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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
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.
(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.
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
Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS)
Ideal for children ages 3-9, this museum offers 2-hour science themed birthday parties with educator-led activities in STEM classroom, table & chairs, games and free time in the exhibit hall for up to 25 kids. Parties are $275 and offered on Sat/Sun only.
Nantahala River Rafting Guide
The most popular river for whitewater rafting and kayaking is about 12 miles west of Bryson City in the beautiful Nantahala River Gorge. The site of the Freestyle Kayaking World Championships, find class II and III rapids, along with calm sections perfect for a dip. Fun for ages 7 and up, with no experience necessary. Choose from nine outfitters, all offering a variety of options.
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
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.
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.
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.
Laurel River Trail
(7 miles roundtrip, easy) This scenic creekside trail follows Big Laurel Creek as it flows to the French Broad River in Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs.
Mast General Store
This favorite stop for tourists and locals is an old-fashioned general store with the latest products, including clothing, fun gifts, cooking accessories and a huge candy section. Downstairs is a great outdoors department with all the major brands. 15 Biltmore Avenue.
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
Founded in 2002, this gear company creates high performing products for wilderness athletes, focusing on building them in the least toxic, lowest impact way. They create durable, high-quality footwear, life jackets, apparel and dog beds in the cleanest, most sustainable way.
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.
Located in West Asheville, this full-service neighborhood restaurant offers friendly service, rotating draft and bottle selection, and one of the more dog-friendly patios in town. Their menu features build-your-own burger options, along with delicious signature burgers. Don’t forget the tater tots! 784 Haywood Rd
Gay Asheville: LGBTQ Guide
Find top Asheville area places to stay including LGTBQ owned places, top things to do, wedding info and much more for vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
This favorite downtown Italian restaurant is filled with the aromas of house baked artisan bread and mouth watering cuisine. Focuses on fresh ingredients, biodynamic and organically-produced wine selections. Offers traditional recipes from Italy, featuring hand-tossed pizzas, savory pastas, housemade desserts, gluten-free and vegetarian options. 27 Broadway.
Art Loeb Trail
This challenging, 30-mile hiking trail with spectacular views includes popular Black Balsam Knob. This trail is located in Pisgah National Forest and is a great option for multi-day backpacking since there are many campsites along the high ridges and balds.
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
With a prime corner location in the beautiful Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, find superior local and organic produce and meats for a bounty of fresh flavors with contemporary style. Lunch features soups, salads, hand-tossed pizzas and burgers. Dinner offerings range from mussels and calamari to locally sourced steaks and pork, along with signature cocktails and local brews. Prime outdoor dining patio. 1 Page Avenue.
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.
Adventure Camp, Adventure Center of Asheville
Campers will experience a variety of outdoor adventures at this camp, including ziplines, rafting, treetop course, tree climbing, bike park, and daily swimming. Campers will participate in daily team-building games, fun activities, creative learning, and age-appropriate outdoor education immersive learning. Weekly sessions run June-August 2022. 8:30 AM-4 PM. Ages 8-15.
Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria
Enjoy fresh sourdough pizza, lasagna, and sandwiches at this long-time local's favorite with 40+ beers on tap. They showcase regular live music and have 4 billiard tables and 5 dart lanes upstairs. Open Sun-Wed until 9 PM, Fri/Sat until 1 AM. 42 Biltmore Avenu
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.
Eagle's Nest, Pisgah
Encourages boys and girls to live and grow simply, rooted by intentional experiences and connection to the community. Activities promote self-expression, personal growth, skill-building, and fun. With wilderness activities, music and drama, athletics, and more. 1-3 week sessions, June-August 2022. Grades K-9.
Hands On! Children's Museum, Hendersonville
This children's museum in historic Downtown Hendersonville has interactive exhibits with focus on science, nature, engineering, motor skills, and more. Exhibits include pet vet hospital, grocery store, lego raceway, puppet theatre, stage, and many more! (318 N Main St)
Alexander's Ford Overmountain Trail
(1.5 miles, easy) Hike a section of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail that was used for by local militia heading to an important battle in the Revolutionary War.
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.
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.
Billy Graham Museum at The Cove
Take a free one-hour guided tour at the Billy Graham Conference Center, The Cove, located in Asheville. Tour includes the Chapel and exhibit on Graham's life.
For delicious southern and soul comfort food, head over to these finger lickin' good places for buttermilk biscuits, crispy fried chicken and sweet tea.
Eda Rhyne Distillery, Asheville
This Asheville distillery is located in historic Biltmore Village, near Biltmore. They specialize in small batch whiskeys, sourcing heirloom corn and grains, as well as local botanicals to create aromatic and earthy flavors. Their cocktail bar is open Wed/Thurs 3-9 PM, Fri/Sat 1-9 PM.
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.
