Enjoy the best parks in Asheville, NC for walks, lakes, and recreational activities. Or, relax and picnic in these gorgeous Asheville gardens.
Asheville is famous for its plethora of breweries, eclectic music scene, the largest home in America, and endless trails and waterfalls.
But, did you know that the Asheville parks are just as plentiful and worthwhile too?
We love spending an early morning walking French Broad River Park and watching people float down the river at Carrier Park.
Skatepark at Foundation and RAD Riverwalk are staples in the River Arts District, ensconcing visitors in vibrant street art, youthful vibes, and crafty culture.
Even better, the gardens in Asheville, NC are filled with gorgeous wildflowers that attract Monarch butterflies and countless species of birds.
From Biltmore and Beaver Lake to The NC Arboretum and Asheville Botanical Gardens, you cannot go wrong.
So, what are the best parks in Asheville, NC? If you only have a short time, which Asheville gardens should you stroll through first?
And, if you are looking for a park in Asheville for the dogs, where should you go? How about that boat launch or ice hockey rink?
Plus, explore a beautiful Victorian-style cemetery where you might want to have a penny or a pen on hand.
Keep reading for the top Asheville parks and gardens as well as a few brief mentions of State and National Parks near Asheville. Let’s get started!
If you love these parks and gardens, don’t skip these scenic Asheville picnic areas.
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Best Parks In Asheville, NC
French Broad River Park
Picnic, lay out a blanket, and let your pooch socialize at French Broad River Park in West Asheville – just past the River Arts District.
This is one of the most popular parks in Asheville for locals and a great option if you wish to spend a relaxing day by the water.
For dog owners, on the far side of the grounds, find a divided dog park for big and little dogs. This area is fenced in so your dog can run around off-leash.
French Broad River Park features picnic tables, benches, river observation decks, public restrooms, and a gazebo.
Mostly paved walking trails loop through the park and to other areas along the French Broad River Greenway Trail. In fact, French Broad River Park connects to Carrier Park.
However, if you continue onto the other parks, you may have to cross packed dirt paths with some mud and standing water puddles.
Find parking lots before the entrance along with a large map near the restrooms. Parts of this area are under construction; the city is creating longer connecting trails.
French Broad River Park | 508 Riverview Dr, Asheville, NC 28806
If you are looking for a park in Asheville with everything you could ever need recreation-wise, Carrier Park is it.
Find public restrooms, water fountains, a children’s playground, volleyball nets, and an area for lawn bowling and bocce.
Carrier Park also houses the best outdoor skating and hockey rink in Asheville and is home to the “Mellowdrome.”
This former NASCAR circuit turned velodrome is perfect for walking, biking, and skating. One lap is about 498 meters long, or 0.3 miles per loop.
Then, play basketball and baseball, picnic at the pavilion, catch views at numerous French Broad River observation decks, and stroll walking paths.
You’ll see many families riding bikes here as the trails are smooth and flat. There are sprawling greens for frisbee games too.
Unlike French Broad River Park, much of Carrier Park is exposed to the sun. It gets steamy out this way in the late spring and summer.
Between Carrier and French Broad River Park, you’ll also walk past Amboy Park. Across the street, those A-Frames are new 2022 lodging, Wrong Way River Lodge & Cabins.
To access the park, either use the lots at French Broad River Park – for a 3-mile walking loop – or directly at Carrier Park.
Carrier Park has more parking than French Broad River Park and paved lots.
Carrier Park | 220 Amboy Road, Asheville, NC 28806
Pack Square Park
Park Square, located in Downtown Asheville, is perfect for a stroll after dining at the nearby restaurants or a morning touring the museums.
In fact, start at the Asheville Art Museum and enjoy chocolate and dessert at French Broad Chocolate Lounge before heading across the square.
This is a popular area for Asheville events, including festivals like the VeganFest, concerts, and Art in the Park.
