8 Fun Things to Do In Asheville, NC

by | Jan 14, 2019 | North Carolina, Ultimate Guides | 2 comments

For a small town, Asheville has tons of awesome activities. You could easily spend a week exploring Asheville and surrouding areas and still have more to do.

If you’re looking for a vacation spot that has outdoor activities and city fun, you’ll love Asheville.

If you want a little tour of Downtown Asheville, you can watch the video below!

Without further ado, here 8 things to do in Asheville, NC.

Cityscape of Asheville

 

1. Explore Downtown

Downtown Asheville is beautiful.

It is comprised of a mixture of old brick buildings and new construction.

The city contains boutiques, gift shops, galleries, (amazing) restaurants, coffee shops, and bars.

Most of the restaurants we ate at in Asheville used some locally sourced ingredients, many of which were organic.

Some shops sell organic and ethically sourced clothing.

And, the coffee shops had a hipster vibe, to say the least.

We even went into one bar (On Top of the Monk) that didn’t use products (except for liquor). They made their own bitters, syrups, and everything else.

Downtown Asheville is cute and quirky.

With tons of great restaurants, shops, and bars, you’ll be able to spend quite a bit of time there.

Overall Rating

This is a must while you’re in Asheville! This is always one of my favorite parts about visiting a new city. You get to view all of the gorgeous buildings, try the local restaurants, and check out the small businesses. Asheville has a great collection of locally owned shops and restaurants, which makes it a fun city to visit and explore because you know you’re experiencing something that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

Details for Visiting

Hours:

Since shops, restaurants, and bars only remain open for so long, I’d definitely recommend going in the afternoon or evening. At the moment (December 2020), it looks like most bars are closing around 9 PM, which could be due to the pandemic.

Suggested Duration:

This depends on how much you enjoy viewing neat architecture and touring local shops. Personally, I would recommend walking around for 2-3 hours for 2-3 days to really get a chance to enjoy everything. 

 

Image of the the Biltmore Estate from the Lawn

2. Visit the Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate is a famous house with a lot of history located in Asheville.

If you love grandeur, you’ll swoon as you walk through its undeniably luxurious rooms.

I didn’t visit the Biltmore Estate while in Asheville, although I wish I had.

However, we didn’t plan very far in advance and purchasing tickets within a week of visiting is incredibly expensive ($60), so we scrapped that idea and explored experiences that were friendlier to tighter budgets.

If you plan your trip in advance, definitely book tickets to see the estate in advance, as well.

Adult tickets are expensive; the cheapest ones I can find cost $45.

You can check ticket prices here.

Pro Tip: If you rent a house through Carolina Mornings, you can get one free ticket to the Biltmore Estate. (Just make sure you read the fine print!)

Your ticket to the Biltmore Estate includes a self-guided tour through the estate and gardens. Plus, you can enjoy complimentary wine tasting and free parking.

This attraction is the #1 thing to do in Asheville according to Trip Advisor, so it’s safe to say that this is definitely a must see!

And, honestly, I’m super bummed that I didn’t go! I’m going need to plan another trip to Asheville! 

 

Overall Rating

Overall, I would say that this attraction is a big hit with visitors. It has been rated as the #1 thing to do in Asheville on Trip Advisor. It seems like the main draw back is the price of admission.

Details for Visiting

Hours of Oporation:

Admission – 8:30 AM – 8:45 PM. For other hours, please check here.

Suggested Duration:

Biltmore suggests allowing 6-8 hours to enjoy all that your ticket gives access to. But, you could complete a self-guided tour of the home between 1.5 and 2 hours.

 

3. Browse Local Art

Like I said, Downtown Asheville has a lot of great galleries and shops that sell local artists’ work.

If you’re not that into art, there are plenty of hand-made goods (by artists) that provide more functionality.

For example, there were clay dishes and cups sold at one shop.

Another even had some gorgeous jewelry.

There are a lot of options, and you might just find the perfect souvenir to remember your trip by!

If you’re interested in finding the best galleries in the city, you can find them here!

Overall Rating

Local art is always fun to view. And, if you have a collection of art at home from all of the various places you’ve traveled, then you definitely won’t want to miss this.

But, if you’re not into art that you hang on the wall, there are still plenty of artisians that create hand-made goods that make awesome souveniers.

Details for Visiting

Hours of Oporation:

Various. Make sure you check the hours of local art galleries.

Suggested Duration:

This depends on how much you love art. If you enjoy it greatly, you could probably spend the better part of an afternoon (3-4 hours) looking through different galleries. However, if you’re a more modest art enjoyer, you might only need 1-2 hours.

 

4. Enjoy Some Coffee from Local Coffee Shops

Asheville has a lot of interesting coffee shops.

While the atmosphere can be similar to your typical Starbucks, the coffee is anything but typical.

