Looking for things to do outside in the western North Carolina mountains near Asheville? The breathtaking scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounds Asheville. Come enjoy the great outdoors, including hiking the many trails and discovering beautiful waterfalls. Use the detailed guide for each of these with plenty of photos and details so you can plan your vacation. Also, see our Top Indoor Things to Do.
Of hundreds of waterfalls near Asheville, we picked the most spectacular falls that are easy to find. Some can be enjoyed with a short walk or even roadside. Others require a scenic hike. See full descriptions for each with plenty of photos! Also see Waterfall Drives & Maps.
Drive the Parkway north or south from Asheville and quickly climb the Blue Ridge Mountain ridge and reach elevations of 5,000+. Our mile-by-mile guide of the Parkway covers the 193-mile section near Asheville. So many things to do along one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
Tucked away a mile from downtown is an outdoor lover's playground. Fly on 11 ziplines through old growth trees from towers with skyline and mountain views. Test your skills in a treetop playground. Climb trees or mountain bike. Plus, bring the kids for the first-ever Kid Zip course.
Hike the Appalachian Trial at Max Patch or Lover's Leap, soak in natural hot springs, go horseback riding, raft down whitewater rapids, ski, bike, fish, camp and explore the unspoiled mountains just north of Asheville.
Explore the most visited national park in the country! With 520,976 acres to explore, where do you begin? See our top places and hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains to visit near Asheville. Four entrances to the Park are within 60 miles of downtown Asheville.
Experience the zipline canopy tour called “one of the best in the nation!” in USA Today. Just 20 minutes from Asheville, Navitat has two very different courses with the longest zip line at 3,600 feet long.
Hike, bike and golf in the highest town in Eastern America and enjoy cool temperatures all summer long. Ride the chairlift for mile-high views. Also see our Beech Mountain Ski & Winter Sports Guide
This tiny town of around 800 residents is perhaps best known for its hot mineral springs. Located just 40 minutes north of Asheville at the junction of the Appalachian Trail (goes right through downtown) and the French Broad River. Before you soak in the springs, hike from town up to Lover's Leap for a great view of the town.
See breathtaking 75-mile views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The park also features a magnificent 404-foot waterfall and hiking trails. Shopping and dining located at the park entrance.
Soak away your stress in a private hot tub under a canopy of trees, dip into an invigorating cold plunge and relax in the cedar sauna. After your soak, get a customized massage and a variety of treatments. Loctated just ten minutes from downtown Asheville.
Home to Linville Falls, Linville Gorge, Lake James and South Mountains State Park, find limitless outdoor adventures including hiking, biking, fishing, boating and more.
This pristine reservoir near Cashiers is the highest elevation of any lake east of the Mississippi. Find plenty of things to do, including tubing, skiing, paddle boarding, knee boarding, waterfalls swimming and fishing. Signal Ridge Marina rents a variety of Bennington pontoons and tritoons, as well as tubes, paddleboards, skis, wakeboards and kneeboards. Open April-October.
Kayak, paddleboard, raft or tube down the French Broad River in Asheville through the Biltmore Estate. And rent a bike or mine for gems. Just five miles from downtown.
Play outdoors at the estate with flat water river rafting, hiking, gardens, trail rides on horseback, woodland and river path biking, and carriage rides.
Drive to the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This state park has a observation tower, plenty of hiking, and a restaurant. Be prepared for much cooler temperatures there. Open all year round (except snowy days in the winter).
Check out our favorite small town near Asheville! Ride the train on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad before you explore their downtown shops and galleries or paddleboard down the river. Nearby Deep Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park features camping, hiking, trout fishing and the uber popular tubing. Raft the Nantahala River. And that's just the beginning!
NOC's Nantahala River campus offers rafting, zip lines, hiking, biking, fishing and more for the whole family. Whitewater rafting outpost on French Broad River also. See our NOC Feature.
Enjoy outdoors exploration with whitewater rafting, zip line canopy tours or Jeep tours in the Great Smoky Mountains. Or do all three without moving your car with their "Triple Adventure!"
This mountain bike guide service specializes in professionally guided trips in Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest near Brevard, customized to individual tastes and ability levels. Half, full, and multi-day trips include a snack and lunch. Experienced and trustworthy guides create rides focusing on downhills, single-track, or climbing.
Take an exciting zipline tour in the Great Smoky Mountains. The 3-hour zip line flight is powered by gravity and a gradual 3 percent elevation change. The 1/2 mile air time canopy tour takes you through multiple ecosystems.
Play in the trees with 50 elements from 12 to 45 feet above the forest floor that include climbing, zipping, walking, jumping, swinging, and rappelling challenges -- all anchored to more than 30 trees. Near downtown Asheville, next to Asheville Canopy Tours.
You've invested in the fancy camera. You're surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, and the urban intrigue of Asheville. Now what? Why not invest in yourself and learn the tricks of the trade, and the lay of the land, with a local professional photography instructor?
With four rivers (French Broad, Pigeon, Nantahala, and Nolichucky) for rafting and kayaking in the mountains. Find professional companies that provide rafting guides, so no experience is necessary. You can even learn how to kayak in the rapids or paddleboard on a lake.
