Worthy Museums In Asheville That Won’t Make You Yawn

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Asheville isn’t only famous for its craft beer and award-winning restaurants, although these are huge perks. The city also fosters a lively art, music, and performance scene. Explore the best museums in Asheville for history, art, and science lovers. Then, visit famous historical sites, like Biltmore Estate, and even stroll a spooky cemetery. As Asheville locals, these are the museums we most enjoy.

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Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum

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Quick List Of Museums in Asheville

These are the most well-known museums in Asheville, North Carolina:

Our Favorite Museums As Locals

There is so much to do in Asheville that it can be hard to pick and choose. These are our favorite museums and historic sites that we visit again and again as locals. Plus, many make for great rainy-day activities.

Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum

On a sunny day, you might catch a few of the Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum’s gorgeous vehicles sitting out front at The Omni Grove Park Inn. For free Asheville museums, travel back in time with their antique and vintage automobiles. Most notably, the museum boasts a rare 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Asheville’s 1922 American LaFrance fire truck is the showstopper, though.

Leave a donation at the entrance, and budget at least 30 minutes to enjoy the museum’s two rooms. The Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum is located in North Asheville’s Grovewood Village.

P.S. If you enjoy transportation museums, head to Maggie Valley’s Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum, which boasts motorcycles, cars, photos, and more. Expect to smell gasoline as they occasionally start a few engines upon request. It’s much bigger than the Estes-Winn.

Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum | 111 Grovewood Rd, Asheville, NC 28804

Explore more of North Asheville: Also in Grovewood Village, visit the free Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum to learn more about Biltmore’s history (if you need to skip a museum, this would be it). Across the street, head to the magnificent historic Omni Grove Park Inn. What is today a luxury hotel, originally opened on July 12, 1913, to cure (wealthy) visitors of their ailments with the fresh mountain air…and quinine. F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed here while Zelda resided at Highland Hospital. Upon completion of the Grove Park Inn, E.W. also began construction on the historic Grove Arcade.

Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center

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A forerunner in progressive, interdisciplinary education, Black Mountain College (1933-1957) impacted the approach, conversation, and creation of modern art. The college wanted to ensure that the arts were central to learning. The Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center honors the former college’s legacy.

One of the only free art museums in Asheville, the Black Mountain College Museum is small and donation-based, worth a quick visit any time you are Downtown – whether it be for lunch or drinks. Find two stories of frequently rotating exhibitions focusing on art and former students. We usually tour the museum in less than 30 minutes. The content is unique and hyper-local; it might not be for everyone but we enjoy it. Afterward, take a day trip to explore Black Mountain.

Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center | 120 College St, Asheville, NC 28801

Asheville Art Museum

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A great date idea for couples, the gorgeously renovated Asheville Art Museum showcases an expansive collection of 20th and 21st-century American art. With three stories of pristine galleries, enjoy a MakerSpace and numerous community and family events, including weekend yoga. Head to the rooftop sculpture terrace and cafe. The views of Downtown Asheville are stellar.

We like pairing our visit with a dip in French Broad Chocolate and a stroll through Pack Square Park. Budget around one hour, and keep in mind, this is Asheville – don’t expect the Louvre. The Asheville Art Museum is a little underwhelming compared to bigger city museums but still worth a visit. We usually go at least once a year.

Asheville Art Museum | 2 South Pack Square, Asheville, NC 28801

Tours for history lovers: If you prefer guided tours, take a popular e-bike ride through Historic Downtown. Or, chase spirits on this ghost-walking tour.

Asheville Museum of Science

The Asheville Museum of Science is one of the most kid-friendly things to do. This is an exploratory children’s museum with an enormously cool Teratophoneus dinosaur skeleton, Teratophoneus Curriei. Find a STE(A)M lab and interactive French Broad River water table. Little geologists will appreciate the rock and gem displays and hands-on exhibits. A small warning, though: This Downtown Asheville museum isn’t as fun for childless adult travelers. Tom and I toured the facility in under 30 minutes – there wasn’t much there for us.

Asheville Museum of Science | 43 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Asheville Pinball Museum

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I love my Nintendo Switch and cozy gaming. Along with the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, the Asheville Pinball Museum is one of the first museums in Asheville we ever visited. What a blast. Visitors purchase a wristband – no coins required – to play endless vintage pinball and older and contemporary gaming console games. Donkey Kong on Super Nintendo, anyone? I had to pull Tom away from Frogger. Just remember the hand sanitizer. If you are in Hendersonville, try the Appalachian Pinball Museum.

