Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and we'll send you a FREE Printable NC Waterfalls Checklist!

50+ Great Things to Do With Kids in Asheville (and Nearby!)

Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on May 8, 2024.

Disclaimer: This site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure and Privacy Policy pages for further explanation.

Asheville is one of the funkiest and most burgeoning cities in North Carolina, with lots of hip restaurants, outdoor activities, museums, and more. We love visiting this Western NC city, especially with the kids!

We’re always looking for fun things to do with our kids across North Carolina, and Asheville does not disappoint in that regard.

If you’re looking for ideas for a family-friendly vacation to this fun city, you’ve come to the right place. This guide focuses on our favorite things to do in Asheville with kids.

Here’s a breakdown of our guide:

  • Map
  • Things to Do with Kids in Asheville NC
    • Annual Events
    • Seasonal Attractions
    • Museums
    • Hikes
    • Waterfalls
    • Outdoor Attractions
    • Family-Friendly Restaurants
    • Family-Friendly Breweries
  • More Things to Do with Kids Near Asheville

Skip to any section or check out the next section, which houses our map of things to do in Asheville with kids (or without them).

Read More: 60+ Kid-Friendly Events in North Carolina for the Whole Year

Map of Things to Do with Kids in Asheville NC (or Without Kids)

Asheville NC Map

We created this map of things to do in Asheville with kids (or without) with Google Maps). The map is a branch of the North Carolina Travel Map for the entire state and the regional Western North Carolina Map.

List of Things to Do with Kids in Asheville NC

  • Annual Events in Asheville for Kids
  • Seasonal Attractions Near Asheville for Kids
    • Apple Picking
    • River Tubing
    • Ski Resorts
    • Snow Tubing Parks
  • Family-Friendly Asheville Museums
    • Asheville Museum of Science
    • Asheville Pinball Museum
    • Biltmore Estate
    • Western NC Nature Center
  • Kid-Friendly Hikes
  • Kid-Friendly Waterfalls
  • Lakes near Asheville for Kids
  • More Outdoor Attractions in Asheville for Kids
    • The Botanical Gardens at Asheville
    • Gray Line Tours
    • The North Carolina Arboretum
    • Ziplining at the Adventure Center of Asheville
  • Family-Friendly Restaurants
  • Family-Friendly Breweries

Annual Events in Asheville for Kids

Things to Do with Kids in Asheville NC
Winterlights at the NC Arboretum.

As a major culinary and arts hub, Asheville hosts many events yearly. While we have created a more comprehensive list here, we have narrowed it down to a few events that kids will enjoy the most if you want to bring yours.

  • 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. Kids will love to catch a MILB game here.
  • 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.
  • Friday Drum Circles (April to October): Fridays at 6:00 pm are the most lively for all the days to be downtown. The community gathers for an evening of drums, and it’s hard to decide if kids or adults will enjoy it more!
  • 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: 30+ of the Most Festive Christmas Lights Displays in North Carolina

Seasonal Activities in Asheville for Kids

These seasonal activities keep us returning to the Asheville area throughout the year.

Apple Picking

Apple Picking in Hendersonville orchards

During late summer and early fall, you can find apple picking spots throughout much of Western NC, especially in the Asheville area. The highest concentration of apple orchards is in Hendersonville, just south of the city.

Here’s a list of apple picking spots near Asheville, all of them perfect for kids:

Open The NC Tripping Map of Apple Orchards near Asheville (via Google Maps)

River Tubing

Hikes near Asheville NC Deep Creek Trail Bryson City

On hot summer days, a tube on the calm rivers in Asheville and nearby is perfect for kids.

Here are some businesses that offer tube rentals in Asheville and nearby:

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do In North Carolina (Your NC Bucket List)

Skiing

Beech Mountain Ski Resort

Bring your snow bibs and mittens during winter and get ready to hit the slopes at the best places to go skiing in NC. Most are nestled in the High Country near Boone and Blowing Rock (also, Banner Elk!) but also further west in the mountains around Asheville.

