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10 Best Things to Do in Asheville, NC

10 Best Things to Do in Asheville, NC

Kerry profile pictureKerryApr 8, 2024

Asheville, North Carolina, is one of the best mountain towns in America for a reason. This eclectic city is in the Western North Carolina portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by mountain views, state parks, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. While the scenery is enough to make it special, the Asheville area is also known for its thriving arts community, local breweries, and food scene.

Staying at Wander Asheville Meadows gives you access to all year-round activities nearby. We’ve rounded up our favorite things to do in Asheville, NC, to help make your mountain getaway unforgettable.

1. Go for a Scenic Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Dubbed “America’s Favorite Drive,” The Blue Ridge Parkway is a slow-paced, scenic drive that takes you straight through the Southern Appalachian mountains. Connecting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in WNC and the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the parkway provides 469 miles to explore.

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Along the way, you’ll experience stunning mountain ranges, a diversity of plant and wildlife species, and plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the view. The parkway also provides access to some of the region's best hiking trails and mountain biking opportunities. Whether you are looking for a scenic day trip or a quick drive to your next destination, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a can’t-miss spot.

There are four main entrances to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Asheville area:

  • US Highway 70 and Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 382.6

  • US Highway 74A and Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost: 384.7

  • US Highway 25 and Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 388.8

  • NC Highway 191 and Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 393.6

Blue Ridge Parkway is free and open to the public year-round. Be sure to check the road closures map before making your way to the parkway.

2. Visit the Biltmore Estate

Touring the Biltmore Estate is one of the most popular things to do near Asheville, attracting people from all over the world to visit year-round.

This historic museum was constructed in the late 1800’s by George Vanderbilt as a family home, boasting 250 rooms and a whopping 175,000 square feet. Visitors can tour the three-story mansion room-by-room, admiring the Vanderbilts’ large collection of fine art, antique furnishings, and more along the way.

Beyond the Biltmore House, visitors can take a walking tour through the stunning Gardens and Grounds, head to the Biltmore Village for shopping and dining, and wind down at the Biltmore Winery after a day of exploring.

3. Explore Downtown Asheville

Downtown Asheville is the entertainment hub of the city, boasting historic buildings, independent boutiques, art galleries, and weekly drum circles.

Downtown Asheville is best explored by foot, so you don’t miss any of the local spots. Head to a local coffee shop first, such as Rowan Coffee or Rite Rite. Next visit Grove Arcade, a historic mall featuring artisan shops and local dining options.

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Photo courtesy Asheville City Market

For fresh produce, local crafts, and more, visit Asheville City Market, a farmers market that takes place on Saturdays in the heart of Downtown Asheville. The Asheville Art Museum and Woolworth Walk are great spots for art enthusiasts. And if you’re looking for a family-friendly activity, be sure to head to the Asheville Museum of Science next.

Finally, there is nothing more quintessentially Asheville than participating in a drum circle with locals and visitors. Head to Pritchard Park’s outdoor amphitheater for weekly free drum circles featuring live music and dancing. Pack Square is also a downtown green space with street performances.

Pro Tip: If you love Downtown Asheville, you’ll want to head to West Asheville next. This vibrant neighborhood is known for its stretch of local eateries, independent coffee shops, breweries, and live music venues.

4. Enjoy Craft Beer at Local Breweries

Asheville is known for its craft brewery scene. With over 50 breweries in the Asheville area, visitors have plenty of options to choose from during their stay.

Some of our favorite local breweries include Highland Brewing Company, Zillicoah Beer Co., and New Origin Brewing Company. If you’re looking for a creative way to visit multiple breweries, we recommend taking a guided bike or walking tour. These tours typically last a few hours and let you sample craft beer from multiple microbreweries along the way. Head to one of the many delicious restaurants in Asheville when you're done brewery-hopping.

For our full list of favorite tours and breweries, head here.

5. Go Ziplining in the Great Smoky Mountains

Looking for an adventurous way to get the best views of the Great Smoky Mountains? Ziplining is the outdoor adventure for you. With tons of ziplining options nearby, guests can choose from a variety of terrains and difficulty levels.

