The team at Explore Asheville welcomes you! Here are some of our favorite ways to spend our free time. We hope this inspires you to explore our awesome city.
"As a former Floridian who moved to Asheville 2004, I have fallen in love with the mountains and consider myself a “waterfall-aholic.” Seriously enjoy getting out on hiking trails and finding new falls or revisiting favorites. One that is easily accessible and located just outside of Asheville in Old Fort is Catawba Falls. It’s an easy 1.5 mile walk along the Catawba River to get there, and you return the same way for a total of 3 miles. Take a snack or lunch in a backpack and find a spot along the river or at the waterfall to relax and have lunch. There are also lots of little side trails to take where you will find unexpected scenic treats, like the one in the photo from January of my husband and me. Bonus: there are restrooms at the trailhead and Google Maps will take you right to the gravel parking lot, and you won’t need a map on this easy to follow, out-and-back trail. Have fun!!"
"One of my favorite weekend options is enjoying spectacular mountain views and a cocktail with friends. Downtown Asheville has four rooftop bars, and it’s only a mile between the first and last stops. Start on the east side at Pillar atop the Hilton Garden Inn. It’s a 9 minute walk to your second stop, Capella at the AC Hotel. Third on the route is Hemingways at Cambria Hotel, and the end of the line is The Montford at the Hyatt Place hotel. It’s super easy to walk the entire route and so much fun to hear the buskers (street musicians). For a bonus view, stop in at the Skybar – a three level enlarged fire escape with sunset views of Mount Pisgah."
"I live in Black Mountain, and I love to spend my free time hiking with my family in nearby Montreat. We enjoy hiking Lookout Mountain for great views. Lookout Trail is a 1.5 mile round-trip moderately difficult hike that is mostly uphill and can be somewhat steep near the end of the trail, but the payoff is an awesome long range view. For a quiet, less strenuous hike, try the kid-friendly Harry Bryan Loop trail. Both trails can be located using the AllTrails app.
I also enjoy shopping on Cherry and State Streets in the heart of Black Mountain. My favorite store is Mountain Nest, a gallery of local art and hand crafts with work from over 100 local artisans. Start your morning with coffee from the Dripolator. Head down State St. and take a right on Cherry. Make your way down Cherry, being sure to check out Bad Craft, Spice It Up, Bone-a-Fide Bakery and Chifferobe. Cross Sutton to visit Old Depot Arts & Crafts. Check out vintage items at Design Driven before heading back up the other side of Cherry St. Our favorite spot for lunch is Veranda Café, about halfway up Cherry. Don’t miss Seven Sisters Gallery. When you intersect State Street, turn right and check out Town Hardware. Take a break across the street at the Town Square for a photo op with the big rocking chairs. Foodies will want to check out Common Housefly and grab an afternoon snack at Hey Hey Cupcake. Enjoy your day exploring Black Mountain!"
“I highly suggest you come early and enjoy a taste of Asheville – literally! One favorite amongst our visiting friends is to do a guided production tour of Highland Brewing, Asheville’s original craft beer maker. With tours available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Brewery, there’s no reason not to partake. And after the tour, ease into the local scene at the Taproom, hanging out with new friends while listening to live music. Food trucks are usually on-site. My personal favorite beers include the Gaelic Ale and the Highland Pilsner. But don’t let that influence you---you have a wide expanse of year-round beers, seasonal selections and limited editions to choose from. Enjoy! "
"Asheville is known for its brewery scene, however for those that love wine, Asheville has you covered as well! A few of my favorite wine bars include:
• 5 Walnut, located downtown on Walnut street has expansive windows that open to downtown. If you’re lucky you can grab one of the best seats in the house and sip vino and people watch for hours. If you’re here later in the evenings, you’ll find lively bands and lots of people dancing! They have excellent snacks and nibbles.
• Battery Park Book Exchange, is also located downtown in the Grove Arcade. It’s charming and as a bonus, dog friendly! It’s the perfect place to regroup after a busy day and cozy up on a couch and take in their expansive book collection. You can get lost for hours sipping wine and reading. It’s also great for small groups to gather as they ample group seating all around in nooks and crannies
• Finally, is Bottle Riot, located in the River Arts District. They have a great wine list, with pricing for every budget and the staff is always willing to lend a hand in your selection. Their small bites are delicious, especially their charcutier board and they even have macrons from a nearby bakery. If you’re hungrier than small bites, you can usually find one of Asheville’s tasty food trucks outside for an extra treat."
"We recommend driving north on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Craggy Gardens for scenic vistas and great hiking. This short mile-high hike offers huge rewards. It's only a 1.4-mile round-trip hike to the top of the 5,892-ft. summit, Craggy Pinnacle at Craggy Gardens. The exceptional panoramic 360-degree views are hard to beat in Western North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. The hiking trail goes through tunnels of rhododendron, gnarled sweet birch trees and wildflowers. Near the top, there are side trails to explore. To get to the trailhead from the Craggy Gardens Visitor's Center, drive north through a short tunnel and pull into the next parking area on the left for the trail. Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 364.1, it's free to visit. Plus, it's a great spot to watch the sunrise or sunset. If you watch the sunset, be sure to take a flashlight to help you get back to your car. From Asheville, take the Blue Ridge Parkway north 18 miles past the Folk Art Center. Pass the road to the picnic area, and after about 3 miles park at the Visitor Center. The trail starts on the left side of the parking lot behind the rock wall. "
"As a mom of a three year old who is always ready to "go somewhere", we often find ourselves heading out with no specific plan, but also no doubt we will land somewhere that entertains everyone. One of our favorite weekend whims is Biltmore. We have season passes and my daughter loves it. Our first stop is usually the farmyard where we can hang out with chickens, goats, horses, sheep and more. I must admit I love petting the friendly rooster. Antler Hill Village is just steps away with room to run around, interesting exhibits, ice cream and most importantly, wine. Another fun must-see for the whole family is downtown. My daughter loves to run around Pack Square Park where she can dance on the stage and climb on the bronze pig sculptures that are a part of Asheville's Urban Trail, a self-guided walking tour of the city's history. This, plus stopping in cool shops like Malaprop's Bookstore and enjoying street musicians, can keep us busy downtown for hours. We've also found ourselves on a Sunday morning enjoying the awesome graffiti art at Foundation Walls, located at 339 Old Lyman Street, in the River Arts District. Summit Coffee is a great stop in this area for moms and dads complete with almond butter and banana toast and high chairs for the kiddos."
