Asheville is a mountain city in western North Carolina. Most notably, Asheville is famous for its Blue Ridge Mountains and Biltmore Estate. It’s also known for its craft beer scene.
While visiting, check out the art scene and architecture, and have a relaxing afternoon in Pack Square Park. And what’s visiting a historic town without a ghost tour?
I find myself feeling so lucky to live within a 2-hour drive of Asheville. With so much to do, you’ll wonder how to fit everything into your stay!
1. Biltmore Estate
Asheville is famous for Biltmore Estate. Of course, this impressive destination is more than just a house, but that’s where we will begin.
Biltmore Estate is the largest privately-owned residence in the United States. The Gilded Age mansion is a staggering 178,926 square feet in size. Initially built for George Washington Vanderbilt II, the property is still owned by his successors.
Resting on 8,000 acres, the estate is now a tourist attraction and offers tours of the mansion and grounds. Self-guided tours of the home will take you across three stories. You will see original art, architecture, furniture, and beyond.
In addition, you can purchase a separate ticket that will take you onto the rooftop of the estate. This special-access tour gives a breathtaking view of the mountains in the distance.
The property also offers 20+ miles of trails where you can enjoy the gardens. Visiting in the autumn will give you a peek at the leaves changing color.
From rose gardens to meadows to forests, you’ll certainly get to see all nature has to offer. Not to mention, the Blue Ridge Mountains are nearby for hiking opportunities.
The Biltmore Winery is another gem located on the premises. Wines offered are multi-award-winning and served by wine experts. The 20 wines come in reds, whites, and rosés. You can take a tour of the production facility then enjoy a wine tasting.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the estate has a restaurant and a spa. Then, after a day full of adventure, you can crash at the hotel, cottage, or Inn.
2. Pack Square Park
Asheville is known for Pack Square Park. It has been a significant spot for Asheville since 1901.
Located in the city center, the park is a popular community green space with walking paths. It is also home to many of Asheville’s festivals, concerts, and other events. During the warmer months, kids can play in the fountain and splash pads.
Pack Square Park is at a prime location within the city. It is within walking distance of a great selection of cafes and restaurants. Some favorite activities are packing a picnic and enjoying the annual 4th of July Fireworks festivities.
In addition, the park is dog-friendly, so there’s no need to leave your furry friend at home!
3. Western North Carolina Nature Center
Located just 10 minutes from downtown Asheville is the Western North Carolina Nature Center. The WNC Nature Center is home to animals and plants that are native to the area.
By taking a trip, you will see black bears, otters, a cougar, and more. They also have programs with a mission to increase populations amongst endangered species.
The 42-acre zoo is family-friendly and offers events year-round. Opportunities to watch feeding time are extended daily. In October, the Hey Day fall festival is a chance to see arts and crafts and play games.
Also featured is a 0.60-mile walking trail, Trillium Nature Trail. The trail takes you on a stroll through a forested area of the park and along the Swannanoa River. For the little ones, there are kid’s play areas scattered around.
Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on your way out. You can pick up a t-shirt, plush stuffed animal, or homemade jewelry by regional crafters.
4. Asheville Night-Time Walking Ghost Tour
Asheville is known for its haunted history. You can learn about this history by scheduling a two-hour walking Ghost Tour.
An expert tour guide will lead you through Asheville in the dark while telling about its spooky past. You will learn of murders and paranormal sightings, the tales being chilling and hair-raising. From Native American spiritualism to the Civil War, Asheville has a rich history with a story to tell.
The Ghost Tour has been rated as one of the Top 3 Ghost Tours in America. If you’re into learning about the supernatural, this is one tour you don’t want to miss out on!
When visiting Asheville, be sure to book a tour with LaZoom. LaZoom is a comedy bus tour that takes you through Asheville. While on the tour, you’ll get the history of the city while being entertained through humor and skits.
There are several comedic tours offered. The Kids Comedy Tour is open to all ages. However, the others do have age restrictions. The Hey Asheville tour is age 13+, the Ghosted Tour is age 17+, and the Fender Bender tour is age 21+. Beverages, beer, and wine can be purchased on-site before all tours and taken on the bus.
No matter what tour you choose, you’re bound to laugh. There’s something for everyone, so don’t leave Asheville without getting on the Purple Bus!
6. River Arts District
Asheville is known for its River Arts District. Get your walking shoes ready! The District comprises 25 buildings and features over 200 artists. This is spread over a one-mile radius.
Artists from all around move to the area to create and exhibit their works. If you find anything that speaks to you, you can purchase the art to take home. I just love the wide selection to choose from. There really is something for all artistic tastes.
To have a better chance of seeing the most, you’ll want to visit on a Friday or Saturday. Fewer studios are open during the colder months of January through March. If you get hungry while exploring the galleries, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants.
You can find the inner artist in yourself by taking one of the offered art classes. Classes are for painting and pottery. In addition, group and private lessons can be booked for beginners and experts. Better yet, you get to take home whatever you create.
7. Adventure Center of Asheville
Asheville is famous for its outdoor scene, and The Adventure Center of Asheville says it all in the name. If you love outdoor adventure, add the Center to your list. From ziplining to aerial challenge courses, you’ll be tested on every obstacle.
The Zipline Canopy Tour takes you through red and white oaks. Views you’ll see are of the mountains and downtown Asheville.
