24 Best Things To Do In Asheville We Love As Locals

Pinterest Hidden Image

Discover the best things to do in Asheville, NC from locals who know the ins and outs of the city. From waterfall hiking trails and wineries to hidden gems, this guide has it all!

Best Things To Do In Asheville Featured Image of sunset
Grove Park Inn sunset

This post may contain affiliate links that earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. If you love these free guides, support Uncorked Asheville with a small tip.

It’s hard to get restless in the mountains. Cheer for the Asheville Tourists, and gawk at George Vanderbilt’s library. See where Katniss found Peeta hiding in The Hunger Games or head to District 12. Hunt ghosts from the town’s purple drunk bus. Play vintage pinball and Sunday brunch on a rooftop bar. Watch a comedic version of Shakespeare in the Park surrounded by fireflies.

As Asheville residents, these are the things we love to do. For a quick trip, our 36-hour itinerary is for you. Be sure to plan your full Asheville adventure here. Visit our Events Calendar with festivals too.

Hit the hiking trails

Tom and Christine selfie at Craggy GardensPin
Craggy Gardens

It’s no secret that hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Pisgah National Forest is one of the best things to do in Asheville. We have quite a few favorite trails. For the best hikes with 360-degree views, head to Mount Pisgah, Fryingpan Mountain Tower, Craggy Pinnacle, and Max Patch. For short and easy kid-friendly hikes, trek Bearwallow Mountain, Moore Cove Falls, Hooker Falls, and Laurel River Trail.

Take this popular guided hiking tour with waterfalls and mountain views. Western NC also has great national and state parks like Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Chimney Rock State Park, Mount Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain, Gorges State Park

Relax with 30 tons of pink salt

Tom and Christine at Asheville Salt CavePin

We love the therapeutic Asheville Salt Cave. Sit surrounded by 30 tons of pure pink salt and water features. They have a children’s quiet play session and offer other services like massages, Hammam, and sound healing concerts. Reservations are required.

Watch a Grove Park Inn sunset

Christine and Tom at Grove Park InnPin

Watching the sunset at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn is a must. You don’t have to stay on the property to access this gorgeous adult Disney World-like luxury resort. It’s Asheville lodging at its best. We suggest making reservations at their delicious on-site restaurant, Edison, during sunset hours. In November and December, don’t miss their Annual National Gingerbread House Competition while sipping on hot chocolate.

Chase breathtaking waterfalls

Christine's family at Triple FallsPin
Triple Falls at DuPont

Chase those waterfalls. Transylvania County is known as the “Land of Waterfalls” with over 200+ waterfalls spanning Western North Carolina. A few of our favorites include Linville, Catawba, Mingo, Crabtree, and Looking Glass Falls. DuPont State Forest’s Triple Falls was a filming scene for The Hunger Games (do their 3-mile, 3-waterfall hike!)

If you are worried about getting lost or don’t have the right gear, consider taking a guided waterfall tour.

Wine taste at the beautiful vineyards

As “Uncorked Asheville,” it’s no surprise that drinking wine is one of our top Asheville things to do. Find countless wineries and vineyards around Asheville, especially in Crest of the Blue Ridge AVA in Henderson County and the Tryon Foothills. I most love:

  • Souther Williams
  • St. Paul Mountain Vineyards
  • Stone Ashe Vineyards
  • Mountain Brook Vineyards

Gossip at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Christine at Thomas Wolfe MemorialPin

Thomas Wolfe is a famous Asheville writer. He wrote Look Homeward, Angel, a loose retelling of his life growing up in Asheville (it’s a little dry). Tour The Thomas Wolfe Memorial, which is Julia Elizabeth Westall Wolfe’s (his mother) boarding house on Market Street. Then, drive over to Wolfe’s grave at historic Riverside Cemetery. O. Henry is also laid to rest in the gorgeous Victorian-styled cemetery. All of these stops are perfect for Asheville literary travelers like us.

If you love museums and historic sites, head to the Asheville Art Museum filled with American art or the small Asheville Museum of Science for little geologists who want to see a teratophoneus dinosaur skeleton.

Soak your feet with a massage

Foot soak at Wake Foot SanctuaryPin

Wake Foot Sanctuary is one of the most transcendent and unique things to do in Asheville. Choose from various soothing foot soaks filled with goodies to replenish and rejuvenate. I enjoy the Salty Beach Rose soak with lavender, jasmine, and rose salts paired with a hand and arm massage. Make advanced reservations.

Cruise the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway aerial viewPin
View from Craggy Pinnacle

Cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) is another one of the best Asheville things to do; it’s WNC’s most popular attraction. Running from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, hop on this 45 mph, two-lane road. Explore the gorgeous waterfalls, hikes, and scenic overlooks. Take a relaxed and small guided BRP waterfall tour. It’s the prettiest in October and may close for winter weather.

