22 Unique Asheville Experiences Local Experts Recommend

Dreaming of amazing food, beautiful views, and thrilling outdoor adventures? Asheville is your next travel destination!

Asheville, NC is known for its rich arts and music scene, historic architecture, and outdoor adventures. However, looking for unique things to do in Asheville NC is not as easy as it seems.

With so much to do, see, and explore, it’s difficult to narrow down that long list of top Asheville attractions! But with the help of our list of the best things to do in Asheville NC, you might be able to narrow down that to-do list much faster!

Follow along as we share the best of the best places to visit and tours to book in Asheville, from exploring the great outdoors to staying at the best hotels in town.

Explore the Great Outdoors: Unique Things to Do in Asheville NC

1. Scenic Drive at the Blue Ridge Parkway

Whether you’re the ultimate nature lover or just someone who appreciates a breath of fresh air, one of the best things to do in Asheville is to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Dubbed “America’s Favorite Drive,” this 469-mile world-renowned scenic road passes through Asheville and serves as your gateway to seeing the remarkable array of majestic Blue Ridge mountains, lush valleys, and fertile forests that surround the city.

There are dozens of overlooks along the way! Cahas Knob Overlook, which is located at milepost 139 on The Blue Ridge Parkway, is arguably the best spot to get a panoramic view of the hills of Franklin County and the magnificent Cahas Mountain in the distance.

Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, is also accessible via the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head up the Mount Mitchell Viewpoint and marvel at the picturesque mountains surrounded by the dreamiest clouds.

Blue Ridge Mountains Upstate North Carolina

2. Pisgah National Forest

Asheville NC makes the perfect home base for a day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

However, if you want a taste of North Carolina’s great outdoors and you’re in Asheville, Pisgah National Forest is much closer to home.

One of our favorite facts about Asheville is that it is surrounded by wilderness. Ecotourism attractions such as Pisgah National Forest are a must-visit, with tons to do for active sports enthusiasts or a chance to see wildlife and interesting flora.

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Before visiting Pisgah National Forest, take note of all the attractions you want to see! Sliding Rock, aka the king of NC swimming holes, is a 60-foot natural rock water slide that feeds into an 8-foot deep pool.

Yes, you can slide down the Sliding Rock and then plunge into a deep pool of water at the bottom!

Close up photo of Cove Creek Falls in Pisgah National Forrest on a sunny day in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

3. French Broad River Rafting

White water rafting is a popular activity in Pigeon Forge, but you don’t have to take the hour-long drive to experience river rafting.

The French Broad River has been serving white water rafters in Asheville for decades, with the earliest outpost, French Broad Adventures, operating since 1981. The rush and tides of the French Broad River have been tried and tested!

The best thing about French Broad River rafting is that it offers both thrilling white water rafting and calm floating. And if you’re in Asheville, rafting at the French Broad River means having the closest whitewater experience and more time for outdoor fun!

Two couples and a guide rafting on French Broad River on a sunny day in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

4. Sky Top Orchard

The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains have tons of activities to offer for all kinds of travelers. For a relaxing outdoor getaway, why not visit the Sky Top Orchard, where you can freely harvest apples to your heart’s content?

Sky Top Orchard is one of the most popular orchards in Asheville. Once you experience the family-owned and operated farm built with love, sweat, and a lot of hard work, you won’t wonder why!

Pick your own apples, cherries, peaches, pears, and grapes once you’ve harvested a handful, lounge under one of the farm’s many trees, and indulge in the freshest fruit basket picnic ever.

5. West North Carolina Nature Center

A visit to the Western North Carolina Nature Center is a fun educational city that the little ones will enjoy, especially if they are animal lovers!

There are tons of opportunities to meet the furry Western North Carolina animals in a safe environment, like black bears, owls, wolves, otters, and red pandas.

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The WNC Nature Center is also home to snakes, turtles, hawks, goats, frogs, and donkeys!

