Best Things To Do in Asheville: Complete Travel Guide
Asheville, North Carolina has quickly become one of our favorite towns in the entire country. The allure of the mountains, diverse outdoor activities, fantastic food, and breweries draws us back year after year.
We’ve visited four seperate times and continuously find new things to do in Asheville. If you’re planning a trip to Asheville, NC here’s some of the fun things to do in the city, including Asheville hiking, the best restaurants, breweries, and popular activities.
When is the best time to visit Asheville?
Nestled over 6,000 ft high in the Blue Ridge mountains Asheville has something to enjoy in all 4 seasons. However, summer and fall are the most popular times to visit thanks to their warmer weather and ideal conditions for leaf-peeping.
If you do come in winter be prepared for cold weather and possibly snow. Some roads, including parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway, are closed for winter which could impact what activities you are able to do.
Getting to Asheville
Asheville has a small regional airport if you’re flying in which makes it super convenient to get to. We recommend renting a car. While there are cabs and ride share apps like Uber they can be expensive and have limited availability in the late evenings.
It’s also helpful to have your own car because a lot of the fun things to do in Asheville require a 15 to 30 minute drive from the heart of the city.
Being from Florida and also traveling full time in an RV we’ve always driven to Asheville in our own vehicle or RV. The drive is through the mountains, so be prepared for lots of steep grades and windy highways.
Where to stay in Asheville
There is no shortage of amazing places to stay in and around the city for any budget. Where and how you stay will really depend on what you’re looking to do.
If you are only there for a day or two and want to eat and drink your way through the city we recommend booking a stay at any of the hotels downtown. There are several large hotel chains in the downtown city center which is great if you have points saved up with your favorite Hotel provider.
You can also choose to stay closer to the Biltmore Estate which is on the south eastern side of the city and about a 20 minute drive from downtown.
We love the Wrong Way River Lodge and Cabins for a rustic and romantic getaway with gorgeous views of the river and mountain. It’s also a mid-range price point for hotel and accommodations.
The Omni Grove Park Inn is a history hotel that over looks the Blue Ridge Mountains. The hotel has been in operation for over 100 years and gives visitors a high-end experience with rustic charm.
If you are looking for a budget stay we recommend checking out pricing on Airbnb. There are loads of homes, cottages, and rooms to rent in the neighborhoods surrounding the city.
We personally loved staying in the River Arts District. There aren’t many hotels there but there are loads of Airbnb’s. This neighborhood had fantastic restaurants and great shops for perusing.
RV camping in Asheville
If you’re coming to Asheville North Carolina in an RV there are only three RV campgrounds within a 10 to 15 minute drive of the city. And they fill up quickly. We highly recommend booking months in advance for your stay, especially if you want to stay more than a day or two.
Option 1: Asheville’s Bear Creek RV Park
The RV sites are close together but it’s a full-service RV park that can fit rigs of all sizes. Prices range from $60 and up depending on season and site offerings. It’s around a 10 minute drive from downtown and a 7 minute drive to the Biltmore Estate.
Option 2: Wilsons Riverfront RV Park
The RV sites are close together but it’s a full-service RV park that can fit rigs of all sizes. It’s smaller than Bear Creek RV Park but is the closest to most of the destinations including downtown. Prices range from $60 and up depending on season and site offerings.
Option 3: Campfire Lodgings
If you want to be closer to nature, Campfire Lodgings is on the north side of town with incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This makes it a great spot for leaf-peeping if you are visiting in fall. Prices range from $65 and up depending on season and site offerings. Downtown is around a 15 minute drive from the park and the Biltmore is around a 20 minute drive.
Option 4: Lake Powhatan State Park
If the RV parks are fully booked you can try to secure a first come first serve spot at Lake Powhatan State Park on the southwestern part of the city. It’s going to be a 20 minute drive from nearly everything, but if you’re in a bind it’s a great place to camp nestled in a natural setting.
There is no electricity at the sites but there is water and dump station near the entrance. Prices start around $40 per night.
Top things to do in Asheville, North Carolina
There’s no way you’re going to see and do it all in a few days. We’ve visited Asheville four separate times and still feel like we’ve only touched the surface.
However, this list will certainly help you get a better idea of some of the best things to do in Asheville and plan your trip accordingly.
1. Take a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Asheville is nestled along the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most iconic drives in all of the United States. If you are looking for a scenic drive I highly recommend hopping on the parkway and taking a leisure stroll through the mountains. There are several overlooks with breathtaking views along the way.
