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The Learning Center at PARI
This former NASA campus in Pisgah National Forest is now a fascinating space and science center open for camps, events and occasional tours. See exhibit galleries, a gem and meteorite collection, hands-on research and star gazing nights. Previously called Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.
Smoky Mountain Sk8way, Waynesville
This large skating rink offers open skate sessions, bounce houses, obstacle course, arcade games, snack bar a more with various themed events. Find a variety of skate rental options, including skate trainer for beginners. Admission + skate rentals start at $9. (Closed Mon-Wed)
This skinny waterfall on Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 362 is visible from an overlook. Falling along a cliff across the valley, it's most visible after heavy rains and with leaves are off the trees.
Summer Food Festivals
There's seldom a weekend in the summer without a great outdoor festival in Asheville and the surrounding small towns that includes plenty of food.
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Designated by Congress in recognition of our region's unique character, culture and natural beauty, they protect, preserve, interpret and develop the unique natural, historical and cultural resources of Western North Carolina. Explore with their Blue Ridge Heritage, Music and Craft Trails.
This casual cantina in downtown Asheville offers Mexican soul food in a friendly atmosphere. Taco menu includes shrimp, fish, steak, pork belly and avocado. In addition to your tacos, try the elote- grilled corn on the cob with lime aioli, chili seasoning, cilantro and queso cotija. 89 Patton Ave
For delicious southern and soul comfort food, head over to these finger lickin' good places for buttermilk biscuits, crispy fried chicken and sweet tea.
This town is known as the "Gem Capital of the World." Downtown is home to the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum in a 19th Century jailhouse. Attend one of the country’s best known gem shows, the Macon County Gemboree. Tour the Macon County Historical Museum and the Scottish Tartans Museum.
Waterfalls for Kids
Find safe, kid-friendly waterfalls that are easy to access or only require a short hike to get to with perks like wading pools for splashing, areas for picnics and more.
Battery Park Champagne Bar and Book Exchange
Dogs are welcome in this unique book store in downtown Asheville serving wine, champagne, espresso drinks, snacks and dog treats upon request! Peruse the aisles or have a seat with your dog on an oversized chair to read. Be sure to say hello to Corky, the house bar dog. 1 Page Ave.
Savor some of Carol's sweet creations while you sip your coffee. Located in the Grove Arcade, she features made from scratch soups, biscuits, cookies, cakes, pies and more. 1 Page Avenue.
Diamond Brand Gear, Asheville
This 138 year old company manufactures hand-crafted durable outdoor gear made from a wide range of materials,from heavy to high performance to ultra-lightweight. Products include tents, bags, packs and more.
This downtown cafe and bakery serves fresh breads, pastries, salads, sandwiches, soups, and more. Shop the pantry for local and regional foods, housewares, and artisanal products. They’ll even pack a picnic for you to take on your mountain adventures! Open Mon-Fri 7:30 AM-4 PM, Sat/Sun 8 AM-5 PM. 10 S Lexington Ave
Bear's Smokehouse Asheville
This smokehouse in Asheville’s South Slope offers award-winning K.C. Style BBQ with signature items like brisket burnt ends, smoked sausage, loaded baked potatoes, and more. They also offer vegan options like tempeh and Impossible Meatloaf and a variety of craft beer to enjoy! Open 7 days a week with online ordering and delivery available. 135 Coxe Ave
Laurel River Trail
(7 miles roundtrip, easy) This scenic creekside trail follows Big Laurel Creek as it flows to the French Broad River in Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs.
French Broad Brewing Co.
(near Biltmore Village, 101 Fairview Rd, Asheville) Sample their year-round European-style beers: the Wee-Heavy-Er Scotch Ale, 13 Rebels ESB, IPA, Ryehopper, Gateway Kolsch, and Anvil Porter. Tasting Room also has an assortment of seasonal specialties, and frequently a beer on cask. Open daily.
Find easy drinking, clean Belgian and American-inspired ales in a taproom with games, community tables, live music, and a range of food options nearby in hip West Asheville. On Sunday in the warmer months, check out their Sunday Sessions from 3-6 PM with live local music. (265 Haywood Road, Asheville)
This casual full-service vegetarian-friendly restaurant with two locations in West Asheville features Caribbean inspired pasta dishes, rice dishes, daily specials, and desserts. Enjoy a variety of local microbrews and wine. Open daily 11:30 AM-10 PM. 751 Haywood Rd
Green Sage Cafe
A local favorite, this certified green restaurant nurtures the well-being of its customers through its fair-trade organic coffee and tea, organic beer and wine, natural and organic local food for breakfast and lunch. Enjoy fresh juices, sandwiches, salads, soups, coffee drinks and more. Look for the solar panels on the roof! Open daily 7 AM-6 PM. 5 Broadway Avenue.
