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WNC Nature Center, Asheville
This camp creates fun, educational experiences to show campers the wonders of the natural worlds with themes focusing on reptiles, amphibians, birds, bugs, butterflies, and more. All sessions include animal encounters, outdoor recreation, crafts, and group activities on the Nature Center grounds. Camp runs June-August 2022. 8:30 AM-3 PM (Aftercare available: 3 PM-5 PM), Grades K-4. $200/week
Vegan and vegetarian comfort food are at the heart of this locally loved, downtown eatery serving plant-based fare that's affordable and delicious. They serve lunch, dinner, and late night food. 116 N. Lexington Ave
This buzzing coffee house invites you to stop in or stay all day in their creative multi-level space near 12 Bones and The Wedge Brewing in River Art’s District. Menu includes pour over coffee, well-crafted espresso drinks, seasonal beverages, bagels, pastries baked in-house, craft beer and wine. Open Mon-Wed, 7 AM-5 PM, Thurs/Fri 7 AM-7 PM, Sat 8 AM-7 PM, Sun 8 AM-5 PM. 4 Foundy St.
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.
Wicked Weed Brewery
(91 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville) This 15-barrel downtown brewhouse has a Tasting Room in the basement and another bar and restaurant upstairs with 20 beers on tap. They specialize in west coast-style hoppy ales, open fermented belgian beers and barrel-aged sours. Open daily.
This cozy eatery serves up delicious Nepalese, Indian, and Tibetan dishes, with old-world ambiance. Dishes are created from fresh, local ingredients, including high altitude herbs, rice, lentils, potatoes, and green leafy vegetables most common in Nepal. Ask about their lunch special platter. 90 Patton Avenue
Purple People Feeder
Specializing in hibachi style cuisine, this purple bus whips up delicious plates under $10 like fried rice and veggies with chicken, steak, pork, and tuna served with ginger sauce. You can find them parked at breweries and various West Asheville locations. See their Facebook page for a weekly schedule.
Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
They assist the National Park Service to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains by raising funds and public awareness, and by providing volunteers for needed projects. Total disbursements to the Park surpass $50 million.
WNC Nature Center
Children can share their birthday with wolves, cougars, otters, and other native animals at the Nature Center. Party includes a 2 hour room rental, 20 guests, table/chairs, fridge/freezer use, self guided tour of the Nature Center. Parties are $225.
Deep Creek Tubing
Rent a tube and float down Deep Creek on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City. Float by one waterfall and hike to two others.
Relive the romantic Victorian era in Asheville's oldest house (circa 1840). Explore opulent period rooms, history exhibits and grounds designed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers. 1.5 miles from downtown Asheville.
(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.
White Duck Taco Shop
This popular riverfront taco shop located in the River Art’s District of Asheville is a casual, kid & dog-friendly restaurant with a large outdoor space with picnic tables. Order tacos at the counter and enjoy them riverside. 388 Riverside Dr
Specializing in high quality, natural products, this West Asheville coffee shop serves freshly roasted coffee, loose-leaf teas, locally baked goods, bagels and tasty desserts with gluten-free and vegan options. 800 Haywood Rd, Ste. A-110
(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.
Clingmans Dome Trail
(1 mile round-trip, moderate) At 6,643 ft., this is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. An uphill, paved trail takes you to the top for panoramic views from the observation tower.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(197 Hilliard, Asheville, South Slope) Hi-Wire is open every afternoon with four-year round beers: Prime Time Pale Ale, Hi-Pitch IPA, Bed of Nails Brown Ale and a pilsner lager, Hi-Wire Lager. They also offer seasonals. Visit their second brewery with a tasting room and beer garden in Biltmore Village, 2 Huntsman Place.
Picnic at Beacon Heights
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305.2: Talk about a picnic with a view! Take a short 1/2-mile hike to a large rock summit with plenty of room for a picnic while taking in wonderful views from several vantage points. This hidden jewel on the Parkway is accessed from a small parking area, so most folks miss it.
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.
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 Pinball Museum
This downtown Asheville treasure trove for pinball and classic video games is a great rainy day activity with over 80 games. Play a flat rate admission, no tokens or coins necessary. Admission for adults is $15, 10 and under are $12.
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.
Go to these spots for authentic Thai staples like pad Thai, tom yum, drunken noodles, red curry, and other creative Asian fusion dishes.
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.
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.
Setrock Creek Falls
Located a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway (exit at Milepost 344) on NC Highway 80, a 1/2-mile hike takes you to this 75-ft. waterfall. Nearby is Roaring Fork Falls.
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
This fascinating National Park Service site honors the accomplishments of Carl Sandburg and wife Lilian. Tour their home with all original furnishings, visit the goat farm and hike trails at Connemara. Many programs. Located in Flat Rock, just south of Hendersonville.
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
The Little Gym
This indoor gym for kids offers a variety of 1.5 hour party packages includes up to 16 guests, two hosts, set-up/clean-up, juice boxes, t-shirt and water bottle for birthday child. Add-ons include themes, paper products, invitations and more. Packages start at $240.
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.
