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.
Adventure Center of Asheville: Kids get to enjoy outdoor exploration with the rest of the family at this outdoors playground just five minutes from downtown Asheville. Experience three different options for ages 4-10: The country's first KidZip features nine zips from 50 to 250 feet long, ranging from 25 feet high to ground level, with four climbing elements. In their Treetops Adventure Park, play in the trees with 60 unique climbing, zipping, walking, jumping, swinging, and rappelling challenges anchored to 30 trees and towering poles with five different adventure trails for all skill levels for ages 4+ and adults. At TreeQuest, bouldering climbs do not require harnesses, while their full tree climbing adventures up to 35 feet use a controlled decent device that clips into your full body harness and slowly lowers you whenever you choose to return to the ground. It's popular for children's birthday parties, friend outings, family time, or group adventures. For adults, they also have a 11-zip canopy tour and mountain biking. Click here to visit their Web site.
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.
Orchard at Altapass: is an Appalachian cultural and historical center celebrating the people, music, art, and natural beauty on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Orchard offers lots of fun activities for families! Hike trails. Pick apples in the fall. Pick up activity brochures at the trailhead kiosk. From May through October, go on a storytelling hayride, a guided storytelling or nature walk, color or play checkers in the Kids' Corner, or dance to some live mountain music. On summer Saturdays, their Appalachian Heritage Activities for children ages 6 to 12 teaches learn a variety of heritage skills. Free to visit.
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.
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.
Kids In Parks: 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.
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 in downtown Asheville.
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.