Looking for ideas for what to do on a weekend escape, family vacation or girl's weekend in Asheville and the mountains? Since there are so many things to do and everyone has a different vision of the "perfect" getaway, here are 40 ideas to help you plan your trip:
Hiking & Outdoor Adventures
- Take a hike to fully appreciate the outdoor splendor of the North Carolina mountains. There are trails for all fitness levels, ranging from multi-day treks on the Appalachian Trail to short strolls in Nantahala National Forest. See our Top Hikes for plenty of choices, including Kid-Friendly Hikes.
- Take a zip line canopy tour and soar like an eagle through and above the trees
- Go whitewater rafting down one of our many rivers.
- Bring your mountain bike (or rent one) to explore a huge network of trails.
- Go fishing with a guide in a mountain river or a beautiful lake.
- See waterfalls below!
Waterfalls & Swimming Holes
- Hunt for waterfalls in the North Carolina mountains. With our Top 60 Waterfalls list, you'll stay busy for many weekends. For families, see our Waterfalls for Kids.
- Take a waterfall drive to see several in one day.
- Glide down Sliding Rock, a natural waterslide in Pisgah National Forest has been the favorite summer pastime for generations.
- Cool off on hot summer days in a mountain swimming hole.
- Hike, bike or ride a horse to beautiful waterfalls in DuPont State Forest.
- Explore one of our 6 Great Lakes near Asheville.
Mountain Scenery Windshield Tour
- Take a leisurely journey on one of our Sweet 16 Scenic Drives.
- Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive." Since there are 170 miles in the Asheville area, this could fill up a weekend quickly. Slow down to enjoy a leisurely drive with many scenic overlooks and attractions along the way.
- Drive to the top of Mt. Mitchell the highest mountain in the eastern United States. See the views from the observation deck and walk through Alpine forests.
- Enjoy waterfalls from the roadside, including Looking Glass Falls near Brevard and Dry Falls near Highlands (and drive behind Bridal Veil Falls).
- All aboard for a scenic train excursion in the Smokies and along mountain rivers on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.
- Exploring all of Biltmore could take days. Allow a half-day to tour the house (along with the shops and lunch at Stable Cafe).
- Stroll through the gardens and Conservatory with blooms during every season.
- Tour and taste at the Winery, then see the exhibits and shops at Antler Hill Village.
- Book a second day to explore the outdoors via bikes, hiking, Segways or on the river in a raft or board.
- Tour other House Museums in the area.
- Stay in a hotel or resort that offers special Biltmore ticket offers or packages.
- For families, see tips and things to do on our Biltmore for Kids guide.
- For more beautiful, historic architecture and plenty of amazing art, head to downtown Asheville to explore the galleries.
- To visit artists at work, go to the nearby River Arts District. Dozens of studios and galleries are open every day, with many more open on weekends and Studio Stroll weekends.
- Take an art class and return home with a new hobby.
- Go to one of our Top 80 Art Festivals and Tours throughout the year.
- See the many murals in Asheville.
Food & Drink
- Tasting your way through our diverse culinary scene will definitely keep you busy with many farm-to-table restaurants with local food and world-class chefs. See our Foodie Favorites guide to get you started. Also, see our Kid-Friendly Restaurant guide.
- Sample the local brews at dozens of craft breweries in Asheville and western North Carolina. See our Top 50 Beer Guide to get started.
- Enjoy a wine tasting at some of our favorite mountain wineries.
- For the ultimate way to start the day, stay in a Bed & Breakfast inn and awake to a gourmet breakfast just a few steps from your room.
- Tour the big Western North Carolina Farmers' Market or stop by a weekend tailgate market.
- Pack a picnic and head out to one of our Favorite Picnic Spots.
- In the fall, visit the apple orchards.
Small Town Ramble
- See our Top Mountain Small Towns near Asheville to explore with many things to do and friendly locals to meet.
- During the holiday season, go to our Top Christmas Towns in western North Carolina.
- Find the grand historic courthouses in our towns.
- Like to learn about local heritage and history, check out our Top 35 Museums and landmarks.
Pamper & Relaxation
- Get a massage in a tranquil setting. See our top picks for spas.
- Stay in a cozy cabin nestled in the mountains with books, games, and views.
- Soak in the mineral waters in Hot Springs or the Japanese style hot tubs at Shoji Retreats.
- Relax with an hour of tranquility in a Salt Cave.
- Find one of our Top 15 Mountain Views and soak in the scenery.
- Find our complete Family Guide for planning your vacation in Asheville and Western North Carolina.
- See our list of family-friendly places to stay with extra perks and amenities for kids.
- Get tips and things to do at Biltmore with kids.
- Find indoor activities for kids on rainy or snowy days, along with hands-on learning centers and children's museums to visit.
- Get outdoors and discover many kid-friendly hikes or waterfalls for kids, including Sliding Rock.
For many more ideas, see our 300 Things to Do in Asheville and the mountains of North Carolina.