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Mardi Gras Parade
Everyone is invited to participate in, or simply spectate this family-friendly spectacle. This fun parade in downtown Asheville is led by this year's King and Queen, with dancers, roller skaters, drummers and krewes of colorful characters. 3 PM
Old-Time Plowing and Folkways
Take a time-warp at the Cradle of Forestry to the days of the Biltmore Forest School. Meet homesteaders and watch their draft horses plow the heritage garden. Then take a turn at it yourself. Living history guides bring traditional Blue Ridge culture to life. 9 AM-5 PM. $6/person, children under 16 are free.
Biltmore Lamp & Shade Gallery
Located in the heart of Biltmore Village, find elegant antiques, accessories, seasonal decorations and, yes, lamps and lampshades too! They are also the exclusive Asheville area retailer of Starfire Designs Jewelry by Charlie Wharton. 30 All Souls Crescent.
(4 miles round-trip, strenuous) One of the most popular and rewarding hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains. With an elevation of 4,800 ft., the rare rock summit is one of the park's most recognizable geological structures. It's all uphill with 1,700 ft. in elevation gain.
Since 2012, they have delighted with classics done right, with a touch of cutting edge. Unwind with carefully crafted cocktails made with in-house elixirs, shrubs and syrups. Open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch (Sat/Sun 10-3). 48 Biltmore Avenue, downtown Asheville.
Upper Whitewater Falls
See the upper section of the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, plunging 411 ft.! The best part is that you can get a great view with a short walk. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot and is accessible to wheelchairs. A lower overlook is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps.
Morganton Nature's Playground Guide
Order a free guide to Morganton and Burke County, located east of Asheville and home to Linville Falls, Lake James & South Mountain State Parks, small towns, scenic drives and hikes to Table Rock and the Linville Gorge.
Saturday Night Lights
Watch horse jumping and riding with the best jockeys in the country at the impressive, new Tryon International Equestrian Center with an exciting atmosphere featuring music, food, kids' activities and Venetian carousel rides. Events vary each week. Free admission.
(1.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) For our favorite 360-degree mountain view along the Blue Ridge Parkway, hike to the top of this 5,892-ft. peak at Craggy Gardens. Trailhead at Milepost 364.1.
St. Jude's Chapel of Hope
Stop for a peek inside this tiny chapel in Madison County in the tiny town of Trust along a scenic drive.
National Get Outdoors Day
The Cradle of Forestry celebrates with free admission and plenty of outdoor activities in Pisgah National Forest near Sliding Rock, including hikes, demos, historic buildings, and kid's educational fun. 10 AM-4 PM.
There's a lot happening in this lake town! In addition to a beach to keep cool on hot summer's day, there's a wonderful Town Center Walkway that connects the beach to the beautiful Flowering Bridge. Take a boat tour of the lake or bring your mountain bike for their new trail system at Buffalo Creek Park.
Held at Emerald Village near Little Switzerland, enjoy many free events, including guided hikes, music, exhibits, talks and more. Also, pay for gem-mining, pan for gold and take a black light mine tour.
Mother's Day Weekend
Find ideas for events and things to do with mom or grandma in Asheville and the mountains, including flowers, shopping, art, spas and more.
A innovative, fun outdoor festival in the South Slope near downtown Asheville showcasing the creative arts as a tool for positive change in our world. 12-10 PM. Free admission.
Ride the Train
All aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train excursion for a ride through quaint mountain towns, past sparkling rivers and through deep mountain forests. Ride in an open air car or in climate-controlled first class with lunch service. And don't forget the Polar Express train!
Silver Leaf Herbal Pharmacy & Acupuncture
Evan Bussanich, L.Ac. Dipl.OM. is a natural medicine practitioner specializing in Chinese, Ayurvedic, Western herbal medicine, Homeopathy, and Classical Acupuncture. His general practice focuses on Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine for internal conditions, with an emphasis on gastroenterology, immunological disorders, and chronic infections. Near downtown Asheville.
Jingle Bell Trolley Train Ride
Ride the trolley on the Craggy Mountain railroad line, just five miles north of downtown Asheville. Saturdays, 10 AM-6 PM. After the 30-minute ride, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies along with visiting Santa and Mrs Claus. It's fun for all ages. $12/person
Gran Fondo Bike Race
Join the fun of this cycling event for various levels of experience for a 30, 60 or 100-mile scenic course, starting and ending in the River Arts District in Asheville. It's a fundraiser for Friends of the Smokies.
Owned and operated by the artists, this downtown Asheville gallery is a premier showcase for handmade jewelry, ceramics, metalwork, fiber, glass, woodwork and furniture. Meet and purchase directly from local artists. 19 Biltmore Avenue.
South Slope Brewing District
On the southside of downtown, explore the fast-growing "Brewery Distrtict" with eight breweries and a growing number of restaurants and shops, transitioning from sleepy industrial warehouses to a hip neighborhood.