  • Appalachian Ski Mountain (940 Ski Mountain Rd, Blowing Rock, NC) features 12 slopes for beginners to advanced skiers. There are three beginner, six intermediate, and three advanced trails with a peak elevation of 4,000 feet. Appalachian Ski Mountain also boasts an ice rink for more outdoor winter fun!
  • Beech Mountain Resort (1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy, Beech Mountain, NC) is the second largest of our ski resorts, with 95 acres. It’s also the highest-elevation resort on the East Coast at 5,506 feet. There are 17 slopes here, and Beech Mountain is also the only ski resort in NC with a brewery.
  • Cataloochee Ski Area (1080 Ski Lodge Rd, Maggie Valley, NC) in Maggie Valley is one of the best places for beginners to ski in North Carolina. The 18 slopes spanning 50 acres feature eight beginner, seven intermediate, and three advanced trails.
  • Ski Sapphire Valley (127 Sapphire Valley Rd, Sapphire, NC): While there are only two trails, one beginner and one intermediate, at Ski Sapphire Valley, many still find it a great place for travelers from Asheville with kids! A short vertical drop of only 200 feet means it’s perfect for families to work on their forms!
  • Sugar Mountain (1009 Sugar Mountain Dr, Sugar Mountain, NC): Of all the ski resorts in North Carolina, Sugar Mountain is the largest, with 125 acres of skiable area, and 21 slopes. All these features make this the ultimate winter getaway, but there’s even more.
  • Wolf Ridge Ski Resort (578 Valley View Cir, Mars Hill, NC): Dropping 700 feet and with the longest run hitting 3,700 feet, Wolf Ridge Ski Resort in Mars Hill offers plenty of winter fun. Located just 30 minutes north of Asheville, Wolf Ridge has plenty of cabin rentals that are perfect before and after your day on the slopes. Speaking of which, you have 15 slopes and a snow tubing park for fun with the kids. 

With this seasonal activity, please confirm open hours before visiting. We’ve experienced warm days in December and January that forced the ski areas and snow tubing to close.

Read More: 18 Unique Luxury Resorts in North Carolina

Snow Tubing Parks

Tube World in Maggie Valley

Snow tubing is one of our favorite winter activities throughout NC! Here are some places to expect thrills within a short drive from Asheville.

  • Beech Mountain has a tubing area with multiple lanes that may be the fastest, based on our experiences.
  • Hawksnest Snow Tubing and Ziplining (2058 Skyland Dr, Seven Devils, NC): Not far from Otter Falls, Hawksnest is one of our favorite places to spend a weekend in winter! It’s the largest snow tubing park on the East Coast, and they also have one of the longest zip lines in the nation!
  • Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing Park (9472 NC-181, Newland, NC): Have you ever gone tubing at night? If not, then Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing Park has five lanes that are perfect for sliding down as the sun starts to set.
  • Tube World (4821 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC): Hit Tube World and Wee Bowl Snowplay Area for the kids or join a class at The Cataloochee Snow School. Their snow school also includes an adaptive ski program for adults and children. 
  • Sugar Mountain: Along with slopes, Sugar Mountain has a tubing park, an ice skating rink, and a public racing program.
  • Wolf Ridge Ski Resort also has some fun snow tubing lanes with its exquisite amenities and ski slopes.

Read More: Winter in Boone (20 Great Activities, Snow Tubing, and More!)

Kid-Friendly Museums in Asheville (and Nearby)

Asheville has some great museums for all ages, but especially for kids. Here are a few that you should check out when in Asheville.

Asheville Museum of Science

Address: 43 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC

Asheville Museum of Science Downtown Asheville NC

The Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS) is a fun and enriching experience for kids. We even consider it among the best things to do in Asheville with a baby.

The museum opened in 1960 as the Burnham S. Colburn Memorial Museum, a place to commemorate Burnham Colburn and the precious minerals and gems he had collected over his lifetime.

Today, The AMOS has diverse exhibits regarding minerals, astronomy, dinosaurs, and more. The French Broad River Water Table is a big hit as kids can play with the water and alter them by creating dams and other barriers.