Watch Shakespeare in the Park

Tom at Shakespeare in the ParkPin

One of our favorite free things to do in Asheville includes grabbing dinner at Nine Mile or Tall John’s and watching the Montford Park Players perform a Shakespeare play. Picture quirky and comedic theater under the stars as fireflies light up the sky most Friday through Sunday evenings, May through October. Bring or purchase boozy beverages with a picnic. While tickets are free, leave a donation. It’s a great date idea too.

Sip craft cocktails or brunch on a rooftop bar

Charcuterie board at Montford Rooftop BarPin
The Montford

The poshest Asheville rooftop bars promise weekend brunch, sunsets, small plates filled with Southern favorites, and jaw-dropping views. I most enjoy:

  • Antidote
  • The Montford Rooftop Bar
  • Social Lounge

Tour Biltmore Estate like a passholder

Tom in Biltmore's Walled GardensPin
Walled Garden

Touring Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home, is one of the top Asheville attractions for first-time visitors. We are annual passholders. Wine taste, walk the gardens, tour the house, hike, and eat at their delicious restaurants like Cedric’s Tavern. Candlelight Christmas Evenings are magical. And yes, Biltmore is for kids too!

Stay overnight at Biltmore’s gorgeous properties like The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate or The Inn On Biltmore Estate. We (and family) stay at The Village Hotel for staycations during Passholder Appreciation months.

See Winter Lights and flowers at The NC Arboretum

Christine and Tom selfie at Winter LightsPin
Winter Lights

We are members of The North Carolina Arboretum and most love the gorgeous nature, hiking, and biking trails. See Bonsais and their famous Quilt Garden. In the winter, don’t miss The NC Arboretum’s Winter Lights event. Drink hot chocolate with vegan cookies as nature-themed holiday light displays dance to music. See more Christmas lights across WNC.

Devour an unforgettable, award-winning dinner

Nicknamed “Foodtopia” with James Beard award-winning restaurants, it’s no secret that eating out is one of the best things to do in Asheville for foodies. We have an entire food and drink guide by mealtime, cuisine, and area.

A few of our top restaurants as locals include:

Play vintage arcade games

Appalachian Pinball Museum pinball machinesPin

Playing vintage arcade games is by far one of the most fun Asheville things to do, especially on a rainy day. Located behind the Historic Grove Arcade, the Asheville Pinball Museum boasts older games like Donkey Kong and Frogger, video consoles for Nintendo and Super Nintendo, and pinball machines.

Learn about critters at the WNC Nature Center

Meet our furry locals at the WNC Nature Center for (younger) kid-friendly things to do in Asheville. See black bears, owls, wolves, otters, and red pandas. Find exploration stations and themed playground areas. Wide and paved walking paths are stroller-friendly. If you are a Buncombe County library card holder, reserve a ZOOM Pass for free admission.

Spend a day at the lake

Tom on Lake Morse Trail Lake at Lake LurePin
Lake Lure

We love walking the 2-mile Perimeter Trail around Beaver Lake and dipping into the Bird Sanctuary (free!). Western North Carolina is known for its gorgeous lakes including:

Try all of the craft beer

Christine with food and beer at Ginger's RevengePin
Ginger’s Revenge

Asheville has a happening craft beer scene filled with delicious rotating and permanent food trucks. If you can’t decide, take a Downtown Asheville guided beer tour. As locals, our favorite Asheville craft breweries include:

  • Zillicoah Beer (home to Master BBQ – a delicious Filipino food truck!)
  • Wedge at Foundation (home to The Chop Shop’s stellar food truck)
  • Hillman Beer
  • Green Man
  • Hi-Wire’s RAD Beer Garden
  • Wicked Weed

Meet (or run from) Asheville’s ghosts

Bullseye in Pack Square ParkPin
Pack Square Park’s bullseye

One of the best things to do in Asheville for dark tourists is to take a ghost tour, especially if you love paranormal stories and haunted houses. See why you should never turn off your car at Helen’s Bridge. Eat at a haunted restaurant. Learn about the Grove Park Inn’s Pink Lady. Popular Asheville ghost tours include:

North Carolina is filled with cryptids, folklore, and monsters similar to Nessie and Bigfoot. The Boojum isn’t just a beer. For even more things to do near Asheville, explore NC’s abandoned sites and ghost towns like Henry River Mill Village where they filmed Peeta’s bakery and Katniss’s home (District 12) of The Hunger Games.

Head to a roller skating rink

Christine at Smoky Mountain Sk8wayPin

From late spring to mid-fall, roller skating and rollerblading at Carrier Park’s former NASCAR circuit turned velodrome/“Mellowdrome” is one of our top Asheville things to do. Or, head to the RAD Riverwalk. We also love Waynesville’s Smoky Mountain Sk8way, which has mini-golf, inflatables, and comfort food. Discover even more public parks and gardens.