St Claire Art
At this must-stop studio in River Arts District (344 Depot Street, #104), watch Stephen create brilliant paintings that come to life with intense color and contrast. His fascinating “Dialuminism” process allows light to pass through layers of paint, reflecting off metal. Open Mon-Sat 10 AM-5 PM.
Brevard Adventure Guide
Order your free 48-page Adventure Guide for Brevard and Transylvania County, Land of the Waterfalls, with scenic drives, hikes, waterfall map, festivals, art, museums and picturesque Main Street.
Asheville's public market features specialty shops, restaurants, and sidewalk vending with fresh food and crafts. This block-long historic building has an interior "mall" and shops around the entire exterior. A must stop!
Downtown on Battery Park and O. Henry Avenues.
Downtown on Battery Park and O. Henry Avenues.
Ride the Rivers
Asheville is one of the best whitewater rafting towns in the U.S.! No experience is necessary. You just need a desire for thrills and getting a little wet. Ride down one of four rivers, including the Nantahala River. Or kayak, tube and paddleboard down the French Broad River through Biltmore Estate. Raft in the Great Smokies on the Pigeon River.
Jonas Gerard Fine Art
Nationally-recognized artist Jonas Gerard, known for his large, vibrant, paintings, works in his 5,000 sq. ft. studio/gallery. Enter a world of color and find abstracts, landscapes, sculptures, artistic gifts and more. River Arts District at 240 Clingman Avenue.
Mindfulness: Great Tree Zen Women's Temple
Come practice meditation in a beautiful natural setting. Nourish your happiness with mindfulness. Beginners welcome! Retreats and weekly meditation offerings allow you an opportunity to connect with yourself in a deep way.
Conundrum Escape Adventures
Stop in for an intriguing Escape Adventure with local actors and imaginative worlds, and stay for a prohibition era cocktail at their underground Speakeasy under the old Battery Park Hotel in downtown Asheville.
Picturesque Main Street has many local shops, restaurants, galleries, brewery, museums and favorite O.P. Taylor toy store. Big events include the White Squirrel Festival, 4th of July celebration, Brevard Music Festival and Halloweenfest. This is the Land of the Waterfalls with hiking, biking and famous Sliding Rock.
Hot Works Asheville Fine Art Show
See juried art and buy directly from the artist in Pack Square Park in the middle of downtown Asheville. Find paintings, sculpture, clay, glass, fiber, jewelry, wood and more. 10 AM-5 PM each day. Free admission
Tour a state-of-the-art wine production facility in Hendersonville. Their impressive Tasting Room features wines from 100% estate-grown fruit. The high altitude, long, sunny days and cool nights in the Blue Ridge Province of the Appalachian Mountains allow them to grow some European varietals like Grüner Veltliner. 2695 Sugarloaf Road, Hendersonville. Open Sunday-Thursday 12-6 PM & Friday-Saturday 12-7 PM, with tours at 2 PM every day.
300 Things to Do
See our master list of places to see and things to do in the western North Carolina mountains, including Asheville and our many small towns.
Bryson City Outdoors
This well-equipped outdoor store in downtown Bryson City has everything for your adventure. Services include kayak, paddleboard and gear rentals, a hiker shuttle, and guided tours! Their craft beer taproom & bottle shop has 10 rotating brews on tap with an additional 200+ bottles and cans to go.
Original Mast General Store
See the original location of the historic Mast General Store near Banner Elk in small picturesque community of Valle Crucis. Take a photo tour.
Carson House Museum, Marion
Tour one of the most interesting house museums in the state, dating back to 1793, with a big collection covering 200+ years on three floors.
Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing Festival
Downtown Bryson City welcomes vendors to display and demonstrate all types of fly fishing equipment - rods, fly tying, apparel and accessories, kayaks and more. 9 AM-5 PM. Just a few blocks away is the Delayed Harvest stocked section of the Tuckasegee River.
Tupelo Honey Cafe Brunch
This landmark in downtown Asheville serves up Southern cooking, sourcing ingredients from nearby farms and earning national accolades. Try their fried chicken and biscuits, shrimp and grits, sweet potato pancakes, pecan pie French toast or omelet stuffed with pimento cheese. Don't miss the Queen Bloody Mary. Often a long wait on weekends. Open daily at 9 AM. 12 College Street.
(5 miles loop, strenuous) Just a mile from the trailhead to Looking Glass Rock is a rewarding loop trail that takes you to the top of another rock face with panoramic views. From John Rock, you have a great view of Looking Glass Rock. And you'll find many fewer hikers here.
Visit 20 farms in the Asheville area that are not normally open to the public and see what happens behind the scenes. Presented by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), farms are located in many counties. 12-5 PM. Passes $30/car in advance, $40/car day of.
Take a Tour
Go on a guided tour or experience to add special memories to your visit. Tour the town on a purple bus or a beer cycle. Go on a hike, see waterfalls, watch elk or sample local foods. See our Top 25.
Best 40 Fall Festivals & Events
September & October: Enjoy the cooler days of autumn with a big variety of events and outdoor festivals in Asheville and western NC towns. See our fall color foliage forecast for the best places to see the changing leaves.