The Southern Appalachian Forest play space is also excellent for kids to climb and slide while you, the parents, watch and cheer them on.

Read More: Visiting the Awesome Wilmington Railroad Museum

Asheville Pinball Museum

Address: 1 Battle Square, Asheville, NC

You and the kids can easily spend an entire afternoon at the thrilling Asheville Pinball Museum. The incredible building has 70 pinball and arcade games that will capture the kids’ attention.

Some of their machines are also for sale if you want to take one home.

The Pinball Museum only allows 65 players at once, so the place fills up quickly. We recommend arriving early to guarantee entry; if at capacity, they will place your name on a waiting list.

Read More: 17 Great Things to Do with Kids in Raleigh

The Biltmore Estate

Address: 1 Lodge Street, Asheville, NC

Things to Do in North Carolina Biltmore Estate Asheville NC

No trip to Asheville is complete without swinging by Biltmore Estate, so it’s good that America’s Largest Home is great for kids! The Biltmore was a six-year project by George Vanderbilt to build the perfect Country Home.

The enormous house has 250 rooms while the grounds sprawl across 8,000 acres!

Kids can explore both the interior of the house and the gardens. There’s even a playground on the premises! While you’re touring, you can buy an audio guide for kids so they can follow along as well.

Read More: 60+ Amazing I-40 Exits in North Carolina (from Asheville to Wilmington)

Western North Carolina Nature Center

Address: 75 Gashes Creek Rd, Asheville, NC

Picture of Otter at Nature Center in Asheville NC

Asheville’s home to the 42-acre Western North Carolina Nature Center, a wildlife wonderland that will excite the kids beyond imagination.

The Center is the renovated version of the past Asheville City Zoo and focuses on flora and fauna native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The Center cares for over 60 species, including otters, black bears, and coyotes.

The WNC Nature Center is one of the premier educational facilities in Western NC, providing programming to teach about these animals. It’s one of only 40 AZA-accredited facilities and is home to the world’s most endangered canine species, the red wolf.

Popular exhibits include “Appalachian Station,” where you can find reptiles of all sizes, and “Otter Falls,” not confused with this High Country waterfall hike. The whole family will have a blast seeing and learning about these amazing animals.

Read More: 10+ Great Things to Do in Chimney Rock Village (and Nearby)

Family-Friendly Asheville Area Hikes

Day Trips from Asheville NC Cradle of Forestry
Cradle of Forestry.

There are so many hikes near Asheville for kids. Before you take your little ones out, remember to leave no trace. Pack in and out, and please do not litter in our beloved public spaces.

  • Bearwallow Mountain: Bearwallow Mountain (1 mile) is a beautiful grassy bald with lovely views of Mt. Mitchell and Mt. Pisgah. Instead of seeing bears as the name might suggest, you will most likely see a lot of cows up here! That’s because Bearwallow Mountain is a working farm.
  • Black Balsam Knob: Black Balsam Knob is 1.4 miles roundtrip and part of the famed Art Loeb Trail. This is another beautiful bald that sits off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 420.
  • Chimney Rock State Park is home to some of the most incredible hikes near Asheville for kids. The Outcropping Trail (0.4-mile loop) will get you and your kids to the top of Chimney Rock itself. There is an elevator that will get you there, too. The Hickory Nut Falls Trail (1.4-mile loop) will take you to the base of the 404-foot namesake waterfall.
  • Cradle of Forestry is open from April 21 to November and is one of our favorite places to visit from Asheville with kids. At this Forest Heritage Scenic Byway stop, you can explore many hands-on exhibits for all ages and learn about forestry! After you pay admission, hike one of the trails and enjoy a lovely walk in the woods.
  • Deep Creek Trail outside Bryson City leads to beautiful waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tom Branch Falls is the first, followed by Indian Creek Falls and Juney Whank Falls. Our recommendation for kids is to hike to Tom Branch Falls. The trail is gentle, short, and wide. Not only that, but as you enter the park you’ll see spots to rent a tube!
  • Graveyard Fields is among the most popular hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 418. This hike has two waterfalls, but we only recommend Lower Falls for kids. We also recommend you hike through Graveyard Fields, a mix of natural surfaces and a boardwalk surrounded by wild blueberry bushes.
  • Grandfather Mountain is home to 12 miles of trails managed by North Carolina State Parks (Free) and another section (about 720 acres) protected by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. Some of the most difficult (yet rewarding) hikes near Asheville are here. However, the 228-foot-long Mile High Swinging Bridge (Tickets Required) is easily accessible by car and elevator. You can also park below and hike to it (0.7 miles).
  • Jump Off Rock is a great roadside overlook in Laurel Park, near Hendersonville. Three fairly short hiking trails start from its parking lot. The Blue Trail (480 feet) is the easiest, followed by the Yellow (1,221 feet) and Red (1,239 feet) trails.
  • Max Patch Trail is a short and easy 1.4-mile-loop that leads to a beloved 4,600-foot bald mountain along the famed Appalachian Trail. Beautiful 360-degree panoramas of the surrounding mountains (including Mount Mitchell!) and in Tennessee. It’s essential to leave no trace at Max Patch. The ecosystem has suffered from overuse and is still in the recovery stages.
  • Mount Mitchell State Park is home to the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi and the highest in our Black Mountains. You’ll find a range of easy and difficult hiking trails inside Mount Mitchell State Park. We like taking our kids to the observation deck’s panoramic views after a few hundred-yard stroll on the Summit Trail (0.3 miles round trip).

