15 Best Things to Do in Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC
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If you're still looking for your next travel destination, you might want to consider adding Asheville in Buncombe County, North Carolina, to your list.

Asheville, the largest city in western North Carolina, was renamed after Samuel Ashe in tribute to the former state governor in 1797.

Known as the Land of the Sky, Asheville remains one of the most beautiful attractions in western North Carolina that piques the interest of many tourists.

Asheville is a vibrant mountain city that will enchant you not only with its famous Blue Ridge Mountains and gilded-age Biltmore Estates but also with its beer, arts, and rich culture!

With so many things to do in Asheville, figuring out how to fit everything in during your visit will be challenging for you.

To make exploring the city easier, here is a list of the best things to do in Asheville, North Carolina:

Explore the Biltmore Estate

Exterior of the Biltmore Estate
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A trip to Asheville would be incomplete without a visit to the city's most well-known and historic structure, the Biltmore Estates.

It is the largest Gilded Age mansion of George Washington Vanderbilt.

The architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the house in 1889, spanning 175,000 square feet or four acres of floor space.

The mansion has 250 rooms with 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.

Grand staircase in the Biltmore Estate
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Its grounds feature breathtaking 75 acres of gardens designed by the American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

Today, Biltmore Estates also has its winery where visitors can taste at least 50 kinds of wine.

The place is privately owned and operated by the descendants of the Vanderbilt family.

It is also a historical landmark that visitors can explore for a luxurious experience reliving the Gilded Age.

Tulips garden at the Biltmore Estate
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Taste the Best Craft Beer at Asheville Brewing Company

The fact that North Carolina is home to more than 300 craft brewers of all sizes and specialties has cemented the state's reputation as the "State of Southern Beer."

Asheville Brewing Company is one of the area's most well-known breweries.

It is a favorite hangout for residents and is the third-oldest brewery in Asheville & Western North Carolina.

You can enjoy a variety of craft beers that have won awards.

You also try out their pizza which has been ranked among the Top 100 Pizza Restaurants in the USA and chosen as the Best Pizza in Western North Carolina for several years.

You'll likely find a beer you adore at the Asheville Brewing Company.

Take a Road Trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A tunnel along Blue Ridge Parkway
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One of the most scenic highways in America is the Blue Ridge Parkway which spans 469 miles.

"America's Favorite Drive" offers a fantastic sight of the local flora and animals, encompassing the southern and central Appalachians.

Its biodiversity is famous across the world.

The road of Blue Ridge Parkway
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Along your road trip in the parkway, you can see the picturesque view of the Eastern United States' tallest mountain peak, Mount Mitchell.

You will also see the New River, the second-longest surviving river in North America, and the East of the Rockies’ tallest waterfall, Whitewater Falls.

There are also stops where you can buy food, drink water, enjoy outdoor activities, and many more while you take your journey onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Scenic mountain views from Blue Ridge Parkway
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Go on a Quest at Appalachian Mural Trail

See stories of the Appalachian mountains through giant, bold murals with the Appalachian Mural Trail.

Take a peek at the culture of Appalachia and see stunning mountain views while listening to stories told through art.

Explore over 130 stunning murals and fascinating anecdotes about the muralists and the works themselves.

There are five historic public murals on the mural trail in Asheville.

Some of the most famous murals are at Triangle Park, Heywood Street Fresco, Chicken Alley, and Shindig on the Green.

Don't forget to take a photo in front of an Asheville mural to remember your experience on the Appalachian mural trail!

Stroll around the Historic Grove Arcade

Exterior of the Grove Arcade
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The Grove Arcade is a wonderfully restored historic structure in Downtown Asheville's center that epitomizes the community's soul and spirit.

It's also one of the world's earliest indoor shopping centers, established in 1929 by E.W. Grove.

Customers can immerse themselves in Asheville's lifestyle and culture for the day thanks to the Grove Arcade's rich history, elaborate architecture, and varied mix of stores and eateries.

