Top Attractions & Places to Visit in Asheville

North Carolina

By Abigail Lewis

Welcome to Asheville, a vibrant city nestled in the heart of the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Known for its unique blend of art, culture, and natural beauty, Asheville is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience.

One of the top attractions in Asheville is the Biltmore Estate. This magnificent mansion, built by George Vanderbilt in the late 19th century, is an architectural masterpiece and the largest privately-owned house in the United States. Explore the opulent rooms, lush gardens, and extensive grounds of this remarkable estate, and be transported back in time to the Gilded Age.

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, Asheville has plenty to offer. The city is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Pisgah National Forest. Take a hike along the scenic trails, kayak down the French Broad River, or simply soak in the breathtaking views from one of the many overlooks in the area.

For art enthusiasts, the River Arts District is a must-visit. This vibrant neighborhood is home to a thriving community of artists and craftspeople, who open their studios to the public. Discover unique pottery, paintings, sculptures, and more as you wander through the district, and be inspired by the creativity that fills the air.

No visit to Asheville would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. From farm-to-table restaurants to bustling food markets, Asheville offers a diverse culinary scene that caters to all tastes. Don’t miss the chance to try traditional Appalachian dishes, indulge in a craft beer tasting, or savor the flavors of the local farmers’ market.

With its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant arts scene, Asheville truly has something to offer for everyone. Plan your visit today and discover why this charming city has become one of the top attractions in the United States.

Explore the Biltmore Estate

Located in Asheville, the Biltmore Estate is a must-visit attraction for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike. This magnificent estate, built by George Vanderbilt in the late 19th century, is the largest privately owned house in the United States.

Explore the grounds of the Biltmore Estate and witness the beauty of its stunning gardens, including the Italian Garden, Rose Garden, and the Shrub Garden. Take a leisurely stroll through the beautifully manicured landscapes and be amazed by the colorful blooms and exquisite sculptures that adorn the estate.

Step inside the Biltmore House, a French Renaissance chateau that boasts 250 rooms filled with priceless antiques, priceless art, and intricate architecture. Marvel at the magnificent details of the grand staircase, the opulent Banquet Hall, and the expansive Library. Be transported back in time as you wander through the halls and imagine what life was like during the Vanderbilt era.

Don’t forget to visit the onsite Winery, where you can take a guided tour and sample award-winning wines. The Biltmore Estate also offers a range of dining options, from casual cafes to upscale restaurants, serving farm-to-table cuisine made with ingredients sourced from the estate’s own farms.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, the Biltmore Estate has plenty to offer. Go hiking or biking along the numerous trails that wind through the estate’s forests and meadows. Enjoy a picnic by the serene Bass Pond or go fishing in one of the estate’s well-stocked ponds. In the warmer months, you can even go horseback riding or take a carriage ride around the estate.

Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, nature, or simply want to experience the grandeur of a bygone era, exploring the Biltmore Estate is a truly unforgettable experience.

Discover the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic roadway that stretches for 469 miles through the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. It offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, with numerous overlooks and trails to explore. This iconic road is a must-visit when in Asheville.

One of the highlights of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Linn Cove Viaduct, which is a masterpiece of engineering. This unique bridge hugs the side of Grandfather Mountain and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. It is a popular spot for photographers and nature lovers.

There are also several visitor centers along the Blue Ridge Parkway where you can learn about the history and nature of the area. The Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville is a great place to start your journey. Here, you can pick up maps and guides, watch informative films, and speak with park rangers who can give you recommendations on the best places to visit.

If you enjoy hiking, there are plenty of trails to choose from along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs parallel to the Parkway and offers a variety of hiking options, ranging from easy strolls to challenging hikes. Some popular trails include the Craggy Gardens Trail and the Linville Falls Trail.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is also a great place for wildlife viewing. Keep an eye out for black bears, deer, and a variety of bird species. The parkway is home to diverse ecosystems, including forests, meadows, and streams, which provide habitat for a wide range of animals.

When driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, be sure to take your time and enjoy the scenery. There are numerous pull-offs and picnic areas where you can stop and take in the views. Whether you’re driving, hiking, or simply relaxing, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.

Key Information Details
Location North Carolina and Virginia
Total Length 469 miles
Main Attractions Linn Cove Viaduct, hiking trails, wildlife viewing
Visitor Centers Multiple along the Parkway, including the Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville

Visit the Asheville Art Museum

If you’re an art enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of artistic expression, a visit to the Asheville Art Museum is a must. Located in the heart of downtown Asheville, this museum is a hub for showcasing contemporary and modern art.