Read More: 100+ of the Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina

Waterfalls Near Asheville for Kids

Hikes near Asheville Dry Falls
Dry Falls.

Asheville is also surrounded by beautiful waterfalls, with a few already mentioned in the above hiking section. Here are some more that are great for kids.

Before you visit, remember to leave no trace. Pack in and out, and please do not litter in our beloved public spaces.

Also, practice proper safety when visiting these outdoor spaces.

  • Bust Your Butt Falls is located on the North Carolina Waterfall Byway near Highlands and is a very popular swimming hole in the summer! There is a natural slide, swimming hole, and even a swinging rope for those up for a thrill! 
  • Dry Falls: This waterfall’s biggest draw is the ability to walk behind the 65-foot gushing falls. While there isn’t any swimming available here, we can definitely attest that Dry Falls isn’t all that dry when you walk behind it! 
  • French Broad Falls is considered a hidden gem in our book. This amazing collection of falls is located along the NC-215 portion of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway near Brevard. Further, French Broad Falls sits on private property, but the owners (Living Waters Ministry) graciously allow visitors.
  • Hooker Falls: DuPont State Forest is a short drive from the mountain towns of Hendersonville and Brevard. Hooker Falls is a 12-foot waterfall, with water is gentle and shallow enough to make it a popular spot for swimming and picnics.
  • Looking Glass Falls is probably North Carolina’s most popular waterfall because it is easy to access! Of course, that qualifies it among the most kid-friendly waterfalls near Asheville. This roadside waterfall in Brevard draws tons of visitors all year round long.
  • McGalliard Falls: If you’re in Burke County, then a stop at McGalliard Falls is a must! Located near the adorable small town of Valdese, McGalliard Falls is a short walk with views of a historic mill.
  • Mingo Falls is one of the Appalachian’s tallest waterfalls and is easy to reach after 161 steps! This beautiful waterfall in Cherokee trickles over the rock face into a gentle stream. Visitors to Mingo Falls should go slowly up the stairs, as they are often wet.
  • Moore Cove Falls: After visiting Looking Glass Falls, we highly recommend traveling a couple of miles down the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway to Moore Cove Falls. This beautiful waterfall is a perfect hike for kids because the trail is mostly flat and yields a beautiful experience at the end! View the waterfall from a viewing platform or walk behind it at your own risk!
  • Otter Falls is one of our favorite waterfalls hikes near Boone and we recommend seeing this beauty in all four seasons, especially winter! The trailhead is in Seven Devils (near Banner Elk), resulting in the community coming together to share this waterfall with the public.
  • Pearson’s Falls is one of two kid-friendly NC waterfalls requiring admission. Located on a 275-acre botanical preserve near Saluda and Tryon, The Tryon Garden Club manages this space.
  • Roaring Fork Falls sits at the base of Mount Mitchell and is one of our favorite little hidden gems near Burnsville! Following along an old forest service road, the trail is wide and flat. The incline is steady and gentle, and we would go so far as to say fellow travelers with babies could take a jogging stroller on this path 99 percent of the way. At the very end, there is a bridge crossing and an area with many roots- but you could park your stroller here and walk the short distance to the falls.
  • Setrock Creek Falls is right around the corner from Roaring Fork Falls! The short trail starts at the Black Mountain Campground and is gentle and flat. Plenty of rocks are at the base of the waterfall for exploring, and the water is shallow at the base for getting your feet wet!
  • Silver Run Falls is just 500 feet from the road and is a beautiful 25-foot waterfall in Jackson County near Cashiers. Parking can be limited here, but we guarantee it is worth the hassle! An excellent pool at the waterfall’s base is gentle and has a slow entry of soft sand around it.
  • Sliding Rock Falls is on the same road as Looking Glass Falls, Moore Cove Falls, and the Cradle of Forestry. This place is legendary and something that every North Carolinian should experience! The 60-foot waterfall has a smooth rock face perfect for sliding down and is extremely popular in the summer. From Spring to Fall, there is an entrance fee that includes bathrooms and showers. We recommend wearing thicker shorts when sliding down because the rock face can tear up your bathing suit bottoms. We also recommend that all children wear life jackets while sliding down into the plunge pool. 
  • Tom’s Creek Falls near Marion is reachable after a half-mile hike. The trail is naturally surfaced, but it is wide and only has one uphill section. This is another spectacular waterfall, but we think the hike is even more special during fall.

