Asheville, NC is known for its rich arts and music scene, historic architecture, and outdoor adventures. Resting in Western NC’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the city known as “Land of the Sky” presents beautiful views with a variety of quirky activities and destinations to explore. Read on to learn the most unique things to do in Asheville NC.
1) Biltmore Estate
Built in 1895, George Vanderbilt’s 250-room chateau still stands as magnificent wonder of architecture and opulence. Guests can self-tour the grounds of the house, gardens, and the Antler Hill Village, which also includes the Winery, The Biltmore Legacy, Village Green, and the Farm. Try to see if you can locate the hidden passageways and secret rooms throughout the house, although guests aren’t permitted to enter them. Additionally, the Estate hosts many seasonal events not to miss.
2) Judaculla Rock
The Judaculla Rock serves as a sacred site for the Cherokee Nation. Etched with hundreds of petroglyphs dating back 2000 to 3000 years ago, the engraved soapstone boulder is available for visiting. However, it continues to erode, so visitors are instructed to not sit on the rock. The Cherokees believed Judaculla or Tsul’Kalu, the “Master-of-Game”, would leap from mountain to mountain to hunt wildlife, and that the rock was marked as a part of his territory with his giant, seven-fingered hand.
From US 74, take Exit 85 to Business Route 23 through Sylva. Stay on 23 1.3 miles to NC 107, then turn left onto 107. Drive 8 miles south on 107 and take a left onto Caney Fork Road, County Road 1737. Then go 2.5 miles, where you will turn left onto a gravel road and drive 0.45 mile. The rock is on the right, and parking is on the
3) Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center strives to continue the legacy and artistic spirit of BMC through collection, preservation, and educational activities. The museum hosts exhibitions and public programs, as well as publishes material to educate and enrich local communities.
4) Asheville Mystery Museum
Visitors who take a Haunted Asheville tour on weekends gain entry to the Asheville Mystery Museum. Located in the basement of the 1913 Masonic Temple, the museum contains artifacts, oddities, and information on infamous murders, ghost stories, mysteries, and local war history.
5) Helen’s Bridge
The lore surrounding Helen’s Bridge speaks of a woman who hanged herself in the early 20th century after her daughter died in a fire. Her distraught spirit is said to haunt the arched quarried stone bridge, appearing when her name is called. If you’d like to test your luck, try calling her name. Just know that some have reported their car won’t start when they try to leave afterward.
6) Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar
This used bookstore and champagne bar specializes in books about North Carolina, American History, the Civil War, and the American South, as well as many more categories. Constantly changing and expanding, you’re bound to come out with a book or two, and perhaps a bit of a buzz. Better yet, the store also showcases live music and events.
The bar’s menu also includes wine, sparking wine, and bistro-style bites. Furthermore, you can set up an appointment to sell or trade your books for wine.
7) Pritchard Park Drum Circle
Since 2001, residents have been jamming in a drum circle every Friday night from April through October on Patton Avenue at College Street. During the Asheville Drum Circle, residents from different backgrounds dance to the rhythm of dozens of drums during this free event. The public is welcome to join in and play, or dance! Beginning around 5 or 6 pm and ending at 10 pm, it’s one of the most unique things to do in Asheville NC.
8) Basilica of Saint Lawrence
One of the most significant landmarks of the early 20th century lies in the center of the historic district downtown. Designed in 1905 by Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino, the Basilica of Saint Lawrence is the only basilica in western North Carolina. Moreover, the architect Richard Sharp Smith, who also worked on the Biltmore Mansion, aided in developing the basilica.
Topped with one of the largest freestanding elliptical domes in the nation, the basilica is ornately designed in Spanish Renaissance Revival style. Constructed with stone, brick, tile, and mortar, this architectural marvel is worth the visit, even if you’re not Catholic. Furthermore, the interior shines with Italian-made statues, German stained glass windows, and a frescoed high altar cut from Tennessee marble. Opened in 1909, the structure was dedicated as a basilica by the Pope in 1993.
9) Burton Street Community Street Gardens
The Burton community of West Asheville invites locals and visitors to visit the community garden on weekends, as well as for events throughout the year. Look for seasonal goods and gaze at the art-filled greenspace in an urban setting.
10) Thomas Wolfe Memorial
One of the greatest American novelists of the 20th century, Thomas Wolfe detailed his childhood home of Asheville and the boardinghouse his mother ran in his epic 1929 autobiography, Look Homeward, Angel. His realistic portrayals earned both praise and ire, and he didn’t return to Asheville for almost eight years. Now, the preserved historic Old Kentucky Home boardinghouse is one of American literature’s most famous landmarks.
The victorian boardinghouse can be visited Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm.
If you want a Vegas-style wedding in North Carolina, look no further. Fleetwood’s acts as a “quickie Vegas style” Rock-n-Roll wedding chapel, as well as a vintage shop and bar. At Fleetwood’s, you can get married, see live music and comedy shows, pick up an interesting item, and top off the evening with beer or wine. One of the most unique things to do in Asheville NC, you’ll want to stop by before departing.
13) Asheville Pinball Museum
Located downtown across from the Grove Arcade, the Asheville Pinball Museum welcomes all pinball machine and vintage video game aficionados. Once you pay admission, you can play any of the 80 machines without quarters or tokens (except for two special machines that each charge 50 cents).
Described as a combination of swimming, kayaking, and surfing, bellyaking got its start in Asheville on the French Broad River. Participants paddle through the water with webbed gloves while lying face-first on a stable board resembling a cross between a kayak and a boogie board. One of the most unique things to do in Asheville NC, as well as anywhere else, you don’t want to miss out if you prefer a challenge outdoors.
15) Wild Foraging Tours
One of the most unique things to do in Asheville NC is to take a wild foraging tour with No Taste Like Home. Taking people “out to eat” for the last 25 years, expert guides educate visitors on at least a dozen wild edibles you can find in the area and perhaps even in your own backyard. Guides will then gather a few and cook some up for a tasting. Guests can keep foraged finds or have them crafted into an appetizer at the Grove Park Inn and other award-winning Asheville restaurants. Family-friendly and suitable for all ages, you don’t want to skip out on this tour.
16) Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum
Located in the center of Grovewood Village, this one-room museum showcases this history of Biltmore Industries. Visitors will learn how the enterprise grew from a craft education program backed by Edith Vanderbilt into one of the largest producers of handwoven wool in the world. Featuring an antique 4-harness loom and a variety of memorabilia depicting the industry’s active years, this museum is one of the most unique things to do in Asheville NC.
17) Asheville Science Museum
The AMOS features exhibits and displays delve into the connections between astronomy, geology, weather, climate, ecology, and paleontology. Guests can interact with hurricane simulators, maker tables, a paleontology exhibit, and much more. Additionally, the museum hosts events for adults, kids, and groups throughout the year.
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Which of these unique things to do in Asheville are you looking forward to? Tell us in the comments!