Step into the museum and immerse yourself in a world of creativity. The museum boasts an impressive collection of artworks from both local and international artists. From paintings to sculptures, photography to mixed media installations, there is something to capture every art lover’s attention.

One of the highlights of the Asheville Art Museum is its commitment to showcasing the work of local artists. Through various exhibitions, the museum aims to give a platform to the vibrant art scene of Asheville and the surrounding region. You’ll have the opportunity to discover emerging talents and gain a deeper understanding of the local creative community.

Visiting the Asheville Art Museum also offers a chance to engage with art on a personal level. Take your time to appreciate the intricate details and meanings behind each artwork. Allow yourself to be inspired and provoked by the diverse range of artistic expressions on display.

If you’re interested in learning more about the art on display, the museum offers guided tours and educational programs. Knowledgeable staff members are available to provide insights into the artworks and answer any questions you may have. These programs are a great way to enhance your visit and gain a deeper appreciation for the art on display.

Before leaving, make sure to visit the museum’s gift shop. Here, you’ll find a selection of unique art-inspired items, including prints, books, and jewelry. These make for perfect souvenirs or gifts for art-loving friends and family.

The Asheville Art Museum is a cultural gem nestled in the vibrant city of Asheville. Whether you’re a seasoned art lover or a curious visitor, this museum offers a dynamic and enriching experience. Immerse yourself in the world of contemporary art and let your imagination soar.

Stroll through the North Carolina Arboretum

One of the top attractions in Asheville is the North Carolina Arboretum, a beautiful place to explore nature and escape the city. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the arboretum offers a wide variety of gardens, hiking trails, and exhibits to enjoy.

The arboretum features 65 acres of cultivated gardens, including the Bonsai Exhibition Garden, where visitors can admire the artistry of miniature trees. The Quilt Garden is another highlight, showcasing a colorful display of flowers arranged in patterns reminiscent of traditional quilts.

For those who enjoy more active pursuits, the arboretum also offers over 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. One popular trail is the Bent Creek Trail, which winds through a forest and along the banks of a scenic creek. Along the way, you may spot wildlife such as birds, deer, and even the occasional black bear.

In addition to its gardens and trails, the North Carolina Arboretum also features educational exhibits and programs. The Baker Exhibit Center hosts a variety of displays on topics such as native plants, and the Greenhouse Complex showcases a diverse collection of tropical plants. Visitors can also attend workshops and classes to learn more about gardening, birdwatching, and other outdoor activities.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, a stroll through the North Carolina Arboretum is a must when visiting Asheville. With its stunning gardens, scenic trails, and educational exhibits, it offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Marvel at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville

If you’re a nature lover, one attraction you cannot miss in Asheville is the Botanical Gardens. Located on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, the Botanical Gardens offer a serene and beautiful escape from the city.

The gardens are home to over 600 species of native plants, making it a haven for plant enthusiasts and nature photographers alike. From colorful wildflowers to towering trees, there is something for everyone to marvel at.

Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and discover the diverse ecosystems that exist within this urban oasis. The well-maintained trails will lead you through meadows, wetlands, and forests, providing opportunities to observe birds, butterflies, and other wildlife species.

If you’re interested in learning more about the flora and fauna of the region, the Botanical Gardens offer guided tours and educational programs. Knowledgeable staff and volunteers are available to answer any questions you may have and provide insights into the natural history of the area.

Whether you’re a botany enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful escape, the Botanical Gardens at Asheville are a must-visit attraction. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the plants and wildlife, and leave feeling refreshed and inspired.

Take a hike at Chimney Rock State Park

Experience the breathtaking beauty of nature at Chimney Rock State Park. Located just outside of Asheville, this 1,000-acre park offers a variety of trails for hikers of all skill levels.

One of the park’s most famous attractions is the Chimney Rock itself, a towering granite monolith that provides stunning views of the surrounding area. Hikers can take on the challenge of climbing the 315-foot Outcroppings Trail, which leads to the top of the chimney.

For those seeking a more leisurely hike, the Hickory Nut Falls Trail is a great option. This 1.4-mile trail takes you to the base of Hickory Nut Falls, one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River.

Chimney Rock State Park also offers guided hikes led by knowledgeable park rangers. These guided hikes provide a wealth of information about the park’s history, geology, and flora and fauna.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a peaceful walk in nature, Chimney Rock State Park has something to offer everyone. So put on your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the natural wonders of this beautiful park.