This 90-ft. waterfall is privately-owned by a garden club and requires a small admission fee. Located between Saluda and Tryon, it's a must if you are driving on I-26 to/from South Carolina. Ten miles away is the roadside Shunkawauken Falls.
Laughing Seed Cafe
Asheville's original vegetarian restaurant downtown has been serving organic cuisine with an international flair for more than 20 years. Farm to table lunch and dinner every day except Tuesdays. Sunday brunch 11-3. 40 Wall Street, downtown.
Smoke on the Mountain: Sanders Family Christmas
The Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre (SART) annual Christmas show, a southern gospel, blue grass and traditional carol family friendly musical. Thurs-Sat at 7:30 PM and Saturday / Sunday 2:30 PM.
L'Ecluse a Bouchon
Above Bouchon, the longtime favorite French restaurant downtown, is a cozy cocktail lounge with comfy seating, small plates and a Sommelier that guides you through their impressive wine selection. Open Monday-Saturday at 4 PM. 62 North Lexington, Asheville
Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair
The streets around Burnsville’s town square are filled with 200 juried crafters displaying nearly every kind of handmade craft imaginable. Located 35 miles northeast of Asheville.
Still Point Wellness Massage and Float Spa
Experience deep relaxation with Salt Water Floatation (sensory deprivation) and stress relief with Esalen Massage. Detoxify and destress with a Far Infrared sauna session, or explore how thoughts manifest in the body with Somatic Psychology. Personalized packages for couples and individuals.
Fall Events & Festivals
Find our favorite autumn events and festivals during September and October in Asheville and the NC mountains.
Folk Art Center
Art lovers should not miss the Folk Art Center. It showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary craft of the Southern Appalachians and includes rotating exhibits, live demonstrations and a large gallery shop. Free admission. 8 miles from downtown. Blue Ridge Parkway, at Milepost 382 near the US 70 intersection.
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.
7-Mile Waterfalls Hike, DuPont State Forest
(7 miles roundtrip, strenuous) See three waterfalls on this hike in DuPont State Forest: High Falls, Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Or you can mountain bike most of it on old logging roads. Extend the hike about 1.5 miles to see Hooker Falls, too!
Acu-Na Wellness Center
Indulge your senses and experience serene relaxation, convenient to South Asheville and Hendersonville. This comprehensive wellness center boasts an extensive array of services including signature spa treatments, vast array of massage modalities, organic facials, acupuncture, lymphatic drainage, detoxification treatment and holistic health consulting.
Chimneys Hike, Linville Gorge
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike across and through towering rock formations called the Chimneys atop the rim of the spectacular Linville Gorge, starting at the Table Rock trailhead parking area.
Marry or Renew Vows
What a beautiful and romantic setting to celebrate your love and commitment! Asheville is the hot spot for destination weddings and elopements. Our Wedding Guide has a long list of indoor and outdoor venues and resources to help plan the big day.
French Broad River Outfitters
Kayak, canoe, tube or paddleboard down the river through Asheville. Start your trip near downtown at the area's largest paddle shop - with shuttle service, rentals, camping gear, disc golf supplies and more. Three locations along the French Broad River.
Brevard Cycling Capital
The Cycling Capital of the South, Brevard attracts both road and mountain cyclists from across the country. In Pisgah National Forest & Dupont State Forest, find 300 miles of peerless single track, hundreds more miles of fire roads and an endless variety of road cycling options. Also find a cool bike culture in town.
Bridal Veil Falls, DuPont State Forest
(4.4 miles roundtrip hike, moderate) This beautiful 120-foot waterfall is near High Falls and other DuPont Forest falls and lakes. Hike or bike to it. Many hike combinations due to a network of trails.
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. Weekend brunch starts at 9 AM. 47 Biltmore Avenue, downtown.
Saturday Nights Lights
Watch horse competitions with the best riders in the country at the impressive Tryon International Equestrian Center with an exciting atmosphere featuring entertainment, food, kids' fun and Venetian carousel rides. Activities start at 5 PM. Arena action 7 PM. Free admission.
Catawba Valley Wine Tour
Visit wineries in the foothills of the Catawba Valley located east of Asheville, between Marion and Morganton. Three of them (Silver Fork, South Creek and Lake James Cellars) are along a 15-mile drive near I-40, so very convenient!
Banner Elk Lodging
Stay high in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a variety of vacation rentals, log cabins, condos, mountaintop homes and hotels. Near ski resorts, Grandfather Mountain and endless outdoor adventures.
Red, White & Bluegrass Festival
Go to one of the top bluegrass music festivals in the South, with 20+ bands including some national headliners. Camping, food, crafts and more in a beautiful park in Morganton. Fireworks on the 4th. Daily admission starts at $25/advance and $30/gate. Four day pass is $60/advance and $75/gate.
This 60-foot gentle cascade is very easy to enjoy with a short walk. It's on private property in someone's back yard, but the owner is nice enough to share it with no admission fee. Located near Brevard, 3.4 miles south of US Highway 64 on US 178.