For Asheville parks, enjoy green spaces, water pads, water fountains, a concert and performance stage, local sculptures, and street art.
Look down to follow the Urban Trail markers, and you’ll spot the Art Deco City Hall nearby. Please note that as a symbol of the Confederacy, Vance Moment has been removed.
Pack Square has been a part of the city since about 1797 and was originally positioned at the intersection of ancient trading paths.
Pack Square | 80 Court Plaza, Asheville, NC 28801
Newly renovated and dotted with gorgeous little Asheville parks, RAD’s Riverwalk is becoming one of our favorite areas to get outdoors close to home.
Explore the 10-foot wide, 2-mile greenway filled with swinging benches, picnic areas, and the River Arts District breweries, artist studios, and galleries.
Watch people launch boats and tubes from the dock, and stroll along the French Broad River. People walk their dogs, rollerblade, and take advantage of the new on-street bike lanes.
Pass by shops and restaurants and even walk all the way to Marquee, pleb, and Foundation Studios.
This is such a lovely and unsuspecting green space in the heart of Asheville’s warehouse and industrial area.
RAD Riverwalk | Find parking lots around Lyman Street and Riverside Drive. We prefer the lots under the bridges around 192 Riverside Drive.
RAD SkatePark & Foundation SkatePark
What’s one of the best parks in Asheville for skaters? Foundation and RAD SkatePark.
Also located in the River Arts District, you cannot miss passing through Foundation SkatePark, especially if you are headed to pleb urban winery, Wedge Brewing at Foundation, or touring the brilliant street art.
Foundation SkatePark features a concrete playground for rollerbladers, skateboarders, and roller skaters.
Find ramps, pipes, rails, and skateable sculptures. Skaters young and old, beginner and more seasoned, skate here.
This Asheville park is run on donations and maintained by volunteers.
Just next door to the outdoor SkatePark, you’ll also find Western North Carolina’s premier indoor skatepark – which offers lessons, camps, and party space.
RAD SkatePark charges per session, or buy a membership. Features include beginner and intermediate ramps and bowls along with a street course and hangout area.
While in the River Arts District, enjoy RAD restaurants like the famous 12 Bones Smokehouse and RosaBees. Summit is a fantastic coffee shop.
RAD Skatepark & Foundation Skatepark/Foundation Spot | 37 Foundry Street Asheville, NC 28801
Located in one of our favorite Asheville neighborhoods, Montford Park is smaller than some of the other Asheville parks on this list but boasts of tennis courts, picnic spots, and a basketball court.
Historic Montford is home to charming Bed and Breakfasts, loads of Free Little Libraries, and one delicious Nine Mile location. OK, and maybe a sinkhole or two.
About half of a mile away from Montford Park, head to the Hazel Robinson Theater for Shakespeare in the Park from May through October on weekend evenings.
On your way, you’ll pass Tempie Avery Montford Community Center (34 Pearson Dr), which has a small playground.
This is a fantastic local area filled with character.
Montford Park | 345 Montford Park Asheville, NC 28801
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We wouldn’t necessarily call Riverside Cemetery an Asheville park or garden, per se, but you will find 87 acres of beautiful grounds adopted by the City of Asheville.
In fact, the Parks & Recreation Department maintains the cemetery. Walk over 3.5 miles of paved roads through endless history.
While some claim that Riverside Cemetery is haunted, the intricate stonework on many of the graves is quite beautiful and less eerie.
Explore serene and rolling hills, beautiful wildflowers, and Victorian-style grounds.
Most notably, Asheville literary masterminds like Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry are buried here. As part of Asheville’s bibliotourism, leave a penny or pen for your favorite respective NC author.
Be sure to spot W.O. Wolfe’s famous angels too.
On a Sunday morning, you’ll find Asheville residents and visitors respectfully strolling the grounds.
Drive through the gates and park anywhere alongside the paved roads. Grab a detailed map of the cemetery at the entrance’s information board.
Please drive slowly and watch for pedestrians. This is an active cemetery.
