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Western NC Nature Center
Learn about the area's natural resources, see 60+ animals in their native habitats including red pandas and red wolves. Explore many exhibits on this 42-acre wildlife park in the city of Asheville. Open daily.
Battery Park Champagne Bar
Sip a fine wine, Champagne or cocktail while you peruse thousands of used and rare books in this "Book Exchange" in the historic Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. Many nooks for great conversations. 1 Page Avenue
Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway Picnics
There are plenty of roadside stops (many by a cascading river) on this Byway through the Pisgah National Forest. The section on U.S. Highway 276 between Brevard and the Blue Ridge Parkway passes by Looking Glass Rock, Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock and the Forest Discovery Center. Home to many waterfalls. Just four miles south of the Parkway is the Pink Beds Picnic area with an easy four-mile loop hike.
Polanco is a relaxed, intimate restaurant serving an eclectic Mexican menu with vegetarian and vegan options. Enjoy authentic dishes such as mole and chiles en nogada. Polanco can also be booked as a private event space and comfortably seats at least 50 people, up to 75. 10 North Market St
Founded on the traditions of 19th century Waldensian settlers from Italy. Stop by the Visitor Center in the historic Rock School for things to do including Waldensian Museum, Trail of Faith, Old Rock School Art Galleries, and model train museum.
Located at the corner of the 5 points intersection in the heart of the River Arts District this specialty coffee shop offers a full espresso bar, pastries, paninis, bagels, salads and more. Vegan and gluten-free options available. Enjoy Open Mon-Fri, 7 AM-5 PM. Sat/Sun, 8 AM-5 PM. 242 Clingman Ave
Green Knob Tower
(1 mile roundtrip, moderate) Get a close up view of the historic fire lookout tower visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway - with views Mt. Mitchell from its staircase. Parkway Milepost 350.
This authentic tearoom serves from over 100 varieties of fresh loose leaf tea and herbs, along with a vegan and vegetarian menu. They host classes, tea tastings, and also have locally made pottery for sale. They have two locations: 78 N Lexington Ave in downtown Asheville and 707 Haywood Rd in West Asheville.
Wortham Center for the Performing Arts
This 500-seat theatre in the heart of downtown host many top-notch performances by professional touring artists and local arts organizations. The intimate theatre has exceptional acoustics and sightlines. Check out their calendar with events every week. Located at 18 Biltmore Avenue.
Creekside Taphouse, Asheville
Located in the Haw Creek neighborhood of East Asheville, this taphouse specializes in burgers, wings and brews. Well behaved dogs are welcome in their large outdoor space with patio, volleyball court, playground area and flowing creek. 8 Beverly Rd
Since 2002, this downtown favorite has served healthy organic vegetarian and vegan comfort food for lunch, dinner, and late night. It’s the perfect spot for late night healthy comfort food, treats and even a Buchi Bar for kombucha lovers! Open Mon-Sat until 11 PM. Closed Sundays. 116 N. Lexington Ave.
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.
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.
Adventure Center of Asheville
Open all year and just minutes from Downtown! This center for adventure offers something for everyone, whether you're 4 or 94! Zip on the Canopy Zipline Tour with two 1,200 foot lines, or make it a family adventure on the KidZip, America's first zipline adventure designed for kids under 10. Climb the Treetops Adventure Park with over 70 challenge elements, or ride through the Kolo Bike Park (bike rentals available). Great for individuals, families or groups! See our feature.
White Labs Kitchen & Taproom
This brewpub showcases craft cocktails, wine and 32 rotating taps of local beer. They serve wood-fired pizzas, farm-fresh salads and beer-infused dishes and desserts. Their winning cheeseburger features a grain-fed beef patty with smoked gouda, tomato jam, fried shallots, house pickles and special sauce. 172 S Charlotte St
We have the perfect picnic spot for any occasion! Take a backpack on a hike to a waterfall or picnic atop a mountain summit with panoramic views. You could also stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway and spread a blanket on the grass. While there are many designated picnic areas along the Parkway and in the national forests surrounding Asheville, you can also create your own picnic spot.
The Market Place
Asheville’s original farm-to-table restaurant, this downtown fixture since 1979 offers an seasonally-driven menu featuring organic ingredients from area farms and artisan producers. Enjoy extensive wine list, craft beer and cocktails too. Recommended by The Food Network, USA Today, The New York Times, Southern Living and more. 20 Wall St
Wake Foot Sanctuary
Located in the heart of Asheville’s shopping district, this unique communal space allows you to take a break from exploring the city, cozy up in a plush chair and enjoy a custom foot soak made from essential oils, dried herbs and botanicals. Sip on hot tea with treats while you soak. Add on massage by a licensed massage therapist and soak up the bliss!