While at WNC Nature Center, don’t forget to ask more about the Center’s breeding program to learn more about how they are helping to save the red wolves, which are endemic to North Carolina.

And for even more fun things to do in Asheville for kids, book the Junior Wild Walk program, an educational behind-the-scenes tour that includes hands-on learning activities.

flowers are in full bloom with bushes in garden at The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

6. North Carolina Arboretum

Plant collectors and flora enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to the North Carolina Arboretum!

This 434-acre campus nestled in the Pisgah National Forest offers an array of activities, including various educational programs, tours, and events.

In November and December, the Arboretum lights up its seven gardens with creative wildlife exhibits and nature-themed light displays.

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In spring and summer, look forward to special exhibits at the Arboretum, such as LEGO installations and art sculptures.

Even if there are no events, the gardens will still leave you awestruck! From Appalachian-style floral designs to featured plants used in medicinal herbs and crafts, a day at the Arboretum will fly by like a breeze.

The Quilt Garden at the North Carolina Arboretum with the flower beds filled with small pink and white flowers and succulents with benches on the back against the stone wall in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

7. The Adventure Center of Asheville

Are you looking for adventurous outdoor activities near downtown Asheville? The Adventure Center of Asheville might be exactly what you’re looking for!

Just five minutes from downtown Asheville, the Adventure Center is the go-to for families and groups looking to expend some energy under the sun.

The adventures offered include mountain biking on the 4-mile purpose-built mountain bike trail and ziplining both for kids and adults.

The Treetops Adventure Park is also a must-experience! This Asheville attraction is comprised of over 77 unique climbing, rolling, walking, jumping, swinging, and rappelling challenges.

a teen participating in Harnest's Treetop Adventure

Book the Best Asheville Tours

8. Asheville Scenic Helicopter Tours

Soar above Asheville and the wondrous Blue Ridge mountains! Asheville Scenic Helicopter Tours is for anyone with a thirst for adventure and who wants to explore Asheville in an entirely new way.

Aside from epic views of the Blue Ridge mountains, there are options to explore more of western North Carolina, Chimney Rock, and Lake Lure, among others.

Taking in unbeatable views from the comfort of a helicopter is not just for adults! This helicopter tour is also for families with kids. There is no age limit! Children aged 23 months and under qualify as lap children, so there is no extra charge.

Dark helicopter hovering just above the ground with the smoky mountains in the background

9. Downtown Asheville Electric Bike Tour

Want to see Asheville in a fresh and fun way? Take the Downtown Asheville Electric Bike Tour!

Hop on an electric bike as you explore the charming character and interesting history of Asheville. Along the way, immerse yourself in stunning scenery and architectural marvels, and learn more about Asheville’s fascinating culture and history!

The tour is approximately 3 hours and covers a distance of 8.75 miles roundtrip. If you’re worried about challenging uphill rides, the bike has an electric assist to help you conquer Ashevill’s hills!

10. The Best of Asheville Walking Tour

With the well-preserved architecture, energetic vibe, and natural beauty that surrounds Asheville, walking around this eclectic mountain city is a treat!

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The Best of Asheville Walking Tour will take you on a 2.5-hour private walking tour of the city. Your local guide will show you all the best parts of this special city—and then some, giving you an insider’s look at what makes this place so unique!

To keep you hydrated, the tour includes a stop at the South Slope Brewing District, where you can get a local beer or soda.

Photo looking up at Basilica of St. Lawrence on a sunny day in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

11. Asheville Ghost Tours

Looking for unusual things to do in Asheville NC? An Asheville ghost tour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re into haunted history and murder mystery, you will love booking one of the dozens of Asheville ghost tours!

Hear stories of the legendary Pink Lady at the Grove Park Inn, the Ghost of Church Street, and the Killing Spree of 1906, among other hair-raising whispers.

And if you don’t know it yet, let us be the first to tell you. Asheville is home to some of the nation’s most famous paranormal hotspots!