Asheville Pinball Museum | 1 Battle Square Ste 1b, Asheville, NC 28801

Must-Visit Historic Sites In Asheville

Along with museums, Asheville has beautiful and important historic homes and sites. Read our entire list of Asheville’s best indoor and outdoor attractions.

Biltmore Estate

One of the most well-known museums in Asheville, head to America’s largest home, Biltmore Estate. Biltmore is fantastic for history lovers, bibliophiles, and ambitious gardeners. We enjoy the grounds so much that we renew our annual passes every year. And, contrary to popular belief, the grounds even provide endless family-friendly activities, including the Pisgah Playground and Biltmore Farmyard.

Constructed in the 1890s, you’ll love George W. and Edith Vanderbilt’s grandiose residence and mountain escape. Both Vanderbilts had a special interest in forestry and politics. Start with a self-guided tour of Biltmore House to learn all of its cool facts.

One of our favorite rooms includes the massive library with 22,000 volumes of books. George started the original Goodreads, journaling what he read. Keep your eyes out for the chess set that belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. Novelties of their time, Biltmore’s indoor pool and bowling alley add extra luxury and fun to the somewhat creepy-cool ambiance.

Biltmore Estate | 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803

More at Biltmore Estate: Biltmore hosts plenty of special and rotating exhibitions like Chihuly, which runs through January 2025. Candlelight Christmas at Biltmore is magical with blazing fireplaces and rooms filled with gorgeously decorated Christmas trees. See how to get the most out of that Biltmore ticket with our guide.

Thomas Wolfe Memorial

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My favorite museum in Asheville, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial is a must for literary travelers. Sure, Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel is a little dry, but the history is fantastic. Wolfe wrote about his Asheville neighbors in this classic and fictional yet largely autobiographical novel. Needless to say, the people of “Altamont” weren’t impressed. Wolfe barely changed their names, and he aired everyone’s dirty laundry. A story about growing up and craving more, his mother’s boarding house brings to life his novel.

Wolfe’s original home no longer stands, but he mostly resided at Julia Elizabeth Westall Wolfe’s boarding house. She was quite the female entrepreneur. Tour the home and hear the hilarious and salacious, yet sometimes devastating, stories about growing up in the South in the 1900s. The Thomas Wolfe Memorial also plays a short film and has a quaint museum showcasing Wolfe portraits and household items.

Thomas Wolfe Memorial | 52 N Market St, Asheville, NC 28801

Get lit in Asheville: If you enjoy Thomas Wolfe, read more about Asheville’s best writers, poets, and authors. North Carolina has more famous writers like Carl Sandburg; tour (or hike!) his home in Flat Rock. Visit Asheville’s local bookstores like Malaprop’s for even more regional literature. They host author events too.

Riverside Cemetery

Although not technically a museum, Riverside Cemetery is a historic landmark and Civil War site in Asheville’s Montford neighborhood. Walk 3.5 miles of paved roads in this beautiful Victorian cemetery, especially after seeing the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.

Opened in 1885, Riverside Cemetery encompasses 87 acres of picturesque grounds filled with flowers overlooking the French Broad River. Grab a walking guide at the gates to learn more about Asheville’s history, both good and bad.

An active cemetery, visit the graves of Thomas Wolfe and his family as well as O. Henry. Look for W.O. Wolfe’s famous angels. The cemetery is said to be one of Asheville’s top haunted places. The Historic Montford neighborhood is also known for its magical Shakespeare in the Park evenings.

Riverside Cemetery | 53 Birch St, Asheville, NC 28801

Museums Near Asheville

Whether you live in Asheville or are visiting the area, consider a day trip to its neighboring mountain cities and towns. These are just a few more of the best museums near Asheville:

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Christine Frascarelli

Christine (pronouns: she/her) is the owner and lead writer of Uncorked Asheville. After falling in love with those gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Christine and her husband Tom decided to call Asheville, North Carolina home. When her pointy Italian nose isn’t stuck in a book, Christine is adopting all of the kitties, getting lost in the forest, and drinking an ESB. She has a BA in English and History from Smith College, her MLIS from USF-Tampa, and is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar - Indonesia. Christine also owns The Uncorked Librarian LLC with books and movies to inspire travel.

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