Read More: Map of Waterfalls in Western NC (50+ of the Best and Most Beautiful!)

Lakes

Lake James State Park Boating

NC’s lakes are perfect for visiting throughout the year, with tons of space to cool off in the hot summer, hiking trails in surrounding forests, and fishing opportunities from your boat or a pier.

  • Fontana Lake is the largest lake in Western North Carolina. Fontana Lake is a reservoir dammed by Fontana Dam, the highest dam east of the Rockies at 480 feet tall.
  • Lake James is part of Lake James State Park, established in 1987. The state park encompasses 3,743 acres surrounding the lake and offers miles of hiking and biking trails.
  • Lake Lure is a mountain town and a lake nestled in the Hickory Nut Gorge. It’s about 27 miles east of Asheville and a popular tourist spot. The 720-acre lake is encased within the town, making it the local community and culture center. Check out the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge while you’re there. You and the kids will love it!
  • W. Kerr Scott Reservoir in Wilkes County is a 1,500-acre lake run by the Army Corps of Engineers. The lake features 6 boat launches and 3 campgrounds with over 200 campsites. The park’s 1,000-seat amphitheater often sees theatrical performances by Bleu Moon Productions of Tom Dooley and Junior Johnson plays. The Environmental Education Center‘s interactive kid-friendly (and all ages-friendly) exhibits await to educate you on the area’s ecology.

Read More: 25+ Beautiful North Carolina Road Trips (Scenic Byways and Highways)

More Family-Friendly Outdoor Attractions

There are even more outdoor things to do in Asheville with kids, so stick around and explore these awesome places.

Botanical Gardens at Asheville

Address: 151 WT Weaver Blvd, Asheville, NC

Things to Do in Asheville NC Botanical Gardens at Asheville

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

Read More: 16 of the Most Beautiful Botanical Gardens in North Carolina

Gray Line Tours

Address: 36 Montford Ave, Asheville, NC

What to Do in Asheville NC Gray Line Trolley Tour Image

When the weather is nice, we recommend taking a Gray Line Trolley Tour around the city. It’s a convenient and entertaining way to gain a local’s perspective of Asheville!

Kids will love taking in all the sights in Asheville on the tour. And if that won’t hold their attention, the guides tell some great jokes and stories during the ride!