There are two zipline tour options. The most popular is the three-hour tour. This tour takes you on 11 total ziplines. These range from a few hundred feet up to 1,200 feet long each!
The second option is the Express Tour. This two-hour tour takes you on 7 ziplines that are up to 570 feet long. Each option can be done side-by-side with a friend. If you prefer, private times-slots are also available.
Within the park is the Asheville Treetops Adventure Park. The obstacles here range from easy to complex and are color-coded as such. The more difficult trails are up to 50 feet in the air.
During the two-hour time limit, you’ll be allowed to complete as many challenges as you are comfortable with. You can climb, swing, rappel, jump, and more. You’ll watch a training video before being harnessed in, then off you go!
8. North Carolina Arboretum
Located within Asheville is the North Carolina Arboretum. The Arboretum is known for being a 434-acre public garden. It is near the famous Blue Ridge Parkway and the Southern Appalachian Mountains, giving a gorgeous backdrop all around.
The Arboretum is home to some of the most diverse and rare plants in the region. You can stroll through the miles of walking paths and bike trails, taking it all in. From Bonsai to wildflowers, there is always something to see.
If you love seeing butterflies, plan a visit from April through October. This is when plans and flowers are in bloom that attracts them! The Arboretum has an ongoing mission to protect butterflies and other pollinators.
9. Asheville Museum of Art
Asheville is known for the Asheville Museum of Art. Established in 1948, the museum houses American art from the 20th and 21st centuries. They also feature art that showcases Western North Carolina’s distinctive artistic history.
Major traveling exhibits are featured at the museum. These come from nationally recognized museums on a rotating basis. In addition, permanent collections showcase art that concentrates on western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia.
There’s even a rooftop terrace to visit the café with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The museum also offers workshops and classes that are available to all ages.
10. Asheville Pinball Museum
If you love classic games, Asheville’s popular Pinball Museum is for you! The museum houses 35 pinball machines and 35 other vintage video games. Entry is $15 per person to play everything you want.
While you’re playing, take a look around at gaming memorabilia. It’s all over the walls! Or grab a drink and bite to eat in between games.
The arcade may have a capacity limit. Everything is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once capacity is reached, a waitlist will be started. You’ll get a call or text once space opens up, so don’t wander too far. Once you’re in, though, feel free to stay as long as you like within business hours.
Make sure to plan your visit from Wednesday to Monday. The museum is closed on Tuesdays for maintenance and repairs. Otherwise, have fun and game on!
11. The Blue Ridge Mountains
One of the things Asheville is most famous for is the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains span across eight states.
Although massive, gorgeous views and hikes through the mountain range can be done in Asheville. Some of the best places to hike are within a 30-40 minute drive of downtown. Pisgah National Forest is a notable mention worth checking out.
Hikes range in distance and time commitment. You can opt for a leisurely stroll with minimal elevation. Or, if you’re up to the challenge, moderate and strenuous hikes are available. One thing is for sure, though. You will never be short on adventure while visiting the mountains. Plus, something about the fresh mountain air is just so calming!
Asheville is also known for having a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile scenic road. It goes through 29 counties within North Carolina and Virginia. In some areas, you’ll be driving between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smokey Mountains.
Some of the most stunning views while traveling the Parkway can be seen going through Asheville. I always find myself wanting to pull off to the side of the road to enjoy the natural beauty.
12. Asheville’s Food and Beer Scene
Asheville is known for having some of the best food in the region. From swanky restaurants to relaxing breweries, take a stroll and try out several. Speaking of breweries, the Asheville area has the most per capita in the United States.
So if you’re looking for a tasty bite, here are some places to put high on your list:
I must admit, I am not huge into beer. However, I do enjoy a good cider. Barndoor Ciderworks offers up a variety of craft ciders. They also serve local beer, wine, non-alcohol beverages, and small plates of food.
Burial Beer Co.
Burial Beer Co. offers a wide selection of locally brewed beer. Some fan favorites include Skillet Donut Stout and Bolo Coconut Brown Ale. The brewery is dog and kid-friendly, hosting a range of events depending on the day of the week.
One of these is Jazz Brunch. Jazz Brunch is every Sunday and features New Orleans-style food made by local chefs.
Chestnut is located in downtown Asheville. They serve hand-crafted food and cocktails on a menu that changes monthly.
The Southern-American cuisine is both locally inspired and seasonal. Desserts on the menu are homemade in-house, including ice cream and sorbet.
Another awesome thing about Chestnut is that they get ingredients from local growers and farmers. How can you not support a restaurant that supports locally? They are only open for dinner but do accept reservations 7 days a week.
Bears Smokehouse Asheville
North Carolina is famous for its barbecue. Some of the best NC BBQ can be found in Asheville.
Bears Smokehouse serves award-winning K.C. style BBQ, scrumptious sides, and craft beer. Burnt Ends are always a favorite and seasoned to perfection.
Another notable mention is the Mac Attack, which is macaroni and cheese topped with your choice of meat. If you have vegetarians in the family, vegan options are also available.
There you go! A list of things that Asheville is known and famous for. If you’ve been to Asheville, be sure to comment on which of these you’ve experienced. If I’ve missed anything, or you have your own favorite, I’d love to hear all about it!