Kids engage and have fun a variety of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) activities that make learning feel like play. They offer a variety of birthday party themed packages that includes up to 20 guests for a two-hour party and host. Includes invites, gift table, party table, paper goods, balloons, and gift bag for birthday child. Outside food, drink, and cake allowed. For kids in K-8. Packages start at $249.
New Belgium Brewing
(21 Craven Street, Asheville) Sample brews in the riverside Liquid Center Tasting Room, located just across the French Broad River from downtown Asheville. And take a free, 90-minute brewery tour.
Osega Gymnastics, Fletcher
This active camp (available in full and half-day options) is fun for kids of all skill levels with a once a week visit to the pool for full-day campers. Activities include daily ninja & gymnastics lessons, games, arts & crafts, and free play in the gym. Weekly sessions run June-Aug, 8:30 AM-5:30 PM, ages 3-14. $95-$160/week
Harrah's Cherokee Casino
Play a huge variety of games and 3,800+ slots, along with live action tables for Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and more. Find a big variety of great restaurants, hotel, spa, shopping and more.
Western North Carolina Air Museum
See award-winning restored, antique replica and vintage airplanes at the Hendersonville Airport. Take a close-up look to airplanes and talk to people who love them.
Rumbling Bald Trail
(1.5 miles, moderate) Hike this loop trail in Chimney Rock State Park to the boulders and cliffs of Rumbling Bald Mountain, a popular rock climbing spot. Free access area near Lake Lure.
Still Point Wellness Massage and Float Spa
Experience deep relaxation with Salt Water Floatation (sensory deprivation) and stress relief with Esalen Massage. Detoxify and destress with a Far Infrared sauna session, or explore how thoughts manifest in the body with Somatic Psychology. Personalized packages for couples and individuals.
Mela Indian Restaurant
This popular, award-winning Indian hub in downtown Asheville stands out for their authentic tandoori dishes, offered in an airy, modern setting. Locals love their lunch buffet and favorite dishes include their chicken masala and tandoori chicken with a mango lassi. 70 N. Lexington Avenue
This 150-ft. waterfall cascades down a mountainside beside the road, so you enjoy it from your car as you drive by! It's located near Columbus, about 10 miles from Pearson's Falls.
In the heart of downtown Asheville, this farm-to-table restaurant welcomes pooches with a dog menu including house-made dog biscuits, entrees and even serves a bacon-soy ice cream dessert! 1 Biltmore Ave.
Asheville Art Museum
Designed for young visitors, the Art PLAYce is a creative space for everyone to play and learn together in a sensory-rich environment with free exploration of colors, shapes, textures, and patterns. Kids can try out a variety of one-of-a-kind interactive pieces created by regional artists, or make art of their own. See family programs like Tot Time, Artful Adventures, Baby & Me and more.
Cooking grounded in the traditions and ingredients of the Carolinas with modern southern seasonal farm-to-table menus, fresh catches from the coast of the Carolinas, as well as local microbrews, prestigious wines, and inventive cocktails. 47 Biltmore Ave
Their small downtown area is filled with restaurants, galleries and interesting local shops. And it's only 10 minutes from both downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Twice a year, they host the big Weaverville Art Safari with dozens of artists opening their studios to visitors. Nearby is Vance Birthplace State Historic Site.
Mountain Gateway Museum
The westernmost branch of the NC Museum of History. Tour historic buildings and learn about the lifestyle and history of the earliest inhabitants of the mountains to the those of the twentieth century. Located in Old Fort.
Wilderness Cove Tubing
Tubing the Green River in Saluda is an exciting float that includes class I & II rapids. Enjoy the splashing water, great swimming holes and relaxation, with tube rentals and shuttles available for 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-hour floats. Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends.
River Arts District
Some 185 working artists have set up shop in the River Arts District. Drive a little, walk a little to visit studios and galleries. Find an amazing variety of art and see how the artists create it. It's just a few miles from downtown Asheville and Biltmore Estate.
Asheville Pizza & Brewing
Slinging pizzas since 1998, this independently owned & operated pizza joint and brewery is a local family-friendly hang-out. Kids enjoy the $3 dine-in theatre and the large arcade room with big TV screen, air hockey, ski ball, arcade games and more. 675 Merrimon Ave, Asheville.
Friends of DuPont Forest
Volunteer service organization working to enhance the public use and enjoyment of the DuPont State Recreational Forest while protecting its natural resources. Funds help with trail building and maintenance, along with building projects.
Safari Edventure, Marshall
This non-profit organization is committed to providing hands-on quality encounters with wildlife, plants and the environment. Kids can interact with kangaroos, sloth, lemurs, porcupines, sugar gliders, chinchillas, hedgehogs, marmosets and more.