Helen’s Bridge and the site of Zelda Fitzgerald’s tragic death are just two of the haunted places that will keep you up at night.

Stand up microphone on a stage with brick background

12. LaZoom Comedy Tour

The LaZoom Comedy Tour is one of the weirdest things to do in Asheville NC, and a unique Asheville experience. One doesn’t get to embark on a city comedy tour often, but when you’re in Asheville, you have to grab the opportunity!

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If you’re wondering what’s in store when you hop aboard, think of outrageously entertaining tour guides, outlandish comedy skits complete with special appearances, loads of Asheville information, and incredible views of downtown Asheville.

If you’ve never been on a LaZoom Comedy Tour, we can assure you–you will never have a ride like this. It’s like a vaudeville show on wheels!

Immerse in Arts and Culture

13. Asheville Pinball Museum

If you’re into pinball and classic video games, a visit to the Asheville Pinball Museum is a great rainy-day activity! It also tops our list of “unique things to do Asheville NC.” There is nothing else like the Pinball Museum around town!

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The Asheville Pinball Museum is home to 35 pinball machines and 35 classic video games. You can play as long as you like for a minimal fee!

However, please note that the Pinball Museum does not take reservations. Getting inside is strictly first come, first serve.

And if you’re wondering why this fun attraction is called a museum in the first place, this cool hangout spot is also home to a variety of pinball memorabilia and several vintage machines from the 1930s that are “display only.” On the walls, the origins of modern-day pinball machines are displayed.

It’s free to walk around the Asheville Pinball Museum if you just want to look!

14. Asheville Art Museum

Art enthusiasts and art collectors have reason to visit the Asheville Art Museum, but you can do so even if it’s just for the ‘Gram.

After an extensive renovation and expansion in 2019, the Asheville Art Museum is even more striking inside and out! In addition, there is 70 percent more gallery space, which means more art from both local and international artists to stare at.

If you’re bringing the kids to Asheville Art Museum, they will enjoy ArtPLAYce! It’s an opportunity to practice their hands-on creativity and think outside the box.

Close up photo of two bluejays made out of pines cones from 1960 fighting over a nut with other handmade figurines in the background at the Folk Art Center in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

15. Thomas Wolfe Memorial

If you’ve read the epic autobiographical novel, “Look Homeward Angel,” then the legendary author Thomas Wolfe from downtown Asheville needs no introduction.

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial showcases the Old Kentucky Home boardinghouse and the life and works of Asheville’s very own Thomas Wolfe.

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Today, it is a national landmark in the successes of Wolfe, especially his critical success in literary circles across the United States and Europe.

Aspiring writers will find inspiration from Thomas Wolfe, who was once a young boy from a small mountain town who desired to become a writer.

16. Asheville’s River Arts District

Asheville’s River Arts District, aka the town’s art center, is a place teeming with inspiration and creativity!

The working studios and galleries of hundreds of artists are available for anyone who wants to see them. You can even witness artists at work making new creations!

Painting, pottery, jewelry, glass, metal, wood, and much more. There are tons of creative pieces to discover at Asheville’s very own art center!

Photo of the door to the Art Garden with a sculpture to the right of it at the River Arts District in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Experience Music, Shopping, and Dining

17. Grove Arcade

In your downtime, unwind and explore at the Grove Arcade, Asheville’s architectural jewel!

Inside, dine and shop while appreciating the natural light that streams in from a glass ceiling of skylights, creating a quilt of geometric shadows on the marble halls beneath your feet.

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Walking around the Grove Arcade is basically like window shopping outdoors, except you’re shaded by direct sun and rain!

There are dozens of shops at the Grove Arcade where you can shop for local treasures. When you get hungry, head over to the mall’s Restaurant Row, which is home to mouthwatering lunch and dinner options!

18. Award-winning Restaurants in Downtown Asheville

Foodies travel to downtown Asheville because they know that the thriving city’s food scene is the best thing to do in Asheville NC.

