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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.
Oyster House Brewing Company
(625 Haywood Road, West Asheville) Oyster House creates craft beer in various styles, including their award-winning "Moonstone Stout" brew with oysters (shell and all) as an ingredient to give hints of sea salt, calcium and other minerals. They have a full food menu.
Sunny Point Café
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.
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.
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.
These homemade ice cream sandwiches will take you back to childhood, along with other “afterschool favorites” like SUNNY tarts, donut holes, biscuit rolls, whoopie pies, unicorn cakes, and more. Pair coffee or espresso with a fresh baked cookie or go all in with a scoop of icecream and a cookie flight. Vegan options available. 99 S Lexington Ave
Short Street Cakes
This family-owned, southern-style cake shop in West Asheville whips up scratch-made cakes, cupcakes, pies and pastries. Order a custom cake for an anniversary or birthday, or pick up some cupcakes to indulge in! 225 Haywood Rd
(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.
Tin Can Pizzeria
Beloved by locals, this pizzeria on wheels is parked at local Asheville breweries like Wedge, Highland and Pisgah Brewing. They serve a rotation of crispy, thin crust pies that pair well local craft beer. See their up-to-date weekly schedule on Facebook.
(2.5 miles roundtrip, strenuous) Hike to Stairway Falls on the Horsepasture River from Gorges State Park via the trail to Rainbow Falls in Pisgah National Forest.
Fork Lore, Biltmore Park
Located inside the Hilton in Biltmore Park Town Square, they fuse southern comfort with modern sophistication, inspired by the chef’s grandmother’s kitchen. How about bananas foster French toast, eggs benedict many ways, and a variety of egg dishes from a nearby organic farm? Don't forget a mimosa or Bloody Mary. Serves breakfast 7:30-10 AM Monday-Friday and 7:30 AM-2 PM on Saturday/Sunday. 43 Town Square Blvd.
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.
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.
Eco Explorer Camp, Asheville Parks & Recreation
A three-day camp focused on exploration and fun outdoors! Activities include hiking, stream investigation, animal visits, climbing wall and a mountain field trip. Two sessions in June. 9 AM-5 PM, ages 6-8. $105/session
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
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
See art exhibits at this downtown Asheville gallery and learn about the fascinating history of Black Mountain College. 56 Broadway
Located at the foot of the Black Mountains, this quaint village just off I-40 is home to the Mountain Gateway Museum, Catawba Falls, Andrews Geyser, Point Lookout Greenway, towering Arrowhead and the Gold Festival.
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)
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.
Picnic in Cataloochee Valley
Tailgate and watch elk graze nearby in meadows just after sunrise or just before sunset in this beautiful valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Don't feed the wildlife.
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.
Jackson County Mountains Guide
Order a free 73-page visitors guide for the Sylva, Dillsboro, Lake Glenville, Cherokee and Cashiers areas, including info on fly fishing, hikes and waterfalls in Jackson County, NC.
Specializing in European-Style breads and pastries, they bake over twenty varieties of artisan breads and rolls using centuries-old hand-shaping and baking techniques. Also, their master baker is constantly conjuring up new ideas for breads that stand out in flavor, texture and overall quality. Stop in for coffee, sandwiches, soup and salads too. 60 Biltmore Avenue.
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
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.
All Souls Pizza
This beloved pizzeria specializes in heavenly woodfired pies with seasonal ingredients, and a masterful crust (they mill their own flour with local grains). They also offer an array of salads, polenta and pasta dishes. Family-friendly! Open for lunch Fri-Sun 11:30 AM-5 PM, Dinner Tues-Sun 5 PM-10 PM. 175 Clingman Ave
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.
Green Sage Cafe
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. Look for the solar panels on the roof! 5 Broadway Avenue.
Located in Pack Square, this restaurant with an award-winning James Beard chef, serves farm-to-table New American fare. The menu is inspired by seasonal ingredients and pays homage to the bounty of regional and American cooking. A wood-fired oven and grill complement the rustic creations. Check out Sunday Suppers, offered weekly at 6:30 PM. 7 Pack Square.
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.|
Museum of the Cherokee
Discover the story of the Cherokee people in this impressive museum that sets the scene for the Cherokee Heritage Trails. The Cherokee community presents its perspective on its own history and culture.
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
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
(2 miles loop, easy) See an old growth cove hardwood forest with 400-year old towering poplar trees. Near Lake Santeetlah in the Nantahala National Forest, it is about 100 miles west of Asheville.
Picnic at Crabtree Falls
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 349: The Crabtree Falls area has a large picnic area. A little north of the picnic area, there is a campground with a 2.5-mile hiking trail to beautiful Crabtree Falls. The trail goes by the base of the Falls, and there are some rocks for small picnics there. The picnic area is open from mid-May through October.
Off the Wagon Dueling Piano Bar
Their musicians impress with their repertoire of thousands of popular songs from the last 50 years. It's an all request show. Rock-and-roll and sing-along while you enjoy cocktails, wine or a craft beer in their beautifully restored historic building on one of the last brick-paved streets in downtown Asheville. 22 North Market Street.
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
Rich Mountain Lookout Fire Tower
Drive to or hike the Appalachian Trail to enjoy the panoramic mountain views from atop the historic lookout tower near Hot Springs.
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
WNC Overnight Summer Camps Guide
Discover the best residential camps for older kids and teens near Asheville in Western North Carolina, with sessions ranging from 3 days up to 8 weeks that include a wide variety of activities including whitewater rafting, zipline tours, creative writing, painting or science and technology workshops.
Stone Mountain, DuPont State Forest
(2.4 miles roundtrip, moderate) A mostly wooded hike with a gradual climb takes you to the top of a rock face with great views across DuPont State Recreational Forest.