If you are interested in Asheville’s historic sites, read more about North Carolina’s urban legends and spooky ghost towns.
Riverside Cemetery | 53 Birch Street in Asheville, NC 28801
Triangle Park is a small Downtown Asheville park with vibrant murals, a small patch of grass, benches, and picnic tables.
Unlike the recreational parks in Asheville, this is a peaceful area to reflect, pay homage to, and learn more about “The Block.”
Historically, The Block was Asheville’s oldest Black business district and neighborhood.
Today, visitors will find murals spanning Sycamore Alley and South Market Street that pay tribute to the residents, figures, stories, and business owners of The Block.
Over 100 volunteers – led by local artist Molly Must – helped paint the murals. You might also know Must from her Chicken Alley artwork.
Triangle Park | 56 S Market St, Asheville, NC 28801
Beaver Lake Trail & Bird Sanctuary
If you enjoy bird watching and nature trails at the Asheville parks, don’t skip a visit to Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary in North Asheville.
Visiting is free, and parking at the Bird Sanctuary and dirt lots around the lake are donation-based. Beaver Lake requires a permit for your pooch.
Walk the less than .5-mile boardwalk Sanctuary loop to see birds, trees, and flowers.
Or, stroll the 2-mile perimeter trail and loop around Beaver Lake. You’ll love the Blue Ridge Mountain views and shimmering lake.
Explore even more mountain lakes near AVL, and while in North AVL, be sure to check out the area’s best restaurants like Plant, The Madness, Rye Knot, and Taco Temple.
Beaver Lake | 1056 Merrimon Ave. Asheville, NC 28804
Lake Julian Park
For a South Asheville park with a lake, Lake Julian in Arden is the perfect spot for families.
Lake Julian Park features a playground, sand volleyball court, and horseshoe pits. Play disc golf on their course, rent paddle boats, lunch in a picnic shelter, and walk the trail.
The county supplies the lake with catfish, bass, and bream for fishing. You will need both an NC fishing license and a lake permit to fish here, though.
Around Christmastime, Lake Julian has a small holiday light drive-thru display – a fantastic activity if you are visiting Asheville with kids.
Lake Julian is located at 406 Overlook Extension in Arden, NC 28704
Lake Louise Park
For public parks near Asheville – and less than 10 minutes away – head to Weaverville, NC for Lake Louise Park.
Lake Louise sprawls across 15+ acres of land and boasts of a five-acre, man-made lake with a fountain at its center.
Snag a picnic table or bench along the water. Walk Lake Louise’s quick and easy .61-mile perimeter trail, passing turtles, ducks, carp, and geese.
Look for the small cascading waterfall across the street at Reems Creek Dam.
Lake Louise Park features a playground and outdoor fitness equipment along with catch and release fishing (with a valid North Carolina fishing license).
Park in multiple paved lots around the lake with facilities.
If you are looking for areas similar to Weaverville’s Lake Louise, try Black Mountain’s Lake Tomahawk.
Lake Louise Park | Lake Louise Dr, Weaverville, NC 28787
More Asheville City Parks By Neighborhood:
Azalea Park – East Asheville
Richmond Hill Park – West Asheville
Martin Luther King, Jr. Park – Near Downtown
Weaver Park – North Asheville
Pritchard Park – Downtown
Beautiful Gardens In Asheville, NC
Botanical Gardens At Asheville
One of the most quaint gardens in Asheville, the Botanical Gardens At Asheville is perfect for a lazy day of reading and enjoying a picnic.
Located on the UNC-Asheville campus in North Asheville, parking and entrance are free to these public grounds.
Fall off the grid with 10 acres of protected and endangered wildflowers along with nature trails, bridges, and birds.
These gardens along with The NC Arboretum make for some of the most romantic spots in Asheville – and you’ll catch many surprise engagements here.
The Asheville Botanical Gardens also have a Visitor Center and shop filled with locally published books and nature knickknacks.
