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16 Adventurous Things to Do in Asheville NC

16 Adventurous Things to Do in Asheville NC

Originally, Asheville, or North Carolina itself, wasn’t at the top of my list of places to visit in the US. However, I think it definitely deserves more appreciation, as I discovered that the Bohemian Asheville is surely one of a kind.

From the moment you step foot in Asheville, you’ll be amazed at how vibrant the place is (at least I was). There are plenty of surprisingly adventurous things to do in Asheville NC for all interests and even more on its outskirts so let’s have a look! 

Adventurous Things to Do in Asheville NC


Surprisingly Adventurous Things to Do in Asheville NC

1. Visit Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate is one of my highlights from my time in Asheville. It’s a huge estate that once belonged to the Vanderbilts and holds the title of the largest privately owned home in the US. George Vanderbilt built this property as a retreat reminiscing about the grand castles and estates he saw in France and Britain.

Biltmore Estate

You could easily spend a whole date here so take your time walking through the home and make your way down to the garden and conservatory. But don’t forget about shops as they sell plenty of cute things. I seriously wanted to buy it all! There’s also a winery on the estate and a free wine tasting is included with each ticket (for people over 21).

During the summer you can also go horse riding and visit a baby animal farm. But don’t be fooled – Deer Park turned out to be a restaurant. It had nothing to do with deer. Imagine my disappointment when I found out!

If you’re a bit fan of learning more about the daily life of Biltmore’s inhabitants, take a Biltmore rooftop or behind-the-scenes tour. These guided tours will show you the secret life of butlers and maids, as well as make you feel like you’re attending a big party in one of the ballrooms.

Biltmore Asheville

2. Stroll through the Asheville Botanical Gardens

The Asheville Botanical Gardens is a tranquil haven ideal for nature lovers right in the middle of the city. Open year-round, from sunrise to sunset, with free admission, it showcases the native plants and wildlife of the Southern Appalachian Mountains across a huge 10-acre. 

There is parking on site but it can fill up quickly during peak seasons so arrive early in the summer. The gardens also have a gift shop and visitor center so make sure to drop by to get a map and some more info before heading off on a walk or picnic. 

3. Explore the Streets of Asheville, North Carolina

If you can just walk around a town or city without getting bored, I think it’s a sign that the place is interesting. Asheville did not disappoint in this case. Asheville’s colorful streets are full of interesting art and street performers. Where else would you walk around downtown where a giant iron suddenly rises from the ground?

Asheville iron

My favorite artistic part of Asheville was Carolina Lane, a small street also known as the Chicken Alley. The area was the site of a family-run poultry processing plant and rumor has it that stray chickens used to roam the street. While it’s just a regular street these days, someone painted two gigantic chickens on the wall.

Right next to the chickens, you can see some tiny houses. This 3D art installation presents some houses, perfectly sized for hamsters. All of this among quirky shops selling antiques, vintage dresses, and other things you don’t need but dying to have once you see it.

Asheville tiny houses

You can see this city’s quirky personality all over but if you want to see the artistic atmosphere in full swing, make sure to spend some time in the River Arts District

Recommended Tours:
3-Hour City Electric Bike Tour with Views
River Arts District & Downtown Mountain Mural Tour

chicken alley

4. Experience Asheville’s Breweries

Of course, if you are a bear lover you can’t leave Asheville without sampling a local beer at least one of the many breweries here. They’re scattered throughout the city and many of them offer tours and tastings so you can easily make your own self-guided brewery tour or join an organized tour if you don’t want to deal with the logistics. 

I am not a beer person so I can’t recommend any personally however some popular spots include Wicked Weed, Burial Beer Co., and the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 

Recommended Tours:
Terrors, Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl
Guided Craft Brewery Tour with a Snack

5. Take a Ghost Tour

For another unique way to explore Asheville’s eerie history, joining a ghost tour is a fun way to spend an evening during your trip. Not only do these tours highlight Asheville’s paranormal activity but they also delve into the historical context behind the hauntings

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring a light jacket, as nights can be cool here and you may end up doing quite a bit of walking. 

Recommended Tours:
Asheville Terrors: Ghosts of the Blue Ridge
Terrors, Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl

6. Hike or Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

Of course, when in Asheville you can’t forget to go up the Blue Ridge Parkway. This All-American Road is a National Parkway and is noted for its scenic beauty. Some of the locations seriously look like they’re straight out of Jurassic Park!