Brevard Little Theatre
Founded in 1935, this community theatre in the small town of Brevard has been entertaining residents and visitors alike with dramas, comedy, musicals and more.
Daniel Ridge Falls
Located near Moore Cove Falls and Looking Glass Falls, this 150-foot cascade in Pisgah National Forest is also known as Tom's Spring Branch Falls. Accessed by an easy one-mile roundtrip hike. Or hike a four-mile loop.
Lazoom Kids Comedy Tour, Asheville
All aboard the big purple bus for this kid-centric comedy tour featuring a blend of Asheville’s history and humor. Geared for kids 5–12, the tour includes magic, jokes, and more with outlandish tour guides leading the way. Tour is 1 hour, kids 3 and under are free. Kid tickets are $17.
Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre
SART is a professional theatre company in residence at the historic Owen Theatre at Mars Hill University, just 18 miles north of Asheville. Presents 4-5 shows a year, including plays, musicals and original works about Southern Appalachia.
Pisgah Brewing Company
(150 Eastside Drive, Black Mountain) is located in Black Mountain about 10 miles east of Asheville. They specialize in brewing hand crafted certified organic beer. Try the Pisgah Solstice, a Belgian-style ale, or the darkest ale, the rich and smooth Pisgah Porter.
Cabin & Cottage Rentals: Tryon, Saluda & Columbus
Find log cabin, condo or cottage vacation rentals by ponds or with mountain views in the First Peak of the Blue Ridge - many options near the Tryon International Equestrian Center.
While it's part of the city, West Asheville has its own vibe and busy Haywood Road lined with restored buildings filled a big variety of restaurants, bars, breweries, and funky shops.
This Thai-inspired food truck serves traditional steamed buns (bao) with fresh, seasonal ingredients, homemade sauces and locally sourced protein. Try their Pork Salapao with braised pork in Thai herbs. You can find their weekly schedule on their site.
Bust Your Butt Falls
Located along U.S. Highway 64 between Highlands and Franklin, these casades are also known as Quarry Falls or Bust-Yer-Butt Falls. For added excitement, there is a "jump off" rock for diving into the chilly waters.
Smoky Park Supper Club
Enjoy scenic views of the French Broad River in an elegant and airy space made from shipping containers on two acres of land. Grab a drink and watch the sun go down over the river on their sweeping deck (your dog is welcome outside, too!), and enjoy inventive seasonal, woodfired American plates. Open Tues-Thurs, 5-9 PM, Fri/Sat 4-10 PM, Sun 10:30 AM-9 PM. 350 Riverside Dr.
Dalton Distillery, Asheville
As downtown Asheville’s first legal distillery, Dalton Distillery features top-shelf rum and vodka. They also have fun specialty liquors like agave vodka, apple vodka, and coffee infused rums made from local roasters. Their full-service bar features a patio, billiards, arcade games and table tennis. Bar is open daily, 5 PM-2 AM.
Tupelo Honey Cafe
Longtime favorite for both locals and visitors! This is where Tupelo began in 2000 as a destination for scratch-made Southern food rooted in the Carolina Mountains. Breakfast, lunch and dinner served every day. Enjoy craft cocktails, specialty beers and famous honey dusted fried chicken at their new lounge, adjacent to original space. 12 College Street.
RAD Skatepark, Asheville
This large, indoor skate park in the River Arts District offers a safe, supervised environment for skaters and riders of all ages. Kids may bring skateboards, bikes, or scooters to ride. Parents may drop off and pick up kids or stay and observe in the lounge. RAD also offers lessons and skate camps. Admission starts at $10.
Grand Bohemian Hotel Spa
Stay at this Biltmore Village luxury hotel and nourish your mind and body at their Poseidon Spa. Whether enjoying a hot and cool stone massage or a luxurious pedicure, the stylish atmosphere and unparalleled service will pamper you.
Thomas Wolfe Memorial
This is the novelist's boyhood home and setting for "Look Homeward, Angel." Tour the fascinating, rambling house located in downtown Asheville. 52 N. Market Street.
Trade & Lore
Located in the heart of downtown Asheville, this coffee shop on Wall Street serves up hot coffee and specialty drinks made from freshly roasted beans from Mountain Air Roasting. Try a delicious baked good courtesy of The Rhu, a local bakery. They also host fun pop-up events and educational classes. 37 Wall St
Tryon International Equestrian Center
Watch horse jumping competitions with the best riders in the country at this amazing new world-class equestrian resort south of Asheville. Free admission to many events.