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.|
Asheville Pinball Museum
Featuring many diverse underground treasures like raw minerals, meteorite, 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.
Waynesville Recreation Center Indoor Pool
Have a pool party anytime of year at this indoor water park and pool in Waynesville. All pool parties are available on Saturdays only and rentable for 2 hours at a time. Option to add a private room with a kitchen is available. Party reservations start at $55.
Asheville Music Hall
This mid-size concert venue is in the middle of downtown with a 360-person capacity. They host many musical legends and have a full restaurant and bar downstairs. Its an all-genres venue that provides an intimate, live music experience for all music fans. 31 Patton Avenue.
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!
Cataloochee Valley Hiking
There are many hiking trails in beautiful Cataloochee Valley, home to the elk. A quick favorite is the one-mile Rough Fork Trail along the cascading stream.
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
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.
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.
Brevard Little Theatre
Founded in 1935, this community theatre in the small town of Brevard has been entertaining residents and visitors alike with dramas, comedy, musicals and more.
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.
The Grey Eagle
This listening room-style concert venue is a longtime local's favorite just outside of downtown Asheville features a big variety national and regional groups. Capacity is 550 standing. Great beer selection and a Taqueria Latin cuisine. 185 Clingman Avenue.
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
Bricks 4 Kids
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. The party comes to you at your preferred location, whether it’s at your home, a park pavillion, church, etc. Parties include a host, 90 mins of structured party activities, along with free play. Party packages start at $185.
Great Smoky Mountains Outdoors, North Carolina
The Southern Appalachian mountains area is a paradise for hikers, boaters, anglers, and all other types of outdoor adventurers. See our top outdoor things to do, places, and adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina with trails, rivers, and some of the highest mountains in the East.
828 Family Pizzeria, Asheville
Formerly known as Marco’s Pizza, this 4th generation family pizzeria fires up New York style pizza that is crispy and full of flavor. They serve other Italian favorites like salads, pastas, sandwiches, calzones, and strombolis. 946 Merrimon Avenue
Top 11 Christmas Small Towns
Take a photo tour of our Top 11 Christmas Towns & Villages near Asheville, each decorated with plenty of festive things to do in the North Carolina mountains.
See multiple cascades at the roadside Waterfalls Park in Newland, complete with picnic tables. Three falls total about 50 ft., with a short trail to get a closer look at the different tiers.
Guided Walking Tours
History at Hand offers tours to Downtown history and architecture, Montford architecture, Riverside Cemetery and more. All walking tours are given by appointment. Tours must be booked in advance.
This regional non-profit spearheads the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a destination for everyone to live, learn, work and play.
Teen Water Adventure Camp, Asheville Parks & Recreation
This three-day camp is perfect for campers who like to spend their summer splashing around. Activities may include tubing, snorkeling, paddling, hiking to waterfalls, and whitewater rafting on a river. July 2022. 9 AM-5 PM, ages 11-14. $105/session
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.
North Carolina's only natural limestone caverns feature stalactite, stalagmite formations and an underground stream. Guided tours.
Western NC Nature Center
Learn about the area's natural resources, see 60+ animals in their native habitats including red pandas and red wolves. Explore many exhibits on this 42-acre wildlife park in the city of Asheville. Open daily.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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
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.
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.
Green Sage Cafe
A local favorite, 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. Enjoy fresh juices, sandwiches, salads, soups, coffee drinks and more. Look for the solar panels on the roof! 5 Broadway Avenue.
Suwana's Thai Orchard
Located in the heart of downtown Asheville, this Thai restaurant utilizes authentic cooking styles and fresh ingredients to create the warm, smooth and savory flavors of Thailand in each dish. Enjoy abundant portions and try the Crab Rangoons to share! 11 Broadway St
Buxton Hall Barbecue
This South Slope BBQ joint is the shared vision of James-Beard nominated chefs. They serve wood-smoked, whole-hog East Carolina BBQ and traditional Southern sides. Try a bourbon and Cheerwine slushie! 32 Banks Ave
This fast-casual taqueria is a local favorite with a unique, scratch-made menu of fresh, local ingredients scratch made flavors and sourcing premium chiles. They do brunch. Vegan Night is on Tuesdays at 5 PM. Sun-Wed 11 AM-10 PM, Thurs-Sat 11 AM-11 PM. 521 Haywood Rd
Located at the corner of the 5 points intersection in the heart of the River Arts District this specialty coffee shop offers a full espresso bar, pastries, paninis, bagels, salads and more. Vegan and gluten-free options available. Enjoy Open Mon-Fri, 7 AM-5 PM. Sat/Sun, 8 AM-5 PM. 242 Clingman Ave
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.
Learn about Cherokee Indian heritage at several museums, including the Museum of the Cherokee and Oconaluftee Indian Village. Each summer, see Unto These Hills. Learn about and buy crafts at Qualla Arts.