Indoor Activities for Kids
Find a variety of indoor activities for kids including indoor playgrounds, swimming, STEM centers, hands-on learning and children museums.
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.
White Duck Taco
This popular riverfront taco shop located in the River Art’s District of Asheville is a casual, kid & dog-friendly restaurant with a large outdoor space with picnic tables. 388 Riverside Dr
Cedar Rock Falls
This 20-foot waterfall is along one of our favorite hikes up to the summit of John Rock. To reach the falls, hike about mile from the Fish Hatchery and Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.
This hot spot is well-known for their cat-head biscuits and house-made jam and butter bar. Oh my! Add to that their gravy flights (usually seven to pick from), smoked chevre grits, coconut-stewed collards, and local sausage, bacon and fried chicken. Monday-Friday at 7 AM-2 PM and Saturday/Sunday 8 AM-3 PM. 733 Haywood Road (West Asheville) & 417 Biltmore Avenue.
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.
This downtown Asheville venue in the Historic Broadway Arts Building offers an elegant setting for traditional to modern decor. Chef Kim Lloyd and the exceptional staff personally guide, from the... read more
Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro
Located in Asheville’s South Slope, 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 Wed-Sun, 11 AM- 2 AM. Mon/Tues 4 PM-2 AM. 125 S. Lexington Ave
Sky Lanes, West Asheville
Make it a family date at this West Asheville bowling alley, open daily with lots of options for kid-friendly bowling, including bumpers and assist ramp. In-house Bar & Grill menu has a wide variety of bowling alley munchies like nachos and fries, and items like salads, sandwiches, burgers and more. Games: $4, shoe rentals start at $3.
Bricks 4 Kidz, Asheville
These half-day enrichment camps give campers motorized building challenges each day, along with crafts, games and time for creative building. June-Aug, 9 AM-12 PM and 1-4 PM, Ages 5+
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.|
Gwynn Valley Camp, Brevard
This overnight summer camp for kids located on a working farm offers farm activities, nature lessons, hiking, sports, blacksmithing, climbing, archery, crafts, and more. Programs focus on sustainability, community, outdoors, wilderness, and leadership. 7-day to 3-week sessions, June-August 2022. Completed grades: K-10th. Cost: $2,050-$5,550/session
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.
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.
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.
Point Lookout Trail
(7.2 miles round-trip, moderate) The best paved greenway near Asheville is a blast for biking or hiking. This paved path in Pisgah National Forest was formerly part of Old US Highway 70, winding through the woods with views of the mountains, railroad and forest. While the trail is only 3.6 miles one way, it climbs 900 ft. in elevation from Old Fort to Ridgecrest.
This roadside waterfall can be viewed from the top on a walkway along US Highway 64 at Lake Toxaway, located between Brevard and Cashiers.
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
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.
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.
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.
(1 mile round-trip, easy) A quick walk to the summit has a big payoff with spectacular views from several rock platforms to explore safely. Take a picnic! Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305.
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.
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.
For the best view with your breakfast, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Pisgah Inn, located at 5,000 ft. elevation with panoramic mountains views. They are open seven days a week, serving hearty breakfast dishes 7:30-10:30 AM in April through October. Get there early to get a great table (no reservations), especially on weekends. Located at milepost 408.7 (about 15 miles south of Asheville - allow about 30 minutes driving time).
Pigeon River Adventure Center
Enjoy outdoors exploration with whitewater rafting, zip line canopy tours or Jeep tours in the Great Smoky Mountains. Or do all three without moving your car with their "Triple Adventure!"
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.
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.
Tropical Gardens Mini Golf
This popular, adventure-filled miniature golf course offers a great setting for a birthday party. They also have batting cages, gameroom, sno-cones and more. Parties can be reserved for 1 hour and include decorated gazebo,1 round mini golf, drinks, and paper products. See website for prices.
Asheville Symphony Chorus
The fabulous 100-voice chorus provides a wide range of classical and contemporary music in concert with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, as well as via independent concerts.
See this 250-ft. waterfall from along US 64 (Mountain Waters Scenic Byway) in the Cullasaja River Gorge, located between Highlands and Franklin. It's just 5.5 miles from Dry Falls.
Wine & Cocktails
Unwind after a busy day of sightseeing at one of the many wine and cocktail bars in downtown Asheville. Our favorite is the Battery Park Champagne Bar in Grove Arcade (pic). Social Lounge has a great rooftop!
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
North Carolina's only natural limestone caverns feature stalactite, stalagmite formations and an underground stream. Guided tours.
Nantahala Gorge Picnics
Picnic by the Nantahala River while watching whitewater rafters and kayakers negotiate the rapids. At NOC, Big Wesser cafe has street tacos and riverside outdoor tables. A few miles down the road is the Ferebee Memorial on the Mountain Waters National Scenic Byway with a picnic area featuring tables, charcoal grills, flush toilets, and river access.
Picnic at Mt. Pisgah
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 407: A large picnic area includes grills, tables and restroom facilities. All are ADA compliant and handicapped accessible. It is located near the Pisgah Inn (one mile south) where you can order picnic food (April-October). You can take a strenuous hike to the top of Mt. Pisgah, but there are no great picnic spots at the summit.
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.