Top Family-Friendly Fall Activities in Asheville
Fall is one of the best times of year to experience the Asheville area, particularly for families. Crisp mountain air greets the season with loads of festivals, family-friendly activities and one of the longest leaf peeping seasons in the nation. From outdoor experiences and fall hikes to seasonal treats and spooky adventures, there are plenty of kid-friendly fall activities to do in Asheville, North Carolina.
Fall Festivals & Events
Asheville's fall calendar is packed full of harvest celebrations, craft fairs and more. Family favorites include:
- ASAP Farm Tour | Sept. 23 – 24, 2023 – Learn how food is grown and raised in Western North Carolina. Families can experience guided tours, demonstrations, hands-on activities and tastings. Passes are $35 in advance and $45 during the weekend (pending availability).
- Eliada Fall Festival and Corn Maze | Sept. 29 – Oct. 29, 2023; Fridays – Sundays – Enjoy family fun and make memories all while helping local children! One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Eliada Corn Maze goes toward helping the children at Eliada Home. In addition to the corn maze, take a spin on the giant jumping pillow, fire corn canons or go for a tractor ride.
- The Haunted Trail at Adventure Center of Asheville | Oct. 6–7, 13–14, 20–22 & 27–30, 2023 – Experience a family-friendly heart pumping walk with live actors, spooky sounds and spectacular props. Younger ghouls can enjoy the (actor-free) “Sweet Peek Tour” of the Trail at 6:30 p.m. In addition, families can take a climb on the Treetops Adventure Park Aerial Glow Trail, which is illuminated with thousands of colored twinkle and laser lights.
- LEAF Festival | Oct. 19 – 22, 2023 – Explore the #1 kids festival in Western North Carolina! The 50th annual LEAF festival is a spirited celebration of Asheville's local and global communities. This weekend festival is filled with live musical acts, family-friendly activities, arts and crafts, water sports, giant slides and more! Plus, parents can drop off their little ones at the Elfhaven Childcare area to allow time for parents to go and play, too.
Outdoor Fall Adventures
One of best ways for families to experience fall in Asheville is by exploring the great outdoors. Fortunately, there are numerous opportunities to experience nature – all while enjoying Asheville's stunning fall foliage. For families with little ones or novice hikers, there are several easy hiking trails near Asheville, including the Asheville Botanical Gardens, Black Balsam and Pink Beds. Bring your own bikes or rent from a local bike shop and go for a ride at Richmond Hill Park. This newly upgraded park includes a community picnic shelter and restroom facilities, a disc golf course, as well as easy hiking and biking trails.
Immerse yourself in Asheville's fall glory by taking it to the trees. Zipline your way through the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Mountaintop Tour at Navitat Canopy Adventures, a side-by-side experience for ages five and older. Closer to downtown Asheville, the Adventure Center of Asheville offers KidZip, America’s first zipline adventure designed for kids ages 4-10 years old.
Families can also go for a car ride along Asheville's iconic Blue Ridge Parkway – America's favorite drive. There are a ton of overlook areas along the way, providing families easy access to see some of Asheville's incredible fall views! If you want to work in a little more exercise, take a scenic family walk along the Wilma Dykeman Greenway in the River Arts District or go for a stroll around Lake Louise in Weaverville.
Family-friendly Autumn Attractions
There are plenty of things to do in Asheville year-round, but these attractions are especially fun for families to explore during fall:
- LaZoom – Take a ride on Asheville's "Big Purple Bus!" This iconic bus tour combines history, comedy (and a few nuns) for an immersive experience throughout downtown Asheville. Every Saturday in October, LaZoom offers its special Lil Boogers: Halloweenies Tour – a one hour history comedy ride featuring ghoulish figures that are appropriate for the whole family.
- Craggy Mountain Line – Go back in time on a historic train car on the Craggy Mountain Line in Woodfin. Featuring a single train car, families can purchase tickets for the weekly Saturday ride or book a private group experience. In the fall, Craggy Mountain Line offers a special Hayride on the Rails program.
