Last Updated on May 5, 2023
Last Updated on May 5, 2023
We know this awesome mountain city tops many people’s lists of places to visit in North Carolina, and we’re going to share the best things to do in Asheville and nearby in Western North Carolina.
Many folks know that it’s packed with some of the most amazing food and some of the state’s best breweries, but we know that there’s some well-preserved history, an amazing arts scene, and more that’ll keep you coming back.
If you’re wondering, “What’s there to do in Asheville, NC?” then we’ve got you! We’ve created this guide that covers what to do in Asheville NC throughout the year, no matter when you decide to visit.
Here’s how we’ve organized this guide, in case you’re looking for something specific:
- Where is Asheville?
- When to Visit
- Where to Stay
- Annual Events
- Year-Round Things to Do in Asheville
- Restaurants in Asheville
- Breweries in Asheville (South Slope and Beyond)
- The Best Things to Do in Asheville (Our Top 5)
- Blue Ridge Parkway Stops near Asheville
- Nearby Hiking Trails and Waterfalls
- Nearby Towns
- More Asheville NC Travel Guides
You can also follow our Western North Carolina Map and North Carolina Travel Map to visually plan your adventures. Otherwise, keep reading!
Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in the Asheville area and are wondering, “What are the best things to do near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out!
Read More: The Best Things to Do in North Carolina and The North Carolina Bucket List Book
Where is Asheville?
- Asheville is located in Buncombe County in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.
- It is the Buncombe County seat and the county’s largest city.
- According to the 2020 US Census, the population of Asheville is 94,589. Asheville’s average elevation is about 2,200 feet above sea level.
Read More: Asheville NC Map of Attractions (+ 7 Surrounding Counties!)
When to Visit Asheville
Thanks to that mild climate, Asheville is great to visit throughout most of the year. However, it’s possible to visit during most of the year, including around Christmas when you should absolutely go check out Biltmore Estate. Summertime is nice but the spring and fall are equally cool.
That’s mostly because of the blooms and foliage you’ll find when visiting Asheville during those times of the year.
Pro Tip: We think Asheville is pretty awesome, no matter when you decide to visit. One thing I’d mention is that the place can get a little busy on the weekend.
Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)
Where to Stay (and Close By)
Before exploring all the awesome things to do in Asheville, you must find a place to stay, and we have plenty of experience here.
- Hotels: There are many hotels in Asheville to choose from, yet which one should you pick for your time here? Go all out and stay at the Omni Grove Park Inn (290 Macon Ave) or one of Biltmore Estate’s lodging options. Christina has also enjoyed stays at the Aloft Downtown (51 Biltmore Ave), and will likely be back because of the location and great service!
- Bed and Breakfast: For a cool-looking Bed and Breakfast within minutes of Downtown and Biltmore, check out Cedar Crest Inn (674 Biltmore Ave). About 20 minutes away from downtown is the awesome Engadine Inn and Cabins in Candler (2630 Smokey Park Hwy). Stay here if you want one of the best breakfasts in North Carolina!
- Rentals: Numerous rentals and Airbnbs surround the city, but here are a few companies that we’ve partnered with, and trust.
Read More: The Coolest Airbnbs in North Carolina
Annual Events in Asheville
Here are some of the best things to do in Asheville at specific times of the year:
- Asheville Art in the Park (June and October): This event presents some of the finest artists in the area. Nationally known local artists exhibit at this event, which is one major reason why this is one of the best things to do in Asheville.
- Asheville Tourists Games (April to September): McCormick Field was one of the stadiums featured in the iconic Bull Durham, and the Asheville Tourists continue to play there today.
- Chow Chow Culinary Festival (Summer): Chow Chow Culinary Festival brings award-winning chefs from North Carolina and beyond to join the biggest and best of Asheville’s food scene.
- Fall Foliage (Early October): Fall is the best time to visit Asheville, mainly because of fall foliage. We follow this map created by App State University, in case you’d like to know the exact dates for the area.
- Friday Drum Circles (April to October): Of all the days to be downtown, choose Friday at around 6:00 pm. That’s because the weekly Drum Circle begins then!
- First Fridays (April to December): The Downtown Arts District hosts “First Fridays” from April to December with music, demos, gallery openings, and more.
