1. Blue Ridge Parkway
No trip to Asheville is complete without an auto-tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This stretch of highway is home to some of the most scenic sights in the Southeast. There are stunning vistas at every turn, and plenty of places to park to enjoy the views.
Be sure to stop at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center before you go. Here, you can pick up helpful maps and brochures as well as learn about the history of the Parkway.
One of the best free things to do in Asheville is simply get outside and go for a hike! There are hundreds of trails to choose from, too. Some of our favorites include:
- The Grandfather Trail
- Crabtree Falls
- Looking Glass Rock
- Craggy Gardens
- Hawksbill Mountain
3. Brewery Tours
Did you know Asheville has a thriving craft beer scene? This town has over 25 craft breweries and you can tour the majority of them. Three breweries we recommend touring include:
- Sierra Nevada: Numerous tour options are available, each focusing on different topics and of varying lengths. Of course, if you’re over 21, beer samplings are included with your tour. Tours fill up quickly, so make sure to reserve your tour in advance.
- New Belgium Brewery: Take a free 90-minute tour of the New Belgium Brewery to enjoy samples of year-round and rare offerings. This tour is open to all ages but only those 21+ can imbibe. Reservations are highly recommended.
- Highland Brewing: Complimentary 45-minute walking tours of the brewery are available every day of the week. During the tour, you’ll learn about the history of the brewery and enjoy free beer samples.
4. Shindig on the Green
Free mountain bluegrass concerts are a staple of Shindig on the Green, a festival that has been featured in Downtown Asheville for over 50 years. Each summer, at Pack Square Park, visitors, and locals alike gather to enjoy mountain music, dancing, and more!
5. Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower
Built in 1941 by the United States Forest Service, this tower is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Trek a short .75 miles to reach Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower. Once there, you can climb five flights of stairs for a perch right below the top of the tower (it is locked). The views from this vantage point is fantastic!
6. Art in the Park
Some of the best free things to do in Asheville include festivals, among them Art in the Park. This festival features some of the finest artists in the southeast and takes place on three consecutive Saturdays each June and October.
7. Asheville Urban Trail
On Asheville’s Urban Trail, covering 1.7 miles, you can discover a whole new side of Downtown Asheville. Often called Asheville’s “museum without walls,” this urban trail consists of 30 stations marked with bronze sculptures and local artwork. Each station highlights the history of the downtown area and the various notable people who once lived there.
8. Pisgah National Forest
Comprised of more than 500,000 acres, Pisgah (pronounced PIZ-guh) National Forest is an ideal place to spend time in the great outdoors of North Carolina. Here, you can vistas from mile-high mountain peaks, trek through hardwood forests, witness cascading waterfalls, and so much more.
9. Botanical Gardens of Asheville
An urban sanctuary with more than 600 species, the Botanical Gardens of Asheville are an enchanting escape just minutes from downtown. Visit to enjoy walking trails through meadows and over bridges and streams, view wildflower gardens, historic demonstrations, and numerous other activities.
10. Downtown After 5
During the summer season, one of the best free things to do in Asheville is the Downtown After 5 festival. It features live music and free concerts by top regional bands. Simply head to Lexington Avenue to enjoy the sounds of this free event!
11. Mineral & Lapidary Museum
This museum rocks, literally! Showcasing a variety of rocks and fossils, the Mineral and Lapidary Museum features a mix of exhibits that range from specimens of raw minerals in their natural state to polished gemstones and other finished material. There’s even a massive T-Rex skull on display.
12. Downtown Buskers
In Downtown Asheville, all you have to do is walk the streets to hear free, live music thanks to buskers performing on nearly every street corner. If you hear something you like, be sure to leave a tip!
13. Montford Park Players
During the summer season (June-September), watch a free Shakespeare performance at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
14. North Carolina Homespun Museum
Head to Grovewood Village to view antiques and memorabilia of Biltmore Industries, a company once renowned for its hand-loomed fabrics.
15. Antique Car Museum
Also at Grovewood Village is the Antique Car Museum. If you’re a car enthusiast, this collection of vintage vehicles will be a must-see.