2. Tour the Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate is the largest home in America, and an incredible piece of history. Originally built by the Vanderbilt Family in 1895 this home was once the private residence and vacation home for one of the wealthiest families in American history.
Visitors can now tour the 8,000 acre estate, including a stop at its vineyard, gardens, a tour of its organic farm, and 175,000 square foot home. The tours aren’t cheap, but we definitely think it’s worth the money. We took an audio tour and absolutely loved it.
3. Go for a hike
Asheville is surrounded by forests and mountains, making it a great place for hiking.
There are dozens of hikes to try within a short 30 minute to hour drive, making it a perfect day or afternoon activity. During the summer, we hiked to Buttermilk Falls which was just under 3 miles roundtrip and great for all ages. Just be prepared for a crowd and come early, as this is one of the most popular trails for hiking in Asheville.
On our last trip we headed into Pisgah National Forest about 45 minutes southwest of Asheville just outside of the city of Brevard. This was our first time to the area and we really enjoyed it. It’s also filled with fantastic hiking.
We hiked Moore Cove while in Pisgah, which allows you to walk behind the waterfall! If you’re looking for different trails nearby, we highly recommend All Trails, which has both a free and paid version of their app for hiking.
4. Visit the North Carolina Arboretum
The North Carolina Arboretum is a great stop if you’re looking to spend some time in nature. They have a wide variety of plants and gardens with gorgeous vistas of the Pisgah National Forest. We visited close to Christmas time and they were preparing for special light show which happens for the Holidays.
5. Go tubing down the French Broad River
If you’re coming to Asheville in the summer time a must-do activity is floating down the French Broad River. Tubing in Asheville is an iconic activity that can be done in an afternoon or full day if you include stops at the many riverside restaurants, bars, or breweries like New Belgium.
If you want to do it yourself, you can purchase tubes from a store and enter at the Hominy Creek River Park near the Biltmore or Carrier Park near downtown. Then take an Uber or cab back to your hotel once you get out of the river. But for most visitors it will be easier to book this experience through a tour company. They will provide tubes, drop you off, and pick you up when you’re done floating.
There are several tour companies that offer this service, but two popular companies are Zen Tubing and French Broad Outfitters. Cost for the experience will run anywhere from $12.50 for minors to $30 per adult. Make reservations as the rivers get packed in the summer season.
6. Visit one of the many Asheville waterfalls
The forests and mountains surrounding Asheville are home to close to 75 waterfalls. A short 15 to 30 minute drive in almost direction means you can enjoy a breathtaking view or cool off in the refreshing and brisk water of the falls.
A few popular hikes and waterfalls in the area are Rainbow Falls, Catawba Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Crabtree Falls.
If you’re looking for more of an adventure in your waterfall hunting, make sure to stop at Sliding Rock. Located in the Pisgah National Forest about a 45 minute drive from Asheville, visitors can pay a mere $4 entry fee to slide down a 60 foot slope shaped waterfall. This place gets popular so it’s a good idea to come early. If the parking lot fills-up that means it’s full and they won’t let new visitors in.
7. Visit one of the many Asheville breweries
Asheville North Carolina is a beer city. Home to roughly 20 breweries, it’s got no shortage of fantastic beer to try. Many breweries are located right along the river, making them the perfect stop on if you are tubing. But a beer crawl is a must in this city.
If we could only go to one brewery it would be Burial Beer Co. In our opinion it’s the best brewery in the city.
Their beers were super flavorful, creative, and well balanced. Plus their food menu was fantastic.
If you’re looking for other recommendations for the best Asheville breweries to visit on your trip, make sure to check out this blog post that covers each of them individually.
8. Eat at some of the best Asheville restaurants
Asheville is a seriously tasty city. We have been blown away by their food scene and are constantly discovering new fantastic restaurants to eat at in or return visits. Below are a few of our favorites.
Best breakfast in Asheville, NC
- Sunny Point Cafe (West Asheville) offers traditional breakfast options with a unique twist. Almost always a wait, but worth it!
- Biscuit Head is an institution in Asheville. Known for an array of southern biscuit and gravy combinations with enormous biscuits. While it is delicious, it’s become rather touristy and very busy. To avoid the crowd, go to the West Asheville location.
- Over easy cafe is a must. They are making creative, flavorful, and beautiful dishes with local seasonal ingredients. Their menu changes often, so it’s always a new experience.
