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Asheville Offers Memorable Family Fun

8 Million Acres of Playground for your Family Vacations

For a family that appreciates the natural world, the possibilities in Asheville are endless. Exploring the mountains surrounding Asheville North Carolina is an immersion in millions of years of natural history. Nowhere in North America is the biodiversity matched. Nowhere east of the Rockies are the summits higher and the gorges deeper. And nowhere on the continent are the mountains and streams more ancient. Formed three hundred million years ago, these timeworn mountains provide countless adventures and exploration, making this mountain paradise the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable family vacation.

  • Outdoor Adventure

  • Wildlife

  • Attractions

  • Water Adventures

Top Ways for your Child to Go Wild: Adventures by Age

Plan out your family vacation with these top adventures in Asheville, by age range.


  • Dance your cares away at the Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park.
  • Cool off in Splasheville, an interactive water fountain in Pack Square Park.
  • Explore the beautiful gardens of the NC Arboretum or Biltmore.
  • Get up close and personal with mountain wildlife at the WNC Nature Center petting zoo.
  • Kids as young as four can experience flight on nine different ziplines at KidZip.

Ages 6–10

Ages 10–13

Ages 13 and Older

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Outdoor Adventure

From whitewater adventures to a night of extreme stargazing, a family vacation in Asheville offers a variety of outdoor adventures for all types of families.

Soar from the trees

Take in the mountain views from the top of the forest canopy. Asheville offers multiple zipline courses that will have you soaring through the sky. Or, try kayaking in mid-air, harnessed to a cable three-stories high, then climb a rock wall suspended in a mammoth oak tree at North Carolina's first full scale aerial adventure course, Asheville Treetops Adventure Park, just minutes from downtown.

Ride the rivers

Asheville is home to some of the best whitewater adventures in the southeast. Cruise the multiple rivers surrounding Asheville by raft, tube, canoe, kayak and more. Want to try something different? Asheville offers a ton of adventures you're not likely to find anywhere else. Perform yoga on a stand-up paddle board as you float down the French Broad River, or paddle whitewater on a Bellyak, a locally designed watercraft that makes getting on the river quick and easy.

Hike the Blue Ridge

Explore the great outdoors on foot with one of the hundreds of hiking trails that dot the mountain landscape. Pack a picnic, and your kite and take the family to some of the most scenic and beautiful places around Asheville. Among the loveliest places in the southern mountains are dozens of grassy balds that adorn the region's high ridges. Local favorites are within striking distance in every direction, from the blueberry patches of Graveyard Fields; to the pink, lavender and purple blooms of Carolina Rhododendrons on Craggy Mountain; or the 360 degree views from the grassy summit of Max Patch.

Forage for Wild Food

Could you survive in the wild? Become a hunter-gatherer for the day and find out! On this edible treasure hunt, you'll learn how to tell the vicious from the delicious as an expert guide takes you off the eaten path. Then it's finders, eaters as you enjoy “find dining” with your very own catch of the day. Forage ahead!

Other Outdoor Adventures
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Asheville's rich biodiversity provides a number of opportunities for families to interact with wildlife. Watch playful otters at the WNC Nature Center, see majestic Elk graze on the open fields of Cataloochee Valley, or learn about the annual monarch migration at Hop'n Blueberry Farm. A journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway is your gateway to the outdoors and provides multiple opportunities to observe wildlife.


It's not uncommon to come across black bears in the wild, but if you would rather see these adorable 800 pound behemoths from a safe distance, consider taking a trip to Grandfather Mountain. Here you can see these animals in their natural habitat plus a host of other wildlife including cougars and white-tailed deer.


If your family loves to go birding, then be sure to visit Chimney Rock State Park. This area is home to dozens of species of warblers, beautiful owls and the rare Peregrine falcon. Be sure to bring your binoculars!

kids with a goat


Many times llamas are given a bad rap for being temperamental, but the fact is they are very friendly and approachable. Let a llama carry your gear as your family takes a trek through the Great Smoky Mountains.

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Family-Friendly Attractions

Many area attractions are perfect for the entire family. From outdoor adventures at Grandfather Mountain and Chimney Rock Park to indoor play palaces like Fun Depot, there's something to do in Asheville no matter the weather, or age of your children.

Cooler then cool

Biltmore offers a number of kid-friendly activities on the estate. Let the kids visit the estate's farmyard to pet baby animals, or play at the Pisgah Playground. Or find hiking, biking, Segway tours and a variety of learning activities throughout Antler Hill Village.