Front entrance to the Grove Arcade
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You can also purchase locally made goods in their local shops and boutiques to get a taste of downtown Asheville's culture.

Grove Arcade is one of Asheville's architectural gems that you surely don't want to miss.

Interior of the Grove Arcade
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See Special Animals at the Western North Carolina Nature Center

The 42-acre Western North Carolina Nature Center has become a haven for 60 species of wildlife from the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

By providing these animals with a permanent home, the center allows them to continue their lives in safety.

According to the center, animals seen here have no fear of humans and haven't gained the skills they need to survive in the wild.

Numerous activities are available at the WNC Nature Center, such as daily animal programs, interactive Nature Play areas, and gem and fossil mining.

On the second level of the park, there are picnic spaces next to the Historic Cabin, where visitors may visit their gift shop and have a picnic.

The center also provides an event where tourists can enjoy watching animals being fed and walking on a trail along the Swannanoa River.

Every year, the Center receives around 100,000 visitors.

Only the Western Carolina Nature Center and two other North Carolina zoos have earned accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Play the Classic Games at Asheville Pinball Museum

Exterior of the Asheville Pinball Museum
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Located in downtown Asheville is the Asheville Pinball Museum, where you can play various games.

You will reminisce about your childhood life with the 35 pinball machines and 35 vintage video games available for you to play with.

The museum also displays a fascinating collection of vintage tables and games you can examine.

Every pinball machine in the collection has a plaque with its year of creation and a description of its role in the history of pinball.

The Asheville Pinball Museum also serves beer, sodas, and snacks.

Learn about a Great American Writer at Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Exterior of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial
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The "Old Kentucky Home," known as the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, has become one of literature's most well-known locations.

Thomas Wolfe's 1929 novel, Look Homeward, Angel gave the grand Victorian building its nickname, "Dixieland."

The book has become a classic of American literature since its 1929 release.

It also helps maintain an interest in Wolfe while drawing tourists to the novel's setting.

The "Old Kentucky Home" provides an opportunity to step back in time and see Asheville when it first gained notoriety as a health retreat.

You'll also hear tales of Thomas Wolfe's childhood growing up there.

If you're hoping to learn more about Thomas Wolfe, you might want to visit the neighboring visitor center and museum.

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial offers an exhibit hall for self-guided tours and a 22-minute film presentation covering his life and works in detail.

Try Obama’s Favorite Rib Dish at 12 Bones Smokehouse

Are you looking for a sumptuous lunch?

Then the 12 Bones Smokehouse at Foundy Street has got you covered.

12 Bones Smokehouse features baby back ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, and other dishes that are all made from scratch.

The meats at the restaurant are slow-smoked over cherry and oak hardwoods, which produces a flavorsome dish.

Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama have dined here three times and ordered 12 Bones’ sweet racks.

Try this well-liked neighborhood BBQ joint and savor some 12 Bones-style southern BBQ.

Venture on a Scientific Exploration at the Asheville Museum of Science

Exterior of the Asheville Museum of Science
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To all science enthusiasts, Asheville has a place for you!

The Asheville Museum Of Science is a local science museum dedicated to providing a space for scientific exploration and learning.

The Southern Appalachian Mineral Society (S.A.M.S), founded in 1931 by Burnham and William Colburn, was a tourist destination that attracted many locals and visitors from far away.

After Burnham died in 1959, some of his specimens were displayed to the public.

As a result, the Burnham S. Colburn Memorial Museum opened its doors on Coxe Avenue in 1960.

In 1972, the museum moved to Asheville Civic Center.

In late 2016, after yet another move, the museum changed its name to the Asheville Museum of Science to promote its mission of teaching science.

In addition to regular exhibitions, the museum also hosts special events and educational programs.

The Colburn Hall of Minerals is now the home of the original Burnham Colburn Collection, where visitors can learn about geology.

Visit the Omni Grove Park Inn

Exterior of the Omni Grove Park Inn
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At the top of Sunset Mountain, overlooking the city and surrounding mountains is the Omni Grove Park Inn.

