Many of the best things to do in Asheville are excellent for hikers, bicyclists, and paddlers, thanks to the city’s proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy great scenic road trips and activities in the nearby Pisgah National Forest.

    Downtown Asheville has an eclectic culture with a vibrant arts scene, antique shops, and an abundance of trendy breweries. The city’s biggest attraction, however, is the luxurious Biltmore Estate, which is one of the most impressive architectural masterpieces in the USA. No matter your interests, there’s no shortage of things to do in Asheville.

    What are the best things to do in Asheville?


    Biltmore Estate

    Visit the largest private estate in the country

    • History
    • Photo

    Biltmore Estate is the French Renaissance-style estate of George Vanderbilt. It was originally built in 1895 and is considered America’s largest private home with 250 rooms and an 8,000-acre garden with 2.5 miles of footpaths. Admission to the estate allows you to tour the grounds and several rooms.

    You can admire the impressive architecture along with the intricate interior filled with antiques and rare artwork. You should also allow enough time to visit the gardens, as well as the Estate’s River Bend Farm and winery. For an additional charge, you can join a guided tour that includes parts of the enormous estate that are not usually open to the public.

    Location: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 800-411-3812


    River Arts District

    Browse local art galleries and studios

    • History

    The River Arts District is a mile-long stretch along the French Broad River that houses art studios and galleries in several old buildings. It’s not too far from downtown Asheville and is a great place to support artists across different mediums.

    The galleries and artist workshops occupy 23 former industrial and historical buildings. You can find a variety of art, from paintings to ceramics to handmade jewellery. There are no set open times for each of the galleries, but you'll find plenty of open studios with resident artists any time of the year. Some galleries even offer classes and events for those interested in getting involved.

    Location: 3 River Arts Pl, Asheville, NC 28801, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 828-388-3526


    Asheville Urban Trail

    Explore the cultural and architectural history of the city

    • Photo
    • Adventure

    The Asheville Urban Trail is a 1.7-mile long city trail that weaves through downtown Asheville. It’s designed to showcase the city’s unique past, with 30 stops marked with a public sculpture that captures an important moment in history.

    The trail is divided into 5 time periods, from the Gilded Age to the present. It starts at Pack Square and circles around downtown before finishing back at the same place. If you want to explore the entire trail and all 30 stops, you should allow about 2 hours of your time. It’s a self-guided tour, but you can download various resources such as maps and an audio guide from the Asheville Urban Trail’s official website.

    Location: 11 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 828-258-6129


    photo by Jason Riedy (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Basilica of Saint Lawrence

    Marvel at the architectural wonder of this historic landmark

    • Budget
    • History

    The Basilica of Saint Lawrence is one of Asheville’s architectural treasures. This minor basilica of the Roman Catholic church was built in 1905 in the middle of the downtown district.

    The church is constructed in a Spanish Baroque style and features the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America. It was designed by the architects who were responsible for Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate and is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city from that time. It’s open for mass and confessions as well as tours for those who are interested in learning about the impressive building.

    Location: 97 Haywood St, Asheville, NC 28801, USA

    Phone: +1 828-252-6042


    Shop for antiques at Swannanoa River Road

    Hunt for vintage treasures

    • Shoppers

    Swannanoa River Road is one of the best districts to find antiques in Asheville. The road follows the river near the Historic Biltmore Village and has around 10 stores and small malls dedicated to selling antiques and vintage items.

    You can spend hours browsing through all the treasures at any of the stores. Antique Tobacco Barn is one of the most popular places on the strip with 75 separate dealers in a 77,000-sq-ft old barn. Further along, Bryant Antiques also has 70 dealers in a maze of rooms with a range of antiques and vintage items.

    Location: Swannanoa River Rd, Asheville, NC 28805, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm


    Folk Art Center

    Discover Southern Appalachian crafts and culture

    • Families
    • History

    The Folk Art Center is home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which dates back to the 1890s. The centre showcases the artists and craftsmen of Southern Appalachia across 3 galleries and a museum, with permanent and special exhibitions.

    Throughout the year, the centre hosts many workshops and events that highlight the materials and techniques of the Southern Highland area. If you'd like to purchase an item as a souvenir of your time in Asheville, you can find the Allanstand Craft Shop at the centre, which is the oldest of its kind in the country. The Folk Art Center is just 6 miles east of downtown Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Location: 382 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Asheville, NC 28805, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 828-298-7928


    photo by Doug Coldwell (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Blue Ridge Parkway

    Take a scenic drive along a section of this 469-mile road

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Photo
    • Group

    The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile drive that begins in Virginia and winds its way through much of western North Carolina. The headquarters and main visitor centre for the parkway are located in Asheville, just 6 miles east of the city centre.

    There are several scenic lookouts, picnic areas, and hiking trails along the road to stop and enjoy. You can start at the visitors centre and drive a local section of the parkway as a day trip. The beautiful mountain scenery along the road is breathtaking any time of the year.

    Location: Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, NC 28803, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 828-298-5330


    Pisgah National Forest

    Spend some time outdoors in this vast parkland

    • Photo
    • Adventure

    The Pisgah National Forest is a large 500,000-acre forest about 25 miles northeast of downtown Asheville. It's known for its array of activities and breathtaking viewpoints, with hundreds of miles of trails and waterfalls. 

    Pisgah was one of the first national forests in the country, with a part of the area originally belonging to the Biltmore Estate. Popular day activities in the park include hiking, horseback riding, cycling, and fishing. One of the forests’ highlights is Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. It’s possible to climb to the top of the peak on a challenging 6-mile trail.

    Location: Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina 28761, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 828-257-4200


    Tour a brewery

    Explore the beer capital of the Southeast

    • Food

    Asheville is famous for breweries. It has more breweries per capita than anywhere in the USA with about 100 local beers to try. You can conduct your own tour by car or on foot, but local group brewery tours are available, too.

    Most places are open for tastings from midday onwards, some of which offer light meals. Well-known breweries include Asheville Brewing Company, Wicked Weed Brewing Pub, and Burial Beer Co., all within walking distance of downtown Asheville.

    photo by The ed17 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Pritchard Park

    Enjoy the lively drum circle every Friday in this urban park

    • Budget
    • Families

    Pritchard Park is a tree-lined urban park in the middle of downtown Asheville. Surrounded by the popular retail area of Patton Ave, it has a water feature and boulders in the small green space.

    The park's main attraction, however, is the weekly drum circle. It's become one of the city's iconic events. On Fridays between 5 pm and 8 pm, people congregate to drum, dance or just watch the amazing cross-cultural experience in the middle of the park. The local tradition has been going for almost 20 years. For many people, this weekly event is the perfect showcase of the city’s modern culture.

    Location: 67 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 828-251-1122

    Elisha Donkin | Contributing Writer

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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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