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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.
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.
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.
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.
Hike the Appalachian Trail at Max Patch or Lover's Leap, soak in natural hot springs, go horseback riding, raft down whitewater rapids, ski, bike, fish, camp and explore the unspoiled mountains just north of Asheville.
Orchard at Altapass
This 101-year old apple orchard turned Appalachian Cultural Center celebrates the people, music, art and natural beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains. Shop for local mountain art, jams, jellies, sauces, sweets, gifts and more. Listen to music and pick up your apples!
Isis Music Hall
This concert venue has an accompanying bar and restaurant in West Asheville. See recognized national or regional acts for a wide range of music genres. Different types of shows range from seated dinner cabaret-style shows to standing room only for 450 people. 743 Haywood Road.
Roux fuses southern comfort with modern sophistication. Dishes are inspired by the chef’s grandmother’s kitchen, then spiced with locally farmed ingredients. Located in the Hilton Asheville in Biltmore Park, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. 43 Town Square Blvd, Asheville.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Picnic Atop Table Rock
Have a picnic on one of the biggest tables in the country! The rocky summit of the elongated rock summit provides plenty of spots on the rim of the Linville Gorge, with a moderate 2.2-mile round-trip hike.
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.
Executive Chef Duane Fernandes brings culinary finesse to the table, preparing innovative, seasonally-inspired New American cuisine. Located downtown, the covered sidewalk patio is great for outdoor dining. Friendly bar. Private dining in The Cellar for groups of 12-120. Complimentary valet parking. 1 Battery Park Avenue (at Haywood).
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.
Max Patch Picnics
You may want to run across the meadow and sing the "Sound of Music" atop this grassy summit along the Appalachian Trail. Find plenty of spaces to spread the blanket for a picnic with 360-degree mountain views. The summit is a short uphill walk from the parking area. Roan Mountain and Black Balsam Knob are two more great bald mountains for picnics.
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 - restored in 2018.
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.
Heintooga & 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.
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.
Grand Bohemian Hotel Spa
Stay at this Biltmore Village luxury hotel and nourish your mind and body at their Poseidon Spa. Whether enjoying a hot and cool stone massage or a luxurious pedicure, the stylish atmosphere and unparalleled service will pamper you.
The Pisgah Conservancy
This new non-profit group is raising funds and coordinating projects to protect Pisgah National Forest (Ranger District) and help fund some much needed repairs. We are delighted to be a Founding Member!
Oyster House Brewing Company
(625 Haywood Road, West Asheville) Oyster House creates craft beer in various styles, including their award-winning "Moonstone Stout" brew with oysters (shell and all) as an ingredient to give hints of sea salt, calcium and other minerals. They have a full food menu.
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.
(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.
Asheville Chamber Music Series
Hear some of the finest classical musicians in ensembles, presented by one of the oldest chamber music organizations in the country. Concerts are typically held at the Unitarian Universalist building near downtown Asheville.
Urban Orchard Cidery
(210 Haywood Road, West Asheville) Visit one of the few “True Cider Bars” in the nation. Their taproom offers several varieties of their naturally gluten-free hard apple cider on tap.
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!"
Chef Duane Fernandes has created a brunch menu crafted by the flavors of the Carolinas, featuring dishes from the coastal plains and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy specialties like Coastal Blue Crab Eggs Benedict, Ashley Farms Fried Chicken with Biscuits and Duane’s Double Burger. Great outdoor dining location. Serving Sunday Brunch 11 AM-3 PM. Downtown at One Battery Park Avenue.
Scandals Nightclub Legendary Drag Shows
Since 1982, Asheville's largest high-energy dance club has premiered the best drag shows anywhere around. Their late night showcast of Kings & Queens will make your night truly entertaining and unforgettable!
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.
Attic Salt Theatre Company
See high-quality productions of classical, contemporary and original works in venues all around Asheville. They create some of the best children's theater in the area.
(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.
Savor some of Carol's sweet creations while you sip your coffee. Located in the Grove Arcade, she features made from scratch soups, biscuits, cookies, cakes, pies and more. 1 Page Avenue.
Asheville Urban Trail
(1.7-mile loop, easy) This outdoors museum is a self-guided walking tour on the sidewalks of downtown Asheville, leading to 30 sculptures that depict local history.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Live Music & Dancing, Downtown Asheville
Asheville offers a mulitude of places to go for live music and dancing any day of the week.
(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.
The Magnetic Theatre
Asheville's only professional theatre company dedicated to original works, performed at Magnetic 375 in the River Arts District. 375 Depot Street.
