While Asheville is a romantic getaway for many, it's also a fun family getaway. Here are some of the favorite things to do for children and kids of all ages in the North Carolina mountains.
Chimney Rock Park: Children of all ages love the views and beautiful scenery. They especially love walking through the 198-foot tunnel to an elevator that takes them to the top (up 26 stories in 30 seconds). In addition to several easy hiking trails, they created the easy 6/10 mile Great Woodland Adventure just for children. Woodland critters take the spotlight at 12 discovery stations along the winding trail. Grady the Groundhog, the Park’s mascot, illustrates how his forest friends live, including chipmunks, frogs, owls and butterflies. Try to jump as far as a spider, spot the salamanders, or name the birds of prey soaring above. Larger-than-life sculptures bring the trail to life. The Park’s 32-foot climbing tower and Grady’s Discovery Den are located next to the trailhead. Read more in our Chimney Rock Park Guide.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: Take a scenic rail excursion through the mountains, over rivers, by lakes and through tunnels - a blast for the entire family! A variety of train excursions and special event trains makes it perfect for making memories. This is definitely one of the top fun things to do in North Carolina for families. Ride in an open air gondola or take a special first class family excursion in the summer months. And don't miss their Polar Express train during each holiday season. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening and reading along with the magical story. Children’s faces show the magic of the season when the train arrives at the “North Pole” to find Santa Claus waiting. Santa will board THE POLAR EXPRESS, greeting each child and presenting them with a special gift as in the story, their own silver sleigh bell. Read more in our Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Guide.
Kids In Park: Get "un-plugged" and connect with nature with this network of kid friendly educational hiking trails on and in communities along the Blue Ridge Parkway. These "TRACK" Trials have a series of brochure-led self-guided adventures designed to turn an ordinary hike into a fun-filled adventure. Furthermore, kids earn prizes for TRACKing their trail adventures in their online nature journal. The first TRACK Trial is at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center (Milepost 384), a 1.5-mile long loop trail follows a section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Go to their website to download the free guides. The Kids in Parks program is an initiative of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.
Western North Carolina Nature Center: This 42-acre Natural Heritage sanctuary is located just a few miles from downtown. See a big variety of animals in their natural habitat. Read more in our WNC Nature Center Guide.
Fun Depot: Asheville's only family entertainment center featuring: indoor mini golf, multi-level laser tag, batting cages, climbing wall, soft play area, arcade, mini bowling, indoor and outdoor go-carts, bumper cars, the Depot Diner and more. Their Depot Diner serves sandwiches, wraps and more. Open every day! Located at Exit 51 off I-40. Make a left off the exit onto Sweeten Creek
Road/US-25ALT. Go approximately 0.2 miles and make a left onto Roberts Road.
Colburn Earth Science Museum: This interactive earth science museum for all ages has a special focus on the unique geology of Western North Carolina. Exhibits include the history of local mining and meteorology and the permanent collection in the Hall of Gems and Minerals. The Museum's primary collection includes some 4,500 specimens from North Carolina and around the world. The gem collection includes over 1,000 cut gemstones from North Carolina and around the world. Located at Pack Place in downtown Asheville. Closed on Mondays.
Forest Discover Center at Cradle of Forestry: See an 18-minute movie, explore
15 hands-on exhibits, shop at the Giving Tree gift shop and get a quick snack at
the Forest Bounty Café. In the exhibit hall, displays reveal forest history and how forests are managed.
Be sure to ride the fire fighting helicopter simulator over a forest fire, then go underground and see which animals live under the forest floor. Kids will enjoy participating in the Scavenger Hunt and receiving a surprise gift at the end! See our Forest Discovery Center Guide.
Food Lion Skatepark: This 17,000 square feet of skating excitement is located at the corner of Flint and Cherry St. in downtown Asheville across I-240 from the Civic Center. Designed and built by Team Pain, this SkatePark is a unique concrete park with three distinctive areas in the beginner bowl, intermediate street course and an advanced vertical bowl.
Orchard at Altapass: is an Appalachian cultural and historical center celebrating the people, music, art, and natural beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina. Built by the Clinchfield Railroad over 100 years ago, the Orchard sits right on the Parkway providing some of the most amazing scenery in the Appalachian Mountains. While you tap your toes to our authentic mountain music our talented staff serve up our fabulous ice cream and our famous Orchard fudge, made fresh by Miss Charlotte right in the Orchard shop. Open May 16 through October 31. Located about an hour north of Asheville near Little Switzerland. Closed on Tuesdays.
Mountain Play Lodge is an indoor play and party center located in Arden (south Asheville). Enjoy four huge inflatables, realistic playhouses (complete with a miniature replica of the Biltmore and Biltmore Village) and soft foam play structures perfect for ages 12 and younger. In addition to play, there's a cafe, gift shop and two themed party room.
Whitewater Rafting: Wet and wild fun for the entire family. See our Whitewater Rafting Guide.
Hiking: There are plenty of hiking trails for children of all ages and fitness levels. See our Hiking Guide.