With creative coffee concoctions, each shop has unique drinks to offer adventurous guests.

If you’re interested in enjoying a dessert with your coffee, definitely try Old Europe. They have an entire case of beautiful pastries and desserts. Plus, they’re open until 11 pm, while many of the other coffee shops close way earlier.

If you’re interested in trying something new, High Five offers a drink called the Diablo. I can’t remember everything that’s in it, but it sounded a little spicy!

They also offer some sandwiches and snacks that looked delicious.

Aside from good coffee and food, High Five has a unique culture and relaxing atmosphere that sets it apart from some of the other coffee shops around town.

Flight of Beers in Asheville

5. Sample the Local Beers and tour breweries

Whenever you visit a new place, it’s always a great idea to sample the local beers.

In Asheville, you will find some amazing locally brewed beers.

When I was in Asheville, I wasn’t much of a beer drinker, so I didn’t try many myself. But, it was one of the highlights of the others that I was with. And, now that I do enjoy beer, I want to go back so that I can enjoy that aspect of the experience.

Most restaurants and bars have a selection of local beers. But, if you’re interested, there are a number of breweries downtown.

There’s Wicked Weed Brewing Pub, which has a tasting room and also serves food. (You’ll find that most bars serve food in Asheville due to certain laws in the area.)

Highland Brewing Company offers free tours of their facilities, which is nice. And, I bet you can sample some beers while you’re there. 😉 (They just might not be free…)

Update: As of December 2020, Highland Brewing Company is still closed due to the pandemic. Check to see if it’s reopened before visiting.

There’s a plethora of other brewing companies in Asheville, and I couldn’t possibly mention them all here.

Click here to view a complete list of breweries in Asheville.

Overall Rating

What’s not to love about beer?

Of course, my love of beer is a recent revelation. So, I can’t speak to the beer produced in Asheville. BUT. My husband loved the beers he had while he was there, so I feel comfortable rating this highly. Granted, there are only so many breweries tours one can take…so pick one that looks best to you!

Details for Visiting

Hours of Oporation:

Various. Usually open late morning or at noon. Note that many breweries are closed due to the pandemic, so Google to see if they’re open before you go.

Suggested Duration:

I think there’s only so many brewery tours you can take. For me, it’s one. So, I’d recommend carving out 30 minutes to an hour for the tour and tasting.

For just trying local beers, that’s easy enough to do during meals. But, if you’d like, you can always carve out a little extra time in the afternoon/evening to stop by a bar for a flight.

 

People Riding a Ski Lift Up the Mountain

6. Ski

Now, in order to ski, you do have to go outside of Asheville itself. But, you don’t have to go too far.

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is about 30 minutes away from Asheville.

We went in early January, and unfortunately Wolf Ridge Ski Resort was closed due to there not being enough snow. So, I can’t tell you anything about their facilities or slopes.

Instead, we drove an hour and a half to Sugar Mountain.

The drive wasn’t that bad. Plus, it was awfully pretty.

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort is an incredibly popular ski resort in North Carolina.

And, if you’ve skied before, you’ll likely enjoy yourself.

Personally, there were a few things I really disliked about this ski resort.

If you want to know everything I disliked about Sugar Mountain, you can read it in the pink box below. If you don’t care, you can just skip over it.

Now, if Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is closed, expect longer lines for ski lifts at Sugar Mountain just because they’re busier.

Anyone who was planning on going to Wolf Ridge will likely be there instead.

Lastly, I want to mention that you have the option to rent a helmet for $10. That $10 will start to feel like a lot when you’re looking at how much 4 hours of skiing is going to cost you.

MAKE SURE YOU RENT A HELMET.

I know, all caps feels a little excessive, but it’s not. This is super serious.

There are rocks on at least one of the slopes (the double black diamond). I’m not sure about any of the others, as many of them were closed. 

My husband’s helmet undoubtedly saved his life when he was coming down the double black diamond on his snowboard. He hit his head on a sharp rock when he fell and broke his helmet.

So, rent the helmet. Don’t think that the snow is going to be a coushin.

Everything Wrong with Sugar Mountain

The bunny hill is almost entirely taken up by their classes, which is ridiculous. Perhaps that is what all ski resorts do, but its asinine. They essentially force new skiers who aren’t taking the class to all ski through this tiny gap. It was awful.

So, if you can skip the bunny hill, you’ll be better for it. However, if it’s your first time, definitely try the bunny hill first!

Also, they don’t start selling half day ski lift passes until 12 pm. Which would be fine, if there weren’t so many damn lines that you have to wait in to get all of your shit.

It took me over an hour to get my ski lift pass, skis, poles, boots, and helmet. And, there was a separate line for each and little to no direction.

Since I’d never been skiing before, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I didn’t know which lines to get in when.