You can stop in various places and go on a hike, but if you’re not in the mood for walking around, you can just drive through and stop for photos. For hardcore enthusiasts, the area is also known for its mountain bike trails. It looks quite extreme and while I’d probably pass on that, who knows, maybe you’ll love it!

What I didn’t know about the Blue Ridge Parkway is that it’s a unique opportunity for your own self-drive wildlife safari. With binoculars, you could spot deer, black bears, birds, and many others. I was mostly hoping for some fluffy animals and found a few squirrels, so I left this place satisfied and happy.

Recommended Tours:
Hidden Gems Tour in The Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Parkway Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour

Blue Ridge Parkway

7. Visit the North Carolina Arboretum

Within the Pisgah National Forest, you’ll find the North Carolina Arboretum which offers 434 acres of cultivated gardens and trails. It’s open daily, with a small parking fee but no admission charge just 20 mins from downtown Asheville. 

While it’s renowned for its bonsai collection and numerous hiking and biking trails, the Arboretum also features seasonal exhibits. The Christmas display is particularly worthwhile if you’re visiting during the holiday season as the whole place is lit up creating a magical scene. 

8. Eat Your Way Through Asheville NC

Asheville is well-known for its breweries, but the food is an important part of this city’s culture. So fear not if you’re not a beer drinker, this town has plenty of other awesome places, and even more importantly, affordable ones. 

Sadly I didn’t have time to eat at all the restaurants and cafes I wanted to visit, but here are a few of my favorites. If you want to check out some other great places to eat, check out these other suggestions!

  • French Broad Chocolate – French Broad Chocolate isn’t hard to find as it’s known by everyone from Asheville. People line up in front of it every day to buy their ice cream and chocolate drinks. I got to try a champagne float, which Matt totally stole from me!
  • Dobra Tea – No matter whom I asked for a recommendation, they all told me to visit Dobra Tea – and they were right. This place has a relaxed atmosphere and their homemade chai spices immediately hit you. If you’re into bubble tea you’ll be satisfied too.
  • Red Stag Grill – If you’re feeling fancy, I recommend stopping by Red Stag Grill for dinner. Decorated as a modern-chic hunting lodge, this restaurant serves some of the best steaks and fish in town. All ingredients are freshly picked from surrounding farms, so the menu changes all the time.
chanterelles

9. Shop at the Grove Arcade

Whether you’re a shopping lover, foodie, or an architecture enthusiast, the Grove Arcade is a must-visit. This historic building houses a variety of local shops selling handmade crafts, art, and jewelry, alongside some of Asheville’s finest eateries.

The building itself is also quite beautiful and worth a quick stroll. Luckily the Grove Arcade is located downtown so it’s very easily accessible on foot from most hotels in Asheville. 

10. Slide the Rock at Pisgah National Forest

If you like to get out of the city and chase some waterfalls, head to Pisgah National Forest. Pisgah is home to a hundred waterfalls that you can swim in. Some are quite close to the road, so you don’t even have to hike that much to see them.

Adventure lovers will adore the sliding rock. This 60-foot natural water slide has become extremely popular over the past couple of years for a very good reason. If you’re a kid, teenager, or an adult you’ll have fun sliding a natural rock slide that ends in an 8-foot deep pool. Just remember, the water is freezing!

sliding rock

11. Learn at the Asheville Art Museum

In a city where art lines the streets, it makes sense that there is also a great art museum here. The Asheville Art Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday and features a collection of American art of the 20th and 21st centuries, with a focus on works from the Southeast

Before visiting, make sure to check the museum’s website for current exhibitions, events, and educational programs as it is also quite the cultural hub for art enthusiasts in the city and often has something going on.

12. Relax at Shoji Spa

Shoji Spa is probably one of the coolest spas I’ve been to in the US. This upscale place is nestled in a mountainside forest, just minutes away from downtown Asheville.

As the name indicates, Shoji is a Japanese-style spa, so each guest gets their own private hot tub with a wooded setting. It makes for a very intimate experience, so whether alone or as a couple, you’ll enjoy this spot.

Shoji Spa

13. Visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center

​​The Western North Carolina Nature Center is home to over 60 species of animals, including river otters, black bears, and red wolves, focusing on the wildlife and habitats of the Appalachian region. 

Open daily, The Nature Center is an educational experience for all ages that provides insight into the conservation of native wildlife. Check the Nature Center’s website for feeding times, special events, and educational programs to make the most of your visit.

