Asheville is a hip and up-and-coming small town in western North Carolina that is packed with breweries, hikes in the mountains, history, and food. Once a blip on the radar, this thriving city has won the hearts of many with its food, art, and hipster vibe. Whether it’s a week or a weekend, the option for fun things to do in Asheville is limitless.
Visit The Biltmore Estate
Pro Tip: Parking lots A and B are not handicap accessible, if a member of your party needs a shuttle around the estate make sure you do not park in Lot A or B.
George Vanderbilt’s historic Biltmore Estate is an 8,000 acre oasis named after his ancestral origins in De Bilt, Netherlands and “mor”, the Anglo Saxon word for rolling land. It’s a gorgeous property worth spending the day, or even a weekend exploring, the gardens and trails, house, farm, winery, and shopping.
The Biltmore gardens are an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with 95 acres of gardens and trails. The conservatory is a beautifully curated greenhouse with plants from a variety of climates and countries, an orchid room, and miniature train. After a walk through the gardens, enjoy the mountainous backdrop with a walk, hike, or bike through one of the 8 pet-friendly trails.
- Historic Gardens–An easy 1-2 mile winding path through seasonal blooms, the shrub garden, walled garden, and Italian garden
- Azalea Garden–An easy paved path through the historic gardens, Bass Pond Waterfall, and boathouse.
- Lagoon Trail – A 3-mile hike with views of the Biltmore house, the French Broad River, and the estate’s farm.
- Farm Trail – a 6 mile trail around the perimeter of the house; you can tack on an extra 3.5 miles by adding the Arbor Trail which includes a view of the cottages.
- Westover Trails– Hilly, but scenic 1.7 – 2.8 mile trail depending on the route you choose.
- Deerpark Trail A challenging uphill hike that leads to panoramic views of the Biltmore house.
Admission starts at $55 and grants you access to the Antler Village, winery, gardens, and parking.
Tour the 178,926 square foot, 43 bedroom vacation home and get a glimpse of life in the early 1900s. The details of the architecture are stunning and it’s interesting to see what everyday items like gym equipment, laundry rooms, and pantries looked like a hundred years ago.
Admission to the house starts at $76 and includes everything in the gardens’ admissions or purchase the upgraded ticket for a guided tour and access to rooms not included in the regular tour.
Mid-Century and Antique Shopping
Modern Boho is the new home decor trend, or as someone once put it, decorate like your grandma. I am all for this new trend because it means resale and sustainability shopping!
- Regeneration Station is the number one stop for mid-century consignment, reclaimed wood, and one of kind treasures from who knows where.
- Stop at the Antiques At Riverview Station in the River Arts District for antique trinket to decorate the home.
- The husband and wife duo at Atomic Furnishing & Design searches high and low for original 1950s and 60s furniture to restore to their former glory.
- Screen Door is a mid-century modern home furnishing store with over 100 vendors selling antique treasures.
River Arts District
Asheville’s River Arts Districts is the sole attraction that would make me pack my bags and move there in a heartbeat. Just perusing the variety of photographers, painters, and potters is worth making a day out of it, but the art is beautiful, affordable, and will make you wish you had brought bigger luggage. Every artist deserves a stop and art is subjective, but here a few of the artist that caught my eye.
- Steve Trehub uses a beautiful style of HDR photography that appears 3D by accentuating the texture in the image which makes you appreciate the details of the image.
- Walter Arnold photographs abandoned places and gives new life to the forgotten places of the world.
- Susanna Euston is a landscape photographer who has captured the beauty of Asheville’s outdoors and brought them indoors to display. Her photography reminded me so much of my own, so if you love my work you’ll probably love hers too!
- Akira Satake Ceramics is an award-winning Japanese artist with a wide selection of Japanese wood-fired pottery you won’t find anywhere else.
- Daniel Coffey is trained Bonsai artist with a stunning collection of the traditional Japanese trees. He also offers classes and workshops for maintaining your bonsai.
- Vivian Saich makes elegant teal and ivory flower pots, dishes, and decor that will leave you speechless with their elegant details.
Ceramics and Pottery
- Tabula Rasa by Reiko Miyagi is a black and white Japanese style pottery often painted in a fairy tale vibe with plants and animals.
- Mary Mikkelsen & Henry Pope create functional Japanese inspired, earth tone pottery often decorated with Koi fish or cardinals.
- BlueFire MacMahon Creations is a self described soul art of abstract interpretations of mostly owls and birds – so naturally I’m in love.
Drive The Blue Ridge Parkway
There is no shortage of mountains and hiking trails around Asheville, but driving the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway through the Smoky Mountains is a must, especially for people with mobility concerns. The Blueridge Parkway is 615 miles of winding roads through the Appalachian Mountains beginning in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and ending at Shenandoah National Park. I never tire of waterfalls and this trip was all about finding waterfalls (when is it not?) for all skill levels.
West Of Asheville
- The North Carolina Arboretum is a beautiful garden with wildlife sculptures and rotating art exhibits to keep you coming back for more.
- Enjoy 360 views from the top of Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower.
- Hike the easy 1 mile round-trip trail to Skinny Dip Falls.
- Hike the 3.5 mile Graveyard Fields Trail for a challenging hike and more waterfalls.
- Upper Sunburst Falls is accessible from the road and the short trail to the lower falls is a magnificent view of the falls cascading under the picturesque 1930s stone bridge.
- Little Bird Falls is visible from the road or you can take a short half-mile trail to see the gorgeous waterfall flowing over moss-covered rocks.
- Another waterfall accessible from the road is Soco Falls, a steep but short hike to view the falls or hike a half mile out and back to see the falls in their full glory.
East Of Asheville
- Visit the historic Grovewood Village for nature themed craftsmanship and a museum for rare and classic cars.
- The Craggy Gardens begins at the visitor center and is a moderately difficult 2 mile mile hike ending with 360 degree panoramic views and wildflowers. You can also access Douglas Falls from here for a challenging, yet rewarding hike along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MTS). Or you can drive to the Douglas Falls parking lot for a shorter, but still challenging 1.5 mile hike to see the falls.
- Walker Falls is an impressive 45-foot waterfall off the side of the road. This is a perfect waterfall for people unable to hike any distance.
- The hike to 75 foot Set Rock Falls is a flat and easy 1 mile hike.
- Roaring Fork Falls is a mostly flat 1 mile round-trip hike to yet another stunning waterfall.
- See three waterfalls on this 2.2 mile round-trip hike on the Linville Falls Trail.
- Cool off with a guided tour in the year round 52 degree Linville Caverns.
- At just a half mile round trip, Duggers Creek Falls is another short hike to the peaceful sounds of running water.
- End the day on a high note with a quarter mile round-trip trail to the 60 foot Looking Glass Falls off highway 276.
Where to Eat In Asheville
Many of the places we ate required a reservation; it was challenging to get a same-day or next-day reservations so plan a few days in advance.
- Posana Restaurant – locally sourced American food in historic downtown Asheville.
- Crave Dessert Bar – Elaborate deserts to satisfy every sweet tooth.
- Green Sage Cafe – organic and locally sourced restaurant dedicated to environmental conservation.
- Smoky Park Supper Club -sandwich shop with a large outdoor patio overlooking the river.
- Iconic Kitchen – famous foods from around the country