That pass that was good for 4 hours was only good for 3 by the time I got all of my shit. So, you’ll need to get in line super early if you want to get all 4 hours of your hours.

Needless to say, it really rubbed me the wrong way.

I have some serious suggestions for ways they can improve and streamline that process.

But, I digress.

Also, keep in mind that they do not rent eye protection or bibs. So, wear water proof pants, and if you don’t have any, you’ll need to buy them.

You can wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind, but honestly, after one of my friends took a brutal fall, having some sort of goggles to protect your eyes from skis wouldn’t be a bad idea. (His eyes are fine, by the way, but his forehead took a beating, and the point of contact was disturbingly close to his eyes. And, I don’t think sunglasses would have helped had the ski hit him a bit lower…)

Overall Rating

Personally, I’m going to give skiing a middle of the road score. It was fun to try, but I didn’t have fun. If I had been able to invest in training, it might have been better, and because of that, I’m open to trying it again. Even still, the experience at Sugar Mountain was just below my expectations. It’s possible that Wolf Ridge Ski Resort would have been better.

If you already love skiing, you’ll definitely want to add this to your list. If you’ve never been before, I’d recommend only going if you can afford the classes, as well.

Details for Visiting

Hours of Oporation:

Wolf Ridge Resort – Lift Runs from 9 AM to 4:30 PM and 6 PM – 10 PM with a night pass.

Suggested Duration:

This really depends on you and how much you like skiing or want to learn how to ski. Half a day was more than enough for my first visit. But, if you’re dedicated to learning to ski, you’ll likely want 2-3 full days of ski passes.

 

Forest Near Asheville

7. Go On a Hike

There are plenty of great hikes around Asheville.

Of course, the hike we ended up going on wasn’t one of them. 😂

I’m pretty sure we ended up on the wrong trail because it was longer than it was supposed to be.

And, because we were racing the sun, we weren’t able to make it to the top to get that great view, assuming there was a top…

Either way, the hike was certainly an adventure!

It was muddy and the path was narrow, giving way to a steep slope on one side.

Okay, back to business.

Here are some cool looking hikes you should consider trying:

  • Craven Gap Trail
  • Hard Times Trailhead
  • Hominy Creek Trail
  • Rice Pinnacle Trailhead

Overall Rating

Hiking is fun, and there are different difficulty levels for novices to avid hikers. It also allows you to get out in nature and see something different from what you get to experience in your own backyard.

Details for Visiting

Hours of Oporation:

Trails are typically open from dawn til dusk, but if they’re in a national park or state park, there may be more specific hours. Also, some portions of national and state parks are closed certain days of the week, so make sure you check.

Suggested Duration:

Since this varies so greatly for earch hike, always check the suggested duration for each individual trail.

 

8. Eat, Eat, and Eat Some More

If you’re trying to plan a budget-friendly trip to Asheville, chances are you’re planning to cook some meals at your cabin, and I totally get it. We did that on our trip!

But, I urge you to explore some of the absolutely incredible restaurants the line the streets of downtown Asheville.

There are some seriously good places to eat.

Some of my favorites include

A lot of restaurants in downtown Asheville use local ingredients and responsibly sourced protien (e.g. free range chicken), which is really commendable. Of course, the price does reflect these upscale ingredients.

Another thing you’ll find is that most of the restuarants offer decent vegetarian and vegan options.

And, if you feel like indulging in some desert after your meal, make sure you check out the Chocolate Lounge. We walked by it at n inopportune time of day, otherwise you best know I would have stopped in for a sweet treat.

Overall Rating

We didn’t have a bad meal while in Asheville! I think my only complaint would have been the price. We were on a pretty tight budget for that trip, which made trying all of the incredible restaurants difficult.

Details for Visiting

Hours of Oporation:

Varies by location, but from what I can tell, most restaurants in Asheville close between 8 PM and 10 PM. Keep in mind that many restaurants are not open everyday of the week either.

 

 

Conclusion – Best Things to Do in Asheville, NC

There’s a lot of fun things to do in and around Asheville, NC.

We had a great time, and I’d highly recommend that you visit.

Just to recap, here are those 8 awesome things to do in Asheville:

  • Explore Downtown
  • Visit the Biltmore Estate
  • Browse Local Art
  • Enjoy Some Coffee
  • Sample the Local Beers
  • Ski
  • Go on a Hike
  • Eat, Eat, and Eat Some More!

I hope that you found this list helpful.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!

Don’t forget to watch a short walking tour of Asheville. It’s like a little sneak peak!

You can view it here.

Talk soon!

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Jennifer in Front the Bridge of Sighs in the Rain

Meet Jennifer

My goal is to help you have more life enriching experiences through travel! To achieve that, I'm sharing complete destination guides, hidden gems, and trip budgeting advice.

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