Laugh along with LaZoom

Christine at LaZoom's barPin

How many times have you spied a purple bus tearing down the streets of Asheville full of giggling and rowdy adults? If you are looking for hilariously fun things to do in Asheville, check out the LaZoom bus. They offer different comedy tours per age/audience. Enjoy their funky, kitschy bar full of eccentric tour guides and cat pillows. We loved the ghost tour where Zelda humped a bush in the rain.

Cheer for the Asheville Tourists

Asheville Tourists baseball fieldPin

For sports lovers and families, watch the Asheville Tourists play at McCormick Field, our minor league baseball team. Grab souvenirs, local beer, and baseball food. Watch cheesy in-between-innings games, and join in for the wave. Snap a photo with Ted E. Tourist. Maybe even see fireworks.

Attend a hipster or mainstream concert

Christine and Tom at Salvage StationPin
Salvage Station

Thrillest named AVL as one of the best music cities in the United States. If you are looking for evening things to do in Asheville, attend a concert. Asheville hosts a variety of festivals and concerts at places like:

Or, take a day trip or weekend getaway to Greenville for the Peace Center’s off-Broadway shows. We saw Disturbed at The Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

Bike down those gorgeous mountains

Christine with bike at Fonta Flora TrailPin

When visiting Asheville, guests love taking this guided Historic Downtown Asheville e-bike tour, which includes a bike, helmet, and guide. For more adventurous Asheville activities, try mountain biking.

The best trails include:

  • Bent Creek Experimental Forest
  • Old Fort Gateway Trails
  • Fonta Flora & Point Lookout Trail
  • DuPont State Forest
  • Swamp Rabbit Trail (Greenville, SC)
  • Thermal Belt Rail Trail

Go on a mural hunt

Can you spot Dolly, RuPaul, Betty White, Ella the “Joan of Asheville,” Homer Simpson, and The Dude? With such a vibrant arts scene, it’s no surprise that Asheville has terrific murals and urban art.

To start, we recommend heading to the River Arts District around Foundation Studios. Then, dip into West Asheville along Haywood Street. In Downtown Asheville, check out Triangle Park, paying homage to the city’s most important people and moments in the Black community.

Grab our favorite things to do with our free series

With so much to do, it’s hard to choose. Let us know your favorites, and be sure to sign up for our special series. Receive our top guides to help you plan your Asheville adventure.

As I was updating this article, one of our long-time followers wrote, “I LOVE your blog. Absolutely no need to seek other info for visiting.” It made my day, but take their word for it; we work hard to bring you the best information as residents.

Christine and Tom selfiePin

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.

6 Comments

  1. Liked all that was said. My husband and I don’t drink, I just wish you had more art’s, I turn glass and My husband use to blow glass. I did read that there are glass blowers there. To watch or learn or buy. I didn’t see
    Any of that. More restaurants distillery and drinking places. But I did enjoy reading. Thank you

    1. Hi Dorene,

      For glassblowing, we love Lexington Glassworks over on Lexington Ave. in Downtown Asheville (you can buy glasswork and watch them make it), or you could head to the North Carolina Glass Center in the River Arts District. The NC Glass Center, especially, has workshops and classes.

      For more art related things to do in Asheville – you’ll find info mentioned above – you’d most likely enjoy the River Arts District (RAD) in Asheville, which is filled with artist studios for all art mediums. Many sell their works and some offer classes. Foundation and Cotton Mill Studios are two great areas to start. Spy all of the great urban art too! Or, head to Downtown’s Asheville Art Museum or the Black Mountain College Museum (which is free). We also have a full guide to exploring the River Arts District linked – there’s so much to explore.

      I hope you enjoy Asheville!

  2. I’d rewrite #14. Skinny Dip Falls has been destroyed by Tropical Storm Fred. There are dozens and dozens of other places to visit, and sadly, SDF just isn’t a good destination anymore.

    1. Hi Fred – I was eyeing this article for updating. Thanks so much for the feedback and reminder – Skinny Dip was devastated by those floods. I appreciate the note and will be updating, especially for the busy fall season.

  3. Hi Christine.
    Great article. I wish I could blink my eyes and move to the Ashville area. Your article made Ashville see quite enticing. I’ve read other articles about it that focused on the flooding problems. Could you please comment on your experience with flooding. Also, you said that you’d share the contact info of your real estate agent. I’d love to have it if the offer still stands. Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Shari,

      Thank you! Sometimes I feel like we blinked our eyes, and here we are. Haha.

      Hmmm, we have not personally had flooding problems, but we live pretty high up in Asheville. We suffer more from the ice on the mountain hills — and our
      roads are ‘secondary’ so they don’t always get cleared right away.

      I do, however, know that south of the airport floods and some of the lower Asheville neighborhoods have had flooding issues. My personal experience is that flooding hasn’t affected me/our home/getting to work, but it seems dependent on where you live. I hope that helps.

      Please drop me a quick email, and I’ll pass along my realtor (just to maintain a little privacy): hello (at) uncorkedasheville (dot) com. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *