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Whaleback Swimming Hole
This secluded swimming spot in Pisgah National Forest is just 5.5 miles from Sliding Rock, down river from Cove Creek Falls near Looking Glass Rock.
Located in Madison County, this college town has a quaint downtown of historic buildings and homes. Enjoy many educational and cultural opportunities at the university, including stage plays, art exhibits, the national clogging champions.
(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.
The Western North Carolina Cheese Trail includes several small cheesemakers and farms near Asheville. Sample cheeses and buy some to take home. Looking Glass Creamery is an easy drive from downtown Asheville.
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!
River Arts District Artists
This membership group supports and promotes the vast array of artists and working studios in 22 former industrial and historical buildings along French Broad River in Asheville.
Black Mountain Ciderworks
(100 Eastside Drive, Black Mountain) Their Tasting Room has four ciders on tap, made from Henderson County apples.
Picnic at Beacon Heights
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305.2: Talk about a picnic with a view! Take a short 1/2-mile hike to a large rock summit with plenty of room for a picnic while taking in wonderful views from several vantage points. This hidden jewel on the Parkway is accessed from a small parking area, so most folks miss it.
Since 1994, they have protected 42,000+ acres in more than 150 projects in WNC, from the waterfalls of DuPont State Forest, to the rock faces of Hickory Nut Gorge, to the farms and rivers that provide us with food and water.
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.
(42 Biltmore Avenue, downtown Asheville) Enjoy fresh sourdough pizza, lasagna, and sandwiches at this long-time local's favorite with 40+ beers on tap. Their stage showcases live bluegrass, jazz, and Americana music with no cover charge. Upstairs is the Billiard Room with four regulation slate billiard tables and five regulation dart lanes.
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!
Touring America’s Largest Home is easily the number one indoor attraction in Western North Carolina. Experience the beauty of Biltmore House and century-old gardens. Explore their 8,000-acre Blue Ridge Mountain backyard, taste award-winning wines, dine and shop. See our extensive guide with many photos and tips.
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.
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.
(2.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the summit (6,292 ft.) of the 16th highest mountain in the eastern United States. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 451.
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.
Gem Mining Top Spots
Gem mining has been a favorite activity for visitors to the mountains of North Carolina for many years. Most gem mines in the Asheville and Franklin areas are open from spring through autumn. Also tour several gem and mineral museums.
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 1-8 PM every day. Pints dollar-off on Mondays, and growler refills are a dollar-off on Wednesdays.
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.
Elopement Package, Mountain Magnolia Inn
Make your wedding getaway personal, simple, elegant and beautiful. Elope in Hot Springs with a room for two nights, ceremony planning, officiant, bridal bouquet, photographer, champagne, small wedding cake, five-course dinner and breakfasts.
Rate: From $1395
Rate: From $1395
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.
Mountain Farm Museum & Oconaluftee Visitor Center
Located at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, see historic farm buildings in an open-air museum and get plenty of great information from rangers.
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.
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.
Brevard Places to Stay
Find cabins of all sizes, hotels, B&Bs and luxury inns in the Brevard area from their official visitor center. It's the Land of Waterfalls. Includes Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest.
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!
Enjoy many choices for great theatre, plays, music, dance and more in Asheville and nearby areas.
This pristine, scenic mountain lake is surrounded by a community with many things to do - located near Brevard. Take a lake cruise at Greystone Inn, be a beekeeper for a day, stay at a wellness retreat and see Toxaway Falls.
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.
(1 mile round-trip, moderate) This short-but-steep trail climbs a half-mile to the peak for spectacular views. The bare rock profile named Devil's Courthouse is sinister in appearance and legend. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 422.
(7 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the top of The Pinnacle for views looking down into Sylva and the surrounding valley. Climb 1,800 ft. in elevation with a steady grade.
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.
(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.
Stroll through this beautiful historic "mall" in downtown Asheville with high quality specialty shops and local restaurants. See local art and craft at the outdoor market.
(2.2 miles, moderate) Located next to the Black Balsam hike, this 6,045-foot peak provides panoramic views from the top. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 420.
There are dozens of farmer's markets throughout the mountains. The biggest by far is the Western North Carolina Farmers Market that is open every day in Asheville. In downtown, the City Market on Market Street is every Saturday 8 AM-1 PM and the French Broad Co-op Market is Wednesdays 2-6 PM. Find more markets and pick up the Local Food Guide by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.
