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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.
Sand Hill Kitchen
Serving scratch-made Southern fare, this hidden gem offers many soul food staples like buttermilk fried chicken, biscuits & gravy, and meatloaf with some southwest flare. Try their award-winning fried chicken sandwich! 491 Sardis Road
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.
(2.2 miles, moderate) Located next to the Black Balsam hike, this 6,045-foot peak provides panoramic views from the top. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 420.
Asheville Nativity: Creche-Fest (Virtual)
See a virtual display of 300+ Nativity sets from 60+ countries, hosted at First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville (5 Oak Street). Go to their website for details.
Heintooga Road & Balsam Mtn, Great Smoky Mountains
The less-crowded Heintooga picnic area and campground at Balsam Mountain is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway. And go "car hiking" on the 14-mile Heintooga-Round Bottom Road that starts at an altitude of 5,535 ft. and descends through the lush forest to Cherokee.
(1 to 12 miles, easy to strenuous) More than 12 miles of hiking trails range in difficulty from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry challenges. Our favorite is taking the Grandfather Trail from the Swinging Bridge area and returning along Underwood Trail. The popular Profile Trail is a 7-mile roundtrip, strenuous trek up to the highest peak.
Find the most romantic places to eat in Asheville, a longtime romantic destination for couples getaway. Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary or planning the perfect first date, there are a variety of cozy spots for just the two of you.
All Souls Pizza
This wood-fired pizzeria located in the River Arts District of Asheville features pizza dough made with freshly milled grains and high quality, seasonal ingredients. They also offer an array of salads, polenta and pasta dishes. Family-friendly! 175 Clingman Ave
High Five Coffee Bar
Formerly called the Dripolator, this local's favorite is on the other side of I-240 with their own parking area. Their barista's are Counter Culture Coffee-trained to craft only the finest beverages. 190 Broadway Street.
Located in the heart of Downtown Asheville, Chestnut offers a unique take on hand-crafted food and cocktails. The palette is best described as Southern American with a variety of ethnic twists. The menu changes monthly and features a wide range of local and seasonal produce and proteins. Open 7 days a week for dinner only starting at 5 PM. To make a reservation, visit the website or call 828-575-2667. 48 Biltmore Avenue.
Picnic at Linville Falls
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 317: The riverside picnic area near the Visitors Center is open from April through October. An alternative choice is taking your picnic down to the base of the Falls on the large rocks (3/4-mile strenuous hike from Visitor's Center, via the Gorge Trail) any time of year. There are three other overlooks for the Falls via other trails; however, those overlooks are designed for viewing, not picnics.
This contemporary, farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of downtown Asheville’s historic Pack Square serves local, seasonal and sustainable cuisine that is 100% gluten-free. Try one of their artisanal cocktails or choose a glass of wine from local vineyards. Enjoy dinner and weekend brunch! 1 Biltmore Ave.
Lazoom Kids Comedy Tour
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.
Grey Eagle Taqueria
This taqueria is located inside The Grey Eagle Music Hall & Pub, featuring Latin-American cuisine with gluten-free and vegan options. Enjoy a variety of local brews or a fresh-made margarita. 185 Clingman Ave.
River Arts District Artists
This membership group supports and promotes the vast array of artists and working studios in 22 former industrial and historical buildings along French Broad River in Asheville.
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
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)
With so many farms surrounding Asheville, it’s no wonder we are a haven for farm-to-table restaurants. Find the best places to eat with award-winning chefs that seek out the best seasonal, local and organic ingredients.
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.
Swim or float in a pool below the 12-foot waterfall in DuPont State Forest. Jump from a rope swing and walk behind the falls.
Mellow Mushroom, Asheville
Serving delicious stone baked pizza, this pizzeria is a popular place to enjoy a slice. In addition to pizza, they serve calzones, hoagies, salads and a great local beer selection. Vegan and gluten-free options available. Enjoy the large patio for downtown people watching! 50 Broadway St.
Looking Glass Rock
If you are a looking for a nice reward after a challenging hike, head to this well-known rock face summit in Pisgah National Forest. You will ascend about 1,700 feet in just over three miles. The views from the top are well worth the effort. There is plenty of space to relax on the rock face with your picnic! Then it's downhill all the way back to the car.
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
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Savor hand-crafted, artisanal, organic chocolates and pastries in this extremely popular emporium, served with wine, beer, coffee or tea. Or sip liquid truffle chocolates. Next door, Chocolate + Milk features the best ice cream in town. Skip the long lines at the Lounge and pick up truffles there! 10 South Pack Square
Go to these spots for authentic Thai staples like pad Thai, tom yum, drunken noodles, red curry, and other creative Asian fusion dishes.
Southern fusion, farm to table plates like their pork belly banh mi, fried chicken, burgers with side like truckmade tater tots, hand cut fries, seasonal salads and brussels. They offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free option. You can find them at New Belgium on Mondays. See their Facebook page for updated weekly schedule.