- Hole Doughnuts (West Asheville). Hole Doughnuts is one of the only places we’ll get doughnuts from (they are so good). There are only four doughnut flavors to choose from:
- Vanilla glazed
- Toasted almond sesame cinnamon (our favorite)
- Cinnamon sugar
- Seasonal flavor that changes weekly
Every doughnut is made to order, hand formed from their yeasted dough recipe, fried to perfection in rice oil, then hand glazed and dressed right in front of you.
This place gets busy, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line — it’s worth it though. If Hole Doughnuts doesn’t seem like your style, you can get more traditional doughnuts from Vortex who also uses great quality ingredients, made in house daily with no trans-fat oils.
Best lunch in Asheville North Carolina
- Chai Pani now with several locations throughout the southeast (including Ponce City Market in Atlanta) serves creative Indian style street food. Chai Pani specializes in chat, which is Indian street food, known for its balance of flavors and textures.
We’ve been twice now, and both times have been amazing. There are no reservations, so if coming on a weekend, make sure you get there early to get a spot in line. Suggested items to order are the okra fries, bhel puri, vada pav, saag paneer.
- Buxton Hall BBQ is one of the few restaurant on this list we haven’t personally eaten at, but it has been recommended to us time and time again. If you like BBQ, we’ve been told this is one of the best BBQ spots in all of Asheville.
- White Duck Taco has several locations allowing you to get your taco on across the city. They are not a traditional taco shop. Instead, White Duck Taco uses unique flavors in taco format. It’s casual, fast, cheap, and delicious.
- Burial Beer Co not only has amazing beers, but truly has incredible food! The chef at the restaurant was a James Beard nominated chef for Asheville’s Cucina 24 (a great dinner spot). We would go back just for their food.
- White labs is a brewery and restaurant melding the art of experimental fermentation. They use experimental yeast in their doughs and beers which creates a very unique and delicious menu for both food and drinks. We ordered the kimchi fries and a pizza and loved both, although the kimchi fries stole the show. Seriously, we will forever dream of these kimchi fries.
- Sierra Nevada Brewery is a great lunch spot. They offer brewery tours with a tasting room and full restaurant. Their food was super tasty and they have nice grounds for enjoying a warm day in Asheville.
Best Asheville restaurants for dinner
- Rhubarb is seasonal, local, and so creative. Their portions are smaller, more like a tapa size plate than an entree, but we loved everything we ordered! Their cocktails were also very creative and delightful.
- Limones serves Mexican and Central American inspired foods that will leave you wanting more. Absolutely fantastic! Reservations are highly recommended.
- Curate is known as Asheville’s best restaurant, and is from a James Beard award winning chef Katie Button serving authentic Spanish tapas and dishes. This restaurant is extremely tough to get a reservation at. We ended up snagging a canceled reservation (you can sign up for this here) and finally got to see what this restaurant was made of.
The food was good, it wasn’t the best we’ve ever had. It’s definitely worth a visit, and if you haven’t been to Spain, Curate’s tapas are authentic, but we feel Asheville has other incredible restaurants to try.
- Plant is an upscale, vegan, plant based restaurant that is getting a ton of recognition for their innovative menu. We finally got a table here during our last stay and it did not disappoint. Even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, their food is super creative and tasty and 100% worth a visit. This will be a restaurant we return to every time we come back to Asheville, no matter what.
- Nine Mile has also come highly recommended. We haven’t personally tried it but several friends have and they had only great things to say. Nine Mile serves upscale Caribbean food, making it a healthier and fun option for a nice meal out.
We went to Jargon during our last trip to Asheville and it’s quickly become one of our favorite restaurants in the city. Located in West Asheville, Jargon offers both creative cocktails and seasonally changing menu. We loved everything we got on the menu and highly recommend a visit if you’re looking for a nice meal.
Like any city, this guide is intended to help you make the most of your visit whether it be a few days or a week long. There is always something new to enjoy and explore here.
We hope you enjoyed this travel guide to Asheville including the best restaurants, breweries, and things to do. Let us know in the comments your favorite activities in the area in the comments below, and if you found it helpful share it with others!
Liz & Dennis
We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!
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I’ve seen you eating some interesting looking food in your RV. Do you have a recipe collection or a place where you get your recipes?
I find recipes online and use an app called Plan to Eat that helps me store them and plan my meals for the week. I love it!
We love our Vlog! Thank you!
Where did you camp while you visited Asheville?
Glad you enjoyed it! There are two RV parks outside the city limit but make sure you reserve early! They aren’t huge and have high demand, meaning it fills up fast. We luckily had someone offer their driveway for us during our last stay!