"My family loves to spend an afternoon at Bent Creek, an experimental portion of the Pisgah National Forest that offers varying levels of hiking and biking trails close to downtown. It also houses The North Carolina Arboretum, which is where my husband and I got married, and the Lake Powhatan recreation area. Bent Creek’s trail system is open to the public with nearby first-come, first-serve roadside parking while the Arboretum has a defined parking area ($14/car) and several top-notch indoor and outdoor botanical exhibits and special events. This entire area of protected land is a great way to get outside and enjoy Asheville’s rich biodiversity. After our Bent Creek/Arboretum visits, we like to unwind with food and drinks at Sierra Nevada Taproom, just a few miles further."
"Experiencing the River Arts District is a must-see when visiting Asheville. Spend an afternoon in the south end of the district known as the Foundy area starting with a delicious lunch at the infamous 12 Bones BBQ (open on weekdays only). Afterward wander through artist studios in the graffiti-covered buildings or in the neighboring Riverview Station. You may meet artists at work who are often happy to share their process with you. Finish off your visit with a beer at the Wedge, wine at pleb urban winery or a coffee at Summit Coffee. If you prefer a guided experience, schedule a personalized tour with Art Connections with Sherry Masters or the Asheville Art Studio Tours."
"Have you ever felt really connected to your surroundings? Like you were drawn to a place and not sure why? That is how I feel about Asheville. Here are a couple of my favorite things to do on a weekend: Driving through the mountains. I love getting in the car, filling the tank up and then just picking a destination on the map of Western North Carolina. The beautiful mountains and luscious rolling greenery can be seen in any direction. There are also little creeks alongside country roads where you will find little, beautiful waterfalls. Enjoying the journey makes the destination that much sweeter! After a drive around the mountains, I come back and have lunch at Cornerstone Restaurant (great Burgers), Biscuit Head (just YUM) or one of the hundreds of amazing restaurants around Asheville. THIS recharges my batteries. I cannot get enough of all the vast openness and beauty of our Asheville, that we get to call home."
"The Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Room is by far one of my favorite places in Asheville, especially on a cold or rainy day. This lovely spot is stocked to the brim with used books covering a wide variety of categories. They purchase all of the books from their customers so the selection is constantly changing and an easy way to support a green initiative! I like to peruse for a while, purchase my selected book and then sit down in one of their cozy nooks with a glass of champagne. They also have an extensive wine list, specialty coffees and small bites (I recommend the cheese board). I love the fact that this place is perfect for a date night, girls night or solo relaxation time!
P.S. Before you go, make sure you explore the rest of the Grove Arcade – an absolute architectural gem – filled with locally-owned shops and eateries."
"From the moment you pass through the intriguingly beautiful entrance gate to Biltmore, you know you’re in for a treat. Biltmore is an iconic Asheville experience that shouldn’t be missed. Biltmore was one of the first places I visited in Asheville after moving here from Kansas five years ago. As many times as I’ve taken the self-guided and guided tours of Biltmore House, the intricate detail continues to surprise me. With every visit, my eye catches something new. And, the mountain view from Biltmore never gets old.
What I love most about Biltmore is how the Estate grounds seemingly transform from season to season. Spring is one of my favorite times to visit as hundreds of thousands of flowers bring new life to the gardens and walking trails. Strolling through the Walled Garden is a special feast for the senses. As a photographer, I look forward to the opportunity to explore the brilliant tulips, daffodils, roses, azaleas and other blooms that are part of the meticulously manicured display. A prominent fixture of the garden is the Conservatory, a large greenhouse that offers even more delicate blooms to celebrate. For a truly magical view of Biltmore, visit the Lagoon, found on the Estate between the House and Antler Hill Village. Before you leave the Estate, don’t forget the free wine tasting at Biltmore Winery that comes with your ticket!"
"If you are lucky enough to be able to stay over for the weekend, I love to hit the auction every Friday night. Tuten & Penland Auctions is an absolute, live auction just east of Asheville. It is a fourth generation, family owned business. You can preview during the week 8am-4pm and auction starts promptly at 6pm on Friday. 301 Patton Cove Rd. Good luck!
Gus loves wading through waterfalls and recommends the 150 ft. High Falls on the Three Waterfalls Hike at Dupont State Forest for its dramatic scenery and access to wading. The landscape is accessible for moderately fit people and doesn’t require any heavy-duty hiking gear or shoes. Dupont is located less than an hour from Asheville between Hendersonville and Brevard, and this easy-to-moderate three-mile round-trip hike (with one steep 120’ incline) will take you to three beautiful waterfalls: Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls! Directions and details can be found by clicking on the link.
Gus recommends ending your hiking day with a cold brew from one of Asheville’s 50 craft breweries where you can hang with the locals and their furry friends.
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