Important Information:

  • Chimney Rock State Park is open year-round, although some trails may be closed during inclement weather.
  • There is an admission fee to enter the park, which helps support its preservation and maintenance.
  • Be sure to wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water for your hike.
  • Follow all posted signs and stay on designated trails to protect the natural environment.
  • Pets are not allowed on the trails, with the exception of service animals.

Note: All information in this article is accurate as of the publication date. Please check the official Chimney Rock State Park website for the latest information before planning your visit.

Experience the Asheville Drum Circle

One of the unique and vibrant cultural experiences in Asheville is the Asheville Drum Circle. This weekly gathering takes place every Friday night in Pritchard Park in the heart of downtown Asheville. The Drum Circle is a celebration of music, rhythm, and community.

Anyone can join in the Asheville Drum Circle. Musicians, dancers, spectators, and even first-timers are welcome. All you need is your rhythm and a willingness to participate in the lively atmosphere. The Drum Circle is a true reflection of Asheville’s diverse community and is open to people of all ages and backgrounds.

As you make your way to Pritchard Park, you will hear the distant sounds of drums and hand percussion. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a crowd of people, all eagerly drumming, dancing, and enjoying the music. The energy is contagious, and it’s hard not to feel a part of something bigger.

The Asheville Drum Circle is a free event that fosters creativity and self-expression. It is a space where people can come together to share their love for music and connect with others. You’ll find a wide range of instruments, including djembes, congas, and other hand drums. Feel free to bring your own instrument or borrow one from someone in the circle.

Not only is the Asheville Drum Circle a memorable experience, but it also promotes a sense of unity and community. It gives people the opportunity to come together, let loose, and connect through the universal language of music. Whether you’re a musician or simply a spectator, the Drum Circle offers an unforgettable experience that captures the spirit of Asheville.

So, if you’re looking for a truly unique and immersive cultural experience in Asheville, don’t miss out on the chance to experience the Asheville Drum Circle. Join in the rhythm, feel the energy, and connect with the vibrant community that makes Asheville the special place that it is.

Tour the New Belgium Brewing Company

One of the top attractions in Asheville is the New Belgium Brewing Company. Located in the heart of the city, this popular brewery offers tours to visitors who are interested in learning more about the beer-making process and enjoying some delicious craft beer.

During the guided tour, you will have the chance to explore the state-of-the-art facilities and get a behind-the-scenes look at how their famous beers are brewed. You’ll learn about the history and philosophy of the company, as well as their commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.

As you walk through the brewery, you’ll be able to witness the different stages of the brewing process, from the milling and mashing of the grains to the fermenting and packaging of the final product. Along the way, knowledgeable guides will provide interesting facts and answer any questions you may have.

Of course, a visit to New Belgium Brewing Company wouldn’t be complete without a tasting of their award-winning beers. Following the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to sample a variety of their beers, including their signature Fat Tire Amber Ale and other seasonal and limited-edition brews.

Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or just looking for a fun and informative experience, a tour of the New Belgium Brewing Company is a must-do activity in Asheville. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about the art of brewing and taste some of the finest craft beers in the area.

Enjoy the live music scene in downtown Asheville

When it comes to live music, downtown Asheville has a vibrant and diverse scene to offer. Whether you’re a fan of bluegrass, jazz, rock, or indie folk, you’re sure to find a venue that suits your taste.

One popular spot is the iconic Orange Peel, known for its impressive sound system and intimate setting. This venue frequently hosts both local and nationally acclaimed musicians, making it a must-visit for music lovers.

Another favorite among locals is The Grey Eagle, where you can catch live shows from a variety of genres. This cozy venue has a relaxed atmosphere and often features up-and-coming artists. Don’t forget to check out their outdoor stage during the warmer months.

If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, head over to Jack of the Wood. This Irish pub offers a lively atmosphere and hosts regular bluegrass sessions. Grab a pint, tap your foot to the fiddle, and enjoy the lively music scene.

For a unique and intimate experience, check out Isis Music Hall. This converted theater hosts a range of musicians, from local talents to touring artists. With great acoustics and an attentive audience, it’s a fantastic spot to enjoy live music.

No matter where you go in downtown Asheville, you’ll be sure to find an abundance of live music options. Soak in the local talent, discover new artists, and dance the night away in this vibrant and artistic city.

Shop at the Grove Arcade

When visiting Asheville, one place you should not miss is the Grove Arcade. Located in the heart of downtown, this historic building is a popular spot for shopping and dining.

