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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.
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 espresso bar while kids enjoy the kid-friendly space with toys and things to do.
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
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.
Cooking grounded in the traditions and ingredients of the Carolinas with modern southern seasonal farm-to-table menus, fresh catches from the coast of the Carolinas, as well as local microbrews, prestigious wines, and inventive cocktails. 47 Biltmore Ave
This small batch pottery studio and gallery is a must-stop to browse and shop unique, handmade pieces for your home. Collections include bowls, plates, vases, mugs, teapots, sugar bowls, and more!
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Designated by Congress in recognition of our region's unique character, culture and natural beauty, they protect, preserve, interpret and develop the unique natural, historical and cultural resources of Western North Carolina. Explore with their Blue Ridge Heritage, Music and Craft Trails.
(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.
East Fork Falls
See a beautiful 18-foot cascade near the road in Headwaters State Forest, south of Brevard. It's a one-tenth of a mile trail with a short, steep section.
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.
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.
Conveniently located near downtown Asheville, this all-inclusive wellness campus offers acupuncture, massage, metaphysics, naturopathy, psychotherapy, reiki, T'ai Chi, yoga, spiritual advising, and homeopath services all in one place.
Parker-Binns Vineyard and Winery
This family-run vineyard is located in the foothills and has a very relaxed atmosphere. Try wines in their tasting room and on outdoor patios with mountain views. They use all their own grapes: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chambourcin, Petit Manseng, and Muscat. 2275 Whiteside Rd, Mill Spring, NC 28756.
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
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.
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
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
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.
Harrah's Cherokee Casino
Play a huge variety of games and 3,800+ slots, along with live action tables for Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and more. Find a big variety of great restaurants, hotel, spa, shopping and more.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Enjoy a slice at this pizzeria in the heart of downtown Asheville with your K-9 friend. The large, friendly patio welcomes dogs and humans, alike. They serve pizza, calzones, hoagies, salads and have a great local beer selection. 50 Broadway St.
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
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.
If you’re looking for good authentic Mexian food, you’re in for a treat! Enjoy tacos, nachos, burritos and more. Find them at Wedge Brewing on Tuesdays for Dinner. For a full weekly schedule, see their Facebook page.
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.
This roadside waterfall can be viewed from the top on a walkway along US Highway 64 at Lake Toxaway, located between Brevard and Cashiers.
Brunch & Breakfast
See our list of top places to begin your day of mountain adventures with a hearty breakfast or a leisurely weekend brunch.
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
Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center
Tucked away in small village near Fontana Lake and Nantahala River is an amazing gallery that showcases the work of 180+ area artists and hosts a great summer concert series. Many artist studios nearby.
(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.
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+
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.
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.
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)
Western North Carolina Farmer's Market
Come and enjoy the atmosphere and bounty of the mountains. The retail area features displays of high-quality fruits and vegetables, mountain crafts, jams, jellies, preserves, sourwood honey and dozens of other farm-fresh items. The market is open year-round, seven days a week.
Asheville Pizza & Brewing
Slinging pizzas since 1998, this independently owned & operated pizza joint is a local hang out with dine-in $3 movie theatre, arcade and brewpub. They offer build-your-own and specialty pizzas. They also offer vegan cheese and gluten-free crust options. Don’t forget to sample their craft brews! 675 Merrimon Ave
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.
This locally loved, art filled coffee house serves freshly roasted coffee, specialty drinks, beer, wine, house baked goods and snacks. Try their fun seasonal drinks like the Mexican Mocha with cayenne pepper. They have two locations: Downtown Asheville: 74 N Lexington Ave / West Asheville: 976 Haywood Road.
Waynesville Recreation Center Indoor Pool
This indoor pool and water park is open daily throughout the year, making it a great way for kids to be active on rainy day or snow day. They also do pool parties! A family day pass is $20, and good for up to 6 people. Other pool pass options available.
