Looking for the best day trips from Asheville, NC? As AVL locals, we are sharing the best Asheville day trips for hikers, waterfall chasers, and foodies.
I’m pretty sure that you won’t get bored while visiting Asheville, NC. With so much to do, including brewery hopping, hiking, and shopping, Asheville has a little bit of everything for everyone.
However, while we love living in Asheville, we also appreciate all that Western North Carolina (WNC) has to offer. With gorgeous mountain ranges, endless wineries, waterfall hikes, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, you might want to go exploring while staying in Asheville.
Think Pisgah National Forest and spying elk and fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Black Mountain houses our favorite distillery.
Weaverville provides a quiet and close escape from Asheville’s congestion. Our favorite Asheville day trips include a picnic at the Hendersonville wineries and checking out The Hunger Games waterfalls at DuPont State Forest.
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN is pretty darn close, and get scared to death on the Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain. Your Asheville day-tripping options are truly endless.
As AVL locals, we are sharing the best day trips from Asheville as well as a few on our NC bucket list. ‘Best’ is always subjective, but these are our top day trips near Asheville that everyone can enjoy. Let’s get started!
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15 Best Day Trips From Asheville, NC
1. Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) is a 469-mile, non-stop, scenic and recreational road managed by the National Park Service (NPS).
The BRP runs from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Especially gorgeous in the fall, explore endless BRP hikes, overlooks, and waterfalls.
GPS is iffy along the parkway, and you can navigate the road via milepost makers. Dense fog rolls in and out, covering up beautiful views and your line of sight. Temperatures may be 10 to 15-degrees cooler here.
Before you head out across the Blue Ridge Parkway, please check for road and gate closures on the NPS. Most of the BRP will close in the winter for weather, and sometimes parts are closed for maintenance.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife crossing the parkway, such as black bears, and exert caution around bicyclists.
The best times to cruise the BRP are in the spring to catch the blooms and in the fall for the foliage. The BRP grows extremely busy during peak fall foliage. Get to your destination early.
Our favorite Blue Ridge Parkway day trips from Asheville include:
- Black Balsam via Art Loeb or Sam Knob Trails – Around MP 420, pack a picnic and catch one of our favorite 2-mile hikes in the spring and fall.
- Graveyard Fields – One of the most popular fall hikes around MP 418.8, discover gorgeous fall foliage and two cascading waterfalls; there are basic restrooms here.
- Skinny Dip Falls – At MP 417 and Looking Glass Rock Overlook, cross the BRP for a tropical oasis and swimming hole; don’t miss the dragon tree.
- Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower – Around MP 409.6, walk an easy trail to a terrifyingly high fire tower that you can climb for the best mountain views.
- Mount Pisgah – Around MP 407-408, hike to the top of Mount Pisgah for 360-degree views; there is a picnic area across the street.
- Craggy Gardens & Craggy Pinnacle – Around MP 364-367, picnic, hike to the pinnacle summit for 360-degree views, and find gorgeous blooms. There is a visitor center with restrooms.
- Little Butt Hike – About MP 358.9, find your own little piece of heaven on a moderately hard 5-mile out and back.
- Crabtree Falls – Around MP 339.5 and close to Little Switzerland, hike to the 70-foot falls
Don’t miss these breathtaking picnic areas around the BRP and Asheville, too. Before hopping on the BRP toward Mount Pisgah, consider a visit to The NC Arboretum.
Discover all of the Hiking Trails Around Asheville That Locals Love.
2. Great Smoky Mountains
We are just starting to scratch the surface of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies are one of the most visited national parks in America.
In 1983, Great Smoky Mountains National Park became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site for its biological evolution and diversity, untouched areas, and sheer beauty. The Smokies also house the largest block of virgin red spruce left on earth.
For Asheville day trips, the entrance to the park in Cherokee is 57 miles or about 1.5-hours away. If you approach the park from here, stop at stunning Mingo Falls in Cherokee right before the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
At the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, stock up on supplies and information from the rangers, use the facilities, and cross your fingers that the elk are active.
Behind the visitor center, stroll the easy Oconaluftee River Trail. Many people come here to watch the elk in the field.
Tour the free Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill. Stop by the log farmhouse, barn, and apple house to see how families lived and worked in the Appalachian Mountains years ago.
If it’s early summer, enter the firefly viewing lottery. Of course, there are endless hiking trails and waterfalls in the Smokies.
Fish, camp, and explore the surrounding areas like Cherokee, Bryson City, Maggie Valley, and Cataloochee. Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is extremely popular.
3. DuPont State Forest
One of the best day trips from Asheville for waterfall hikes, DuPont State Forest is a must.
