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Asheville Bucket List Top 20

Also see: Top 50 Holiday Outings | Top 10 Girlfriend Getaways | Top 10 Mancations | Top 20 Green Guide | Top 10 Art Outings | Top 12 Winter Outings | Top 10 Free Outings | Top 10 Rainy Day | Top 20 Picnic Spots | Top 50 Summer Festivals | My Asheville | Top 10 Civil War Sites | Top 10 Thanksgiving Weekend | Top 15 Mountain Views | Top 10 Wineries | Top 12 Foodie Favorites | Jackson County Top 25 | Burke County Top 20 | 25 Coolest NC Mountain Small Towns
What are the "must dos" in Asheville and the western North Carolina mountains? Here's our bucket list of 20 things for you to consider during your vacation, according to our two million readers each year! Whether it's a romantic getaway or an outing with friends and family, check these out. Thank you readers!
Biltmore House

Biltmore Estate
Explore the largest private home in the country, built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s. Tour the "Downton Abbey" of America. See breathtaking landscapes, taste vintages at the winery, stroll through formal gardens and enjoy fine dining. Take one of the guided tours for a "behind the scenes" look or attend a free gardening seminar for ideas back home. See our Biltmore Guide (with latest deals) or click here to visit their Web site.

Special Biltmore Guides: Biltmore Blooms, Fall at Biltmore, Christmas at Biltmore, Inside Biltmore House, Gardens, Winery

Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
Drive one of America's most scenic roads. Enjoy a leisurely excursion filled with nature's beauty through dense forest and high atop mountain ridges. You'll find breathtaking overlooks, numerous hiking trails and great spots for picnics. Drive north for panoramic views at Craggy Gardens and Mt. Mitchell. A drive south takes you through a dozen tunnels by the time you stop for lunch at the Pisgah Inn on a 5,000-foot mountaintop. Go to our Blue Ridge Parkway Guide for our 50 favorite stops - all free to enjoy. And discover more Scenic Drives.

Asheville Hiking
Take a Hike
To really appreciate the natural splendor of our area, explore by foot. There are hiking trails for all fitness levels, from a short woodland walk to strenuous hikes to mountain peaks. Our Top 50 Hiking Guide includes hikes at the highest point east of the Mississippi (Mt. Mitchell) and the best hikes in the Smokies. Many of the hikes are along the Blue Ridge Parkway and are easy to find. Easy in-town hiking includes the NC Arboretum and the Botanical Gardens.

Asheville Waterfall

Find Waterfalls
Welcome to the Land of the Waterfalls! There are so many waterfalls in nearby state and federal parks (with no admission fee) to discover. See our Top 60 Waterfalls near Asheville for ones that are easiest to find. While many require a walk or hike to reach, several are roadside. Take one of our waterfall drives to enjoy several. See many on one trip in the Looking Glass area of Pisgah National Forest.

Also, beat the heat in the summer in the cool mountain swimming holes.

Downtown Asheville

Downtown Asheville
During the day, downtown Asheville bustles with shoppers browsing more than 200 spots, including dozens of galleries, antique shops, old-fashioned general store, local boutiques and a variety of funky shops. The Grove Arcade has been restored to its grandeur when it opened in 1929 as one of the first “malls” in America. Each evening, enjoy street entertainers and great people watching. A creative way to see downtown is the Urban Trail, a self-guided walking tour of 30 sculptures that depict tidbits of local history. At night, enjoy plenty of live music. See our detailed Downtown Asheville Guide.

River Arts District

Extraordinary Art
Asheville is one of the top arts destinations in the country. Find many galleries downtown and in Biltmore Village. Our top pick for art lovers is exploring the River Arts District to watch artists at work, ask them about the process, and buy art as a souvenir of your visit! More than 180 artists work in 25 buildings, including old warehouses and factories along the river near downtown and Biltmore. See our River Arts District Guide. Also see our Gallery Guide for some of our favorites. And p
lan your trip around a creative event with our Guide to Asheville Art Tours, Festivals & Shows. Many artists offer workshops and classes!

Craggy Gardens
Best Mountain Views
Where are the places for spectacular views to celebrate being alive? See our list of the best views of the mountains. Our favorite summit hike is Black Balsam Knob, where you can walk across a treeless mountain with sweeping views all around. Other short hikes with great views include Devil's Courthouse and Craggy Gardens. If you are not up for a hike, watch the sunset over the mountains from the parking area at Waterrock Knob, or take an elevator ride to the top of Chimney Rock.

Asheville Restaurants
Foodie Heaven
Asheville's dining scene is diverse and passionate. It's certainly a great place to be a little adventurous and try something new. In downtown, walk to 50 locally owned restaurants, many use local food and offer outdoor dining. Have a progressive dinner with several stops. See our Asheville Top 50 Restaurants Guide to see our favorites. And check out our Asheville Foodie Favorites for more culinary adventures.

Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America's most visited national park. There are 520,976 acres to explore. This International Biosphere Reserve is home to rugged mountains (many peaks in excess of 6,000 feet), historic homesteads, and 100,000 different types of plants and animals. Four entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are within 50 miles from downtown Asheville. Read more in our Great Smoky Mountains Guide. Free admission!

