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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.
Astronomy Club of Asheville
Stargaze with members of one of the top astronomy clubs in the country with monthly stargazing events at observatories, on mountaintops or along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Vance Birthplace State Historic Site
This pioneer farmstead about 12 miles north of downtown Asheville features the birthplace of Zebulon Baird Vance. Tour the five-room log house and its outbuildings are furnished to evoke the period from 1795-1840.
Downtown Asheville Picnics
The best place in downtown Asheville for a picnic is Pack Square Park. Get takeout from many nearby restaurants or pick up a gourmet picnic.
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.
Creekside Taphouse, Asheville
Located in the Haw Creek neighborhood of East Asheville, this taphouse specializes in burgers, wings and brews. This large, casual setting is great for kids with games, large outdoor space with patio, volleyball court, playground area and flowing creek. Kids and dogs are welcome! 8 Beverly Rd
Baked Pie Company
This friendly dessert heaven knows how to cure a sweet tooth with their decadent, fresh made pies. They serve a variety of classic pies, signature pies and weekly specialties. Can’t decide? Try a pie flight with 3 slices of pie and a scoop of ice cream, perfect for sharing! Also find savory pies, scones, sticky buns, cookies and more. Vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free options available. 50 North Merrimon, St 103
This long running food truck serves Creole and New Orleans-inspired southern soul food like Biscuits & Gravy, Fried Green Tomatoes, Grits, Shrimp and more. You can find them parked at Highland Brewing, New Belgium and Wedge at Foundation. For a full weekly schedule, see their website.
Nestled in a valley surrounded by the highest peaks in eastern America, including Mt. Mitchell, Burnsville's small downtown is dominated by the Town Square with towering trees. The Mount Mitchell Crafts Fair transforms the streets into a festival for craft and art lovers.
Oak & Grist Distilling Company, Black Mountain
Located just 20 mins from Asheville in Black Mountain, Oak & Grist crafts are regionally inspired, 100% scratch-made whiskey and gin using traditional Scottish distilling techniques. Book a tour online or stop by their tasting room. Hours: Mon-Thurs from, 12-6 PM and Fri-Sat, 12-8 PM.
Asheville Art Museum
Offering to rising K–12th students, all classes are age appropriate. Sessions may include drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and more. Materials included. Half-day (9 AM-12 PM and 1-4 PM) and all-day (9 AM-4 PM) sessions. See website for details.
Little Bee Thai
This beloved local food truck turned restaurant with a local following known for their fresh, seasonal menu. From classic Pad Thai to global curries, there is something for everyone, including weekly specials like Tom Kha soup on Wednesdays and fresh, North Carolina-caught seafood specials on Fridays. 45 S French Broad Avenue #190
This casual Thai restaurant has served up classic dishes with big flavor for over 10 years in Asheville. Enjoy flavorful classics like Green Curry, Pad Thai, and Mango Sticky Rice, along with a diverse sushi bar. Enjoy lunch specials and outdoor dining! 535 Merrimon Ave
(2.8 miles roundtrip, moderate) Hike back in time as you discover the rock foundations of Rattlesnake Lodge, an early 1900s family retreat. The hike is only a 30-minute drive from downtown Asheville. You can extend the hike since it is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 375.
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.
Mt. Mitchell Balsam Trail
(3/4 mile loop, easy) Take a loop hike through the dense, aromatic fir forest high atop on the summit of Mt. Mitchell. Great place for a cool walk on a hot summer day.
Sunny Point Cafe
A favorite local spot in West Asheville since 2003, discover innovative comfort food with made-from-scratch products and a farm-to-table approach. They even grow some of their ingredients in their adjacent garden. Favorites include the huevos rancheros, cornmeal hot cakes, French toast and their killer shrimp and grits. Open every day at 8 AM and breakfast menu served until 2:30 PM. 626 Haywood Road.
Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking
There are many hikes hidden along the Blue Ridge Parkway that takes you through lush forests, by waterfalls and to mountaintops with sweeping views. See our Top 15 Parkway Quick Hikes with big rewards.
Asheville Picnic Company
Asheville Picnic Company caters to your adventurous spirit! Order one of their specialty picnics while out enjoying the area’s beautiful offerings and they’ll deliver right to you. The souvenir food baskets are curated with you in mind and filled with local favorites, allowing you to truly experience the taste of Asheville while on the go! Explore more with Asheville Picnic in hand!
