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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.
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.
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.
Cafes & Bistros
See the best bistros in our “Paris of the South” - including traditional bistros with French and European cuisine and a big variety of small restaurants and cafes with many culinary styles.
Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge
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 craving. 7 Rankin Ave
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.
This 150-ft. waterfall cascades down a mountainside beside the road, so you enjoy it from your car as you drive by! It's located near Columbus, about 10 miles from Pearson's Falls.
Lazoom Kids Comedy Tour
All aboard the big purple bus for this kid-centric comedy tour featuring a blend of Asheville’s history and humor. Geared for kids 5–12, the tour includes magic, jokes, and more with outlandish tour guides leading the way. Tour is 1 hour, kids 3 and under are free. Kid tickets are $17.
Asheville Museum of Science
Explore the rich treasures of the earth at this "mini-Smithsonian of gems" in downtown Asheville. Exhibits cover volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics and general geologic processes. 44 Patton Avenue.
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.
Transport your senses to faraway lands with authentic made-from-scratch Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes in an intimate, ambient space with stained glass windows. Enjoy live music and belly dancing every Friday and Saturday evening. 78 Patton Ave
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!
This casual Thai restaurant has served up classic dishes with big flavor for over 10 years in Asheville. Enjoy flavorful classics like Green Curry, Pad Thai, and Mango Sticky Rice, along with a diverse sushi bar. Enjoy lunch specials and outdoor dining! 535 Merrimon Ave
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.
(32 Banks Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Catawba opened its big, seven-barrel specialty brewery and tasting room downtown in 2015. They also have a place in Biltmore Village. They have a dozen of their brews on tap. Open every day. Their main production facility is in Morganton.
Serving authentic Thai food, along with Vietnamese pho, this friendly eatery is a hidden gem for many locals looking for a causal, go-to Thai restaurant. Popular dishes include Drunken Noodles, Green Curry and Pineapple Fried Rice. Try the Thai iced coffee and enjoy weekday lunch specials. 18 Sardis Rd
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.
Creekside Taphouse, Asheville
Located in the Haw Creek neighborhood of East Asheville, this taphouse specializes in burgers, wings and brews. This large, casual setting is great for kids with games, large outdoor space with patio, volleyball court, playground area and flowing creek. Kids and dogs are welcome! 8 Beverly Rd
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.
Asheville Choral Society
This group of 100 auditioned singers have been inspiring audiences since 1977 with choral music performed at the highest artistic level at three concerts each season.
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
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!
Mellow Mushroom, Asheville
Serving delicious stone baked pizza, this pizzeria is a popular place to enjoy a slice. In addition to pizza, they serve calzones, hoagies, salads and a great local beer selection. Vegan and gluten-free options available. Enjoy the large patio for downtown people watching! 50 Broadway St.
This casual full-service vegetarian-friendly restaurant with two locations in West Asheville features Caribbean inspired pasta dishes, rice dishes, daily specials, and desserts. Enjoy a variety of local microbrews and wine. Open daily 11:30 AM-10 PM. 751 Haywood Rd
Mela Indian Restaurant
This popular, award-winning Indian hub in downtown Asheville stands out for their authentic tandoori dishes, offered in an airy, modern setting. Locals love their lunch buffet and favorite dishes include their chicken masala and tandoori chicken with a mango lassi. 70 N. Lexington Avenue
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
(66 Broadway Ave, downtown Asheville) Asheville’s retail store just for beer lovers with 600 Belgians, Belgian-style, high-gravity, craft brews, microbrews, and the best from around the globe.
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.
Blue Ridge Parkway Association
The officially designated marketing partner of the Parkway, they are a membership organization that publishes the Blue Ridge Parkway Directory & Travel Planner each year.
Picnic at Biltmore Estate
With thousands of acres to explore, there are plenty of options for picnics! While there is not an official "picnic" area, spread a blanket along one of the hiking trails, along the river, or in gardens (except the Walled Garden). For a more secluded picnic, take the Deer Park Trail that begins by the South Terrace. Other great spots include the Lagoon (pic), the Diana statue atop the hill facing the house, and the gazebo on Bass Lake. Bring your own or order a picnic at the Bake Shop, located adjacent to the Biltmore House.
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.
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.
For delicious southern and soul comfort food, head over to these finger lickin' good places for buttermilk biscuits, crispy fried chicken and sweet tea.
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
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
High Five Coffee Bar
Formerly called the Dripolator, this local's favorite is on the other side of I-240 with their own parking area. Their barista's are Counter Culture Coffee-trained to craft only the finest beverages. 190 Broadway Street.
The Market Place
Asheville’s original farm-to-table restaurant, this downtown fixture since 1979 offers an seasonally-driven menu featuring organic ingredients from area farms and artisan producers. Enjoy extensive wine list, craft beer and cocktails too. Recommended by The Food Network, USA Today, The New York Times, Southern Living and more. 20 Wall St
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.
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.
Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre
SART is a professional theatre company in residence at the historic Owen Theatre at Mars Hill University, just 18 miles north of Asheville. Presents 4-5 shows a year, including plays, musicals and original works about Southern Appalachia.
