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Plan A Beautiful Picnic: Botanical Gardens At Asheville

If you are headed to Asheville, North Carolina and looking for a break from the city–but want to stay close by–why not pack a blanket and some snacks and head to the Botanical Gardens At Asheville?

Discover 10-acres of vibrant wildflowers, streams, and critters. You’ll wind down and decompress with this FREE Asheville attraction.

Botanical Gardens At Asheville blog post cover with pink, white, and yellow flowers
Although not the most popular of Asheville attractions, we’ll tell you how to escape the city for a bit and recharge with a picnic at the Botanical Gardens At Asheville, 10-acres of light trails, flowers, and gardens located within UNC-Asheville.

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One of the things that I love the most about living in the heart of Asheville includes access to the plethora of gardens, trails, and of course, the mountains. Mother Nature is everywhere, even in the city.

Did you know that there are 10-acres of hidden botanical gardens minutes from downtown? The Botanical Gardens At Asheville showcase the plants and habitats of Southern Appalachia. As a non-profit, these Asheville gardens allow visitors to tour the grounds for free.

Plus, the Asheville Botanical Gardens are located on the expansive grounds of the University of North Carolina – Asheville. The area is slightly less congested than downtown and offers another look into Asheville.

White and yellow flowers at Botanical Gardens Asheville
If you are hoping to catch beautiful mountain wildflowers, mid-April and mid-August are the best bloom seasons.

So, should you stop by this North Carolina botanical garden, and who will enjoy the grounds? I’m going to recommend these gardens for an afternoon of downtime and a picnic, for sure.

Also, what can you pack, and how much time should you budget? What other Asheville sights and attractions are nearby? We’ll talk activities, pertinent information, food, and beer.

Lastly, though, please know that the Botanical Gardens At Asheville are different than The NC Arboretum. The Arboretum is located in the Pisgah National Forest off of the BRP. The Arboretum is much bigger and offers many more trails to choose from.

Let’s get started!

Bridge over a creek in the woods at the Botanical Gardens Asheville
The Asheville Botanical Gardens are extremely peaceful with running streams, picturesque bridges, and stone benches.

See our Top Places To Stay in Asheville.

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Who Will Enjoy The Botanical Gardens At Asheville?

These Asheville, NC botanical gardens are for everyone…except your dogs. Sorry, pups; you are not allowed onto the property. Because so many of the species are endangered or rare, they require a little bit of extra protection.

The Garden rules also note that this is not a “play park.” Families are more than welcome, but there is no biking or outdoor games (i.e. frisbee) — again, to help preserve the fragile grounds.

BUT, while all of this is sounding more grumpy and less fun, you most definitely can pack a picnic. Bird watchers, book readers, walkers, loungers, sun goddesses, and artists will love the Botanical Gardens At Asheville. You can leisurely stroll the paths, too.

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Who May Not Love The Gardens?

My husband…

Also, if you are an avid hiker looking for hardcore trails, you might want to drive on by and hit up the Blue Ridge Parkway or Craven Gap, right before the Craggy area. When we first visited the Asheville Botanical Gardens, we expected the trails to be a little more…existent. Think *very* casual and short walk here.

How Much Time Can You Spend At The Asheville Botanical Gardens?

Unlike The NC Arboretum, the Botanical Gardens at Asheville are fairly small. You can walk the 1/2-mile loop around the grounds fairly quickly. If you are going for a stroll, you won’t need more than 45-minutes.

Of course, you could spend a morning or afternoon here stretched out on a blanket or on one of their benches with a book.

Dirt trail with stone wall at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville
If you are looking for a .5-mile loop, don’t miss this easy to walk nature trail at the Asheville Botanical Gardens. You’ll find lichens, ferns, grasses, trees, and flowers along the way. You don’t need any special hiking gear either.

When Is The Best Time To Visit?

The mountain seasons are a tad unpredictable along with the weather. If you are trying to catch peak bloom times, aim for mid-April and mid-August.

Wildflower sightings are best mid-April into May, and the Botanical Gardens boast of their Trilliums. I am not a flower expert, but they also have Spring-beauties, Wild Geranium, and Crested Dwarf Iris.

5 Chill Things You Can Do At Botanical Gardens At Asheville

Since these gardens are pretty low-key, these are the 5 things that you can do at the Asheville Botanical Gardens:

1. Walk The Gardens

What I love most about the botanical gardens includes the quaint pathways, bridges over gentle streams, and areas of wide-open space filled with trees. The grounds just beg for you to take a timeout and digital detox…or let’s face it: a beer detox, too.

The Botanical Gardens At Asheville are filled with grasses, ferns, moss, trees, wildlife, and flowers. A few more flowers and species that you might stumble upon include: Joe-Pye Weed, Blazing-Star, Witch-Hazel, and Goldenrod.

Don’t miss out on all of Asheville’s Parks & Gardens.

2. Hop On A Short Trail

There is a short and easy 1/2-mile loop trail that follows the boundaries of Botanical Gardens At Asheville. It’s quaint and fun but also underwhelming if you are looking for more. That’s my truth bomb. You will pass Hayes Cabin to see how predecessors used to live in the mountains, and you’ll also find a few runoff trails. Don’t miss the creeks along the way.

5 Things To Do At The Botanical Gardens At Asheville Pinterest pin with yellow and white flowers
If you are looking for gardens and nature walks in Asheville, you’ll love the Botanical Gardens. Don’t forget to create an Asheville Pinterest board to save all of your bucket list Asheville things to do.

3. Read A Book Or Picnic

Of course, this is the biggest reason why you’d visit these botanical gardens: a leisure/resting day outside enjoying the beautiful weather and lack of crowds. I’ve been debating bringing my yoga mat, too.