Nantahala Brewing Company
(61 Depot St, Bryson City) Nantahala Brewing Company’s inaugural beer is made with pale malt and a generous amount of crystal malts. Appalachian Trail Extra (ATX) Pale Ale is a lighter golden version of the Nantahala Pale Ale with a crisp dry flavor and a touch of bitterness.
Located in downtown’s South Slope, this doughnut and coffee shop is off the charts with fun flavors like orange creamsicle and chocolate glazed with pretzel crumbles. They offer a classic menu of espresso drinks, signature drinks, and pour over style coffees. Find a variety of vegan, cake, and yeast doughnut options. See their weekly menu on their Facebook page. 32 Banks Ave, Ste 106
Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria, Asheville
Enjoy fresh New York style pizza, along with lasagna and sandwiches at this long-time local's favorite with 40+ beers on tap. Kitchen features late night hours for locals and tourists alike. Live music, billiards, and darts. 42 Biltmore Ave
Learn about Cherokee Indian heritage at several museums, including the Museum of the Cherokee and Oconaluftee Indian Village. Each summer, see Unto These Hills. Learn about and buy crafts at Qualla Arts.
This family friendly pizza restaurant in West Asheville offers signature and build-you-own pizza pies, along with a great local beer selection and extensive wine list. Kids can enjoy the arcade! 285 Haywood Rd. Suite 10
Cradle of Forestry for Kids
Located in Pisgah National Forest near Sliding Rock, learn all about our forests and environment at the location of the nation's first forestry school. Watch a movie, explore 15 hands-on exhibits, ride the fire fighting helicopter simulator and go underground to see animals. Paved hiking trails take you by a locomotive and historic buildings. The Adventure Zone is especially designed for children and adults with autism.
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.
The Asheville Bed & Breakfast Experience
Staying at a Bed & Breakfast offers guests a unique and luxurious experience. Find historic lodgings with expansive choices to retreat with wraparound porches, quaint gardens, cozy rooms, private ensuite bathrooms, and loads of charms. The extras provided to guests at no charge far outweigh the costs when compared to like-quality hotels and vacation rentals.
Bull & Beggar
Savor high-end, European inspired Appalachian cuisine with a raw bar and craft cocktails at this popular restaurant next to the Wedge Brewery. Or go casual with the popular “Burger Mondays” for a half-priced double cheeseburger and fries. Be sure to make a reservation, they fill up! Open daily 5 PM-10PM, with brunch on Sundays 10:30 AM-2:30 PM. 37 Paynes Way
Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum at Grovewood
If you are a car buff, this collection of 20 antique automobiles will delight. Located near downtown Asheville in Grovewood Village. Open April-December. Free.
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
Twisted Laurel Downtown
Feast on Mediterranean comfort foods like handmade pasta and smoked meats in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere across from Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville (130 College Street) and in Weaverville. Each with dog-friendly patios and a very popular Doggie Menu so your pup can enjoy a meal out with you!
Ideal for kids 6 and up, this hands-on program uses Legos to help kids develop problem solving and critical thinking skills as they build machines and other constructions, utilizing engineering, architecture and physics. Their mobile program can be found at local schools, events, camps, parties and more.
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!
WALK (West Asheville Lounge & Kitchen)
This causal local hang out serves everything from wings and burgers to salads, tacos and sandwiches, with regular vegan and vegetarian menu options available. Local craft beers on draft, cocktail specials and 2 billiard tables. Weekly specials include Taco Tuesday and Sunday Brunch. Open Mon-Thurs 11:30 AM-1 AM, Fri/Sat 11:30 AM-2 AM, Sunday 10:30 AM-12 AM. 401 Haywood Rd
Transport your senses to faraway lands with authentic made-from-scratch Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. On Friday and Saturday nights, enjoy belly dancing and live music. Lunch and dinner every day. 78 Patton Avenue.
Chimney Rock Park
Children, ideally ages 5-12, explore nature-based, hands-on activities at this state park with trails, rock climbing, animals and more. They offer two birthday party packages that include admission, animal demonstrations, scavenger hunt and designated picnic area. Options to add climbing walls are available. Packages start at $300.|
Twin Leaf Brewery
(144 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Twin Leaf has a dozen beers on tap, classic Belgian, English and American-style ales and a rotating line up of lagers and other adventurous styles. Open every day.
With a large selection of classic and modern video games, pinball machines, air hockey, skeeball and more, this family-friendly business welcomes people of all ages.They offer a variety of party packages, that include 2-3 hours of play time, 25 passes, and table. You can even rent the entire arcade. Packages start at $200.
Mountain Play Lodge, Asheville
This large indoor play space, ideal for kids 10 and younger, offers two age-appropriate play floors with a variety of soft play equipment including a miniature village, toddler slides, and a large jungle gym with slides. Find a variety of food and beverage options for purchase, including snacks, coffee, and even beer and wine! Admission: $8-14. Don't forget to wear socks!
Tamarind Thai Cuisine
Owned and operated by Bangkok native, Gai Wilson, this South Asheville restaurant offers a classic menu of fresh ingredients and authentic Thai cuisine. Traditional dishes include the Red Curry, Crispy Basil Duck, and Tom Yum. Try the steamed dumplings! 330 Rockwood Rd #112
Cafes & Bistros
See the best bistros in our “Paris of the South” - including traditional bistros with French and European cuisine and a big variety of small restaurants and cafes with many culinary styles.
North Carolina Arboretum Community Partner
This 434-acre public garden is an affiliate of the University of North Carolina to cultivate connections between people and plants with gardens, trails and many special events and exhibits.
Black Mountain Ciderworks
(100 Eastside Drive, Black Mountain) Their Tasting Room has four ciders on tap, made from Henderson County apples.
(1 mile round-trip, moderate) This short-but-steep trail climbs a half-mile to the peak for spectacular views. The bare rock profile named Devil's Courthouse is sinister in appearance and legend. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 422.
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.
(5 miles loop, easy) This woodland hiking trail is wide and mostly level, located adjacent to the Cradle of Forestry near Looking Glass Rock. Great spot for wildflowers.
Harrah's Cherokee Restaurants
A variety of restaurants satisfy any craving or appetite, all adjacent to exciting casino action. Chef's Stage Buffet is sure to please even the pickiest eaters, with interactive stations that offer tastes from around the world -- Italian, Mexican, Asian, barbeque, a soup and salad bar, and desserts. Other options include Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Selu Garden Café and BRIO Tuscan Grille.
Camp Cedar Cliff, Asheville
This Christian day camp includes themed weeks, games, splash days, archery, bb ranges, swimming, and more. 2nd-5th graders will get to experience hour-long trail rides with horses, as well as practice riding skills. Lunch and snacks included. Weekly sessions run from June-August 2022. 8 AM-5 PM. Grades K-5th. $350/week.
Asheville Pizza Company
This local pizza joint is a family-friendly hang out with dine-in $3 movie theatre and gameroom with arcade games, giant connect four, and big screen. Reserve the game room at no charge, cake and ice cream welcome.
Nantahala River Rafting Guide
The most popular river for whitewater rafting and kayaking is about 12 miles west of Bryson City in the beautiful Nantahala River Gorge. The site of the Freestyle Kayaking World Championships, find class II and III rapids, along with calm sections perfect for a dip. Fun for ages 7 and up, with no experience necessary. Choose from nine outfitters, all offering a variety of options.
Since 2003, this cajun-southern eatery has been serving dishes of the Louisiana bayou with staple Southern comfort foods like BBQ pork and fried green tomatoes. Try their Bloody Mary Bar, available everyday until 4 PM. Dog-friendly seating available. 22 College St
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.
Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro
Located in the South Slope of downtown Asheville, this unique bistro and bar offers an exceptional new-world approach to classic food and drink. Their bar also boasts one of the largest rum selections in North Carolina. Try their nightly specials and enjoy live music on their outdoor patio in the warmer months. Open daily until 2 AM. 125 S. Lexington Ave
Ramen and Noodle Bowls
Enjoy a bowl of happiness with delicious ramen and noodles at these top restaurants. Asheville chefs spice things up with an Appalachian twist by using local, seasonal and fresh ingredients.
Cradle of Forestry
Travel back in time with historic cabins, crafters, old logging equipment, guided tours, movies, food and shopping. Home of the first forestry school (opened in 1898) in America. In Pisgah National Forest. Open mid-April through October.
18 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.
Enjoy classical music by flickering candlelight at The Asheville Theatre. World-class orchestral musicians and vocalists will feature inspiring music from “The Greatest Showman." Tickets start at $45/person.
Carolina Living Choices
Carolina Living Choices is a guide for active, senior living retirement in Western NorthCarolina. They offer a wealth of information and expertise on real estate, 55+, and retirement communities near Asheville, including lifestyle resources for education, enrichment, recreation, and travel. See helpful articles and request a free print and digital retirement guide on their website.
The Gorge Zipline, Saluda
The Gorge Zipline Canopy Adventure is one of the steepest and fastest canopy tours in the U.S. This adventure takes place in the rugged Green River Gorge area of southeastern Henderson County.