Botanical Gardens At Asheville | 151 W T. Weaver Boulevard, Asheville, NC 28804.
The NC Arboretum
We always recommend The North Carolina Arboretum for nature seekers.
In fact, we are members of The NC Arboretum for their gorgeous nature, hiking, and biking trails, beautiful gardens, and special events.
Spy Bonsai trees, check out a special exhibit – one year, they had nature-themed LEGO sculptures – or attend a festive holiday event such as Winter Lights.
The NC Arboretum also boasts of short and easy hikes perfect for the entire family.
Out of all of the Asheville gardens on this list, though, while the Arboretum is a public space, you will have to pay a small parking fee to enter or become an annual member.
If you love the flowers at the Arboretum, be sure to head to Lake Lure’s Flowering Bridge in the spring.
The NC Arboretum | 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way Asheville, NC 28806.
Whether you are a traveler or a local, it is hard to miss Biltmore Estate. We are annual passholders here too.
These private Asheville gardens are stunning, and the estate is filled with flowers, ponds, trails, bamboo, and even a “waterfall.”
All visitors must pay admission, be an annual passholder, or be staying on the property to enter, even if you aren’t touring the house.
Biltmore’s gardens are designed by the infamous Frederick Law Olmsted. Italian, spring, shrub, azalea, and walled gardens along with a Conservatory keep visitors busy for hours.
It’s best to visit the Biltmore gardens in the spring and summer. The Biltmore blooms are truly an attraction.
Biltmore also has plenty of kids’ activities and additional tours. Biltmore at Christmas is magical.
P.S. There is a booze stand behind Biltmore Conservatory… Discover even more Biltmore restaurants and cafes.
Biltmore Estate | 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803.
State & National Parks Near Asheville, NC
Blue Ridge Parkway
A gorgeous, two-lane winding road through the mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) is a National Parkway managed by the U.S. National Park Service.
While we could write posts upon posts about the BRP for its scenic overlooks, endless hikes, and cascading waterfalls, all you need to know is that the Blue Ridge Parkway is an Asheville must.
Our top BRP hikes in North Carolina include Craggy Gardens, Craggy Pinnacle, Mount Mitchell, Black Balsam via the Art Loeb Trail, Fryingpan Mountain Tower, Graveyard Fields, Little Butt, and Mount Pisgah.
The Parkway lights up in autumn with stunning fall foliage and runs 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina from Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Learn more on the BRP website. Please keep in mind that the BRP has gate closures for weather, especially in the winter, and can also grow incredibly foggy. Think Cliffs of Moher.
Drive safely, follow all posted signs, and watch for wildlife.
Pisgah National Forest
Pisgah is one of North Carolina’s most popular state parks with more than 500,000 acres of forest. The NC Arboretum is a part of the Pisgah National Forest too.
Here, trek along popular trails like Looking Glass Rock, Pink Beds Loop, and Max Patch.
Enjoy watering holes and waterfalls, including Looking Glass Falls, Moore Cove Falls, Sliding Rock, Linville Falls, Catawba Falls, Daniel Ridge Falls, Douglas Falls, and Skinny Dip Falls.
After a day of hiking around this area, be sure to head over to Brevard’s delicious breweries or the Mills River cideries/breweries.
Explore even more unforgettable waterfalls around Asheville.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited National Parks in the United States and makes for a terrific day trip from Asheville.
The 520,000 acres of the Smoky Mountains run from Western North Carolina into Tennessee.
Watching the pink and purple sunset over these beauties is one of our favorite parts of living in WNC.
Spy elk from a distance at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center & River Trail. Mingo Falls is a short but pretty waterfall hike. There is so much to explore.
A Few More State & National Parks Near Asheville:
Chimney Rock State Park (near Lake Lure)
DuPont State Forest – Home to The Hunger Games waterfalls
Gorges State Park – Don’t miss the popular waterfall hike to Rainbow Falls
What Should You Pack When Visiting The Asheville Parks & Gardens?
