Balloon over the Blue Ridge Mountains

Asheville, North Carolina is a beautiful mountain town surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you will find unique art, great food, breweries, pretty gardens and world-famous historic attractions such as Biltmore Estate and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. Top things to do in Asheville, NC with kids include the Western North Carolina Nature Center which houses rare animals, a historic trolley tour and dining at family-friendly restaurants.

»Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate is a private estate and a popular tourist attraction in Asheville. Owned by the Vanderbilt family, the mansion and its spectacular gardens were built between 1889 and 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt and is currently the largest privately owned house in the United States.

The regal estate, which is one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age, can be explored on a variety of self-guided and guided tours, including a breathtaking rooftop tour, which offers unbelievable views, and a tour through the magnificent manicured gardens.

Stroll through Biltmore’s charming Antler Village and Winery, where you can browse quaint stores and taste fine estate wines, or get a feel for what estate life is like with an overnight stay at one of three luxurious accommodations.

1 Lodge St, Asheville, North Carolina 28803, Phone: 828-225-1333

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»Western North Carolina Nature Center

Western North Carolina Nature Center

Home to over 60 species of animals, including black bear, cougar and red wolves, the Western North Carolina Nature Center is a 42-acre zoological park dedicated to connecting and educating people about the fauna and flora of the Southern Appalachian region.

The Nature Center has an array of exhibitions showcasing incredible wildlife, including a variety of reptiles, amphibians and small mammals housed in the indoor Appalachian Station. Otter Falls is home to North American river otters and several species of aquatic turtles. If you are wondering what to do in Asheville with kids, this is a great place to visit.

The largest area of the park is the Appalachian Predators exhibit, which is home to red and gray wolves, bobcats and coyotes, while Black Bear Ridge features American black bears, white-tailed deer and a variety of birds of prey. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the park for family picnics. Vending machines provide soft drinks and snacks. Read more

75 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville, North Carolina 28805, Phone: 828-259-8080

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»Asheville Food Tours

Asheville Food Tours

Experience Asheville’s unique Southern culture and charm through its cuisine on a fantastic food tour through the city.

Asheville Food Tours take you on a culinary journey, visiting up to seven carefully selected restaurants, eateries and food shops in the trendy downtown area, where you can enjoy a range of food tastings, from delicious melt-in-your-mouth appetizers to freshly cooked entrées, accompanied by splashes of fine wine.

Established with the aim of introducing people to Asheville’s burgeoning culinary scene, as well as ‘keeping Asheville local’ by supporting and promoting local businesses, Asheville Food Tours offers visitors the chance to taste some its best gourmet delights, while at the same time meeting the expert hands behind the culinary creations (Phone: 828-243-7401). (website)

Great city destinations in North Carolina: Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh, Greensboro, Wilmington and Chapel Hill. Photo: Wollwerth Imagery/Fotolia

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»Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Thomas Wolfe Memorial

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial was once the home of a 20th-century American literature giant, Thomas Wolfe.

Situated in the Downtown Asheville Historic District, the Victorian period house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971 and is one of American literature’s most famous landmarks today. Wolfe depicted his beloved childhood home in his first epic novel, ‘Look Homeward, Angel’.

In 1998, the historic house was all but destroyed in a fire, however after an extensive restoration of both the house and its surviving artifacts, the building was once again opened to visitors. Read more

52 North Market Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801, Phone: 828-253-8304

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»No Taste Like Home

No Taste Like Home

No Taste Like Home takes visitors on a unique forage-to-table experience that lets them pick their own ingredients in the surrounding forest, accompanies by expert guides who help them identify edible roots, berries and mushrooms. Once the foraging is done, you get to cook what you picked as well.

Wild Food Adventures lets you choose from a number of signature experiences, excursions and events. ‘Lookin’ and Cookin’’ consists of foraging and cooking at one of the local restaurants. Other popular adventures and presentations include ‘Wild Food Banquets’, ‘Off-the-Eaten-Path’ and ‘Show and Smell’.

Ranked as one of Fodor’s ‘best food experiences in the world’, No Taste Like Home is a must-try when visiting Asheville. Read more

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»North Carolina Arboretum

North Carolina Arboretum

Resting within the Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, the North Carolina Arboretum is a 434-acre public garden that offers a range of activities for the whole family.

Established in 1986, the arboretum is home to hiking and biking trails, an intimate stream garden and a pretty garden dedicated to native and non-native hollies. Guided tours can be taken through the park, where expert botanists introduce you to the unique fauna and flora of the region.

The gardens also boast one of the most renowned bonsai collections in the country, as well as a diversity of beautiful flower exhibits year round. Refreshments in the form of snacks and drinks are available at the Savory Thyme Café located in the education center. Read more

100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, North Carolina 28806, Phone: 828-665-2492 Photo: Jill Lang/Fotolia

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»Curate Bar de Tapas

Curate Bar de Tapas

Built in a former 1927 bus depot in the heart of Asheville’s historic downtown district, Cúrate Bar de Tapas is a stylish tapas bar that celebrates traditional Spanish cuisine in a warm and welcoming setting.

Cúrate’s delicious and ever-changing menu will take you on a journey to Spain where dishes boast fire engine-red peppers, huge black olives and golden dollops of the smoothest virgin olive oil. In true Spanish style, eating good food is a celebration to be shared with friends and family and this vibrant atmosphere shines through in every corner of the restaurant.

Savor delicious delights such as smoky jamón Ibérico (cured ham), crispy croquetas de pollo (chicken croquettes) and melt-in-your-mouth patatas bravas (spicy, marinated potato cubes), accompanied by fine wines from across the country.

