Being a native North Carolinian, I have always loved the mountain town of Asheville. It is quirky, hip, and funky while also being home to great restaurants, tons of outdoor activities, and the biggest private home in America! There is a lot to do in Asheville almost any time of the year, from summer rafting to fall hiking to winter holiday displays.
Asheville makes a great home base for any family vacation. Being close to other mountain destinations, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can easily fill a week of fun things to do with kids.
General tips on an Asheville trip with kids:
- Asheville is best seen by car. If you are staying in the city only, you can use the Asheville Trolley to see most of the main sites. Tickets are sold at the visitor center.
- Food: Asheville has become known as a food destination for southern food with an Appalachian twist. Most restaurants are child-friendly. Some of our favorites are Tupelo Honey Cafe, Early Girl Eatery, Farm Burger, and the Sunday buffet brunch at the Grove Park Inn. Don’t miss ice cream from Sunshine Sammies!
- Lodging: Asheville has many great, family-friendly hotels. I recommend the Grove Park Inn for ambiance and history. During the holiday season, it is home to an amazing gingerbread house display that your kids will love. The lobby with its massive fireplaces (be sure to show your kids the elevator in the fireplace!) and Sunset Terrace restaurant are worth a visit even if you don’t stay here. If you have any child-free time, the Grove Park Spa is amazing. Another recommended hotel is the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate. There are many hotels downtown that provide suites for families, including the Haywood Park Hotel. Asheville also has many cabin/home rental companies. One that I have personally used and recommend is Yonder Vacation Rentals.
- Shopping: Downtown Asheville has many shopping districts, including the Grove Arcade and the well-known Malaprops bookstore. Don’t miss Mast General Store where you can buy candy from your childhood, books, toys, and clothing.
- Websites to help you plan your trip:
Don’t miss attractions with kids:
- Downtown urban trail scavenger hunt: Walk into history by using this map to see 30 different historical statues (including cute pigs!) and sites in downtown Asheville. Kids love finding the hidden items around downtown.
- Asheville Pinball Museum
- Asheville Museum of Science
- Western NC Nature Center
- NC Arboretum
- Asheville-Biltmore Gem Mines
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Outdoor activities: Asheville’s location in the mountains and along a river makes it a wonderful place to hike, bike, or raft. Adventure companies can help you plan a family-friendly outing, such as French Broad Adventures.
- Asheville is where the movie “The Hunger Games’’ was filmed. Your teens will love visiting the sites from the movie. Check out this guide to the sites.
- Nearby attractions include:
- Hands On! A Child’s Gallery (30 minute drive): Children’s museum in cute town of Hendersonville
- Chimney Rock (45 minute drive): Climb to the top for an amazing view. Also where the film, “Last of the Mohicans” was filmed.
- Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest (1 hour drive): Your kids can slide down a 60 foot natural waterslide!
- Mount Mitchell (1 hour drive): Visit the highest mountain east of the Mississippi, easily accessible by car.
- Grandfather Mountain (1.5 hour drive): Walk over the Mile High Swinging Bridge if you dare!
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1 hour, 15 minute drive to the nearest visitor center): Lots of hiking and camping opportunities in this large park.
- Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, TN (1 hour, 45 minute drive): Tons of kid-friendly attractions, museums, and activities, including the Dollywood amusement park.
- Tweetsie Railroad (2 hours drive): Great amusement park built around a railroad.
Historical Sites: Check back often for more of these sites to be reviewed by The History Mom! Note that only sites reviewed by The History Mom are marked with *. Other links are external links to the museum’s own web site.
- *Biltmore Estate
- Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site
- Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace
- Oconaluftee Indian Village and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (1 hour, 10 minute drive)
Books to read:
- 14 and up:
- 10 and up:
- 6 and up:
This page is continually updated.