Learn pottery skills from this husband and wife team in their quaint, professional pottery studio! In 2 hour lessons, guests will make 4 pieces, including a turn on the wheel. Choose from 8 finishing colors and have your pieces shipped to you once completed. No experience necessary!
This American bar and restaurant features regional ingredients on their menu, along with specialty cocktails. Their Animal House Burger placed in the 2018 WNC Battle of the Burger, putting their winning patty on the map. Enjoy the seasonal patio or stay late for the DJ dance parties on the weekend. Open until 2 AM nightly. 68 North Lexington Ave
Camp Pinnacle, Flat Rock
This overnight summer camp offers swimming, boating, riflery, archery, tennis, disc golf, game room, crafts, drama, yoga, painting, nature program, field sports, and more. 2 to 5-week sessions, June - August 2022. Ages 7-15. Cost: Starts at $3,895
Moe's Original Bar B Que
Featuring award-winning Bama-style, wood smoked pulled pork, ribs, turkey, and chicken, this hidden gem is off the beaten path, but well worth a visit! Traditional Southern sides made fresh daily, along with tasty desserts. 4 Sweeten Creek Rd
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
Ridge Haven, Brevard
With access to hundreds of acres of trails, streams, and views, this Christian camp offers wilderness activities, lake activities, rope and obstacle courses, swimming, archery, games, and more. 5-day camp sessions: May-August, 2022. Rising 3-12 grades. Cost: $310-$520, with the added cost of activity choices.
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.
The Bull and Beggar, River Arts District
Classic European cuisine, cocktail bar and raw bar set in a warm warehouse revamp in the River Arts District. Menu highlights include a two tier raw seafood platter with fresh oysters, clams, shrimp or go big with their 34 oz dry-aged, bone-in ribeye. Reservations recommended. 37 Paynes Way, #007
Linn Cove Viaduct
(1 to 8 miles roundtrip, moderate) Hike under and above the Viaduct from the visitor center. Hike south to Beacon Heights or continue north on the Tanawha Trail to Rough Ridge. Blue Ridge Parkway Milespost 304.
Find the best food trucks that are going fender to fender to bring you delicious, unique comfort food on wheels. They are inspired by a variety of global influences with plates like gourmet grilled cheese, tacos & burritos, Thai, BBQ, hot dogs, Lebanese, Korean street food and even brunch.
Jargon, West Asheville
Located in the heart of West Asheville in a small, nationally registered historic building. Their menu is made of seasonal ingredients, featuring dishes like scallops & pork belly, seafood gumbo, and liver pate. Enjoy craft cocktails, local beer and specialty 5-course dinner events. 715 Haywood Road
Fox-N-Otter Adventure Escapes, Asheville
This locally owned, family-friendly business creates brain-twisting puzzles where participants try to escape perplexing scenarios. Younger children are welcome, puzzles are geared towards kids ages 10-15. Single admission is $28/person, with group packages available.
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
Jackson County Green Energy Park
Tour this fascinating arts facility that is powered by methane gas captured from the old town landfill, providing heat for blacksmith forges, metal foundry, glassblowing, greenhouses and heating. Their gallery features art made on-site.
Sylva’s Pinnacle Park
(7 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the top of The Pinnacle for views looking down into Sylva and the surrounding valley. Climb over 3,000 ft. in elevation with a steady grade.
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.
ABYSA Soccer Camps
This summer soccer camp offers three camp options for varying skill sets, from beginner to experienced players. Campers will learn foundational skills like dribbling, passing, receiving, shielding, and shooting. Full day campers will have afternoon pool time. Weekly sessions run June-Aug with full and half-day options, age 7-14. $135-$235/week
Voted #1 Romantic Restaurant by Travel & Leisure, this Western Mediterranean tapas restaurant in downtown Asheville sets the mood for love. Enjoy the warm ambiance while indulging in farm-to-table tapas and exotic fine wine. Be sure to make reservations, they book up on weekends. 85 W Walnut St
French Broad RiverCamp
This day camp by RiverLink offers a week of river and watershed exploration for campers through hand-on environmental education, service learning projects, and river recreation like rafting, tubing and swimming. 5-Day sessions run June-July, 9 AM-4 PM. Grades 3-8. Cost: $300/week.
Mandala Springs Eco Retreat, Blue Ridge Parkway
This 30-acre eco-retreat surrounded by national forest is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway with some of the best fall color views in the Blue Ridge Mountains! Enjoy camping, glamping, tiny home rentals, trout stream, hiking, and more! They also have onsite yoga classes and bodywork treatments.
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
Morganton & Burke County
Stroll through downtown shops and galleries, visit craft breweries and enjoy great restaurants. Take the Catawba Valley Wine Trail. It's also home to the Waldensian Heritage Museum and movie locations for The Hunger Games.
