Biltmore Estate. This palatial house was once the home of George and Edith Vanderbilt and is an absolute must-see. If you’re visiting, plan to spend most of a day there, as there is so much to do aside from just the standard tour inside the house. For even more information about visiting, see our Guide to the Biltmore here.
Have a Wine Tasting at the Biltmore
The Biltmore also has its own winery, and you can do wine tastings at Antler Hill Village. When you visit the Biltmore, your ticket includes a complementary wine tasting (be sure to book your time ahead). This is also an option if you are staying on property. (Note that you have to have a ticket or be staying on property to do this.)
Downtown Asheville is full of so many fun and funky shops. We love finding new things for our house and gifts for our friends and family here. If you are a fan of shopping, you can easily spend a whole day here browsing. Plus there are lots of art galleries with local art in Asheville that you will definitely want to check out!
Buy Some Books
To get more specific on our shopping, let’s talk books (because of course we love books here at Flying Off the Bookshelf). We ALWAYS make a point to visit Malaprop’s in Asheville, one of the South’s best independent bookstores. They have a fantastic selection, great staff picks, a local author’s shelf I love, and a calendar full of events. OH and they also have a small cafe inside, so you can grab a coffee while browsing for your next read.
Visit the Grove Arcade
One of the best buildings in downtown Asheville is the Grove Arcade. Completed in 1929, this building has a super interesting history. While it began as a indoor mall full of shops, it became home to the National Weather Records in 1951. Eventually these records were moved and the Grove Arcade re-opened as an indoor shopping and dining space in 2002. The architecture here is beautiful, and aside from having some great shops and restaurants, it is also a great place to cool off on a hot day.
Watch Street Performers
Asheville has SO MUCH MUSIC. And you’ll often find street performers playing all kinds of music. Think Stars Hollow buskers in a bit of a busier town.
Enjoy a Drum Circle
In addition to street performers, there is also a drum circle that regularly gathers on Friday nights. You can find them starting around 6 in Pritchard Park. This is definitely an Asheville staple and so fun to see!
Go to a Fun Bar
Asheville has tons of fun bars! Whether you want a fancy rooftop bar or something a little more downhome, you’ll find it here. For rooftop bars check out Capella on 9, The Montford, or Hemingway’s Cuba. And for something unique, we love Jack of the Wood, a pub that is especially fun when they have live music.
Eat Some Sweets
Do not go to Asheville and miss the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Seriously. This chocolate is life changing and they have a case full of desserts that are 100% worth every dollar and every calorie. And don’t let the line out the door scare you. I promise it’s worth it.
Go on a Chocolate Factory Tour
Speaking of chocolate…if you are a big chocolate fan, visit the French Broad Chocolate Factory, which is not far from downtown. They have a lot of the same dessert selections as their downtown location (a great tip if the one downtown is super crowded), plus you can book a factory tour that comes with a chocolate tasting. A must-do in Asheville if you are a chocolate connoisseur!
Visit the Thomas Wolfe House
Literary giant Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home is actually found in Asheville, and it is set up as a memorial. This is definitely something you want to check out in Asheville if you are an American literature geek! You can tour the house Tuesday – Saturday, and it’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Play Pinball at the Asheville Pinball Museum
Perhaps one of the most unique things to do in Asheville is to visit the Asheville Pinball Museum. This place is full of classic video games and pinball machines, with over 70 games to choose from. And once you pay the admission fee ($15 for adults, $13 for kids) you can play as many games as you wish without worrying about tickets or tokens.
Visit the River Arts District
This area of Asheville has become an artist’s haven, full of working art studios, galleries, restaurants, breweries, and more. There are also lots of murals and outdoor art to enjoy as well! Find out more about what’s available in Asheville’s River Arts District here.
Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
The famous Blue Ridge Parkway, a winding road that takes you through the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, comes right through Asheville. You can get on it near the Biltmore, and enjoy miles of picturesque views. Find out more about how to plan your route here.