(5.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) Atop Mt. Sterling (5,842 ft. elevation) is the historic, 60-ft. tall steel fire lookout tower with nice views. You will climb 2,000 ft. in elevation.
Explore one of the oldest towns in Western North Carolina, with historic antebellum homes and a downtown filled with shops, restaurants and one of the best children's museums in the state. And it's the site of the first minted gold coins in the USA!
Asheville Museum of Science
Explore the rich treasures of the earth at this "mini-Smithsonian of gems" in downtown Asheville. Exhibits cover volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics and general geologic processes. 44 Patton Avenue.
All Day Darling
Located in Asheville’s historic Montford neighborhood, this cozy bistro offers fresh coffee and baked goods, smoothies, salads, dinner specials, cocktails and more. Enjoy beer or wine on the patio in the warmer months! Open daily 7 AM- 9 PM. 102 Montford Ave.
(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.
Adventure Camp, Asheville Parks & Recreation
This five day camp includes activities like hiking, swimming, rafting, tubing, games, environmental education, and camping. Camp sessions will break into two groups for age-based activities. June-July 2022. 9 AM-5 PM. Ages 8-12, $105/week
Gypsy Queen Cuisine
This Eastern Mediterranean eatery in West Asheville serves up a fresh cuisine of soups, salads, dips, wraps and bowls. Feast on tabouleh, hummus, baba ganoush, wraps with beef, lamb, falafel and more. Fun sides include fried brussels, grape leaves and Lebanese fries. Mon-Sat 11 AM-9 PM, Sunday 11 AM-8 PM. 807 Patton Ave
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.
This hidden waterfall flows beneath an historic stone arched bridge on NC Highway 215 over the West Fork of the Pigeon River, about four miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also see cascades above the bridge. A beautiful roadside setting.
(1.5-mile loop, easy) Hike the top of the highest summit along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the cool forest. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 431.
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)
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.
Ultimate Ice Cream
It’s all about flavor at this ice cream shop on historic Charlotte Street in the famous Grove Park Inn area. Small, local dairy farms provide the creamery necessary to create fun flavors like Goat Cheese Bing Cherry and boozy ice cream like Pumpkin Whiskey. Each flavor of the month benefits local nonprofits. 195 Charlotte Street
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
With two locations in North and West Asheville, this eatery serves up southern fare using locally sourced ingredients. Comfort items include fried chicken biscuit, cheesy grits, catfish po’boy and more. Also find plenty of vegan options available. 371 Merrimon Ave and 219 Amboy Rd
Silver Run Falls
Near Cashiers in Nantahala National Forest is a beautiful 25-ft. waterfall that cascades into a family-friendly pool with a small, sandy beach. A short walk from roadside parking.
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.
A part of Asheville’s urban landscape for 30 years, this locally owned chocolate shop churns out small batch, artisan chocolates including truffles, sea salt caramels, chocolate covered fruits and even chocolate shoes! Take a tour watching chocolatiers craft award-winning chocolates and try a variety of samples. 36 Haywood St
Flat Rock Playhouse
See a fabulous professional show at the State Theatre of North Carolina, about 30 miles south of Asheville, with an eight-month season of plays including Broadway musicals, comedy and drama.
Pulp + Sprout
This locally grown Asheville juice bar and eatery produces high quality, nutrient-dense, organic “real food.” Enjoy a healthy breakfast or lunch from a variety of delicious menu items like cold-pressed juices, smoothies, sandwiches, soups and desserts. 233 South Liberty St.
Adventure Center of Asheville, Birthday Parties
Five minutes from downtown, this adventure park has 4 birthday party packages (ages 4 +) and open year-round. Kids can climb the Asheville Treetops Adventure Park or zip our Kid Zip Park for an epic birthday party adventure. Choose from four different packages based on age and adventure preference. All parties include 10 participants, equipment, ground school, and a picnic area for your group. Outside food and drink are welcome.
Setrock Creek & Roaring Fork Falls
(2 miles roundtrip, easy) Take two one-mile roundtrip waterfall hikes, just a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway (exit onto NC 80) near Mt. Mitchell.
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
Transport your senses to faraway lands with authentic made-from-scratch Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes in an intimate, ambient space with stained glass windows. Enjoy live music and belly dancing every Friday and Saturday evening. 78 Patton Ave
Eagle Nest Outfitters (ENO) was founded in 1999 with a mission to create the most comfortable, packable, travel-ready parachute hammocks for outdoor lovers. The company has grown to produce a variety of high-quality hammocks, stands, straps, chairs, packs, lights and other gear. ENO gives back by committing 1% of annual sales to support nonprofit organizations focused on the environment.