Stroll through a variety of gardens and on peaceful woodland trails. Don't miss their impressive bonsai garden exhibit and many special events during the year.
Take a "forage to table" tour with No Taste Like Home and play with your food. Our area is a Garden of Eden with over 300 wild edibles. During a guided tour, gather wild mushrooms, plants, and other “extreme cuisine.” Then a chef transforms your finds into a delicious meal. Owner Alan Muskat has been featured in many national publications and on Bizarre Food, the History Channel, PBS and more.
Enjoy rafting trips (or inflatable kayaks) and calm water float trips on the French Broad River with a fantastic combination of white water rapids, swimming holes, beautiful scenery, history and wildlife near Asheville. Excellent, fun-loving guides and all the appropriate river equipment insure a great time.
Be a kid again and splash around in a cool mountain swimming hole. Ride down Sliding Rock, swim under a waterfall, or sun on a mountain beach on a pristine lake. Or spend a lazy day tubing down a river.
The most popular river for whitewater rafting and kayaking is about 12 miles west of Bryson City in the beautiful Nantahala River Gorge. Site of the freestyle kayaking world championships, find class II and III rapids along with calm sections perfect for a dip. Fun for all ages 7 and over with no experience necessary. Choose from nine outfitters, all offering a variety of options.
(1.7 mile loop, easy) This outdoors museum is a self-guided walking tour on the sidewalks of downtown Asheville to 30 sculptures that depict local history.
The Asheville area has one of longest lasting fall color shows in the country. Fall foliage begins to change in the highest elevations in early October and finishes in the lowest valleys in early November. See our week-by-week color prediction and plenty of photos.
Stargaze with members of one of the top astronomy clubs in the country with monthly stargazing events at observatories, on mountaintops or along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Discover nature on a different level at this rugged mountain with endless vistas, great hiking, and wildlife habitats. Walk across the famous swinging bridge. Located 75 miles north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Get out early to sample local farm-fruits, vegetables, pastries, jams, jellies, and more. The big Western NC Farmers Market is open every day. Many tailgate markets on Saturday morning.
This 10-acre garden near the University of North Carolina in Asheville features Southern Appalachian plants, and includes peaceful hiking trails in the middle of the city.
Travel back in time with historic cabins, crafters, old logging equipment, guided tours, movie, food and shopping. Home of the first forestry school (opened in 1898) in America. In Pisgah National Forest. Open mid April through October.
Hit the slopes for plenty of winter of fun. Since we have the highest mountains in eastern America, you will find plenty of snow, either natural or man-made for sking, snowboarding and freestyle terrain.
So many options, especially for mountain bikes for riders of all skill levels. Plus, bike the Blue Ridge Parkway or a greenway.
Learn about the area's natural resources, see animals in their native habitats, and view various exhibits on this 40-acre site. Open daily.
Enjoy plenty of fishing spots, whether novice or experienced. Full- and half-day guided trips, tying classes, and classes especially for ladies.
Scenic mountain beauty and pleasant climate provide a magnificent setting with lush fairways, sprawling bent grass greens, cool breezes and a gently undulating terrain.
Enjoy scenic horseback trail rides in the Asheville area with miles of trails, experienced guides, and gentle horses. For the more experience riders, there are hundreds of miles to explore.
Gem mining has been a favorite activity for visitors to the mountains of North Carolina for many years. Most gem mines in the Asheville and Franklin area are open from spring through autumn. Also tour several gem and mineral museums.
The largest national forest in North Carolina (531,286 acres), covers much of the western tip of the state. Find a wealth of outdoor activities and plenty of scenic views, hiking trails and waterfalls.
This 500,000+ natonal forest surrounds Asheville and features some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery, and the best recreational opportunities in eastern North America with whitewater rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails.
Traveling with your dog? See our Pet Friendly Guide to Asheville and the North Carolina mountains, including lodging, hiking, Biltmore, kennels, dog parks and more.
Sleep under the stars in our national parks, forests or a campground. Or stay in a hostel.
This bird sanctuary is a wonderful wildlife oasis in the very busy north Asheville area. Walk a 3/8-mile boardwalk through a wetland area and by the lake, complete with sitting areas along the way to soak up the views and watch birds.
See our Top 15 Scenic Drives and take a windshield tour with many stops along the way on many national and state scenic byways throughout the mountains.
History at Hand offers tours to Downtown history and architecture, Montford architecture, Riverside Cemetery and more. All walking tours are given by appointment. Tours must be booked in advance.
There are plenty of outdoor adventures for children of all ages, including a special KidZip, educational trails, nature centers and more.
Dine outdoors with nature during a picnic at some amazing locations where you can enjoy sweet views.
For a fascinating stroll through history, head to this sprawling cemetery near downtown Asheville, with 87 acres of rolling hills and flower gardens. The cemetery dates to 1885 with more than 13,000 burials and 9,000 monuments. It is the burial place of noted authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sidney Porter, better known as O. Henry.
Find one of the biggest varieties of wildflowers in the country. The Great Smoky Mountains alone is a world-renowned preserve of wildflower diversity with more than 1,660 kinds of flowering plants. Take a hike deep into Pisgah National Forest or enjoy wildflowers from your car as you drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.