Binoculars – If you love birdwatching, you’ll see plenty of North Carolina’s beautiful birds in and around the Asheville parks and gardens. North Carolina is home to hawks, osprey, herons, vultures, kites, sparrows, woodpeckers, ducks, wrens, swallows, warblers, and bluebirds — just to name a few well-known species.
Travel Picnic & Outdoor Blanket – Whether you live in Asheville or are just dropping by, it’s always handy to have a travel picnic and outdoor blanket with you.
Stainless Steel Water Bottle – If you are hitting some of the walking trails at the parks in Asheville, NC, you definitely want to carry some water. Certain areas are less shaded than others.
Where To Stay In Asheville
Explore the best places to stay in Asheville. A few of our top suggestions:
- Aloft – Downtown Asheville – Centrally located and recently renovated, enjoy a rooftop pool, a gorgeous bar, and trendy rooms.
- The Omni Grove Park Inn – Treat yourself to a luxury resort in North Asheville, complete with breathtaking sunsets, terrace bars and dining, and loads of Asheville history.
- Hampton Inn And Suites Asheville Biltmore Area – A budget-friendly but renovated hotel on busier Brevard Road that’s perfect if you wish to stay between Biltmore Estate, Downtown Asheville, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Asheville Cottages – Gorgeous 1 to 3-bedroom cottages with a private deck, housing a grill and hot tub. Find luxurious heated-floor bathrooms with rain showers, a well-stocked kitchen, and the cleanest rooms in town.
- Foundry Hotel – An oasis in Downtown Asheville, Foundry Hotel is a nod to AVL’s industrial history. Find famous restaurant Benne on Eagle while sleeping ensconced in charm and elegance.
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Asheville Westgate, NC – Located off of the highway as you enter AVL, find a sleek and clean hotel at a great price.
- Black Walnut B&B Inn – Designed by Biltmore’s supervising architect, Richard Sharp-Smith, this 1899 inn is close to Downtown AVL and serves afternoon tea. Two rooms are pet-friendly.
Don’t miss out on these Asheville properties on Booking.com, too.
Save These Asheville Gardens & Parks For Later:
What is your favorite Asheville park?
Do you have favorite spots in Asheville that you frequent to escape the city life? What is your favorite park in Asheville? Let us know in the comments!
Kathy | Tasty Itinerary
Monday 7th of September 2020
I am sold on the Blue Ridge Parkway! It is now #2 on my Asheville bucketlist behind the Biltmore. Looks amazing. I feel like the Great Smokey Mountains is also a must see becuase they are so popular and I've been hearing about them since I was a kid.
I am jealous of all your beautiful parks. Near me we have some beautiful gardens but don't visit them often. Visiting these parks in the fall is probably a magical sight. I think I may be convinced to visit in the fall now.
Tuesday 8th of September 2020
The Blue Ridge Parkway is absolutely stunning -- and definitely one of the many reasons that I fell in love with the area. You'd love the waterfall hikes.
The Smoky Mountains literally 'smoke' and see stunning sunsets. I don't love the I-40 drive from Tennessee, but I'd do it just to see those mountains lit up at night on our way back into Asheville. Maybe after a day at Dollywood...
When we first moved to Asheville, I didn't research or look for a park culture. We didn't visit parks in FL - just trails when it wasn't 100-degrees out. During this crazy 2020 that we are having, we decided to seek out way more parks and gardens in Asheville since we can stay farther away from everyone while still getting outside. The wildflowers here are brilliant. I still cannot believe how big and fancy the Asheville parks are, too.
It's also nice to know that we replaced our Disney passes with Biltmore and NC Arboretum passes. These are WAY more relaxing and cheaper.
Beaver Lake is already seeing some of the leaves change on the trees for fall, which is stunning at sunset. Imagine orange and yellow glowing leaves over a shining blue lake.