Navitat Canopy Adventures is the perfect option for the thrill-seeker, offering a Mountaintop Tour that soars above the Blue Ridge mountains. The Gorge Zipline is another popular option featuring one of the fastest ziplines in the nation. Winding through over 120 miles of forest, it offers tree-top views of the lush mountains below. No matter what route you take, you’re in for an epic adventure.

6. Explore the River Arts District

The River Arts District (RAD) is a neighborhood near Downtown Asheville known for its thriving arts community. This creative center is home to over 270 artists, offering a range of art galleries, local art shops, dining options, and street art at your fingertips.

We recommend taking an afternoon to stroll from shop to shop before enjoying a drink at one of the many local restaurants. The neighborhood also borders the French Broad River, making it the perfect spot for sunset views after dinner.

Pro Tip: Head to the Folk Art Center next for daily craft demonstrations, exhibitions, a gift shop, and more.

7. Visit the North Carolina Arboretum

  • Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC

  • Event Information: ncarboretum.org/events

  • Tickets: The North Carolina Arboretum is free to the public. There is a $20 parking fee for personal vehicles. 

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Photo courtesy North Carolina Arboretum

The North Carolina Arboretum is unlike anywhere else in Asheville. Minutes from Downtown Asheville, the arboretum spans 434 acres and features cultivated gardens, hiking and biking trails, exhibits, and special events for the whole family to enjoy.

One of the most popular exhibits is the Bonsai Exhibit Garden, featuring traditional Asian bonsais as well as American species. Head to the hiking trails next where you’ll walk along blooming wildflowers and azaleas. If you’re looking for family-friendly entertainment, be sure to look at their calendar for upcoming educational events and special demonstrations.

Pro Tip: Asheville Botanical Gardens in the Montford Historic District is another must-visit for the plant enthusiast.

8. Go Waterfall Chasing

With hundreds of waterfalls scattered throughout the Asheville area, it’s easy to make a whole day out of waterfall chasing. Most Western North Carolina waterfalls are just a short drive from Asheville, making this the perfect half-day or day trip activity.

Just 45 minutes from Asheville, Looking Glass Falls is a popular waterfall hike in the Pisgah National Forest. This 75-foot waterfall cascades down the mountain into a picturesque stream, perfect for wading on a shallow day. 

Silver Run Falls is a popular waterfall and swimming hole destination just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s the perfect spot to cool off on a warm summer day in WNC.

Finally, if you’re hoping to spot the tallest waterfall in the area, head to Upper Whitewater Falls, where you’ll catch a 411 foot descent.

Be sure to check the weather conditions before heading to these popular trailheads!

9. Visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center

If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity in Asheville, the Western North Carolina Nature Center is your place. The WNC Nature Center is a 42-acre wildlife park home to over 60 species of animals and plants native to the South Appalachians.

You’ll get the chance to see hundreds of your favorite animals, from black bears to sea otters to red pandas, and learn the history of each of these unique species as you wonder from exhibit to exhibit.

The nature center hosts daily animal programs to get up close and personal with otters, turtles, and more. There are also plenty of play areas throughout the nature center for kids to enjoy during their visit.

Between the diverse wildlife, hands-on activities, and incredible scenery, the Western North Carolina Nature Center is a must-visit during your stay. It is open seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm. 

10. Tour Thomas Wolfe’s Childhood Home

  • Address: 52 N Market St, Asheville, NC

  • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm 

Novelist Thomas Wolfe spent his childhood in Asheville before becoming one of the literary giants of his generation. His mother’s boardinghouse, lovingly named “Old Kentucky Home,” was the backdrop to his infamous 1929 novel Look Homeward, Angel.

Today, visitors come from all over to tour the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site, just a few minutes from Downtown Asheville. The adjacent visitor center and museum offer self-guided exhibits and a film presentation on Wolfe’s life and work.

Enjoy Your Asheville Getaway

There is no shortage of activities near Wander Asheville Meadows. Whether your ideal trip involves thrilling outdoor adventures or relaxing city walks, there are endless possibilities. From the locally owned breweries to the hundreds of nearby waterfalls and everything in between, exploring Asheville never gets old.

We hope our travel guide to Asheville gives you everything you need for an unforgettable trip!

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