In the heart of Asheville in Pack Square is this comfortable place for friends, families and strangers to simply lean in and enjoy each other's company. A place where food and drink is at its uncomplicated best. Chef John Fleer's menu is inspired by seasonal ingredients and pays homage to the bounty of regional and American cooking. A wood-fired oven and grill complement the rustic creations. 7 Pack Square.
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
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
(147 Coxe Avenue, Asheville) Wicked Weed opened their nearby barrel house and sour tap room in the South Slope in late 2014 to store 1,000+ wine and bourbon barrels. This tasting room has 16 taps for sour and wild beer. Open daily. Read more about the South Slope Brewing District.
WNC Cheese Trail
The WNC Cheese Trail includes several small cheesemakers and farms near Asheville. Sample cheeses and buy some to take home. Looking Glass Creamery is an easy drive from downtown Asheville.
Ben's Tune Up
Another local’s favorite, this sake brewery is located in a converted auto shop with an Asian fusion restaurant and beer garden. They serve food until 2 am and have live music a few nights a week. 195 Hilliard Ave
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.
(11.8 miles round-trip, strenuous) The hike up from Big Creek is a 5.9-mile constant climb with a gain of about 3,000 ft. in elevation. The stone fire tower on top affords fabulous views as your reward for the climb.
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.
Since 1994, Salsa’s has been a favorite downtown destination, serving up Mexican-Caribbean cuisine with fresh, local ingredients. Sip on a Mezcal Margarita, bite into a savory burrito, or share signature salsas with corn tortilla chips. 6 Patton Ave
(5-mile loop, moderate) Hike 30 miles in this wilderness area with waterfalls and dramatic cliffs. A great half day hike is a five-mile loop to Schoolhouse Falls, Greenland Creek Falls and Little Green Mountain. It's easy to extend the hike in the network of trails.
Oskar Blues Brewery
(342 Mountain Industrial Drive, Brevard) Oskar Blues' east coast brewery opened in 2012. The Tasty Weasel taproom is open daily with free tours of the brewery. Sample specialty draft ales, enjoy live music and gather with friends.
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!
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 local hot spot offers handmade biscuit dishes, sides, a jam bar and even a gravy flight! They serve breakfast and brunch in a casual atmosphere with gluten-free biscuits and other options. They get busy, so plan ahead and arrive early! Downtown: 417 Biltmore Ave, Ste 4F
This historic department store is now home to 160+ local artists offering jewelry, fine art, decorative art and crafts in its nearly 20,000 sq. ft. of space. Browse while sipping a milkshake from the Old Fashioned Soda Fountain. 25 Haywood Street.
Camp Kanuga, Hendersonville
This inclusive Christian camp by Kanuga Lake offers adventure activities, sports, horseback riding, crafts, talent shows, overnight campouts, and more. 4-21 Day sessions, June-August 2022. Ages 7-17. Cost: $995-$2,375.
Whaleback Swimming Hole
This secluded swimming spot in Pisgah National Forest is just 5.5 miles from Sliding Rock, down river from Cove Creek Falls near Looking Glass Rock.
Cathey's Creek Falls
This 80-foot waterfall in Pisgah National Forest is just six miles west of downtown Brevard near U.S. Highway 64. It's a short but steep hike to the cascade hidden away in a lush cove.
Camp Cedar Cliff, Asheville
This Christian-based camp offers a variety of overnight camps for rising 2nd-10th graders. Depending on age, camps include whitewater rafting, zipline tours, archery, swimming, rope courses, and more. 1-2 week sessions, June - August 2022. Ages 5-16. Cost: $450-$1700
Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS)
This fully interactive science museum in downtown Asheville is a must visit for the whole family! Exhibits include elements of forestry, minerals, planetary exploration, dinosaurs and more. Check out the STEM laboratory and hurricane simulator- they even have a “toddler nest,” for the littlest ones to experience hands-on learning.
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.
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.
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
(10.6 miles roundtrip, strenuous) Journey to the summit of the mountain made famous by the novel and movie, in the beautiful Shining Rock Wilderness Area of the Pisgah National Forest.
Mineral & Lapidary Museum, Hendersonville
Featuring many diverse underground treasures like raw minerals, meteorites, gemstones, and fossils the museum is a great place to take kids to see the many exhibits and especially highlights like a tyrannosaurus rex skull, a mastodon tusk and teeth, and a wooly mammoth leg bone. (400 N Main St)
Picnic at Mt. Mitchell
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 355: Picnic atop the highest summit in eastern North America. The large picnic area has 40 tables adjacent to the parking area at the summit. Two picnic shelters with fireplaces are perfect for groups of up to 16 people. The picnic area is open year-round, but is snow covered much of the winter. Even in the summer, take a sweater or jacket since it can be 10-20 degrees cooler than in the city of Asheville. Use of the shelters is free of charge unless reservations are requested.
This favorite local hangout features creative American fare, local beer and craft cocktails.Their delectable Vault Burger features 100% grass-fed beef from local farms, taking home local awards year after year. Enjoy the patio or sit at the walnut bar inside. They’re open until 2 AM, perfect for a late night cravings. 7 Rankin Ave
12 Bones Smokehouse
The lines may be long, but it’s worth the wait for this locally loved BBQ joint. Enjoy the Southern style, slow-smoked barbecue and scratch-made sides while they last- when they sell out, they close up! Opened only for lunch Mon-Fri, 11 AM-4 PM. 5 Foundy St
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.
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.
Pizza Mind, Asheville
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
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!
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.
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
Nantahala River Jump Off Rock
Enjoy riverside sunning and splashing at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Just a few miles up river is Jump Off Rock. There is a small parking area along U.S. Highway 74. If you are rafting, you can park your raft, climb and jump!