This hip, globally inspired West Asheville eatery features a gluten-free menu with superfood ingredients to create “real feelgood food” for anyone from vegans to omnivores. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with coffee and espresso drinks. Cocktails too! In a hurry? Grab a healthy bite to go from their pre-made offerings and full gluten-free bakery. Mon-Thurs 8 AM-8:30 PM, Fri/Sat 8 AM-9 PM, Sunday 8 AM- 2 PM. 697 Haywood Rd
The company founded by synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog, hand builds electronic musical instruments in their downtown Asheville factory. Visit The Moog Store to get hands on with the instruments or set up a factory tour for the full Moog Experience.
Since 1994, they have protected 42,000+ acres in more than 150 projects in WNC, from the waterfalls of DuPont State Forest, to the rock faces of Hickory Nut Gorge, to the farms and rivers that provide us with food and water.
(6.5 mile loop, strenuous) This twin waterfall near Looking Glass Falls features two 100-foot cascades in view of each other, reached via a beautiful 4.5-mile roundtrip or 6.5-mile loop hike on the Buckhorn Gap Trail. It's near the Pisgah Forest Horse Stables, and they offer guided horseback rides to the falls.
WNC Air Museum, Hendersonville
Celebrating flight, this air museum has an impressive collection of historic airplanes, flight manuals, engines, historic photographs of airplanes and pilots, and more. See and touch airplanes from the 1910s to the1980s. Admission is free, and donations are appreciated!
JCC Camp Ruach, Asheville
Open to all, this Jewish community center offers a variety of day camps, including a camp for children with autism called Camp Tikvah. Activities include swimming, sports, arts & crafts, gardening, dance, music, and off-site field trips for campers to explore Asheville’s surrounding natural landscape. Weekly sessions run June-August 2022. 8:30 AM-5:30 PM, Grades 1-8. $280-$400/week
All About Aerospace, Asheville Parks & Recreation
Campers will learn about the forces of flight, how rockets blast off, and the design of aircrafts through hands-on STEM activities. July. 8:30 AM-5:30 PM, ages 8-12. $50/session
Waynesville Recreation Center Indoor Pool
This indoor pool and water park is open daily throughout the year, making it a great way for kids to be active on rainy day or snow day. They also do pool parties! A family day pass is $20, and good for up to 6 people. Other pool pass options available.
Located in Brevard, this is the oldest frame house in western NC (dating back to 1815). Tour the home and beautiful grounds mid-May through mid-October on Saturdays 10 AM-4 PM and Sundays 1-4 PM. Operated by the Transylvania County Historical Society. 2753 Asheville Highway, Pisgah Forest, NC.
Elevated Mountain Distilling, Maggie Valley
This craft distillery is located near The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Maggie Valley. Their top-shelf whiskey, moonshine, and vodka is inspired by the owner’s Smoky Mountain heritage and family traditions. Stop by the tasting room for a tour or a taste! Hours: Mon-Thurs 10 AM-7 PM, Fri/Sat 10 AM-10 PM.
Great Smoky Mountains NC Travel Guide
Order the free 115-page Great Smoky Mountains North Carolina Travel Guide that includes activities and adventures in 7 counties that surround the national park, published by Smoky Mountain Host.
Slick Rock Falls
This cascade near Cove Creek Falls flows across an overhanging cliff in Pisgah National Forest. It's a short walk from the road. You can walk behind it when water is not too high. Located near the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.
Girls Rock Asheville
This rocking camp is for youth who identify as female, trans and/or gender nonconforming. There’s no experience required as campers form bands, write original music, and perform with in a showcase at the end of the week! Instruments/gear are provided. Weekly sessions June-July, ages 8-16. $150/week (scholarships available)
Discovery Camp, NC Arboretum
The North Carolina Arboretum offers a variety of camps for varying ages and interests including outdoor exploration, hiking, arts & crafts, local ecology, geocaching, disc golf, biking, and more. Weekly sessions run June-Aug, 9 AM-4 PM, Grades K-8. $350-$395/week
Double Decker Coffee House
You may do a double-take walking along Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. Yes, it's a authentic double decker bus from London. Enjoy gourmet coffee and teas, along with some great hot chocolate! 41 Biltmore Avenue.
This Italian-inspired eatery in the center of downtown Asheville fuses the traditions and philosophies of Italian cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. The seasonal menu serves family-style, hearty traditionals, along with new Italian dishes. Fantastic wine selection. Reservations strongly recommended. 24 Wall St
Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria
Enjoy fresh sourdough pizza, lasagna, and sandwiches at this long-time local's favorite with 40+ beers on tap. They showcase regular live music and have 4 billiard tables and 5 dart lanes upstairs. Open Sun-Wed until 9 PM, Fri/Sat until 1 AM. 42 Biltmore Avenu
Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains
See the world-famous Synchronous Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each spring in late May and early June. Sign up early for the lottery for parking passes to see the show in the Elkmont area.