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The Learning Center at PARI
This former NASA campus in Pisgah National Forest is now a fascinating space and science center open for camps, events and occasional tours. See exhibit galleries, a gem and meteorite collection, hands-on research and star gazing nights. Previously called Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.
Wilderness Cove Tubing
Tubing the Green River in Saluda is an exciting float that includes class I & II rapids. Enjoy the splashing water, great swimming holes and relaxation, with tube rentals and shuttles available for 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-hour floats. Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends.
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.
Mountain Play Lodge
This large indoor play space for kids 10 and under offers two age-appropriate play floors with miniature village, toddler slides, large jungle gym, large slides and more. For parties, they offer themed party rooms with host and cleaning services included. You may bring your own food, drinks and cake, or use in-house beverage service. Room rentals start at $139 + admission for party guests.
Log Hollow Falls
(1 mile round-trip, easy) Located near Looking Glass Falls, this 25-ft. waterfall is often missed since it's off the beaten path in Pisgah National Forest.
Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway Picnics
There are plenty of roadside stops (many by a cascading river) on this Byway through the Pisgah National Forest. The section on U.S. Highway 276 between Brevard and the Blue Ridge Parkway passes by Looking Glass Rock, Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock and the Forest Discovery Center. Home to many waterfalls. Just four miles south of the Parkway is the Pink Beds Picnic area with an easy four-mile loop hike.
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.
See the best places for an Italian feast paired with good wine. Enjoy favorite dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, chicken parmesan, at these authentic Italian restaurants offering Old World cuisine.
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.
River Arts District Restaurants
Tucked away from the downtown Asheville and across the river, the River Arts District is known for its graffiti-clad warehouse buildings full of artist studios and galleries. See our top picks in its flourishing restaurant scene.
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.
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.
Safari Edventure, Marshall
This non-profit organization is committed to providing hands-on quality encounters with wildlife, plants and the environment. Kids can interact with kangaroos, sloth, lemurs, porcupines, sugar gliders, chinchillas, hedgehogs, marmosets and more.
This Italian-inspired eatery in the center of downtown Asheville fuses the traditions and philosophies of Italian cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. The seasonal menu serves family-style, hearty traditionals, along with new Italian dishes. Fantastic wine selection. Reservations strongly recommended. 24 Wall St
Green River Tubing
Rent a tube and set sail for a lazy day on the beautiful Green River near Saluda. Choose from three- to six-mile float trips. It's great for beginner kayakers, too. Tubing companies provide transportation. Stop at the jump-off rock to rope dive!
Tamarind Thai Cuisine
Owned and operated by Bangkok native, Gai Wilson, this South Asheville restaurant offers a classic menu of fresh ingredients and authentic Thai cuisine. Traditional dishes include the Red Curry, Crispy Basil Duck, and Tom Yum. Try the steamed dumplings! 330 Rockwood Rd #112
(6.5 mile loop, strenuous) This twin waterfall near Looking Glass Falls features two 100-foot cascades in view of each other, reached via a beautiful 4.5-mile roundtrip or 6.5-mile loop hike on the Buckhorn Gap Trail. It's near the Pisgah Forest Horse Stables, and they offer guided horseback rides to the falls.
This healing clinic draws from ancient teachings, practices, and modern research to offer comprehensive healing for each patient. Practices include body and energy work, herbal remedies, dietary counseling, stress management, and meditation instruction.
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
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
This food truck serves healthy and fresh gourmet and folk dishes like salads, soups, empanadas and sweet crepes, with gluten-free options. Their brick & mortar serves brunch on Sundays from 11 AM- 3 PM. You can find them at New Belgium on Wednesdays. See their weekly schedule on their site.
Kolo Bike Camp, Adventure Center of Asheville
Kolo Bike Park at the Adventure Center of Asheville hosts 2 summer bike camps: Kolo Kiddie Camp (ages 5-7) and Kolo Flow Camp (ages 8-15). Campers will explore bike trails and pump tracks, learning new skills and jumps. See the website for camp details and skill levels. Weekly sessions run June-Aug, 8:30 AM-4:00.
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.
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.
We have the perfect picnic spot for any occasion! Take a backpack on a hike to a waterfall or picnic atop a mountain summit with panoramic views. You could also stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway and spread a blanket on the grass. While there are many designated picnic areas along the Parkway and in the national forests surrounding Asheville, you can also create your own picnic spot.
Find your happy place at this authentic tearoom serving over 100 varieties of fresh loose leaf tea and herbs. Vegan and vegetarian menu includes robust salads, soups, gluten-free desserts and more. They have two locations: 78 N Lexington Ave in downtown Asheville and 707 Haywood Rd in West Asheville.
Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria, Asheville
Enjoy fresh New York style pizza, along with lasagna and sandwiches at this long-time local's favorite with 40+ beers on tap. Kitchen features late night hours for locals and tourists alike. Live music, billiards, and darts. 42 Biltmore Ave
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.
Friends of DuPont Forest
Volunteer service organization working to enhance the public use and enjoyment of the DuPont State Recreational Forest while protecting its natural resources. Funds help with trail building and maintenance, along with building projects.
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.
Oconaluftee Indian Village
This living history outdoor village portrays eighteenth-century Cherokee life on the mountainside above the town. Interact with villagers as they hull canoes, make pottery and masks, weave baskets and beadwork, dance and participate in their daily activities. Open late April through early November.
Land of Oz
Take the yellow brick road to Emerald City at this abandoned theme park atop Beech Mountain that reopens a few times a year with characters from the Wizard of Oz.
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.
This large, interactive space in Rutherfordton offers fun indoor and outdoor exhibits where kids can learn and stimulate imagination through hands-on playing. There are 14 different interactive exhibit areas geared for kids 10 and under. For kids 11 and up they offer a hands-on maker space called The Factory that offers workshops. The Factory is one block KidSenses.