Daniel Ridge Falls
Located near Moore Cove Falls and Looking Glass Falls, this 150-foot cascade in Pisgah National Forest is also known as Tom's Spring Branch Falls. Accessed by an easy one-mile roundtrip hike. Or hike a four-mile loop.
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.
Kids can explore the universe and beyond at this 200-acre historic campus in Pisgah Forest. Offering campers an out-of-the-world experience, the camp will focus on astronomy and planetary subjects like astrobiology. See a radio telescope and have fun with activities like building and launching model rockets. 6th-12th graders. 2-3 week sessions June-August 2022.
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
If you love to plunder for antiques and deals on collectibles, this is the place! This antique mall features furniture, architectural salvage, collectibles, and accessories from 75 independent antique dealers. It's part of the Biltmore Antiques District that includes 13 antique stores within a mile and a half of the Biltmore Estate.
Julian Price Park
(2.7 miles and 2.3 miles, easy) Hike around a beautiful lake or to the top of Green Knob. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 297.
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
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.
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
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.
Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
Primary fundraiser and trusted steward of the Blue Ridge Parkway, they preserve the past, enhance the present, and safeguard the future of the 469-mile scenic drive. Show your love and support of the Blue Ridge Parkway with their NC specialty license plate for your car.
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.
Asheville Distilling Company, Asheville
Inspired by the moonshiners of Western North Carolina, this distillery produces Appalachian inspired moonshine, whiskey and bourbon under the Troy & Sons brand. They are located next to Highland Brewing Company in East Asheville. Free tastings are Fri/Sat 5-6:30 PM, no appointment needed. Group tours available by appointment.
ACT: Tanglewood, Asheville
This program offers two sessions for kids and teens interested in acting, music, movement, film, and design. The camp, held at Asheville Community Theatre, is open to beginners through advanced performing arts campers. Each session ends with a showcase for family and friends! Sessions offered June-July. Ages 7-15. $400/week.
Camp Wayfarer, Flat Rock
Christian-based camp that includes creative arts, horseback riding, swimming, sports, archery, and wilderness adventures. Sessions range from 5-day to 4 weeks with mini sessions for grades 1-6 and even an expedition out west for 8-11 graders. Ages 6-16. Cost: $1,800-$7,200
Enjoy an impressive season of masterworks concerts, including classical, pops and choral, in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium downtown. Each concert features their 100-member orchestra and a guest artist.
(4 miles round-trip, moderate) At an elevation of 5,920 ft., this is the highest grassy bald in the Great Smoky Mountains. The hike near Clingmans Dome is not overly strenuous but includes a good bit of uphill and rocky sections. And you won't see the crowds that you find on other hikes in the Smokies.
Top 10 Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains Park NC
From world-renowned hiking trails like the AT to lesser-known gems, see our favorite 10 hikes from the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, nearest the Asheville area.
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
Zaniac Summer Camps, Asheville
Kids learn to code, build robots, design & print in 3D, fly drones, compose music, go to space in Minecraft & More! Beginner and Advanced Weekly Camps available. Full and half-day camps available. June-Aug, Grades K-8. $279-$449/week
Roaring Fork Falls
Located just two miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway (exit near Milepost 344) and five miles from Crabtree Falls in Pisgah National Forest at the base of Mt. Mitchell. It's an easy one-mile round-trip hike, near Setrock Creek Falls.
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.
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
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
Sunny Point Cafe
A favorite local spot 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 daily 8 AM-2:30 PM. 626 Haywood Road.
This fast-casual joint serves a variety of fresh-made tacos from ingredients like grilled fish, steak, spiced pulled pork, slow cooked rotisserie chicken, and chorizo. Vegetarian tacos include avocados, black beans, sweet potatoes, and roasted poblano peppers. Try the breakfast tacos! Pair your taco with a mexican coke or house margarita. 132 Charlotte St
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.
Cove Creek Falls
Located near Daniel Ridge Falls is a waterfall on a beautiful two-mile hike that includes a second, smaller cascade. It's also located near the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.