(92 Patton Avenue, downtown Asheville) Recognized as one of the best beer bars in the world, they tap 1,000+ different beers a year. The upstairs bar features American Craft Beers with 20 rotating tap lines. Take the stairs down to the basement level to the Belgian Bar (50 Commerce St.) with 16 Belgian, European and rare beers on draught. An extensive bottle list will impress beer-snobs and novices alike.
WALK (West Asheville Lounge & Kitchen)
This causal local hang out serves everything from wings and burgers to salads, tacos and sandwiches, with regular vegan and vegetarian menu options available. Local craft beers on draft, cocktail specials and 2 billiard tables. Weekly specials include Taco Tuesday and Sunday Brunch. Open Mon-Thurs 11:30 AM-1 AM, Fri/Sat 11:30 AM-2 AM, Sunday 10:30 AM-12 AM. 401 Haywood Rd
Asheville Visitor Guide
Explore Asheville’s annual Visitor Guide offers 90 beautifully-designed pages of original, trip-planning content to help you get the most out of your visit to the city.
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.
Wintergreen Falls, DuPont State Forest
(3 miles roundtrip, easy) This 20-ft. waterfall is tucked away in the beautiful setting of DuPont Forest. The hiking trail is gentle - you can also mountain bike or horseback ride.
Western North Carolina Air Museum
See award-winning restored, antique replica and vintage airplanes at the Hendersonville Airport. Take a close-up look to airplanes and talk to people who love them.
Asheville Picnic Company
Asheville Picnic Company caters to your adventurous spirit! Order one of their specialty picnics while out enjoying the area’s beautiful offerings and they’ll deliver right to you. The souvenir food baskets are curated with you in mind and filled with local favorites, allowing you to truly experience the taste of Asheville while on the go! Explore more with Asheville Picnic in hand!
Bubbling Spring Branch Cascade
This modest 25-foot waterfall in Pisgah National Forest is a short walk from the road, located 1.8 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway on NC 215, between Wildcat Falls and Sunburst Falls.
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.
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.
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
Harrah's Cherokee Restaurants
A variety of restaurants satisfy any craving or appetite, all adjacent to exciting casino action. Chef's Stage Buffet is sure to please even the pickiest eaters, with interactive stations that offer tastes from around the world -- Italian, Mexican, Asian, barbeque, a soup and salad bar, and desserts. Other options include Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Selu Garden Café and BRIO Tuscan Grille.
(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.
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.
Asheville Brewing Company
(77 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) In addition to their longtime favorites, their brewer series pushes the paradigm with amazing creations. Ask for a tour! In addition to great pizza, their downtown spot has a huge covered patio. Their original "mothership" location at 675 Merrimon Avenue has a movie theater.
The Chemist, Asheville
Located in Asheville’s South Slope, this women-owned craft distillery produces vapor-infused, small batch gin by way of prohibition-era chemist techniques. They also feature unique brandy collaborations with local artisans. Book a public or private tour and/or enjoy craft cocktails in their 1920’s inspired bar, Antidote. Bar hours: Mon-Fri 4 PM-12 AM, Sat/Sun 2 PM-12 AM.
Penland School of Craft
Take a tour or sign up for a class at this internationally-known school for art and craft, tucked away in the mountains near Spruce Pine. Their multiple galleries are free to visit with amazing works created by students and teachers.
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
An Asheville staple since 1999, this bakery specializes in European-Style breads and pastries, as well as pies, muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, and sweet breads like their Chocolate Cherry Sourdough. Stop in for coffee, sandwiches, soup and salads too. 60 Biltmore Avenue.
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.
Trade & Lore
Located in the heart of downtown Asheville, this coffee shop on Wall Street serves up hot coffee and specialty drinks made from freshly roasted beans from Mountain Air Roasting. Try a delicious baked good courtesy of The Rhu, a local bakery. They also host fun pop-up events and educational classes. 37 Wall St
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
This beloved West Asheville sweet shop makes hand-rolled doughnuts, made to order. Sip on coffee in the open kitchen and watch as your doughnut is fried, glazed and delivered to you piping hot! Enjoy locally roasted coffee, including nitro cold brews, as well as herbal and black teas. Find handmade mugs for sale, t-shirts, coffee beans and more. 168 Haywood Rd
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.
Fine Arts Theatre
Downtown's only cinema is dedicated to first-run and independent films. See fine films not necessarily shown in the larger commercial theaters in the wonderfully-renovated, older movie house. Located in downtown Asheville at 36 Biltmore.
Sky Lanes Bowling Alley
This West Asheville bowling alley offers a great place for kids to have fun, bowl and maybe even get a strike! (Bumpers available) Kids birthday packages are offered from 11 AM-4 PM and includes shoe rental, 1 hr of bowling, food and drink. $12/child.
Located at the base of Roan Mountain and the mile-high scenic drive, this town has several galleries and studios. Home to the Rhododendron Festival. Penland School of Crafts is nearby.
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.
(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.
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.
Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains
See the world-famous Synchronous Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each spring in late May and early June. Sign up early for the lottery for parking passes to see the show in the Elkmont area.
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.
Battery Park Champagne Bar
Sip a fine wine, Champagne or cocktail while you peruse thousands of used and rare books in this "Book Exchange" in the historic Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. Many nooks for great conversations. 1 Page Avenue