Looking for ideas for activities and things to do for a romantic getaway or family vacation to Asheville and the mountains of North Carolina? Here's our bucket list of 25 favorites, according to our 5.2 million website annual visits! Whether it's a romantic escape like a honeymoon, wedding or anniversary, or vacation trip with friends and family, check these out. (Photo above is Crabtree Falls.)
Fall Leaf Color Show
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.
The most popular natural waterslide in North Carolina for generations is in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard. Slide down a 60-ft. smooth rock waterfall into a pool of chilly water. Bathrooms and showers are open and lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Take a Hike
To really appreciate the natural splendor of our mountains, explore by foot. There are hiking trails for all fitness levels, from a short woodland walk to strenuous hikes to mountain peaks, including both the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Many of the hikes are along the Blue Ridge Parkway and are easy to find. Easy in-town hiking too. See our Top 75.
Experience Biltmore Estate
Take in the grandeur of our country's largest home, the "Downton Abbey" of America. Explore the many rooms inside the house, walk through breathtaking landscapes and gardens, taste vintages at the winery and enjoy fine dining. See many things to do with our detailed insider's guide!
Welcome to the Land of the Waterfalls! There are so many waterfalls in nearby state and federal parks (with no admission fee) to discover. While many require a walk or hike to reach, several are roadside. Take one of our waterfall drives to enjoy several. See our favorite 60!
Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway
Drive one of America's most scenic roads. Enjoy a leisurely excursion filled with nature's beauty through dense forests and 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 and the highest section of the Parkway. See our favorite 50 stops.
Top 35 Coolest Mountain Small Towns
Explore our favorite cool small towns in the NC mountains near Asheville, each with its own personality, local shops and restaurants, friendly residents and relaxed atmosphere.
Explore Downtown Asheville
During the day, downtown Asheville bustles with shoppers browsing more than 200 galleries, antique shops and local boutiques. Each evening, enjoy street entertainers, restaurants, breweries, festivals and music. Walk the Urban Trail and tour historic sites. See our Top 25 things to do downtown.
Find Festivals Galore
Free festivals, art shows and quirky events abound in downtown Asheville and our great mountain small towns. See our favorites for each season.
16 Scenic Drives
See gorgeous countryside, mountain views and charming communities on a windshield tour via national and state scenic byways near Asheville. Lots of opportunities for stops along the way.
Soak in Mountain Views
Where are the best places for spectacular views to celebrate being alive? Hike to a remote mountaintop or see sweeping views from your car. Watch the sunset or picnic on top of the world.
Romantic Getaways to a Bed & Breakfast
For a special vacation that will create lifetime memories, get pampered at a bed and breakfast inn. Many are grand historic homes with big porches, gardens, inviting living areas and beautiful furnishings. All include a gourmet breakfast to start your day. Innkeepers love to help with special requests to create a very personalized stay.
Find Foodie Favorites
Check out our very diverse and passionate food and drink scene. Be a little adventurous and try something new. Or, enjoy time-honored classics. In downtown, walk to 60+ locally-owned restaurants, many of which use local food and offer outdoor dining. From crafted cocktails to a host of local brews, there's plenty to drink. Forage for food, visit a farm or tour a vineyard.
Escape to a 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.
Get Pampered 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. See our Top 15 spots.
Cool Off in Mountain Swimming Holes
Refresh yourself and have fun in our cool mountain waters in our lakes, rivers and waterfalls. See our favorite swimming spots (including popular Sliding Rock), tubing spots, pools and beaches.
Toast with Local 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 brews and ciders in western North Carolina, you will need to pace yourself! Walk to many breweries in the South Slope downtown. If wine is more your style, see our Top 10 Wineries for tours and tastings.
Top 20 Art Galleries
Visit a gallery to be amazed at a big variety of local art and craft, including glass, paintings, pottery and every other medium you can imagine. Asheville and the North Carolina mountains are home to hundreds of world-class artists. Here are our favorite galleries to see the their creations.
Escape to the Great Smokies
The Great Smoky Mountains is one of America's most visited national parks. This International Biosphere Reserve is home to rugged mountains (many peaks in excess of 6,000 ft.), historic homesteads and 100,000 different types of plants and animals. Four entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are within 50 miles of downtown Asheville. Free admission!
Winery Visits & Tours
In addition to the nation's most visited winery at Biltmore, take a winery tour in the foothills area including around Hendersonville and Morganton. Sample the local wines while enjoying the mountain views. See our Top Wineries to see in western North Carolina.
Ride the Train
All aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train excursion for a ride through quaint mountain towns, past sparkling rivers and through deep mountain forests. Ride in an open air car or in climate-controlled first class with lunch service. And don't forget the Polar Express and Wizard of Oz trains!
Take a Tour
Go on a guided tour or experience to add special memories to your visit. Tour the town on a purple bus or a beer cycle. Go on a hike, see waterfalls, watch elk or sample local foods. See our Top 25.
Top 8 Zip Line Canopy Tours
Fly above the trees and experience the mountains' natural beauty from a bird's perspective. See our favorite zip line canopy courses to enjoy in the Asheville area of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. No experience is needed. Canopy guides provide all instruction and assistance. It's fun for all fitness levels!
Ride the Rivers
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. Ride down one of four rivers, including the Nantahala River. Or kayak, tube and paddleboard down the French Broad River through Biltmore Estate. Raft in the Great Smokies on the Pigeon River.
Asheville Art Classes & Lessons
Take an afternoon- or week-long painting or pottery class/workshop in Asheville at studios in the River Arts District. Group or private lessons are designed for beginners and experienced. Take home a souvenir of art that your create!
Check this out!
Visit our favorite quirky things to do and see in western North Carolina that helps to "Keep Asheville Weird".