- LEAF Downtown Asheville (August): This is one of the best free things to do in Asheville NC. You can join this event every year in Pack Square. Over two days, there’s international music, art, workshops, food and drinks, and more!
- The North Carolina Ceramic Arts Festival (October): During the NC Ceramic Arts Festival, 40 national ceramic art vendors are joined by food trucks, raku demonstrations, and more.
- Christmas at Biltmore (November to January): Biltmore Estate hosts the state’s largest-scale home tour during the holidays. During Christmas at Biltmore, Christmas trees are decorated with thousands of ornaments, with luminaries joining lit candles and fireplaces.
- Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum (November to January): This wonderful Christmas event helps Asheville shine even brighter! Enjoy this display of thousands of lights stretching for over a mile of the gardens campus.
Read More: Christmas in North Carolina
Year-Round Things to Do in Asheville
- Biltmore Village
- River Arts District
- UNC Asheville and North Asheville
- West Asheville
Read More: 125+ Important Facts About North Carolina You Should Know (History, Geography, and More!)
Downtown Asheville NC
Downtown Asheville is filled with historic buildings, interesting shops, restaurants, and more along the way. So starting there is among the first things to do in Asheville.
You can visually plan a visit to any of these things to do in Asheville with our North Carolina Travel Map.
Read More: Western North Carolina Map (400+ Wonderful Places Listed)
Asheville Art Museum
2 S Pack Square
We think the Asheville Art Museum is one of the most underrated things places to go, especially on rainy days. Inside, you’ll find an awesome contemporary art collection and thought-provoking special exhibits.
Read More: 40 of the Most Amazing Museums in North Carolina (for ALL Ages!)
Asheville Museum of Science
43 Patton Ave
The Asheville Museum of Science is a great spot for all ages, especially kids. The French Broad River Water Table is a big hit, as are the Southern Appalachian Forest play space and their awesome gem collection.
Read More: Children’s Museums in North Carolina
Asheville Pinball Museum
1 Battle Square Ste 1b
You can easily spend a few hours at the Asheville Pinball Museum, home to dozens of games that you can learn about and, of course, play. Some of their machines are for sale, in case you want to take one home.
The museum gets busy fast, so show up early or prepare to wait a while before getting in.
Read More: Things to Do in Hendersonville
Gray Line Tours
36 Montford Ave
A Gray Line Trolley Tour will take you all over the city and is a convenient and entertaining way to get a handle on Asheville. It’s one of the best things to do in Asheville with kids, too. The guides are funny, though Uncle Ted’s enthusiasm and storytelling were hard to beat.
You can book tickets via their website or in person at the Asheville Visitor Center.
Read More: The NC Museum of History in Raleigh (+7 Things We Love About It!)
1 Page Ave
Grove Arcade has everything boiled into one spot, with local artists and galleries mixed in. This historic building was one of America’s first indoor shopping malls and has stuck around for nearly 100 years, like many places in Asheville.
Whether you shop inside or grab a bite out on the street, stopping by the Arcade is definitely one of the best Asheville NC things to do.
Hood Huggers International Tours
47 Bryant St
Dig into Black history in Asheville via DeWayne Barton and his Hood Huggers International Tours. You’ll walk (or even drive) through neighborhoods known for their arts, music, and other grassroots initiatives.
Above all, the theme in this community is resilience. It’s definitely worth remembering during one of Barton’s tours.
Read More: 25+ Important Places to Visit and Learn About Black History in North Carolina
The Moog Factory
160 Broadway St
There are two places where you can learn about Robert Moog’s creation in Asheville. First, see where they’re built and take a tour of The Moog Factory.
56 Broadway St, Front
And for a wonderfully curated timeline and interactive spot, spend some time at The Moogseum. It’s a fairly new museum in downtown Asheville and great for fans of synthesizers and the man behind them.
Thomas Thomas Wolfe
52 N Market St
Dubbed “Old Kentucky Home” by a former owner, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial was the setting in the famous author’s Look Homeward, Angel. It was his childhood home and today possesses many of the original furnishings from Wolfe’s life growing up there.
You can find Thomas Wolfe’s grave at Riverside Cemetery, where he and many other notable figures are buried and interred.