You can book tickets via their website or in person at the Asheville Visitor Center.

Read More: The Asheville Art Museum (How to Visit + 7 Great Things to Do)

The North Carolina Arboretum

Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC

North Carolina Arboretum Asheville NC

One of the best things to do with kids in Asheville is a visit to the NC Arboretumwhich is by far one of the nicest botanical gardens in the state.

The kids will love to run around the expansive green spaces while you can admire the beautiful flora. There is even a model train that kids can hop on during the weekends! After all that exercise, the kids can grab a snack from the Arboretum’s cafe.

Read More: 22 Ridiculously Unique Rentals and Airbnbs in Asheville (and Nearby)

Ziplining at the Adventure Center of Asheville

Address: 85 Expo Drive, Asheville, NC

Asheville might be a bustling city, but it’s still nestled in the forests and mountains that characterize Western North Carolina. As such, there’s no better way to enjoy the wilderness feel of Asheville than ziplining through the forest.

The Adventure Center of Asheville offers ziplining for all ages, especially young kids aged 4-10. The Adventure Center offers other fun as well, including a treetops adventure course, a bike park, and more.

Read More: Engadine Inn and Cabins near Asheville (10 Things We Love About It!)

Family-Friendly Asheville Restaurants

Vortex donuts in Asheville

As you know, Asheville has some world-class restaurants, and knowing which places you should check out with kids can be difficult. Here are a few options we’ve enjoyed in the past.

  • PIE.ZAA (46 Millard Ave, Asheville, NC): PIE.ZAA may have a small menu, but it offers some of the best NY-style pizza in Asheville. The ginormous slices are sure to be a hit for the whole family.
  • Vortex Doughnuts (32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC): This eclectic donut shop is surrounded by bright and vivid murals that you and the kids can admire while enjoying your treats. Vortex sells out often, so be sure to come early!
  • Haywood Common (507 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC): Enjoy traditional comfort food at this vibrant restaurant in West Asheville. You can sit outside in the spacious outdoor courtyard where there are often events and gatherings.
  • Chai Pani (22 Battery Park Ave, Asheville, NC): Chai Pani is a whimsical twist on Indian food with a great kids’ menu. The staff will also bring out kids’ coloring and activity books once you sit down, keeping the whole family occupied!

Read More: 25 Wonderful Wineries Near Asheville (Vineyards Within 2 Hours)

Family-Friendly Asheville Area Breweries

Asheville Breweries Whistle Hop Brewing

Asheville is known for its amazing craft beer scene and even a few breweries that we think are great for kids. Remember to drink responsibly, have a designated driver, and watch your kids.

  • Highland Brewing Company (56 Patton Ave and 12 Old Charlotte Highway #200, Asheville, NC) is Asheville’s original brewery and today has two locations: the brewery (and Meadow) and, most recently, the downtown taproom in the S&W Market.
  • Sierra Nevada (100 Sierra Nevada Way, Fletcher, NC) is the most recognizable name among breweries in Asheville. This wonderful space sits right over the Buncombe-Henderson County line, is part of a forested campus, and has a huge play space for your little ones. We’ve been coming here since our first was a baby, and hopefully, you can, too.
  • Whistle Hop Brewing Company (1288 Charlotte Hwy, Fairview, NC) is one of the most family-friendly places throughout North Carolina. It’s a huge space, both inside and outside. Families and dog owners can sip the amazing beers here while also playing a round of mini-golf, disc golf, and table bowling.
  • Zillicoah Beer (870 Riverside Dr, Asheville, NC) offers a family day on Sundays. Throughout the rest of the week, you need to be 21 and over to visit.

Read More: 80+ Tasty North Carolina Breweries (The Best of the Best!)

More Things to Do With Kids Near Asheville NC

It’s hard to run out of this to do in Asheville with kids, but if you do, here are some other fun activities nearby! These places and attractions are all within 2 hours of Asheville.