- The North Carolina Arboretum – Located just 15 minutes from downtown, the NC Arboretum provides families with a variety of ways to explore nature. Pick up a free TRACK Trail guide and let the little ones walk on the Natural Garden Trail as they encounter natural wonders and stunning fall foliage along the way. Plus, their giant Quilt Garden serves a great spot to capture family photos.
- Hickory Nut Gap Farm – Take in the majestic scenery of Fairview while enjoying some of Asheville's favorite fall activities at Hickory Nut Gap Farm. Every weekend from September 16 through November 13, Hickory Nut Gap will have local apples, pumpkins and fresh-pressed cider for sale, along with hay and pony rides. Plus, there are three dedicated kid's play areas located across the farm.
- Asheville Museum of Science – Families can incorporate a bit of science and discovery while on their vacation at the Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS). Located in downtown Asheville, children can transform into geologists, manipulate topography in real time, dig for fossils and say hello to their Teratophoneus dinosaur skeleton. On Saturdays, AMOS opens up its STEAM Lab with experiments and projects that correlate with the museum's monthly themes.
Fall Eats & Treats
Nothing says fall like pumpkins, apples and spice. Asheville's food and beverage scene is packed full of fall flavors that will certainly please everyone's palates.
Start your day (and bellies) off right with a delicious breakfast at Biscuit Head in West Asheville or Biltmore Village. Dig into their famous cathead biscuits and cover it with one of their gravies or lather it with their homemade Sweet Potato Chai jam. If you're looking for something sweeter, grab some specialty doughnuts at Vortex downtown or Hole in West Asheville.
Head over to the WNC Farmer's Market to get a full fall experience. Families can purchase local produce, including pumpkins, gourds and apples, as well as specialty jellies, jams and honey. Inside their vendor markets, local artisans sell handmade artwork, jewelry and heirlooms. Afterwards, grab a bite at the Moose Cafe for a true Southern farm-to-table dining experience.
In the afternoon, treat your kiddos to some of Asheville's best ice cream. In the fall, The Hop (located in North Asheville, West Asheville, Black Mountain and downtown) offers several fall-flavors, including: Purple Sweet Potato, Apples & Honey, Apple Butter and Pumpkin. Or, head over to Sugar & Snow Gelato in the River Arts District an indulge in their seasonal pumpkin cheesecake and apple crumble gelato.
Round out your evening with some homemade pizza – and catch a movie, too! Asheville Pizza & Brewing's North Asheville location offers pizza, sandwiches, salads and of course, craft beer. Asheville Brewing is one of Asheville's top family-friendly spots. Families can also grab a bite and catch a flick at their dine-in movie theatre. If you need a larger space for the kids to run, check out Creekside Taphouse in East Asheville. This family-friendly local restaurant has a volleyball court, a kids play area, outdoor seating and shallow creek that runs along the property.
Know Before You Go
For families traveling, it's always important to plan ahead. Check out these inside tips to ensure you have the best fall experience in Asheville:
- Dress in layers – Temperatures can vary throughout the day in Asheville, particularly when you are hiking in higher elevations. Bring extra layers, including a rain jacket, socks and sunscreen.
- Start early – The fall season in Asheville is very busy. Beat the crowds by hitting the trails early. Get to the trailhead by 9 a.m. or earlier. Or, if you want a true fall experience, signed up for a guided sunrise hike with Asheville Adventures.
- Go during the week – Another way to beat the crowds during fall is by visiting during the week. Many local breweries and restaurants also offer weekday-only trivia and game nights, too.
- Visit local parks and playgrounds – Grab a snack and take a break at one of Asheville's parks and playgrounds. There is still plenty of fall foliage to explore nearby and you can avoid larger crowds. Pick up a charcuterie box from South Slope Cheese or visit French Broad Co-op for locally-sourced foods and goodies.