Wall Street is a nice little nook between Patton Ave and Battery Park that’s great for shopping and eating (see below), but also for checking out the bronze sculptures that make up the “Cat Walk.”
More Things to Do in Asheville (Biltmore Village)
We love starting downtown but also know that there are plenty of Asheville NC attractions located beyond the city center!
1 Lodge St
We mentioned Christmas at Biltmore in the “Events” section, but Biltmore Estate is popular throughout the year! Known as “America’s Largest Home,” it’s nearly impossible to understand the scale of this place.
However, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular things to do in Asheville. Start with a tour of the immaculate 250-room house.
After you’ve imagined how you’d utilize each room as your own, head outside for a walk around the beautiful gardens that surround the house.
Finally, you can top your day off with a tasting at Biltmore’s historic winery and take at least a bottle or two home. This is one of the best North Carolina wineries for a good reason.
Read More: Spring in North Carolina and Winter in North Carolina
The Cathedral of All Souls
9 Swan St
The Cathedral of All Souls is also in Biltmore Village and is a beautiful place to admire from the outside. It’s open to visitors from Mondays (9:00 am to 4:00 pm) to Saturdays (11:00 am to 1:30 pm).
More Things to Do in Asheville (River Arts District)
The Asheville River Arts District (RAD) is packed with 200 artists working in more than 20 former industrial buildings. We toured the area and learned about its history, meeting with some excellent artists who really make this area special.
Prominent names that you should check out include:
- John Almaguer (Glassblower)
- Stephen St. Claire (Dialuminist)
- Daniel McClendon (Fine Art Painter)
- Andrea Kulish (Pysanky Artist)
Read More: How to Find 20+ Haywood County Artists on Blue Ridge Craft Trails
More Things to Do in Asheville (UNC Asheville and North Asheville)
Botanical Gardens at Asheville
151 WT Weaver Blvd
The Botanical Gardens at Asheville houses a beautiful collection of plants and habitats, emphasizing the southern Appalachian Mountains. It’s independently owned and operated, even though you’ll find the gardens after entering UNC-Asheville.
More Things to Do in Asheville (West Asheville)
West Asheville sits across the river from RAD, and Haywood Road will take you through it. There, you’ll see colorful buildings filled with restaurants, quirky shops, and more fun things to do in Asheville.
It’s a nice and walkable neighborhood where you’ll find familiar mainstays like Biscuit Head and Early Girl.
New Belgium is also in this part of town, and we’ll talk more about it when discussing Asheville breweries.
Read More: Restaurants in Asheville
Even More Things to Do in Asheville
- While Downtown, you can start exploring the 20-plus shops that make up the Downtown Asheville Arts District. Highlights include the Asheville Gallery of Art (82 Patton Ave), the Ariel Gallery (19 Biltmore Ave), and Woolworth Walk (I’m a sucker for soda fountains).
- In Biltmore Village, New Morning Gallery (7 Boston Way) is one of the US’s finest and largest craft galleries. Their collection includes hundreds of artists specializing in ceramics, wood, glass, and much more.
- Even if you’re not staying at the adjacent Omni Grove Park Inn, check out Historic Grovewood Village (111 Grovewood Rd). Here, you can dig even deeper into Vanderbilt’s backstory, check out local crafts at the Gallery of the Mountains, and shop art at Grovewood Gallery.
The North Carolina Arboretum
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way
Visit the North Carolina Arboretum to look at beautiful bonsais, hollies, and a massive collection of every US-native azalea species. There are also multiple hiking and biking trails to enjoy here.
Read More: Botanical Gardens in North Carolina
WNC Farmers Market
570 Brevard Rd
The Western NC Farmers Market is open daily throughout the year, and you can spend a ton of time here. Peruse the retail area and open-air buildings for local fruits and veggies, preserves, and other farm-fresh items.
There’s a nursery center on-site that’s very nice to walk through, especially for a glance at the 40-foot waterfall. The WNC Farmers Market also hosts special events throughout the year, a bonus for visiting.
WNC Nature Center
75 Gashes Creek Rd
The 42-acre Western North Carolina Nature Center is home to various wildlife, indoor exhibits, and gardens. Popular exhibits include “Appalachian Station” and “Otter Falls,” not confused with this High Country waterfall hike.