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
Great Smokies Bryson City Travel Guide
Order a free 96-page vacation travel guide (or download a digital version) for the Bryson City area with things to do, dining and lodging for the Great Smoky Mountains. Includes the "All Aboard" official publication for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
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.
KidSenses Hands-On Learning
This large, interactive space offers fun indoor and outdoor exhibits where kids can learn and stimulate imagination through hands-on playing. Their party packages include 20 guests, a party room for one hour, play time in museum, invitations, balloons, and T-shirt for birthday child. Add-ons include character parties, paper goods and favors. Base price: $135.
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.
Indoor Activities for Kids
Find a variety of indoor activities for kids including indoor playgrounds, swimming, STEM centers, hands-on learning and children museums.
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.
Museum of the Cherokee Indian
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian shares the history and culture of the Cherokee people and sets the scene for the Cherokee Heritage Trails. See impressive exhibits that take you from 11,000 years ago to the present. The nearby Oconaluftee Indian Village is also a must visit for families.
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.
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
West Asheville Restaurants
With a reputation for being cool and hip, West Asheville has fantastic local restaurants and pubs - especially along the main drag of Haywood Road. See our favorites.
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.
For the most upscale shopping in the mountains, head to downtown Highlands. It's a popular area for affluent travelers, many with a summer home in the area. This is one of the highest towns east of the Mississippi River, with an elevation at 4,118 feet. Nearby are many beautiful waterfalls, including the roadside Dry Falls.
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.
Retrocade, West Asheville
With a large selection of classic and modern video games, pinball machines, air hockey, skee-ball and more, this family-friendly business welcomes people of all ages. It’s a great place to do family game night. They have a variety of local craft beers, wine or sodas. Play all day for $10.
This cascade in Pisgah National Forest is about a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike from a campsite along NC Highway 215, and less than a mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's along the Flat Laurel Creek Trail that follows an old logging road and railroad grade.
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)
Known for their upscale craft cocktails, this bar and restaurant offers a late night menu with comfort food favorites like burgers and tater tots, along with creative munchies like chickpea fries and ramen. Late night menu is available: Mon-Thurs until 12 AM, Fri/Sat until 2 AM. 29 N. Market St
The Hop Ice Cream Cafe
This local ice cream cafe has served up hand-crafted cones since 1978. A local favorite, Hop offers free family entertainment and events at each of their 2 locations in Asheville. Parents can enjoy their coffee and espressso bar while kids enjoy the kid-friendly space with toys and things to do.
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.
India Garden Restaurant
Curries, tandoori items, and other classic Indian fare are featured in a clean and comfy environment in East Asheville. Locals love their bountiful lunch buffet offered from 11 AM-3 PM daily. Enjoy a nice selection of imported Indian beer. 80 S. Tunnel Rd
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.
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
Picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Picnic spots are limitless along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Spread your blanket on the grass or tailgate at any of the many overlooks and soak in the views. Plus, there are several picnic areas complete with grills. Be sure to get food before you get on the Parkway! Pic: Waterrock Knob
A longtime French bistro with comfort food using local ingredients. A romantic, intimate and charming setting. Enjoy fresh mussels prepared multiple ways, Escargot, Burgundy’s signature stew Boeuf Bourguignon and their famous fries. Dine al fresco along bricked walkways. Pair hand-selected French wines. 62 Lexington Avenue.
Green Man Brewery
(27 Buxton Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Sample iconic ales loyal to traditional English-styles at one of the oldest breweries in NC. Their 3-story "Greenmansion" has multiple tasting rooms and 18 taps (mountain views from the top floor). Open seven days a week. Pet-friendly.
Malaprops Bookstore & Coffee Shop
Enjoy java in this wonderful independent bookstore that has been a fixture downtown for 20+ years. Browse their diverse collection, enjoy goodies in their coffee and pastry shop, or use their free wi-fi. Stop by for a reading and autograph on many evenings. Or enjoy open mic nights for local poets. Open until 10 PM on Friday & Saturday. 55 Haywood St.
(2.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the summit (6,292 ft.) of the 16th highest mountain in the eastern United States. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 451.