Adventure Center of Asheville
Tucked away a mile from downtown is an outdoor lover's playground. Fly on 11 ziplines through old growth trees with skyline and mountain views. Test your skills in a treetop playground. Climb trees or mountain bike. Plus, bring the kids for the first-ever Kid Zip course. See our feature.
Looking Glass Rock
If you are a looking for a nice reward after a challenging hike, head to this well-known rock face summit in Pisgah National Forest. You will ascend about 1,700 feet in just over three miles. The views from the top are well worth the effort. There is plenty of space to relax on the rock face with your picnic! Then it's downhill all the way back to the car.
So many options for mountain bike riders of all skill levels. Plus, bike the Blue Ridge Parkway or a greenway.
Grassy Creek Falls
(2 miles round-trip, easy) Located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland (near Milepost 334), a gentle hiking trail takes you to a beautiful collection of cascades. (There is also a Grassy Creek Falls in DuPont State Forest near Bridal Veil Falls.)
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.
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.
Picnic at Linville Falls
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 317: The riverside picnic area near the Visitors Center is open from April through October. An alternative choice is taking your picnic down to the base of the Falls on the large rocks (3/4-mile strenuous hike from Visitor's Center, via the Gorge Trail) any time of year. There are three other overlooks for the Falls via other trails; however, those overlooks are designed for viewing, not picnics.
Burke County & Morganton
Home to Linville Falls, Linville Gorge, Lake James and South Mountains State Park, find limitless outdoor adventures including hiking, biking, fishing, boating and more.
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.
Nantahala National Forest
The largest national forest in North Carolina (531,286 acres), Nantahala covers much of the western tip of the state. Find a wealth of outdoor activities and plenty of scenic views, hiking trails and waterfalls.
This pristine reservoir near Cashiers has the highest elevation of any lake east of the Mississippi. Signal Ridge Marina rents a variety of Bennington pontoons and tritoons, as well as tubes, paddleboards, skis, wakeboards and kneeboards. There's even a beach!
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.
Asheville Distilling Company
(12 Old Charlotte Highway, Asheville) Located next to Highland Brewing, the custom-made 2,000-liter copper moonshine Kothe Still creates Troy & Sons whiskey and moonshine. Open 5-6 PM on Fridays and Saturdays with free tours.
B&Bs & Inns: Tryon, Saluda & Columbus
Find a great vareity of historic B&Bs and inns in the towns of Tryon, Saluda and Columbus, the First Peak of the Blue Ridge. Includes award-winning Pine Crest Inn and Orchard Inn with exquisite dining.
Sliding Rock & Swimming Holes
Be a kid again and splash around in a cool mountain swimming hole. Ride down Sliding Rock, swim under a waterfall, sun on a mountain beach or pristine lake, or spend a lazy day tubing down a river.
All Souls Cathedral
Tour this beautiful church in Biltmore Village, built by Biltmore House owner George Vanderbilt in 1896. The sanctuary is open Monday-Friday, 9 AM-4 PM. From April-December, volunteer docents answer questions and provide historical information from 1-4 PM. Free, but donations appreciated.
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.
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.
North Carolina's only natural limestone caverns feature stalactite, stalagmite formations and an underground stream. Guided tours.
Take the most fun city tour ever in a bright purple bus full of laughter! Through captivating stories, comedy skits and an enthralling musical soundscape, experience Asheville's history, current culture and counterculture with their 90-minute interactive bus tours that depart from downtown. Haunted and beer tours, too!
This bird sanctuary is a wonderful wildlife oasis in the very busy north Asheville area. Walk a 3/8-mile boardwalk through a wetland area and by the lake, complete with sitting areas along the way to soak up the views and watch birds.
This small waterfall but definitely a beauty with a series of cascades below it. It's hidden along an unpaved road near DuPont State Forest, so no hiking required.
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!
This cascade in Pisgah National Forest is about a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike from a campsite along NC Highway 215, and less than a mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's along the Flat Laurel Creek Trail that follows an old logging road and railroad grade.
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.
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.
Twin Leaf Brewery
(144 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Twin Leaf has a dozen beers on tap, classic Belgian, English and American-style ales and a rotating line up of lagers and other adventurous styles. Open every day.
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.
The company founded by synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog, hand builds electronic musical instruments in their downtown Asheville factory. Visit The Moog Store to get hands on with the instruments or set up a factory tour for the full Moog Experience.
Newfound Road Picnics, Great Smoky Mountains
Along Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) through the middle of the Park, there are two large picnic areas in addition to overlooks. The Chimneys picnic area is on the Tennessee side (near the Chimney Tops hike). The Collins Creek picnic area is on the North Carolina side, about six miles from Cherokee. They both have tables, grills, restrooms and a nature trail.
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.