Lake James State Park
(.5 to 3.5 miles, easy to moderate). This state park with a beautiful lake has seven hiking trails and a beach for relaxing afterwards.
Shadow of the Bear
See this unique fall natural phenomenon in Jackson County just for a few weeks each year, evenings along US 64 near Cashiers in Nantahala National Forest.
This old school, greasy spoon diner in West Asheville is a local favorite for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their menu offers a long list of specialty burgers, all under $8, making this a budget-savvy burger option. They also have a Brunch Burger with a fried egg on top.
Asheville Treetops Adventure Park
Open all year, ages 4+ can play in the trees with 77 challenge elements on 7 aerial trails including climbing, jumping, swinging and rappelling. 5 minutes from downtown at
the Adventure Center of Asheville including night climbs.
the Adventure Center of Asheville including night climbs.
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!
YMCA Summer Day Camps
Choose from a variety of summer day camps throughout the region with focuses on science, sports, arts, and adventure. Campers will grow in self-confidence and experience activities including archery, high and low ropes, gardening, wilderness adventure, forestry, field trips, and more. Weekly sessions run June-Aug, 7 AM-6 PM, Ages 4-14. Cost varies with the program.
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
Fahrenheit Pizza & Brewhouse
This family owned South Asheville neighborhood pizzeria serves up delicious, crispy New York Style pizza out of their top of the line stone brick oven. Enjoy a great selection of local brews from self serve, pay by the ounce beer taps. Also try the smoked wings! 17 Lee St. South
(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.
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.
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
Late Night Food
Looking for restaurants and bars serving late night food? Find our top picks in downtown Asheville, West Asheville and beyond - whether you’re craving pizza, tacos, Southern comfort food, or a classic late night burger and fries.
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
Elevated Mountain Distilling, Maggie Valley
This craft distillery is located near The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Maggie Valley. Their top-shelf whiskey, moonshine, and vodka is inspired by the owner’s Smoky Mountain heritage and family traditions. Stop by the tasting room for a tour or a taste! Hours: Mon-Thurs 10 AM-7 PM, Fri/Sat 10 AM-10 PM.
(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.
Wortham Center for the Performing Arts
This 500-seat theatre in the heart of downtown host many top-notch performances by professional touring artists and local arts organizations. The intimate theatre has exceptional acoustics and sightlines. Check out their calendar with events every week. Located at 18 Biltmore Avenue.
While it's part of the city, West Asheville has its own vibe and busy Haywood Road lined with restored buildings filled a big variety of restaurants, bars, breweries, and funky shops.
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.
Asheville Creative Arts
Critically-acclaimed theater that produces, presents and creates innovative work for multigenerational audiences. The company's unique style is a blend of literary adaptions, live music and puppetry that push the boundaries of children’s theater.
Double Decker Coffee House
You may do a double-take walking along Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. Yes, it's a authentic double decker bus from London. Enjoy gourmet coffee and teas, along with some great hot chocolate! 41 Biltmore Avenue.
This no fuss, authentic Mexican restaurant in West Asheville is a favorite spot for locals, known for their excellent service and food. The budget-savvy menu includes classics like tacos, enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, nachos and more. Enjoy fresh salsa, mix and match tacos including al pastor, beef, chicken, chorizo and more. Draft beer and fresh margaritas. 1328 Patton Ave, Suite A
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.
Global & Fusion Cuisine
Savor cuisine from these outstanding global and fusion restaurants with a focus on fresh, local ingredients - including Indian street food, authentic Mediterranean, global curries, traditional Ethiopian, Asian fusion or something from another corner of the world.
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.
Winery Visits & Tours
In addition to the nation's most visited winery at Biltmore, take a winery tour in the foothills area including around Hendersonville and Morganton. Sample the local wines while enjoying the mountain views. See our Top Wineries to see in western North Carolina.
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.
Swannanoa Valley Museum
This local history museum is packed with interesting historical exhibits in downtown Black Mountain. Learn about the social, cultural and natural history of the Swannanoa Valley in Buncombe County with a rotating series of interesting exhibits. Or, take one of their guided hikes.
This East Asheville French eatery, sister to long time downtown restaurant, Bouchon, features French Comfort Food with appetizers, small plates, entrees, and desserts, with excellent cocktails and wine selection. The space has eight regulation size Petanque courts (a French social game)! Open Tuesday - Saturday by reservation only by calling 828-348-0909. 184 New Haw Creek Rd
House of Flags Museum
A very unqiue museum that displays 300+ flags with detailed stories for each. From military to international, it's an impressive collection. See all 27 official U.S. flags, from 13 to 50 stars, and the accompanying state and territory flags. Open Tuesday & Thursday 10 AM-1 PM and Saturdays 10 AM-4 PM. Donations accepted. (33 Gibson Street, Columbus)
This roadside waterfall can be viewed from the top on a walkway along US Highway 64 at Lake Toxaway, located between Brevard and Cashiers.
Find the best food trucks that are going fender to fender to bring you delicious, unique comfort food on wheels. They are inspired by a variety of global influences with plates like gourmet grilled cheese, tacos & burritos, Thai, BBQ, hot dogs, Lebanese, Korean street food and even brunch.
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.
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.
Great Smoky Mountains NC Travel Guide
Order the free 115-page Great Smoky Mountains North Carolina Travel Guide that includes activities and adventures in 7 counties that surround the national park, published by Smoky Mountain Host.
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
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.
White Duck Taco, Asheville
This popular riverfront taco shop located in the River Art’s District of Asheville is a casual, kid & dog-friendly restaurant. Large outdoor space has picnic tables and room for kids to run around. 388 Riverside Dr, Asheville