DuPont State Recreational Forest — also known as DuPont Forest or DuPont State Forest — is 10,473-acres of forest, hiking trails, and waterfalls. DuPont is about a 45-minute drive from Asheville.
DuPont is famous as a filming location for both The Hunger Games (Triple Falls) and The Last of the Mohicans (Bridal Veil Falls).
Within 7 miles of moderately easy and well-cleared trails, you can hike Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Most popular is the 3-mile and 3-waterfall hike consisting of Hooker, Triple, and High Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls tacks on another 4-miles roundtrip or you can hike Bridal Veil Falls (DuPont — there are multiple across NC) on its own.
After DuPont, we recommend heading to Hendersonville for apple orchards, wine, beer, and food. Keep reading…
4. Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville is another popular Asheville day trip option, perfect after hiking DuPont or even Bearwallow and Trombatore trails. Located 40-50 minutes from AVL, Hendersonville is full of things to do.
Known as “Apple Alley,” in the fall, the Hendersonville apple orchards are where it is at. Sky Top Orchard and Stepp’s Hillcrest are our two favorites for cider donuts, apple picking, and corn mazes. Find bamboo forests, and say hi to the farm animals.
If you love wine tasting, be sure to tour the Hendersonville wineries. Stone Ashe, Burntshirt, Sawyer Springs, St. Paul, and Point Lookout boast of beautiful vineyard views.
If you are looking for Asheville overnights, Hendersonville has cute B&Bs like the 1898 Waverly Inn. Check out all of the great Hendersonville’s stays here.
5. Black Mountain
Another beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain town, Black Mountain is one of the closest and easiest day trips from Asheville. The best things to do in Black Mountain include walking Lake Tomahawk and grabbing a bite to eat. You can also hike nearby Catawba Falls.
Like Hendersonville, you may also consider staying in Black Mountain and day trip around Asheville from here.
6. Grandfather Mountain
About 1.5 hours away, Grandfather Mountain is another ‘must’ day trip around Asheville. Like Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grandfather Mountain is filled with biodiversity. The mountain peaks at 5,946 feet above WNC.
The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation maintains part of this beautiful attraction. You will have to purchase tickets to enter. As of summer 2021, you will also need to make advance online ticket reservations.
At the gates, pop their gifted CD in your car — which tours you along the mountain. Stop at scenic overlooks and picnic areas, catching a glimpse of Split Rock.
Most popular and if you dare, walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge at the top that connects Grandfather’s two peaks. The bridge doesn’t really swing, but your stomach might.
Visitors can also say ‘hi’ to bears, elk, otters, cougars, and eagles at Grandfather Mountain’s nature habitats. They have a Nature Museum, too.
See where Forrest Gump ran along “Forrest Gump Curve,” and find backcountry hiking trails from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Grandfather Mountain also boasts of one of the hardest trails in the southeast, Grandfather Trail.
7. Linville, NC
Linville is the perfect Asheville day trip if you enjoy waterfalls, hiking, and wine. Incredibly close to and around 20 minutes from Grandfather Mountain, Linville is most well-known for being a summer mountain resort and host of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.
Absolutely gorgeous, head to Linville Falls Winery for a wine flight and…your Christmas tree. This vineyard has a stone patio, pond, and red barn.
We highly recommend hiking around Linville Falls where you can catch numerous vistas of the most popular falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are various trails ranging in length and difficulty.
On our Asheville day trips bucket list, we can’t wait to visit Linville Caverns. Explore the inside of Humpback Mountain.
If you love wine, head over to our Master List Of Wineries Near Asheville.
8. Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock is a 535-million-year-old monolith and sits 2,200 feet above sea level. You can hike or take an elevator to the rocks.
The view at the top is incredible, spanning 75+-miles out on a clear day, and the park is filled with hiking. Hickory Nut Falls is an easier waterfall hike. You will have to pay to enter the park.
9. Pisgah National Forest
Pisgah National Forest covers more than half a million acres of forest, mountains, trails, and waterfalls across WNC. The land is divided into three sections: Pisgah, Appalachian, and Grandfather Ranger Districts.
Many of the Pisgah National Forest trails and hikes we already mentioned above; they fall along parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
A few more Pisgah National Forest Asheville day trips we love include:
- Douglas Falls – Douglas Falls is one of the WNC waterfalls that you can walk under. The road up there is pretty rough, but the falls are worth it.
- Daniel Ridge Falls – Take the easy hike straight to the falls or navigate the harder loop. Daniel Ridge Loop and Bent Creek Experimental Forest are popular mountain biking trails in the Pisgah National Forest.