16. Grovewood Village
In addition to the North Carolina Homespun Museum and Antique Car Museum, Grovewood Village is also an ideal place to visit working artists’ studios and galleries featuring handmade crafts. Plus, there’s also a landscaped sculpture garden on-site that makes a visit even more pleasant.
17. Graveyard Fields Hike
For an interesting hike in Asheville, we suggest the Graveyard Fields hike. This place got its name from the tree stumps resembling gravestones, so it does have a slightly creepy vibe. However, at the end of the hike, you’re rewarded with a beautiful waterfall!
18. River Arts District
Asheville has a thriving arts scene, which is on full display at the River Arts District. Visit here to explore and see local talent with over 100 artists working at any given time across 25 different buildings. Keep in mind, on the second Saturday of every month, artists hosts demonstrations of their work.
19. WNC Farmer’s Market
An open-air market open seven days a week, visitors and locals alike venture here to get a taste of local produce, crafts & plants.
20. The Big Crafty
Once a year, Asheville hosts The Big Crafty, a juried show of creative indie artists. In total, more than 150 artists are featured at the show which takes place each summer at Pack Square Park.
21. Folk Arts Center
If you’re curious about folk art inspired by Southern Appalachia, be sure to visit the Folk Arts Center in Asheville. This is a wonderful place to learn about the culture of the Blue Ridge Mountain area. Both admission and parking are free!
22. Basilica of St. Lawrence
Designed by the same architect as the Biltmore Estate, the Basilica of St. Lawrence is a grand old church offering both guided and self-guided tours. As one of the only basilicas remaining in the United States, this is one of Asheville’s true architectural treasures.
23. Downtown Asheville Galleries
In Downtown Asheville, you can visit over 20 art galleries within a ½ mile of each other. In addition, the city hosts the Asheville Art Walk the first Friday of every month April through December.
24. Craggy Gardens
For incredible views of the Blue Ridge Parkways, a trip to Craggy Gardens is a must. Looking westward to Tennessee, the vistas here are endless. A visit is made even better during the summer season when the area is covered by vibrant rhododendrons.
25. Mt. Mitchell State Park
The drive to Mt. Mitchell, which is filled with gorgeous overlooks and the Blue Ridge Parkway’s iconic tunnels, is a treat in and of itself. Of course, the real reward is the views once you reach the summit of Mt. Mitchell. At an elevation of 6,684, it’s the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Best of all, it only takes a short hike to reach the top of Mt. Mitchell where amazing views await you. As a result, it’s easily one of the best free things to do in Asheville.
26. Drum Circle
During the spring and summer seasons, there is a Drum Circle every Friday night in Asheville’s Downtown Pritchard Park. Join in, listen, dance. Whatever you do, it’s always a fun time!
27. Elijah Mountain Gem Mine
Just a stone’s throw from Asheville you’ll find the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine in Hendersonville. This is a fun place to visit with kids as you can dig in the dirt for treasure. While there is a small fee to pay for the buckets of dirt, the attraction does have other activities that free such as a petting zoo with goats.
28. Asheville Movie Locations
Several popular movies were filmed in the Asheville area including “The Hunger Games” and “Cold Mountain.” Head to the DuPont National Forest, Henry River Mill Village, or Cold Mountain itself to get an up-close look at these movie locations.
29. Biltmore Village Galleries
While admission to Biltmore Estate isn’t free, you can tour the Biltmore Village galleries free of charge. Highlights include the church the Vanderbilt’s attended as well as more than 40 shops and 10 cafes and restaurants. The tree-lined streets, brick sidewalks and period architecture make it a picture-perfect place to spend an afternoon.
30. North Carolina Arboretum
A sprawling 434-acre public garden, this Asheville attraction features 10+ miles of hiking and biking trails. There are also 65 acres of cultivated gardens to explore including the Bonsai Exhibition Garden and the National Native Azalea Collection. Family-friendly nature activities are available, too, such as geocaching and an EcoLab containing live reptiles and amphibians.
31. Moog Music Factory
Any music lovers will jump at the chance to visit the Moog Music Factory. Here, you can tour the factory and visit the only room in the world where you can play every Moog instrument in production.
The Best Free Things to Do in Asheville
There you have it—these are the best free things to do in Asheville. With this list, you’ll be able to have fun all at no charge!