Originally built in the 1920s as a shopping center, the Grove Arcade has been beautifully restored and now houses a variety of unique shops and boutiques. From fashion and jewelry to home decor and art, you can find a wide range of products to suit your taste.

One of the highlights of shopping at the Grove Arcade is the selection of locally made goods. Many of the shops feature products that are made by local artisans, giving you the opportunity to support the local economy and take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

As you stroll through the arcade, you’ll also find a number of cozy cafes and restaurants where you can take a break and refuel. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick coffee or a leisurely meal, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Another bonus of visiting the Grove Arcade is its location. Situated in downtown Asheville, it is within walking distance of many other attractions, including art galleries, museums, and other shops.

So, if you’re looking to shop for unique products, support local artisans, and enjoy a charming atmosphere, be sure to check out the Grove Arcade during your visit to Asheville.

Explore the Downtown Asheville Art District

If you’re a fan of art and culture, then a visit to the Downtown Asheville Art District is a must. This vibrant area is home to a wide range of galleries, studios, and public art installations that showcase the creativity and talent of local artists.

Start your visit by taking a leisurely stroll through the district’s streets and alleys, where you’ll discover works of art displayed in windows and on the sides of buildings. Keep an eye out for the colorful murals that adorn many of the district’s walls, each telling a unique story.

For those looking to delve deeper into the art scene, there are numerous galleries and studios to explore. These spaces feature an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and more. You’ll have the opportunity to meet and engage with local artists, learn about their artistic process, and even purchase one-of-a-kind pieces to take home as a memento of your visit.

In addition to the galleries and studios, the Downtown Asheville Art District is also home to several art-focused events and festivals throughout the year. These events provide an excellent opportunity to experience the vibrant art scene in action, with live performances, art demonstrations, and interactive exhibits.

After immersing yourself in the art, take a break at one of the district’s many charming cafes or restaurants. Grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, and savor the unique atmosphere that makes the Downtown Asheville Art District a truly special place to visit.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply appreciate creativity, the Downtown Asheville Art District offers a rich and immersive experience that shouldn’t be missed. So, add it to your itinerary and prepare to be inspired by the incredible talent on display.

Take a tour of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial

If you’re a literature enthusiast or simply interested in exploring the history of Asheville, a visit to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial is a must. Located in downtown Asheville, this historic site is the childhood home of Thomas Wolfe, one of America’s greatest writers.

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial offers guided tours that take visitors through Wolfe’s former home, showcasing the rooms and spaces where he grew up and wrote some of his most famous works, including his autobiographical novel “Look Homeward, Angel.” The tour provides insight into Wolfe’s life and literary career, allowing you to immerse yourself in the world of this influential author.

During the tour, you’ll have the chance to see original furnishings and personal belongings, which have been preserved to maintain the authenticity of the house. The knowledgeable guides will share stories and anecdotes about Wolfe’s life, providing a deeper understanding of his creative process and the inspirations behind his writing.

Aside from the guided tour, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial also hosts a museum that features exhibits on Wolfe’s life and literary works. You can explore displays of photographs, manuscripts, and other artifacts that offer further insight into his legacy and contributions to American literature.

Visiting the Thomas Wolfe Memorial is a captivating experience that allows you to step back in time and gain a deeper appreciation for the life and work of this renowned author. Whether you’re a fan of Wolfe’s writing or simply interested in delving into Asheville’s literary history, a tour of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial is a must-visit attraction.

Quick Tip: Consider combining your visit to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial with a stroll through downtown Asheville to explore the vibrant arts scene and charming shops and restaurants.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Relax at the Asheville Salt Cave

The Asheville Salt Cave offers a unique and therapeutic experience in the heart of Asheville. This underground cave is constructed entirely from pure Himalayan salt, creating a serene and calming environment.

As you enter the cave, you’ll immediately notice the gentle glow and soft pink hues that emanate from the salt walls. The air is filled with the natural aroma of salt, which is said to have numerous health benefits. Breathing in the salty air can help to improve respiratory issues and promote relaxation.

During your visit, you can choose to relax on one of the comfortable zero-gravity chairs or lay directly on the salt floor. Many people find the experience to be incredibly rejuvenating, as the salt is believed to have detoxifying properties that can help to cleanse the body and mind.

In addition to the salt cave, there are also services available such as salt therapy sessions, massage therapy, and yoga classes. These additional services can further enhance your relaxation and overall well-being.

It’s important to note that the Asheville Salt Cave is a popular attraction, so it’s recommended to make reservations in advance. The cave can accommodate a limited number of visitors, ensuring a peaceful and intimate experience for everyone.