The James Beard Foundation Awards, which is reserved for the finest of America’s food culture, has awarded five restaurants in Asheville alone!

Must-visit award-winning restaurants include Chai Pani, with a selection of the best homestyle Indian cuisine, as well as Benne on Eagle Restaurant for authentic Appalachian soul food.

Aerial view of Green Man Brewery in the South Slope Brewery District at sunset in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

19. Asheville Beer Scene

The craft beer scene in Asheville has reached a fever pitch! Arguably the best beer city in the USA, hopping from brewery to brewery will always be one of the cool things to do in Asheville.

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Sip rustic ales infused with rose petals and honeysuckle at Wicked Weeds, try the delectable Peanut Butter Jelly Time brown ale by Catabwa’s, and track down the rest of the city’s best pints and pours with an Asheville Beer Scene DIY tour!

Long after the kegs are drained, you’ll still feel good about where your beer money has gone off to.

20. Music Festivals

Asheville is known for many things, from natural beauty to craft beer and great food. The local music scene, however, is also deserving of a spot in the top 10 best of Asheville!

Live music from music festivals showcases the local artists’ multi-genre, boundary-pushing songwriting style. And even if it’s not the typical classical or pop song that you listen to, the streets and beats of Asheville NC are still an interesting listen.

Folk band performing at Shindig on the Green in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Stay and Relax in Asheville

21. Biltmore Estate

For unique things to do in Asheville, we guarantee there is no other estate comparable to the iconic Biltmore Estate.

Dubbed “America’s Largest Home,” this historic self-sustaining home away from home has tons to offer families and friends. With over 8,000 acres of land to explore, things to do during your stay include wine tastings, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, falconry, and so much more!

The Village Hotel, The Inn, and the Cottages are the three types of accommodation you can choose from. Experience life as a guest of the Vanderbilts at the four-star Inn or, if you’re looking for a more casual stay, cozy up for a night (or two) at the Village Hotel.

Whichever accommodation you choose to come home to at night, rest assured that your days at the Biltmore Estate will be filled with ecstatic adventure.

fall foliage surrounding Biltmore Estate

22. Omni Grove Park Inn

Perhaps you’ve heard of the iconic Omni Grove Park Inn. Even if you haven’t, it’s the perfect opportunity to get to know one of the most popular hotels in Asheville!

Just when you think you’ve seen the best of the city, a staycation at the Omni Grove Park Inn will have you falling in love with Asheville’s scenic views all over again.

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Whether escaping for a romantic getaway, retreating for rest and relaxation, or looking for a family-friendly Asheville NC vacation, the sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from your spacious hotel room make for a memorable stay.

During your stay, spend some time at the Omni Grove Park Inn Sunset Terrace. Pair your meal with the perfect bottle of wine, and savor it all as you take in the orange glow of the sunset enveloping the rest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Wide shot looking over Omni Grove Park Inn on a sunny day in the fall in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Plan the Ultimate Asheville Vacation

The great outdoors, the coolest and most unique tours, and the most impressive hotels. Asheville is one of the best cities to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life!

Plan your trip to Asheville with Tripster and book tours with your choice of hotels in a single transaction.

After payment, receive the receipt, tickets, booking confirmation, and tour details right away in your email. We can’t wait for you to call Asheville your new favorite mountain destination!

What Did We Miss?

Do you have any additional tips or insights to share? Leave us a comment below!


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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...


2 comments about “22 Unique Asheville Experiences Local Experts Recommend”

The Lion and the Rose

January 10, 2022 at 3:59 pm

The Lion and the Rose Bed and Breakfast offers a unique experience in Asheville, AKA Beer City USA. The innkeepers brew their own beer and share it with guests as a welcome drink and also serve beermosas with breakfast every Sunday.


Teresa

January 21, 2022 at 7:56 am

Beermosas sound great! 🍻 Definitely a unique thing to do. Thanks for letting us know!


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