Back to the WNC Nature Center, though, where there’s plenty more to explore, and you can learn about it here.
Read More: 25 of the Most Amazing Winter Hikes in North Carolina
Restaurants in Asheville
- I’m still reminiscing about the hummus and tasty creations found at Jerusalem Garden Cafe (78 Patton Ave).
- Another amazing Asheville restaurant is Early Girl Eatery (multiple locations), whose delicious shrimp and grits remain on my mind. It’s also one of our favorite breakfast restaurants in North Carolina.
- And another must-eat North Carolina barbecue stop is right here in Asheville! Head over to Buxton Hall (32 Banks Ave) for some wood-smoked melt-in-your-mouth pork! They also make a great take-home Thanksgiving Dinner if you’re in the area then and don’t want to prepare everything from scratch!
- Of course, we can’t forget places like Biscuit Head (multiple locations) and White Duck Taco (12 Biltmore Ave), and French Break Chocolate Lounge (10 S Pack Square), but we’re going to stop at that for now.
Read More: Restaurants in Asheville
Join an Asheville Food Tour
When someone asks about where to eat in Asheville, it’s hard not to name dozens of spots. One way to get a nice sampling of the city’s eats is via a Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour.
Breweries in Asheville (South Slope and Beyond)
I’m blown away by the sheer number of Asheville breweries to explore. Big names and smaller ones stand side by side throughout the city and on the outskirts.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Wicked Weed Brewing
- Brewpub (91 Biltmore Ave)
- Funkatorium (147 Coxe Ave)
- Twin Leaf (144 Coxe Ave)
- One World Brewing
- Downtown (10 Patton Ave #002)
- West Asheville (520 Haywood Rd)
- Wedge Brewing Co.
- Foundation (5 Foundy St)
- Wedge Studios (37 Paynes Way)
- Bhramari Brewing Company (101 S Lexington Ave)
- Burial Beer Co
- South Slope (40 Collier Ave)
- Forestry Camp (10 Shady Oak Dr)
- Green Man
- Dirty Jack’s (23 Buxton Ave)
- Green Mansion (27 Buxton Ave)
- Catawba: They might’ve started in Morganton (and sadly left), but their two locations in Asheville deserve mention, too.
- South Slope (32 Banks Ave)
- Biltmore Village (63 Brook St)
Read more: The Best Breweries in Asheville
New Belgium and Sierra Nevada
Of course, the huge names call the area their second home—New Belgium Brewing (21 Craven St) and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (100 Sierra Nevada Way, Fletcher).
Both have different setups but are great for hanging out alone or with friends. Sierra Nevada is technically in Fletcher, but not too far away from Asheville proper.
Read More: North Carolina Breweries
Distilleries (Chemist and Antidote)
Chemist (151 Coxe Ave) is another South Slope Brewing District place to visit, and you’ll see why after stopping by their prohibition-era tasting room. Antidote, Their adjoining cocktail bar, promises “the cure for the common cocktail.”
Read More: Distilleries in North Carolina
The Best Things to Do in Asheville (Our Top 5)
We made some tough decisions when picking our favorite things to do in Asheville. Nevertheless, here’s what we think are the best of the best:
- South Slope Breweries
- NC Arboretum
- River Arts District Art Studios
- Omni Grove Park Inn
- Biltmore Estate
What do you think are the best things to do in Asheville? We’re all ears!
Ready for These Things to Do in Asheville?
Thanks to all these fun things to do in Asheville, we are definitely ready to go back right now! What about you? Are you ready for an awesome weekend in Asheville, NC?
If you’ve recently stayed, we’d love to know how you enjoyed this special town because it’s always nice to keep tabs on one of our favorite cities in North Carolina.
What are your things to do in Asheville? We’d love to read about them in the comments section or in our inbox.
Don’t forget to share your Asheville adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!
Things to Do Nearby
Beyond everything we’ve already mentioned, there are plenty of things to do in Asheville’s surroundings.
- Blue Ridge Parkway Stops
- Nearby Hikes and Waterfalls
- Nearby Towns
Blue Ridge Parkway Stops
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of our favorite things to do in Asheville. You can drive it and admire the beauty that surrounds you when stopping at this scenic road‘s many overlooks and viewpoints.