14. Take a Foraging Tour – Mushrooming Tour in Asheville

I grew up picking mushrooms, but in the US this activity isn’t common. In fact, in some states, mushrooming is prohibited. Thankfully, in North Carolina foraging is fully legal and you can find over 300 edible species in the forest

If you’re unsure what can you eat or not, Asheville has a perfect solution for you – a foraging tour from a company called No Taste Like Home. Their experts will take you on a short walk in the forest, showing you what can you pick and eat. I ended up eating daylilies, and some savory wild plants and even picked up a few chanterelles (Mushroom season generally runs between July and October, so we’re there slightly too early).

After the tour, we dropped our forest goodies at a restaurant in Asheville that created a great dish for us from our collection in the evening. The Market Place chef made everything incredible. We had stuffed fried daylilies, chanterelles, and nettle stew and even tried out weird black hairy rubber cups that are apparently a delicacy in Malaysia. The last one I was definitely not a fan of, but at least now I know how they taste 😉

Foraging Tour Asheville

15. See the Asheville Salt Cave

For something a little bit more off the beaten path, The Asheville Salt Cave offers a unique wellness experience for anyone who’s intrigued. It’s a man-made salt cave that replicates the microclimate of a natural salt mine, providing therapeutic benefits. 

Sessions last 45 minutes and require advance booking, with options for private sessions or joining a group. They also offer massage services and special events like sound healing sessions.

16. Take a Helicopter Flight

By now you probably know that there is plenty of incredible nature surrounding Asheville so it should be no surprise that taking a helicopter flight is a special experience that you’ll never forget. 

With an unparalleled view of the area’s breathtaking landscapes, you’ll get a unique perspective on Asheville’s natural beauty, showcasing the rolling hills, lush forests, and iconic landmarks from above. 

Recommended Tours:
Asheville: Scenic Helicopter Experience
Chimney Rock Helicopter Tour


Where to Stay in Asheville NC?

Last but not least, you’re going to need a hotel right? Well, I stayed at two great places in Asheville that I can’t recommend enough! 

Omni Grove Park Inn

The Omni Grove Park Inn and can say that it is one of the most beautiful hotels I ever stayed in. Even though I had a feeling it could be haunted, and my suspicions were confirmed after I read up about it.

While it’s huge, it still doesn’t feel too busy. As it’s right on the side of the mountain you can enjoy your views from your room or while having dinner at some of the 4-star restaurants on the property.

There’s also an incredible saltwater pool grotto, but unfortunately, no photos are allowed so you’re going to have to take my word for it.

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn

Abbington Green B&B

From the moment we arrived at Abbington Green we felt welcomed and we loved everything about this place from then on. Their gardens, terrace, royal decor, and free afternoon snacks. 

Not to mention Matt actually loved the bedsheets so much that we decided to purchase a set of them for home.


Mini Guide to Asheville NC

Any questions about Asheville NC? Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below! For more information on visiting Asheville, NC visit Explore Asheville.com.

Chris

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

Thanks for the tips. Heading to Ashville tomorrow and staying at the Omni.

Wynee

Tuesday 11th of September 2018

Ah! The Shoji Spa looks super cool! I'll have to check that out next time I visit!

Barbara Singley

Saturday 28th of July 2018

I've visited Biltmore Estate 3 times and my 4th time is scheduled for 8/25. Just a couple of things. I learned on the Facebook page that it isn't "the Biltmore" it's Biltmore Estate. Trust they are adamant about that. Also, the Vanderbilt family still owns it. This is an excerpt from the "About" section of the Biltmore website: "Biltmore is still family owned, and we are still passionate about our mission of preservation through self-sufficiency – a philosophy embraced before the first stone was ever placed." The website is full if amazing information about the estate. If you are able to visit Asheville DEFINITELY visit Biltmore Estate! Great article anout Asheville by the way! Also try the Early Girl Eatery! Their breakfast is amazing!

Daniel S Lennox

Wednesday 10th of January 2018

I just found out a new ideal way to ingest magic mushrooms it is tasty, gentle on the stomach and absorbs faster. Eating mushrooms and truffles raw as they are is the most common to consume them. However, while we love the taste, it’s certainly not everyone’s favorite snack. Specially when ingesting a larger dose, the taste can become an issue. Tea makes it easy to add in honey or whichever sweetener you choose. Read here on how to make Magic mushroom tea: https://www.trufflemagic.com/blog/how-to-make-truffle-tea/

Kay Marie

Saturday 23rd of September 2017

If you ever come back to North Carolina you should stop in Raleigh. Here is a great post of awesome things to do :)

Anna

Saturday 23rd of September 2017

Totally! I've been to Raleigh very briefly, so didn't see much.

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