Enjoy many choices for great theatre, plays, music, dance and more in Asheville and nearby areas.
Asheville’s largest curated, pop-up market for antiques, art, vintage decor, jewelry, and beyond is in the River Arts District. Rain or shine. 10 AM-4 PM. (1 Foundy Street)
Restaurants in Sylva
Find places to eat in Sylva including breakfast, pizza, southern comfort food, take-out, barbecue, or Main Street diner staples, Sylva has a lot of options! Find a variety of ethnic cuisine to choose from including Greek, Italian, Caribbean, Mexican, Chinese, Latin, and more! Also find coffee shops and cafes with delicious pastries and baked goods.
South Mountains State Park
(2-40 miles, easy, moderate, strenuous) This state park near Morganton has 40 miles of hiking trails. Our favorite is High Shoals Falls 2.7-mile loop trail to a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. Combine several trails for a much longer hike.
Best 40 Fall Festivals & Events
September & October: Enjoy the cooler days of autumn with a big variety of events and outdoor festivals in Asheville and western NC towns. See our fall color foliage forecast for the best places to see the changing leaves.
Ensemble Stage, Banner Elk
Enjoy professional theater in the mountains based at the Historic Banner Elk School. This local theater troupe is known for high-quality performances with a robust year-round schedule of events.
Buddah's Best Package, Shoji Spa
Your 3.5-hour escape begins with a one-hour private outdoor salt hydrotherapy tub soak, a 90-minute massage that includes a Thai Foot Massage, and a comforting conclusion in the Savasana Retreat with cushy tatami mats with heated infrared gemstone therapy and negative ions. Cost is $546/couple
Be Waterfall Wise Safety Tips
Brevard & NC’s Land of Waterfalls is a popular destination for exploring waterfalls. See their Be Waterfall Wise page for tips including current conditions, waterfall safety cards, and waterfall safety videos.
Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
We are lucky enough to have six rivers near Asheville that are good for rafting and kayaking. Find professional companies that provide rafting guides, so no experience is necessary. You can even learn how to kayak in the rapids or paddleboard on a lake.
An Evening of Romance, Bent Creek Lodge
Upon arrival your room will have romantic soft candlelight, gourmet truffles, soothing music and a dozen roses. They do the work and you'll get the credit!
The Riveter, Fletcher
In addition to indoor rock climbing and workout studios, The Riveter has a two-part bike park. Outdoors under a canopy, are four separate lines providing terrain for all skill levels. Experienced riders practice jumps and drops, while younger riders hit the flowy pump track. Also on the property, four larger outdoor lines vary in difficulty from green to double black.
Top Guided Tours & Experiences
Take a guided tour for sightseeing, art, wildlife, history, food, beer, waterfalls, wellness and more in Asheville and western North Carolina. See our list of favorites.
Ride Kanuga, Hendersonville
The newest addition to Kanuga Conference & Retreat Center is Ride Kanuga mountain bike park. Founded by world-champion downhill racer Neko Mulally, the park features 12 downhill-specific trails suitable for all ability levels.
This new Japanese smokehouse in downtown Asheville is the work of James Beard-nominated chef/owner Michael Lewis, offering a blend of Japanese street food and Southern BBQ to be enjoyed and shared by friends and family. Vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options. (121 Biltmore Ave)
Traveling with your dog? See our Pet-Friendly Guide to Asheville and the North Carolina mountains that includes lodging, hiking, Biltmore, kennels, dog parks and more.
Top Spas in and around Asheville
Relax and rejuvenate as you get pampered at a spa. From natural hot springs to world-class destination spas, there are plenty of choices. We have been a destination for wellness for centuries. Also, find a mecca for holistic and alternative wellness. In recent years, Asheville has become a well-known destination for travelers seeking holistic and alternative wellness.
North Mills River Recreation Area, Horse Shoe
This area is part of Pisgah National Forest and is located in Henderson County, just 13 miles from downtown. The area has picnic sites, campsites, hiking trails, mountain biking trails, fly fishing, and tubing. Trails range in difficulty level from easy to strenuous.
Bee Mural, Hendersonville
A bee mural now covers two sides of the building housing Hands On! Children’s Museum. The mural, which is designed to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators, depicts honeybees, butterflies, and native flowers. Plants in the pollinator garden at the base of the mural provide shelter, nectar, and pollen. The mural is part of an international campaign by artist Matthew Willey called The Good of the Hive, which involves painting 50,000 honeybees in murals around the world. To see the mural, head east on Third Avenue from Main Street toward King Street and look to your left.