11 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, North Carolina 28801, Phone: 828-239-2946 Photo: Curate Bar de Tapas

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»Folk Art Center

Folk Art Center

The Southern Highland Craft Guild is a guild craft organization that represents over 1,000 craftsmen and women in 293 counties across nine southeastern states.

The Guild boasts the largest collection of Appalachian Craft in the world, which is on display and can be viewed in the Permanent Collection Gallery at the Folk Art Center in Asheville.

In addition to the collection, the center houses three galleries and a library, as well as an Eastern National bookstore and Blue Ridge Parkway information desk. Read more

Milepost 382 Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, North Carolina 28805, Phone: 828-298-7928 Photo: Folk Art Center

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»Diana Wortham Theatre

Diana Wortham Theatre

Located in the heart of the Pack Square Cultural District, home to Asheville's vibrant downtown arts scene, the Diana Wortham Theatre is an intimate theater that presents a variety of live music, theater and dance performances throughout the year.

Boasting outstanding acoustics and views, the venue is one of Western North Carolina’s premier performance spaces. The theater caters to touring artists, as well as local performers and events, and is home to the Asheville Puppetry Alliance, Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, and the Asheville Lyric Opera, amongst others.

Aiming to entertain and enrich visitors through various forms of artistic expression, the 500-seat theater is surrounded by museums, art galleries, restaurants and bars, adding to the vibrant and energetic atmosphere of the downtown scene.

2 South Pack Square, Asheville, North Carolina 28801, Phone: 828-257-4530 (website)

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»Wake Foot Sanctuary & Spa

Wake Foot Sanctuary & Spa

Wake is all about pampering, preening and indulgent pleasure. Situated in the historic Grove Shopping Arcade in downtown Asheville, Wake offers guests a soul-calming escape for body, mind and feet with a range of luxurious foot soak services, and tailor-made massages.

Deep-set couches and soft chairs provide pure comfort for guests to lounge in as their feet are treated to revitalizing treatments in large hand-hammered copper bowls. Sensual fragrances float up from the water in which feet are soaked, such as lavender and lemongrass, and freshly brewed tea and coffee with sweet treats are served during the session.

Guests can also enjoy a range of ad-on massages on the head, neck and shoulders, as well as feet and lower legs during the foot soak, and can browse through the shop after their treatment, which stocks a variety of artisan-made goods and gifts, handcrafted candles, and sensual apothecary products. More: North Carolina destinations, beaches and lighthouses

1 Page Ave., Asheville, North Carolina 28801, Phone: 828-575-9799

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»Fig Bistro

Fig Bistro

Fig Bistro is a small and intimate French restaurant in Asheville’s Biltmore Village, boasting a diverse menu brimming with delicious fusions of New American and traditional French cuisine.

The menu features a variety of seasonal dishes made from local ingredients grown at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and daily chef’s specials such as ‘Buta No Kakuni’ (house-cured pork belly), fresh Chilean salmon with melted leeks and wine-braised beef brisket. Don’t miss the Fig Bistro’s famed ‘Pots de Crème’ - mouthwatering chocolate pots de crème stuffed with salted cashew cookies – that draw visitors from afar.

The lovely little restaurant has a casual, laid-back ambiance with bistro-style quarters and a protected patio with comfortable seating. Friendly staff greets you on arrival and caters to your every need with outstanding, yet subtle service.

18 Brook Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28803, Phone: 828-277-0889

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»Gray Line Trolley

Gray Line Trolley

What better way to explore and experience Asheville than on a historic hop-on/hop-off trolley tour?

Departing every 30 minutes from various stops around the city, nostalgic red trolleys wind their way through the city on a narrated journey where you can learn all about the history, heritage and architecture of Asheville. Whilst on the trolley, expert guides will talk about the history of the city and point out various attractions and interesting things to see.

When you hop off the trolley, which can be at any stop during the tour, you will have the chance to explore the quaint shops, boutiques, museums and galleries dotted about town at your own leisure. When you are done, simply board the trolley as it heads for the next stop. Choose from a selection of tours, such as Ghost Tours, which will take you through the haunted history of the city and illuminate the darker side of Asheville, or Christmas Tours, which celebrate the jolly season. Phone: 828-251-8687

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»Farm Burger

Farm Burger

For pure ‘home-grown’ burgers, thick cut, crispy fries and dew-fresh salads, Farm Burger is the place to visit. Farm Burger take pride in using fresh, seasonal ingredients and sourced from local farms in the area to create unrivalled farm-to-fork cuisine.

Farm Burger’s famous burgers are made from grass-fed beef, humanely raised, fed on natural grass and free from antibiotics or growth hormones, creating a burger patty like no other. Create your own burger with a choice of ingredients available on the menu, and add delectable accompaniments such as crispy sweet potato fries and fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese.

Wash it all down with a range of comfort drinks like bacon brittle shake and Wells Banana Bread Beer.

10 Patton Ave, Asheville, North Carolina 28801, Phone: 828-348-8540 (website)

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»Grovewood Gallery

Grovewood Gallery

Established to rejuvenate the once famous weaving and woodworking complex of Biltmore Industries, Grovewood Gallery houses an exceptional collection of traditional and contemporary crafts by more than 500 artists from around the United States.

Merging historical Old World charm with traditional arts and crafts, the gallery has become known as one of the top retailers of fine American craft in the country.

The gallery is surrounded by beautifully manicured sculpture gardens, where you can stroll in tranquility, as well as Grovewood Studios, an authentic working artist’s studio, the Homepsun Museum, which documents the history of weaving and spinning, and the Este-Winn Antique Car Museum, which houses a rare collection of old automobiles from a bygone era.

111 Grovewood Rd, Asheville, North Carolina 28804, Phone: 828-253-7651

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15 Best Things to Do in Asheville, North Carolina