Wicked Weed Brewery

Beer City Brews
Cheers to the beer mecca of the southeast! Taste the extraordinary local brews, but it may take you a few days. With dozens of craft breweries and 100 local beers and ciders in western North Carolina, you will need to pace yourself! See our Top 50 breweries, pubs, events and cideries in our Beer City Guide. If wine is more your style, see our Top 10 Wineries for tours and tastings.

Asheville Festivals
Festivals Galore
Free outdoor festivals abound. Gather downtown on Saturday nights during July and August for Shindig on the Green, a genuine glimpse into the traditions of Appalachia. A fun weekly event downtown is the Friday night Drum Circle. See our seasonal event guides for the Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and Holidays. Most festivals are free to attend.

Great Smoky Mountain RR

Train Excursion
All aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
train excurision for a ride through quaint mountain towns, past sparkling rivers and through deep mountain forests. Revisit a bygone era and travel out the old Murphy Line, a railway that connected rural Appalachia to points east. Ride in an open air car or in climate-controlled first class (read about the Carolina Moonshine excursion) with lunch service. Click here to visit their Web site

LaZoom Tour
Fun City Tour
Ready to laugh? This is definitely not your mamma's typical tour bus experience! LaZoom is Asheville's only rolling comedy tour bus with a side-splitting odyssey to favorite neighborhoods and landmarks. Each tour departs from downtown in a purple bus and features a knowledgeable and witty tour guide, a heavy dose of corny jokes, and slapstick characters all along the way, with an innovative and clever blend of fact, fiction, and fun. Haunted tours too! Click here to visit their Web site.

Zip Line Canopy Tour
Zip Line Canopy Tour
Fly above the trees and experience the mountain's natural beauty from a bird's perspective. There are several zip line canopy tours to enjoy in the Asheville area in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. No experience is needed. Canopy guides provide all the necessary instruction and assistance. So it's fun for all fitness levels! See the best Zip Line Canopy Tours.

whitewater rafting
River Adventure
Asheville is one of the best whitewater rafting towns in the U.S.! No experience is necessary. You just need a desire for thrills and getting a little wet. Take a whitewater rafting trip on one of four rives, including the Nantahala River with Wildwater Rafting or NOC. Or kayak down the French Broad River through Biltmore Estate. West of Asheville in the Great Smokies is the Pigeon River. Read more on our Whitewater Rafting Guide.

Grand Bed & Breakfast
For a special romantic getaway, stay in a luxury bed and breakfast inn in Asheville and the surrounding mountains. Many are grand historic homes with big porches, gardens, inviting common areas and beautiful furnishings. All include a gourmet breakfast to start your day. Ask about special occasion packages. Innkeepers are always ready with special requests to create a very memorable stay. Find the perfect B&B for your next trip.

NC Mountain Cabin

Mountain Cabin
Snuggle up in a cozy cabin rental. Choose from a wide variety of sizes and types of cabins and cottages - some in the city of Asheville and others are way out in the country nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Many are secluded in our mountains, some by ponds, lakes or rivers. See our Cabins Guide for many self catering options.

Spa in Asheville
Pampering at a Spa
Be it a simple weekend of relaxation, a romantic couple’s getaway in the mountains or a chance to improve your health, Asheville is the ultimate destination for those seeking spas and wellness. Take some time for yourself for relaxation and rejuvenation. Go to our Spa Guide.

Weddings in Asheville
Wedding or Vow Renewal
What a beautiful and romantic setting to celebrate your love and commitment! Asheville is the hot spot for destination weddings. See our Wedding Location Guide for many great choices. If you want to keep it simple with very small group-or just the two of you, stay at a bed and breakfast inn. The innkeeper will be glad to help. Check out the local B&Bs for elopements

Hotel Indigo Suite

Extravagant "Over the MountainTOP" Stay
For the best in spacious luxury and comfort, stay in a swanky hotel or country inn and get spoiled. From the legendary Grove Park Inn to the luxury mountaintop Swag Country Inn, there are plenty of choices for your bucket list. Other top hotels include:
Hotel Indigo | Aloft Hotel | Inn on Biltmore Estate | Hilton Biltmore Park | Grand Bohemian | Harrahs Cherokee | Greystone Inn | Black Mountain Cabin

Find more things to do for your bucket list vacation in these great areas of the western North Carolina mountains:

More: Pet-Friendly | NC Arboretum | Chimney Rock | Gay & Lesbian | River Arts District | Madison County | Jackson County | Burke County | Maps & Weather | Zip Lines | Shopping | Biltmore Village | Art Galleries | Lake Lure | Cherokee | Hendersonville | Highlands | Waynesville | Hot Springs | Black Mountain | Golf | Ski_Resorts | Sliding Rock | Winter Events | Spring Events | Summer Festivals | Pisgah Forest | Nantahala Forest | Biltmore Christmas | Rafting | News Travel Guide, an insider's vacation planner for Asheville and North Carolina Mountains.
Writing & Photography By Mark File - ©2003-2015 File Investments, Inc - All Rights Reserved