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.
Picnic at Craggy Gardens
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 365: Located 24 miles from downtown Asheville is Craggy Gardens. Before you reach the visitor center, a road on the left takes you to a large picnic area with many picnic tables and some beautiful hiking trails. Pink and purple rhododendron bloom in June. The picnic area is open mid-May through the end of October. For a picnic with a 360-degree mountain view, continue north on the Parkway past the Craggy Visitors Center and hike to the top of Craggy Pinnacle. Take a jacket, it is always 15-20 degrees cooler atop the summit than down in the city. Great spot for sunrise and sunset.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Savor hand-crafted, artisanal, organic chocolates and pastries in this extremely popular emporium, served with wine, beer, coffee or tea. Or sip liquid truffle chocolates. Next door, Chocolate + Milk features the best ice cream in town. Skip the long lines at the Lounge and pick up truffles there! 10 South Pack Square, downtown Asheville.
Mexican and Latin Food
Find fresh, delicious, and creative Mexican and Latin food at these restaurants. While tacos and burritos are always crowd-pleasing, also discover molcajetes, stuffed fried plantains, and ceviche. And don’t forget the margaritas.
Fonta Flora Brewery
(317 North Green, Morganton) This microbrewery is striving to create a totally unique North Carolina/Appalachian style of beer. By utilizing local grains and foraging the countryside for wild flora, we are taking brewing back to its agricultural roots.
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.
Mainspring Conservation Trust
Located in the heart of the Southern Blue Ridge, they protect the waters, forests, farms and heritage of the Upper Little Tennessee and Hiwassee River Valleys - conserving 25,600 acres.
Global & Fusion Cuisine
Savor cuisine from these outstanding global and fusion restaurants with a focus on fresh, local ingredients - including Indian street food, authentic Mediterranean, global curries, traditional Ethiopian, Asian fusion or something from another corner of the world.
Aquarium & Shark Lab, Hendersonville
This inland aquarium is home to 275 fish, invertebrates, reptiles, and salamanders with 2 dozen exhibits, including a shark study tank. With focuses on education, enrichment and exploration, there are many programs for students of all ages to learn about aquatic life. Kids can observe reptile, shark, and stingray feedings and even see pufferfish training! Admission is $4-5, children 2 and under are free. (511 N Main St)
Chai Pani literally means “tea and water.” It's slang in India for going out for a cup of tea, a tasty bite, a snack, or “a little something.” In Downtown Asheville it means innovative, fun, affordable and delicious Indian cuisine from four time James Beard nominated chef Meherwan Irani. 22 Battery Park Avenue
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.
This roadside waterfall can be viewed from the top on a walkway along US Highway 64 at Lake Toxaway, located between Brevard and Cashiers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bryson City Restaurants
For a small town, you'll find a nice variety of restaurants, ranging from southern home cooking to a brewery and gourmet dining. A nice reward after a day of exploring the Great Smokies and Nantahala River.
House of Flags Museum
A very unqiue museum that displays 300+ flags with detailed stories for each. From military to international, it's an impressive collection. See all 27 official U.S. flags, from 13 to 50 stars, and the accompanying state and territory flags. Open Tuesday & Thursday 10 AM-1 PM and Saturdays 10 AM-4 PM. Donations accepted. (33 Gibson Street, Columbus)
We are lucky to have so many chocolatiers in the Asheville area. The hottest stop is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in downtown and their nearby chocolate factory. And don't miss longtime favorite, The Chocolate Fetish. Check out the stops on our Chocolate Lover's Tour.
See the top places to eat if you have celiac disease, are gluten-sensitive, or just prefer to eat gluten-free food. Even find certified gluten-free kitchens where you don’t have to worry about any cross-contamination.
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
Since 1999, they bake a wide variety of artisan tradition French breads daily. Choose from an array of house-made croissants, danishes, eclairs, cheddar-scallion biscuits, sticky buns, bagels and other pastries. And pair it up with locally-roasted organic coffee or espresso. Opens at 7 AM for early risers. Two locations in downtown Asheville: 60 Biltmore Avenue & 88 Charlotte Street.
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.
The Admiral, West Asheville
One of West Asheville's original and favorite full service elevated neighborhood restaurants, The Admiral offers a daily changing global menu, known for innovative dishes. Hors d’oeuvres include duck liver mousse and bone marrow, along with dishes like the smoked mackerel and pork shank. Sip an after dinner cocktail, fireside on the patio. 400 Haywood Road
Nantahala Gorge Canopy Zip Line Tour
Take an exciting zipline tour in the Great Smoky Mountains. The 3-hour zip line flight is powered by gravity and a gradual 3 percent elevation change. The 1/2 mile air time canopy tour takes you through multiple ecosystems.