  • Appalachian Pinball Museum
  • Carl Sandburg National Historic Site
  • Carolina Arcade Museum
  • Catawba Science Center in Hickory
  • Gem Mining
  • Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
  • Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Museum
  • Hands-On! Children’s Museum
  • KidSenses Children’s INTERACTIVE Museum
  • Linville Caverns
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center
  • Tweetsie Railroad
  • Wilderness Run Adventure Course
  • Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster

Read More: 75+ Fun Day Trips from Asheville (Within a 2-Hour Drive)

Appalachian Pinball Museum

Address: 538 N. Main St, Hendersonville, NC

Childrens Museums in North Carolina Appalachian Pinball Museum Hendersonville NC

The best way to spend a rainy day or any day in Asheville with kids is to visit the Pinball Museum, but did you know there’s another one in Hendersonville? The Appalachian Pinball Museum is owned by the same people and a great place to visit throughout the year.

They serve North Carolina beer to accompany the more than 80 classic pinball machines to play. After paying admission, you can play for as long as you want.

Thanks to the signs above each one, you can learn about the games and when they were made.

Read More: 17 Incredible Restaurants in Hendersonville and Nearby (+ Wine and Craft Beer!)

Carl Sandburg National Historic Site

Address: 1800 Little River Rd, Flat Rock, NC 28731

Henderson County NC Connemara Goats Carl Sandburg Home
Connemara Goats at the Carl Sandburg Home.

The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site protects the area known as Connemara, remembering the life of Carl Sandburg. The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer once lived here, and it’s one of our favorite spots to take our kids.

Take them on the trails after saying hello to the dairy goats once owned by Mrs. Sandburg. 

Read More: 12 Wonderful National Parks Sites in North Carolina

Carolina Arcade Museum

Address: 145 E Main St, Forest City, NC

Things to Do with Kids in Asheville NC Carolina Arcade Museum Forest City

Can you tell that we like arcades? You’ll find a classic arcade and pinball games galore in the Rutherford County town of Forest City.

At the Carolina Arcade Museum, you can pay for admission for an hour or an all-day pass. Of the three we’ve mentioned, it’s hard to rate our favorite.

We’ll have to let the kids decide after revisiting them all!

Read More: Asheville River Arts District and Nearby (20+ Essential Things to Do!)

Catawba Science Center

Address: 243 3rd Ave NE, Hickory, NC

Day Trips from Asheville NC Catawba Science Center Hickory

Located in a former high school (and the same building as the Hickory Museum of Art), the Catawba Science Center is an excellent way to enjoy another great city near Asheville with kids.

This Hickory museum is affordable and a great quick trip from Asheville.

Read More: 20+ Great Things to Do in Hickory (Interactive Museums, the Best Food, and More!)

Gem Mining

Things to do in Hendersonville Gem Mining

Gem mining is one of the year’s best family-friendly Asheville activities. It’s fun for all ages and a perfect learning opportunity, too! 

Many of these businesses operate throughout the year but we want to remind you that some are seasonal. Just be sure to check open hours before visiting.

We hope you enjoy and our fingers are crossed for you to find something valuable!

Read More: 30+ Great Things to Do in Pisgah National Forest

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Address: 45 Mitchell St, Bryson City, NC

Things to Do in North Carolina in February Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Bryson City

Whether traveling as a family or without kiddos, riding the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad is one of the best things to do in Bryson City!

53 miles of railroad tracks wind across bridges and the beautiful North Carolina mountains. Expect your trip to take several hours.

Round-trip excursions that range from 3.5 hours to a full day of fun.

Read More: How to Relax at Lakeview At Fontana (One of the Best Spa Resorts in NC)

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Museum

Address: 100 Greenlee St, Bryson City, NC

Things to Do in Bryson City Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Train Museum

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Museum is a great place in Bryson City. A wonderfully curated collection of Lionel trains and interactive exhibits for children make this one of our favorite spots near Asheville for kids.

Admission is included with your Great Smoky Mountains Railroad ticket or individual tickets can be purchased.

Read More: Road to Nowhere (A Broken Promise-Turned-Fun Walk near Bryson City)

Hands-On! Children’s Museum

Address: 318 North Main Street, Hendersonville, NC

Hands-On! Children’s Museum in Hendersonville is both fun and educational, focused on providing a “hands-on” experience. The exhibits are great for engaging the kids, with a Lego raceway, a puppet theater, an activity simulating the eye of a hurricane, and so much more!