Here are some of our favorite stops near Asheville:
- Linville Falls (MP 316)
- Crabtree Falls near Burnsville in Yancey County (MP 339)
- Mount Mitchell State Park (MP 355), the tallest mountain peak east of the Rockies and the tallest of our Black Mountains
- Glassmine Falls (MP 361) – part of Pisgah National Forest
- Craggy Gardens (MP 364-367)
- The Folk Art Center (MP 382)
- Skinny Dip Falls (MP 417)
- Graveyard Fields (MP 418)
- Black Balsam Knob along the Art Loeb Trail (MP 420)
Read More: Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes
Nearby Hikes and Waterfalls
There are some amazing hikes and waterfalls near Asheville beyond the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are some of our favorites:
- Bearwallow Mountain Trail
- Clingmans Dome Observation Tower and Deep Creek Trail inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Catawba Falls Trail
- High Falls Loop and the Bridal Veil Falls hike in DuPont State Forest
- Lovers Leap and Wayah Bald on the Appalachian Trail
- Panthertown Valley Trail (leads to Schoolhouse Falls and other highlights)
- Roan Mountain near Bakersville and Burnsville
- Upper Whitewater Falls. (Fun Fact: it is the highest in the eastern US, falling more than 800 feet.)
- Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park
Read More: 100+ Hiking Trails in North Carolina
If the weather is especially awesome or you’ve run out of things to do (how?), there are more than a few small towns near Asheville.
Read More: Day Trips from Asheville
There are plenty of great places to visit in Buncombe County, and we think you should start with Black Mountain. This fun small town also features quaint shops, impressive restaurants, great breweries, Black Mountain college, and the always beautiful Lake Tomahawk.
Read More: North Carolina Mountain Towns
Head down to Transylvania County and spend a day (or more) in Brevard. You’ll be attracted to all the awesome waterfalls nearby, and some of them are among the best in North Carolina.
Our favorites include Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove Falls, with the always popular Sliding Rock just down the road!
Read More: 20+ Kid-Friendly Waterfalls In NC (Easy Hikes And Swimming Holes!)
You can also head out to Flat Rock, south of Hendersonville, and explore the Carl Sandburg Home. This National Parks site is where the Pulitzer Prize-winning author lived for the final 22 years of his life, seeking solitude and a place to continue writing.
Flat Rock is also home to some great restaurants, including Hubba Hubba Smokehouse and the Flat Rock Wood Room. Being in Henderson County, you should know about the awesome Sky Top Orchard and other great places to go apple picking.
Read More: How to Reach Wintergreen Falls in DuPont State Forest
Hendersonville is also south of Asheville and worth exploring, especially for their wonderful downtown and great restaurant scene! One of the best things to do in Asheville is to take late summer and early fall day trips to apple orchards and the NC Apple Festival around Labor Day.
Throughout the year, though, you should drive up to Jump Off Rock, enjoy gem mining at Elijah Mountain, and get into more things to do.
Read More: Hiking Tails near Hendersonville
The Zebulon B Vance Birthplace State Historic Site sits about five minutes from downtown Weaverville. Inside the town, you’ll find a wonderful gathering of shops, restaurants, and more spots that highlight this awesome community.
We also love the scenic Lake Louise Park, nice for a stroll any day!
Read More: 25+ Great Lakes in North Carolina (+ Our Top 5 Picks)
More Asheville NC Travel Guides
We’ve created many more travel guides that cover these things to do in Asheville and nearby. Here are a few of them.
6 thoughts on “50+ Great Things to Do in Asheville (+ Our Top 5)”
Sounds like a great weekend!! I need to check this place out!
Thank you, Shay! Asheville is a great place to spend a weekend or more. Hope you can get there someday soon.
I lived in Asheville for three years. It wasn’t nearly enough time to see and experience all the wonders of the area. I fully intend to return! I just wanted to say, this article made me home sick BUT it’s an excellent cross section of what Asheville has to offer.
Thanks so much for your kind words, Angela! Asheville most definitely is something special. We hope that you get to come back for a visit soon!
We’re staying in wolf laurel resort in February! It’s 8 adults! Your insta has been super helpful! Is there a good tubing place nearby?
Wolf Ridge in Mars Hill or Tube World in Maggie Valley will be the closest. Have a blast!