- Looking Glass Falls – One of the “drive-up” roadside waterfalls, Looking Glass Falls freezes in the winter.
- Moore Cove Falls – An easy 1.4-mile out and back, encounter a 50-foot waterfall.
- Pink Beds Loop & Picnic Area – For summer blooms and a lengthy but easy nature walk, Pink Beds provides a largely shaded trail.
10. Appalachian Trail
I don’t know about you, but I always imagine myself as Bill Bryson when I hop on the Appalachian Trail. OK; OK…maybe I am Katz…
Of course, parts of the Appalachian Trail are located in the Pisgah National Forest, but because I personally think it’s cool to say we hiked the AT, I want to make this one its own Asheville day trip.
For two worthwhile hikes along the AT, don’t miss Max Patch and Lover’s Leap.
Max Patch is one of the prettiest hikes in all of WNC (with the worst drive). A stunning ‘bald’ with 360-degree views, pack a picnic and hike an easy trail to the summit via the AT.
Lover’s Leap is not for those scared of heights. With harsh switchbacks and a steep incline and descent, climb as high as the birds. Overlook all of Hot Springs, NC, and yes, you can visit actual hot springs in this WNC town.
See where to overnight in Hot Springs, too.
11. Brevard, NC
Brevard is part of the ‘land of waterfalls’ and Pisgah National Forest. You’ll head into and around Brevard to access Moore Cove Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, DuPont State Forest, and Daniel Ridge, just to name a few.
Brevard also makes for one of the best beer day trips from Asheville. With a walkable downtown and its surrounding areas, don’t miss the Brevard breweries like Ecusta and Oskar Blues.
On your drive back to Asheville, you can also stop at the Mills River Breweries. Sierra Nevada and Bold Rock are two huge boozy destinations out this way.
12. Tryon Foothills Wineries
We spent an afternoon exploring the beautiful Tryon Foothills wineries and loved Parker-Binns and Overmountain Vineyards. You can also drive to Mountain Brook Vineyards and Russian Chapel Hills Winery.
Tryon Foothills Wine Country is a little over one hour away from Asheville. These vineyards are large and gorgeous, located in the rolling countryside.
Tryon, NC has a small downtown, and there are hikes, waterfalls, and an International equestrian center.
For closer Asheville day trips, Weaverville is literally the next town over. Weaverville is the perfect spot to catch a break from Asheville’s congestion.
Grab gluten-free pizza at Blue Mountain Pizza or sandwiches at Twisted Laurel. Wagbar is a fabulous dog park serving up local brews, and take a stroll around Lake Louise.
If you are looking to stay outside of Asheville, don’t miss these Weaverville cabins, hotels, B&Bs, cottages, and inns.
14. Dollywood & Pigeon Forge, TN
Justin, a Dollywood Insider and owner of Snapshots Made Yesterday, gifted us our first tickets ever to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN. This is one of the most fun day trips from Asheville for families, especially if you love theme parks. Dolly is, of course, a legend.
A little over 1.5 hours from Asheville, find rides such as roller coasters, southern cuisine, live shows, and everything Dolly. There is even a museum with Dolly’s vibrant outfits.
Walk into a replica of Dolly’s Tennessee mountain home or attend non-denominational services at Robert F. Thomas Chapel.
Pigeon Forge also has waterparks, Parrot Mountain and Gardens, the Titanic Museum, breweries, wineries, and zip-lining.
If you’d rather overnight in Pigeon Forge, don’t miss these hotels, inns, cabins, and cottages.
15. Knoxville, TN
One of our favorite longer-day trips from Asheville, Knoxville, TN has it all. A little under two hours away and similar to Asheville, Knoxville has a historic and walkable downtown.
You can spend all day dropping into distilleries, breweries, bookstores, and restaurants. Around Christmas, we ice-skated in the historic square.
Our good friend, Clayton, runs a Knoxville travel blog, KnoxRoadTripper. He shares all that there is to love about the city — and he’s full of unique tidbits and history.
We personally enjoy overnighting in Knoxville, TN, especially around the holidays.
Save These Asheville Day Trips For Later
More Day Trips From Asheville On Our Bucket List
- Bryson City
- Nantahala National Forest
- Blowing Rock
- Lake Lure
- Greenville, SC
- Columbia, SC
- Little Switzerland
- Mount Mitchell
- Gatlinburg, TN
What are your favorite Asheville day trips?
While in Western North Carolina, what are your favorite day trips from Asheville? Which parks do you love, and what is your favorite WNC city or town to visit? Let us know in the comments.