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or looking to improve your overall health and wellness, a visit to the Asheville Salt Cave is an experience not to be missed. Step into this tranquil oasis and let the healing properties of salt surround you in pure relaxation.

Learn about the history of Asheville at the Smith-McDowell House Museum

If you’re interested in learning about the rich history of Asheville, a visit to the Smith-McDowell House Museum is a must. This historic house museum provides a glimpse into life in Asheville during the 19th century.

Built in 1840, the Smith-McDowell House is the oldest surviving house in Asheville and was once the home of prominent Asheville businessman James McConnell Smith and later the McDowell family. Stepping through the front door is like stepping back in time, as the house has been meticulously restored to its original grandeur.

The museum offers guided tours that take visitors through the different rooms of the house, showcasing its exquisite architecture and period furnishings. Knowledgeable docents provide fascinating insights into the lives of the people who once lived here and the events that shaped Asheville’s history.

As you explore the museum, you’ll discover rooms furnished in the styles popular during the 19th century, including the library, dining room, and bedrooms. The museum also features rotating exhibits that delve deeper into specific aspects of Asheville’s history, such as the city’s ties to the Biltmore estate or its role in the Civil War.

One notable feature of the Smith-McDowell House is its beautiful gardens, which are a recreation of the original gardens that surrounded the property. Take a stroll through the lush greenery and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

Visiting the Smith-McDowell House Museum is not only a chance to learn about Asheville’s past, but also to support the preservation of its historical landmarks. By visiting this museum, you are contributing to the conservation of this important piece of Asheville’s history.

Note: The Smith-McDowell House Museum may have specific hours of operation and admission fees, so it’s recommended to check their website or call ahead before planning your visit.

Indulge in farm-to-table dining at a local restaurant

If you’re a foodie, Asheville is the perfect destination for you. The city is known for its thriving farm-to-table dining scene, where local restaurants take pride in sourcing their ingredients from nearby farms and producers.

By dining at a farm-to-table restaurant, you can enjoy the freshest and most flavorful dishes made with seasonal and sustainable ingredients. From tender grass-fed steaks to vibrant salads filled with organic greens, the options are endless.

One popular farm-to-table restaurant in Asheville is The Market Place. Located in the heart of downtown, this restaurant offers a menu that changes daily based on the availability of ingredients. The chefs work closely with local farmers, artisanal food producers, and foragers to bring you the best flavors of the season.

At The Market Place, you can savor dishes like seared North Carolina trout with roasted root vegetables or a hearty plate of pasture-raised pork accompanied by farm-fresh vegetables. The restaurant also has an extensive wine list featuring local and international selections, perfect for pairing with your meal.

If you’re interested in learning more about the farm-to-table movement in Asheville, consider taking a culinary tour. These tours take you behind the scenes to meet farmers, chefs, and producers, giving you a deeper understanding of the importance of sustainable agriculture and how it translates into delicious dining experiences.

So, whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply appreciate a good meal made with fresh ingredients, make sure to indulge in farm-to-table dining at a local restaurant during your visit to Asheville. You won’t be disappointed by the quality and flavors that these establishments have to offer.

FAQs

What are some top attractions in Asheville?

Some top attractions in Asheville include the Biltmore Estate, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the North Carolina Arboretum, and the Asheville Art Museum.

Is the Biltmore Estate worth visiting?

Yes, the Biltmore Estate is definitely worth visiting. It is a magnificent mansion and offers beautiful gardens, wineries, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Are there any outdoor activities in Asheville?

Yes, there are plenty of outdoor activities in Asheville. You can go hiking on the nearby trails, explore the Blue Ridge Parkway, go fishing in the nearby rivers, or even go whitewater rafting.

What is the best time to visit Asheville?

The best time to visit Asheville is during the fall season, from September to November. The weather is pleasant, and you can enjoy the beautiful fall foliage in the mountains.

Are there any museums in Asheville?

Yes, there are several museums in Asheville. Some of the top museums include the Asheville Art Museum, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, and the Smith-McDowell House Museum.

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Abigail Lewis

Abigail Lewis, a valued Cancun resident since 2008, skillfully combines her extensive knowledge of the region with her travels across Mexico in her engaging TravelAsker pieces. An experienced traveler and dedicated mother, she brings the lively spirit of Mexico to her articles, featuring top family-friendly destinations, dining, resorts, and activities. Fluent in two languages, Abigail unveils Mexico's hidden gems, becoming your trustworthy travel companion in exploring the country.

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