This hotel's modest elegance and southern charm have earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Numerous famous people from the arts, entertainment, sports, and politics have resided here.

The farm-to-table artisanal buffet at the Omni Grove Park Inn's Blue Ridge restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, has a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Morning Table offers an unbeatable breakfast buffet with a variety of options to choose from.

The terrace of Omni Grove Park Inn
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Start your day right with their yogurt bar, omelet station, and gluten-free selections served in two spacious rooms.

Make your Sundays memorable with Blue Ridge's fantastic brunch, or enjoy their award-winning Saturday Prime Rib Buffet and Friday Seafood Buffet.

Dining at Blue Ridge is the perfect way to end any week.

Early risers will love every minute of their breakfast at Blue Ridge and watch the sunrise over the mountains as they prepare to start the day.

Chocolate drink at Omni Grove Park Inn's restaurant
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Unwind at Shoji Spa & Retreat

After a tiring but enjoyable visit to different places in Asheville, treat yourself to a relaxing massage and spa at Shoji Spa & Retreat.

Located on a mountainside just a few minutes from downtown Asheville, Shoji Spa & Retreat is a distinctive destination spa.

Visitors can enjoy traditional Japanese bathing, soaking in private outdoor salt pools, spa-style showers, and top-notch massage therapy in a natural setting.

Locally produced spa items, such as CBD salves, locally made trademark soaps, clothing, and totes, are also available.

Before relaxing in their private hot tub with a view of the National Forest, guests don a Japanese yukata (cotton robe) and sandals.

The spa offers Treetop Sauna, Savasana Room, Shinrin Yoku, Senjo Exfoliation, and many more.

Take a Hike at the Pisgah National Forest

Fall scene at Pisgah National Forest
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With over half a million acres of pristine hardwood forest, Pisgah National Forest is unsurprisingly popular among hikers, nature lovers, and those seeking an escape from city life.

The sheer number of thrilling activities they offer featuring its mile-high mountain peaks and thundering waterfalls means that there’s something for everyone in this stunning natural setting.

Trail leading to the looking glass falls at Pisgah National Forest
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No wonder people consider this region one of the best in the nation for outdoor activities.

Western North Carolina, including Asheville and its surrounding area, is home to Pisgah National Forest.

Visitors can do various outdoor activities in the Pisgah National Forest, such as going on a picnic, hiking, mountain biking, and scenic drives.

Scenic mountain views from Pisgah National Forest
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Shop and Save at Asheville Outlets

The Asheville Outlets is an outdoor mall with close to 70 retailers in Asheville's mountains.

Asheville Outlets is home to the leather goods store Coach, clothing brand J.Crew Factory, including shoe stores such as Nike Factory Store, SKECHERS, and Cole Haan.

Enjoy shopping as the shops offer great deals, items, and discounts you will surely love.

The center has soft lounging places, a lovely fire, an attractive fountain, and covered breezeways that allow natural, comfortable airflow while you indulge in some retail therapy.

Asheville Outlets provide shuttle service to surrounding hotels, convention centers, and tourist sites.

Vibe with the Music at the Orange Peel

Exterior of the Orange Peel
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As one of the top live music venues in the nation, the Orange Peel, has gained a reputation on a global scale.

Rolling Stone recognized the place as one of the "Top Five Rock Clubs in the Country."

Over the years, the Orange Peel has hosted performances by many artists, such as Bob Dylan, Blondie, and Joan Jett.

Singers performing in the Orange Peel
Rich Orris (rorris), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Renowned indie artists like Sonic Youth, Neon Trees, and Arcade Fire have also graced the Orange Peel stage.

You’ll enjoy this place as you groove into the music by these performers.

Final Thoughts

If you love history, picturesque views, and fun experiences, Asheville will not disappoint.

With many historical sites, museums, and arcades throughout the city, not to mention some of the most gorgeous views in North Carolina, Asheville should be at the top of your list of travel destinations.

Try the best things in Asheville, North Carolina.

Enjoy your trip to the Land of the Sky!

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