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Nestled along the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina is a bastion of art, craft beer, and beautiful scenery. Consistently ranked as a top destination for residents and visitors alike, Asheville is convenient, friendly, and a ton of fun! In the event that you find yourself in the area, here are 10 Things to do in Asheville to put on your “must do” list.
10 Things to do in Asheville NC
Visit the Biltmore Estate
At the very top of 10 Things to do in Asheville NC, is a visit to the Biltmore Estate. Built by the Vanderbilts in the late 1800s, Biltmore is currently the largest home in America. Yes, that’s right – the LARGEST home in the entire United States!
Visitors can take a tour of the Biltmore Estate, attend a wine tasting at the winery, wander the extensive grounds, and visit the greenhouse. It’s a lovely visit back to another time and on a gorgeous day you could spend all day wandering and enjoying the beautifully manicured estate.
Check out the Craft Brewery Scene
Even if you don’t consider yourself a beer drinker, you must check out the beer scene. Boasting more craft breweries per capita than any other American city (there are 21!), there is literally a beer for everyone regardless of your tastes. Some of my personal favorites are Wicked Weed Brewing in downtown, Wedge Brewery on the French Broad River, and Urban Orchard Cider Company just outside of downtown.
Drive Along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Open 3 seasons of the year (check online for openings and closings), the Blue Ridge Parkway is legendary for it’s glorious mountain vistas. Located just outside of Asheville proper, you can drive along the Parkway for 4 miles or 400 miles.
Pisgah Forest, part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, is home to Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock, two very popular water areas for locals and tourists alike.
Sliding Rock is like a huge water slide, except for that it is a natural attraction. My family has played on this “sliding rock” for decades. Each year, I watch in astonishment as my daughter and my cousin’s kids take a slide down this infamous rock. Thankfully, no one has ever been hurt! When I was a child, we simply had a bathroom there, with a string to guide us up the slow, steep climb. Now there are railings, a deck, and lifeguards! It costs about $1 a person to enter the attraction, and is open seasonally, sunrise to sunset.
Pro tip: After playing in Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock or the nearby River, stop at Dolly’s Ice Cream on the way out! It’s a local favorite!
With plenty of overlooks to pull over and take it all in, you’re guaranteed to leave with some amazing photos.
10 Things to do in Asheville NC
Visit the Thomas Wolfe Memorial
Acclaimed author Thomas Wolfe called Asheville home and wrote about his experiences in his autobiographical novel, “Look Homeward, Angel.” The boarding house that his mother maintained and that was the primary setting for the novel is preserved and has daily tours from Tuesdays through Saturdays. As a literary geek, I just love living history and a quick visit to this site definitely fits that bill. The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is a definite on this list of 10 Things to do in Asheville, NC.
Battery Park Book Exchange
This bookstore is the stuff of dreams. Filled to the brim with books both common and rare, secret reading nooks and rooms abound, and with arguably the best espresso in town; I could seriously live there.
My desire to move in is aided by the fact that the Book Exchange also has a Champagne Bar inside. That’s right, folks. You can switch straight from coffee to Champagne without missing a beat. It goes without saying that this lovely –and dog friendly—spot is a must stop for me every time I’m in Asheville.
Catch a show at The Orange Peel
In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine recognized The Orange Peel as one of the top 5 venues in the country. Artists and concertgoers alike appreciate the intimate setting and with the active list of shows coming to town, chances are that you’ll be able to catch a show while you’re in town.
Visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center
Spread out over 42 acres, the Nature Center highlights plants and animals that are found in the Southern Appalachians. The focus is on education and conservation, so this is definitely more learning center rather than zoo. With animals ranging from black bears, cougars, and wolves, to the smallest reptile indigenous to this area, there is a ton to see at the Nature Center.
Feeling adventurous? The mountainous terrain makes Asheville the perfect ziplining destination. There are several companies that offer ziplining services and all have received pretty great reviews. I’ve been ziplining in several different countries and there is something so majestic about zipping through the Smokies.
Stay at a Bed & Breakfast
The historic Montford district adjacent to downtown Asheville has dozens of B&Bs to choose from. With wine happy hours and decadent breakfasts, I’m halfway tempted to stay in a B&B just for the pleasure of having someone else make my breakfast even though I live nearby! I’ve also found that the downstairs parlor is a great place to get tips from other guests on what to do and where to go.
Wander around Downtown
Asheville has an incredibly vibrant downtown area that is very walkable. Not sure where to eat for dinner? Just start walking and in no time, you’ll pass Indian, Israeli, Japanese, French, Italian, Southern, Thai, and Napalese cuisine. There are bars and brew pubs abound and street performers on every corner as you wander from one to the next. Around these parts, “downtown” is a perfectly acceptable destination.
I hope that this list gives you some ideas for planning your next visit to our lovely corner of the world. If anyone’s been to the area, is there anything that you would add to this 10 Things to do in Asheville list? I’d love to hear it.