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 20 favorites, according to our three million readers each year! Whether it's a romantic escape like a honeymoon, wedding or anniversary, or an vacation with friends and family, check these out. Thank you RomanticAsheville.com readers! (Photo above is Crabtree Falls.)
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. Take a guided tour for a "behind the scenes" look. If you have been before, discover many new things to do with our detailed insider's guide!
Cruise the 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. See our favorite 50 stops.
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, 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 includes the NC Arboretum and the Botanical Gardens.
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!
Make Memories in a Bed & Breakfast
For a special getaway that will create lifetime memories, stay in an Asheville 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.
Explore 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. Each evening, enjoy street entertainers and great people watching. A creative way to explore is the Urban Trail, a self-guided walking tour of 30 sculptures. At night, enjoy plenty of live music.
Meet Artists in River Arts District
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. And plan your trip around a creative event with our Guide to Asheville Art Tours, Festivals & Shows.
Soak in Mountain Views
Where are the 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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. Free admission!
Asheville Art Classes & Lessons
Take a painting or pottery class or workshop for an afternoon or a week 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!
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.
Find Festivals Galore
Ride the Train
All aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train excurision 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 (read about the Carolina Moonshine excursion) with lunch service. And don't forget the Polar Express!
Laugh on a Zany 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!
Top 10 Zip Line Canopy Tours
Fly above the trees and experience the mountain's natural beauty from a bird's perspective. See our favorite zip line canopy courses to enjoy in the Asheville area in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. No experience is needed. Canopy guides provide all instruction and assistance. So 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 with Wildwater Rafting or NOC. Or kayak, tube and paddleboard down the French Broad River through Biltmore Estate. Raft in the Great Smokies on the Pigeon River.
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.
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