Live Music & Dancing, Downtown Asheville
Asheville offers a mulitude of places to go for live music and dancing any day of the week.
Top 20 Art Galleries
Visit a gallery to be amazed at a big variety of local art and craft, including glass, paintings, pottery and every other medium you can imagine. Asheville and the North Carolina mountains are home to hundreds of world-class artists. Here are our favorite galleries to see the their creations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(829 Riverside Drive, Asheville) A short drive north of downtown, this new brewery specializes in gluten-free alcoholic ginger beers as well as grain-based brews. All organic ingredients, including ginger direct from Hawaii. In RAMP Studios, open Wed-Sun afternoons.
Downtown Asheville Top 25
Spend a day exploring downtown, with hundreds of locally-owned shops and galleries, museums, restaurants, breweries and pubs. Dance at the Drum Circle, go to a festival or enjoy street performers. See our favorite things to do!
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.
Golf in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Scenic mountain beauty and a pleasant climate provide a magnificent setting for a day of golf in Asheville and nearby towns and resorts. Lush fairways, sprawling bent grass greens, cool breezes and a gently undulating terrain.
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.
Malaprops Bookstore & Coffee Shop
Enjoy java in this wonderful independent bookstore that has been a fixture downtown for 20+ years. Browse their diverse collection, enjoy goodies in their coffee and pastry shop, or use their free wi-fi. Stop by for a reading and autograph on many evenings. Or enjoy open mic nights for local poets. Open until 10 PM on Friday & Saturday. 55 Haywood St.
Rumbling Bald Trail
(1.5 miles, moderate) Hike this loop trail in Chimney Rock State Park to the boulders and cliffs of Rumbling Bald Mountain, a popular rock climbing spot. Free access area near Lake Lure.
Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective
This hard-working, non-profit group works with performance artists and groups to present works which confront issues of social diversity in a provocative way by providing opportunities for audiences to explore visions of our diverse world. Shows are at the 65-seat black box BeBe Theatre at 20 Commerce Street in downtown Asheville.
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!
(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 Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville
See musicals and plays from late spring through fall at the longest continually-operating seasonal theater in North Carolina. Ticket prices for adults range from only $18-$22 per show.
(197 Hilliard, Asheville, South Slope) Hi-Wire is open every afternoon with four-year round beers: Prime Time Pale Ale, Hi-Pitch IPA, Bed of Nails Brown Ale and a pilsner lager, Hi-Wire Lager. They also offer seasonals. Visit their second brewery with a tasting room and beer garden in Biltmore Village, 2 Huntsman Place.
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.
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.
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.
Cradle of Forestry
Travel back in time with historic cabins, crafters, old logging equipment, guided tours, movies, food and shopping. Home of the first forestry school (opened in 1898) in America. In Pisgah National Forest. Open mid-April through October.
For a fascinating stroll through history, head to this sprawling cemetery near downtown Asheville, with 87 acres of rolling hills and flower gardens. The cemetery dates to 1885 and holds more than 13,000 burials and 9,000 monuments. It is the burial place of noted authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sidney Porter, better known as O. Henry.
Green Sage Cafe
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. Look for the solar panels on the roof! 5 Broadway Avenue.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Take a scenic train ride on excursions along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, over the mountains, across valleys and through tunnels. Choose from a variety of train adventures departing from Bryson City. First-class passengers enjoy dining and souvenirs. Many special event train rides.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
Beer & Local Craft Brews Top 40
Taste your way through Beer City USA at craft breweries and pubs in and near Asheville. Many are located downtown, so you can create your own walking tour. See our top spots for local brews.
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.
Jackson County Mountains Guide
Order a free 73-page visitors guide for the Sylva, Dillsboro, Lake Glenville, Cherokee and Cashiers areas, including info on fly fishing, hikes and waterfalls in Jackson County, NC.
Play, listen and dance at the Drum Circle every Friday night in Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville (except for winter months). All are welcome to one of the most diverse audiences you'll ever expereience.
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.
Located in Brevard, this is the oldest frame house in western NC (dating back to 1815). Tour the home and beautiful grounds mid-May through mid-October on Saturdays 10 AM-4 PM and Sundays 1-4 PM. Operated by the Transylvania County Historical Society. 2753 Asheville Highway, Pisgah Forest, NC.
Purchase Knob & Cataloochee Divide
(4-6.5 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike the Cataloochee Divide Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains along the ridge to Gooseberry Knob and Hemphill Bald for great mountain views. End with a picnic at The Swag.
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.
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.
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.