Do you love a good picnic? Explore some of the most Breathtaking Picnic Spots In Asheville.

4. Visit The Library & Gift Shop

The Cole Library is open during Visitor Center hours. If you are temporarily visiting, you may still peruse the stacks and use the books while there. The library offers botanical and horticultural information.

The gift shop celebrates nature and animal lovers. You can find books about the trails and NC travel from indie and local authors.

5. Take A Class

The Botanical Gardens At Asheville also host plant sales and offer education classes for adults. Some of these classes include learning about black bears in the area or taking garden and bird walks.

Hayes Cabin Asheville NC Botanical Garden surrounded by green trees
Don’t miss Hubert Hayes’s cabin to see how this author, playwright, actor, and folklorist lived in the early 1900s. You cannot go inside, but you can walk around the cabin.

What To Pack For A Picnic At The Botanical Gardens

A few items that you might want to bring to the Botanical Gardens at Asheville:

Travel Picnic & Outdoor Blanket

We worship a little sun and a good book. Since the nearest beach to Asheville is about 4+ hours away, we love spreading out on a blanket and lounging on the grass. Hammocks aren’t allowed at the Asheville Botanical Gardens, making a large blanket perfect for a catnap and lunch.

Picnic Basket/Cooler

If you are more local, you might want to grab your picnic basket or cooler. Of course, you can make a lunch at home or your Airbnb to bring with you. Or, pick up sandwiches to go at the Green Sage Cafe or Early Girl Eatery – the Merrimon locations are closest. Merrimon Ave. in North Asheville also has a Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Ingles, and Fresh Market for food supplies.

Bug Spray

I honestly rarely wear bug spray as I try to leave Mother Nature alone and not douse my body in chemicals–I drink a lot of wine; that’s my chemical of choice… But, I will say that these grounds are a little buggy. If you are hiking elsewhere, bug spray isn’t a bad idea.

Pink Flowers at The Asheville Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens At Asheville protect a variety of endangered and rare plant and flower species.

More Attractions Near The Asheville Botanical Gardens

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary & Trail

If you love being outside, don’t skip a visit to Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary located at 1056 Merrimon Ave. in North Asheville. Parking is donation-based, and visiting is free. You can either walk the less than .5-mile Sanctuary loop, spying diverse birds, or walk the 2-mile perimeter trail around Beaver Lake. You’ll love the Blue Ridge Mountain views and gorgeous lake.

Ginger’s Revenge & Zillicoah Beer Company

If you are looking for something different in Asheville’s brewery scene, you might want to check out Ginger’s Revenge located about 5-minutes driving from the Botanical Gardens At Asheville. They brew alcoholic ginger beer, which is gluten-free and 95% organic. They are located at 829 Riverside Drive.

A lesser-known, more local brewery is Zillicoah Beer Company, which is minutes from Ginger’s Revenge. We love their outdoor seating along the French Broad River. Zillicoah is located at 870 Riverside Drive.

River Arts District

If you enjoy urban art, don’t miss the River Arts District. Discover artists’ studios, beautiful murals, hidden shops, Wedge Brewing, pleb winery, cafes, and restaurants.

Downtown Asheville

Of course, downtown Asheville is less than 10-minutes away from the Botanical Gardens At Asheville. Peruse the Asheville bookshops, taste test all of the beer, hit up a candy store, catch a sunset at a rooftop bar, or snack on some Asian tapas.

Asheville Botanical Gardens Pinterest pin with two images; top are pink and white flowers and bottom is trail lined by a stone wall
Headed to North Carolina? Save this post about the Asheville Botanical Gardens for later on Pinterest. You never know when you’ll want to add in some extra activities.

Botanical Gardens At Asheville Contact Info

Botanical Gardens at Asheville
151 W.T. Weaver Blvd.
Asheville, NC 28804
Telephone: (828) 252-5190

Hours, Directions & Pricing


Please check the Botanical Gardens At Asheville website for updated hours. As of summer 2020, the hours are the following:

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Closed Saturday & Sunday.


If you are coming from downtown Asheville, follow Merrimon Avenue/US 25 north to W.T. Weaver Blvd. Take a left. The entrance to Asheville Botanical Gardens is on the right shortly after the traffic circle.

There is a free parking lot in front of the gardens.

Pricing – FREE

Admission and parking are free.

Visitors are encouraged to donate or become members. A basic membership costs $40.

Where To Stay In And Around The Botanical Gardens At Asheville

Asheville, NC Hotels: Where To Stay

Hotels and B&Bs tend to book up fast in Asheville, especially in the fall and spring. Make dinner reservations wherever you can, too. A few hotels to consider that either we, our friends, or others highly recommend include:

Downtown Asheville
The Foundry Hotel
AC Hotel By Marriot Downtown Asheville
Hotel Indigo

Near The Asheville Outlets/Biltmore
Hampton Inn And Suites Asheville Biltmore Area
DoubleTree By Hilton Biltmore/Asheville
Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville

North Asheville/Montford
The Omni Grove Park Inn
1900 Inn On Montford
Princess Anne Hotel

See our Top Places To Stay in Asheville.

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Let Us Know If You Visit The Asheville Botanical Gardens

Are you headed into town? We’d love to hear from you. If you visit the Botanical Gardens At Asheville, please let us know what you think.

What did you enjoy and not so much like? What did you do before or after your visit? Would you go back?

If You Like The Botanical Gardens At Asheville, You Might Also Like:

Relaxing Things To Do At The North Carolina Arboretum
Spend A Morning At The Beaver Lake Trail & Bird Sanctuary

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