Read More: How to Reach Wesser Bald Fire Tower in Franklin (+ Amazing Views at the Top!)

KidSenses Children’s INTERACTIVE Museum

Address: 172 N Main St, Rutherfordton, NC 28139

Things to Do with Kids in Asheville NC KidSenses Interactive Museum Rutherfordton NC

KidSenses Children’s INTERACTIVE Museum in Rutherfordton is a wonderful place, about an hour from Asheville. Housed in a building originally constructed in 1927, the museum opened in 2004 and has become a fixture in this small town.

There are more than a dozen interactive exhibit areas, curriculum-based workshops for field trip groups, and a seasonally open 7,500 square-foot Children’s Garden.

Read More: 25 of the Best Things to Do in Shelby and Cleveland County (Livermush, Music, and Much More!)

Linville Caverns

Address: 19929 US-221, Marion, NC

Linville Caverns near Marion

Linville Caverns are currently NC’s only caverns available to tour and one of our oldest (and most popular) attractions. The caverns opened for public tours in 1937 and offer 30 daily tours on a first-come, first-serve basis.

With consistently cool temperatures of 52 degrees Fahrenheit inside, this is a great place to visit when it’s raining, cold, or when temperatures outside are blisteringly hot.

Read More: 13 Wonderful Things to Do in Old Fort (an Awesome Western NC Town!)

Nantahala Outdoor Center

Address: 13077 U.S. 19 West, Bryson City, NC

Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City NC

Nantahala Outdoor Center (also known as NOC) is a 500-acre facility in the middle of the Nantahala Gorge. They offer rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, biking, and hiking!

Kids have one of our favorite attractions—the riverside Treetop Adventure Nets! For ages three and up, this fun outdoor climbing structure was the first 100 percent net-based aerial playground in the United States.

Read More: 18 of the Best Pumpkin Patches in North Carolina (Eastern, Central, and Western NC)

Tweetsie Railroad

Address: 300 Tweetsie Railroad Ln, Blowing Rock, NC

Tweetsie Christmas train

Train rides are another great thing about Western NC, and Tweetsie Railroad is a true NC treasure. I admit the child inside me comes out while riding the train here.

Tweetsie hosts events throughout its season, but we must highlight Tweetsie Christmas, one of the best attractions near Asheville for kids.

Read More: The NC Transportation Museum in Spencer (and 3 Reasons to Go Now!)

Wilderness Run Adventure Course

Address: 3265 Tynecastle Hwy, Banner Elk, NC

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Beech Mountain6

The folks at the Alpine coaster built a ropes adventure course to accompany their popular attraction! You can explore at your own pace and traverse the ropes, stairs, and swings as best you can.

If you’re traveling with younger kids, there is a smaller course for them, too!

Read More: 12 Amazing Restaurants in Banner Elk, NC and Nearby (+ Where to Drink!)

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster

Address: 3265 Tynecastle Hwy, Banner Elk, NC

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Beech Mountain5

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is the first in Western North Carolina, opening in 2020. Feel the wind against your face as you ride down their mountain in a two-person cart reaching speeds close to 30 mph.

The Coaster remains open throughout the year and is a great place to visit near Sugar Mountain. Personally, I think you need at least three runs before you can get the hang of the coaster.

Read More: 25+ Amazing Waterfalls near Banner Elk (within 2 Hours’ Drive)

What are Your Favorite Things to Do with Kids in Asheville (and Nearby)?

We love exploring Asheville with kids and hope this guide helps you enjoy it. With a wonderful collection of family-friendly activities in Asheville and nearby, this is the perfect city to take your little ones.

If you’re familiar with the city, what are your favorite things to do in Asheville with kids? Let us know in the comments or by email.

Don’t forget to share your Asheville family adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!

If you’re traveling in and around Asheville with kids (or not), here are some more NC Travel guides we’ve created.

Leave a Comment