There are SO MANY hiking trails near Asheville! So pack your hiking boots for your Asheville trip and enjoy the great outdoors. Explore Asheville has great information on available hikes.
Visit the Asheville Art Museum
The Asheville Art Museum is located downtown and is known for their collection of American art from the 20th and 21st centuries, with a special focus on regional art. They are open every day except for Tuesdays and major holidays, and you book your tickets online ahead of time.
Visit a Nearby Small Town
Asheville may be your main city here, but this area of North Carolina is full of lots of great small towns you could visit for an afternoon to enjoy restaurants and shopping. A few suggestions: Black Mountain, Waynesville, Hendersonville, and Weaverville.
Stroll Through the Botanical Gardens of Asheville
The Botanical Gardens of Asheville is located near the University of North Carolina Asheville and is definitely something to add to your list if you are a plant lover. The Botanical Gardens of Asheville of course places a special emphasis on preserving native plants and educating visitors about them. And a bonus? Admission is free!
Visit the North Carolina Arboretum
For an even bigger outdoor experience, visit the North Carolina Arboretum. This public garden is over 400 acres and is full of cultivated gardens and forested hiking trails. There is also a gift shop and a restaurant where you can grab a bite to eat. Plus they frequently have fun and special exhibits. Note that admission is free, but there is a parking fee of $16.
Visit the Grove Park Inn
The Grove Park Inn is a classic Asheville landmark, and you don’t have be staying there to visit. Spend some time in the lobby and enjoy the mountain views or dine at one of their many restaurants. At Christmas, you can check out their National Gingerbread House Competition, and any time of year you can enjoy a self-guided audio tour to learn more about this historic resort.
Have Some Drinks at a Brewery
You probably couldn’t throw a stone in Asheville without hitting a brewery. So of course, there are plenty places to choose from for a beer, from well-known places like Sierra Nevada and Highland Brewing to microbreweries like Thirsty Monk. Some breweries also offer tours.
Visit the Folk Art Center
The Folk Art Center is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway and focuses on regional arts and crafts, with shopping, exhibitions, and demonstrations. This is a great place for art lovers and if you want to dive into the history and culture of the area. Admission is free and they are open daily (except major holidays).
Go to Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock State Park is located about 1 hour southeast of Asheville and boasts gorgeous mountain views from their famous rock. There are also all kinds of hiking trails, plus the beautiful views are accessible to everyone with an elevator to the top. Tickets for one day of admission is $17 for adults and $8 for kids.
Slide Down Sliding Rock
Sliding Rock is located about 1 hour southwest of Asheville and is truly a unique experience. It’s technically a waterfall, but it is sloped over a rock perfectly enough for people to slide down it, making it a natural waterslide! Admission is $4 per person. And be prepared because the water can feel COLD even on warm summer days. Also, be sure to check hours before you go because they close seasonally and when the water is too high.
Forage for Food
In these beautiful North Carolina mountains, there’s so much food you might not even realize is there. Taking a foraging tour can introduce you to all kinds of edible plants, and some include a cooking demo and tasting. If you want to learn more about the natural resources around you, this might be the perfect thing for you.
Climb Mt. Mitchell
Mount Mitchell is located about an hour northeast of Asheville, and is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains. In fact, it’s the highest point east of the Mississippi. Mount Mitchell State Park includes hiking, camping, a museum, and an observation desk (that doesn’t necessarily require a strenuous hike).
Float the French Broad River
The French Broad River flows right through Asheville. And while you can travel to other areas of the river for whitewater rafting adventures (check out NOC or French Broad Adventures), you can also float down the gentler part of the river that runs through Asheville on a tube. A great way to cool off on a hot Asheville summer day!
Visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center
The Western North Carolina Nature Center is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and places a special focus on animals native to Appalachia. They have 60 species of animals, including black bears, wolves, foxes, and a cougar. Admission is $13.95 for adults and $9.95 for children ages 3-12.
With so many things to do in Asheville, NC you won’t have any problem filling your itinerary up! And if you need more help planning your trip to Asheville, check out our Weekend in Asheville Itinerary!