12 Family-Friendly Ways to Enjoy Winter in Asheville
There’s plenty to do for the whole crew, indoors or out
With more than 30 pinball machines and over a dozen classic video games in the “Arcave,” there’s enough nostalgic button pushing at the Asheville Pinball Museum to entertain the whole family for hours… and to keep them from pushing your buttons.
From mid-November to early January, kids ages nine to 99 will delight in the whimsical designs submitted for The National Gingerbread House Competition at The Omni Grove Park Inn. Entries are on display Sunday through Thursday during the event. After all that looking but no touching, kids can satisfy sweet tooths with a hands-on treat from the Pink Pig, while parents caffeinate at the connected Marketplace.
Little ones can channel their inner Isaac Newtons at the Asheville Museum of Science. The museum opened in November 2016. Be a geologist in the Colburn Hall of Minerals or dig for fossils and see the Teratophoneus dinosaur skeleton.
With Cataloochee Ski Area and Wolf Ridge Ski Resort just minutes from Asheville, you have all of the downhill, snow-filled winter fun you could want right at your gloved fingertips. The HEAD Kids Adventure Center at Cataloochee offers half- and full-day programs for skiers and riders ages 4-12. Both ski resorts have their own snow tubing areas offering family fun for all!
Don’t be fooled by the mountainous locale -- Asheville has its share of mild winter weather with plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun sans snow. Check out this list of favorite winter hikes, or for something closer to town with a little more of an adrenaline rush, the Adventure Center of Asheville is open all winter on weekends, so you can climb, bike, and zip all year long.
All aboard certainly won’t be bored on Asheville’s historic Gray Line Trolley Tours. Even locals learn a thing or two about their hometown on this fun and informative tour of the city, which includes 10 hop-on/hop-off stops. Running all winter long -- Thursday through Saturday in January and February -- the cars are enclosed and heated for your comfort.
From November through New Years, three acres of the North Carolina Arboretum gardens sparkle and twinkle with the “Winter Lights” exhibit, which has become a favorite local holiday tradition. The nightly walking tours feature animated displays that light up to the sounds of holiday music, as well as family-friendly activities found throughout the garden, like DIY s’mores stations. Check out the Arboretum's exhibit area to see fun and informative displays that will intrigue both kids and parents.
Eats + Treats
All of that family fun burns off a lot of energy. Warm up and refuel at one of these winter hot spots. The hot cocoa at French Broad Chocolates was named one of the best hot chocolates by Travel + Leisure magazine. The Hop’s hot chocolate float offers the best of both the cocoa and ice cream worlds all in one satisfying cup. Grown-ups can kick it up a notch with the espresso float.
If you’re ready to take a load off, but the kids are still bouncing off the walls, line their pockets with tokens and set them loose in Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company’s arcade. Kids will love the games, you will love sipping their handcrafted microbrews such as the award-winning Ninja Porter and Shiva IPA, and everyone will love the pizza. Win, win, and win again.
Ski photo courtesy of Cataloochee Ski Area; gingerbread house photo courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn; espresso float photo courtesy of The Hop Ice Cream Shop.