Up in the air

It's a bird, it's a plane—no it's your mom! The Asheville Treetops Adventure Park will get the whole family active in a unique obstacle course high above the ground. With three levels of difficulty you can self-guide your way across this challenge that will have you kayaking through trees, snowboarding through open air and navigating around cheese boards. You have to see it to believe it.

Wallet friendly

Before making your family travel plans, be sure to check out our complete list of family deals and packages for lodging and attractions in Asheville. There are also plenty of low cost (or free) options to make your vacation dollars stretch.

  • Sliding Rock—A small parking fee is all you will need to pay to experience this 60-foot natural water slide located in the Pisgah National Forest.
  • Botanical Gardens of Asheville—Have your kids hone their observational skills at this free garden, home to over 600 native Appalachian species. The Investigation Passports program allows kids to help identify animals, birds, insects, nature words and, of course, plants.
  • Historical Icons—Take a stroll along Asheville's Urban Trail to learn more about Asheville's unique history and mountain culture; visit the Vance birthplace to see a snapshot of a preserved homestead and learn the history of one of North Carolina's most influential governor's; or tour the Kentucky-style boarding house that once was home to American literary icon, Thomas Wolfe.

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Water Adventures

Splash Around

A family vacation to Asheville wouldn't be complete without a water adventure. Hike to a waterfall, paddle a river, fish a remote stream, or just watch and listen. Refreshing and clear, you will see why the scenic waterways of Western North Carolina are, as many locals believe, sacred and purifying. Oh, and fun! Visit the prized waterfalls of film at DuPont State Forest or wade over age-old wedges of polished rock on the crooked waterways in Panthertown Valley.

From urban to wild Asheville has multiple ways for the family to cool off. Take a ride down Sliding Rock, a 60-foot natural waterslide or splash around Pack Square Park in Splasheville, an interactive water feature in downtown Asheville.

Top 5 creeks to wade, swim and explore:

  1. Little River—Take a dip below one of dozens of waterfalls at DuPont State Forest that are so impressive you'll hardly notice the chill.
  2. Davidson River—Float down in a tube, cast a fly, or dream along this broad watershed of the Pisgah National Forest.
  3. Bent Creek—Hike or cycle to the perfect spot on the creek on this favorite destination just minutes from downtown.
  4. Skinny Dip Falls, Yellowstone Prong of the Big East Fork—A cascading stream with a five star swimming hole and just a short stroll from the Parkway.
  5. Headwaters of the Tuckaseegee River, Panthertown Valley—The creeks, granite domes, and bogs here offer a lifetime of footpaths, streams and waterfalls to explore.
Discover more water adventures near Asheville

General Information Search

Show Mapped Listings
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Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tours

  • 10320 US 19 W
  • Bryson City, NC 28713

Come out to experience Western North Carolina's great adventure of flight lead by the most experienced adventure outfitter in the south, Wildwater and Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tour's. Asheville Zipline Canopy Adventures is their newest and …more

Antique Tobacco Barn

  • 75 Swannanoa River Road
  • Asheville, NC 28805
  • Phone: (828) 252-7291
  • Region: Historic Biltmore Village

There is no place quite like the Antique Tobacco Barn in Asheville. It’s everyone’s favorite eclectic shopping experience and has repeatedly been voted best place to buy antiques in Western North Carolina. Featuring 77,000 square feet of filled up …more

Appalachian Mountain Institute

  • 21 Cherry Ridge Road
  • Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
  • Phone: 828-553-6323

Appalachian Mountain Institute provides you with a fun and exciting outdoor adventure on the cliffs of North Carolina. AMI climbing guides are happy to work with beginning climbers and advanced climbers to provide you with a unique rock climbing …more

Asheville Outdoor Center

  • 521 Amboy Road
  • Asheville, NC 28806
  • Phone: 828-232-1970
  • Region: West

Family-friendly quiet water float trips on the French Broad River through the Biltmore Estate property in Asheville, NC. Canoes, kayaks, rafts, tubes & stand-up paddleboards. Asheville's only riverside gem mining! Bicycle rentals for use on the …more

Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts

  • 70 Court Plaza
  • 4th Floor
  • Asheville, NC 28801
  • Phone: 828-259-5800
  • Region: Downtown

More than 50 parks offering golf, swimming, tennis, skateboarding, roller hockey, climbing wall, nature center, playgrounds, basketball, community centers, ballfields, picnic shelters, trails and much more. …more

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