Asheville, NC is an adventure town with tons to do, which is why I love living here! There are so many things to do in Asheville that it’s hard to know where to start looking, and even harder to know what you should do on your short visit to this gorgeous area. From great hikes and beautiful art to amazing restaurants and delicious craft beer, check out my personal favorites for things to do and where to eat.
My 5 favorite family friendly restaurants-
1. Early Girl Eatery, West and South locations - From breakfast all day to other southern favorites like buttermilk fried chicken, this is a must visit. My favorite meal is their Poutine starter and King Daddy’s Chicken & Waffles. It may not be healthy, but it’s worth the splurge! They also have a kids menu and lots of gluten free options.
2. Farm Burger - With multiple locations in Asheville, fast service, and the most delicious gourmet burgers and fries, this is a great stop for a hungry crew. What I order varies, but I sure do love the Sunny-Side burger with FB fries. Plus, their gluten free bun is the best in town, and they have a kids menu.
3. White Duck Taco Shop - Can you say YUM?! In addition to standard style tacos, this eclectic taco shop has fun taco options like Thai Peanut Chicken, Crispy Chicken BLT, Banh Mi Tofu, and more. My favorites are Korean Beef Bulgogi and Bangkok Shrimp. For kids they offer quesadillas, chips and salsa, and more. Plus, each of their locations has tons of outdoor seating and lots of room for the kiddos to run around.
4. Creekside Taphouse - Kids paradise! This local neighborhood spot not only has delicious sandwiches, burgers, sides, and a great kids menu, but they also sit along a creek with a huge play area. I love to go sit on their back patio, order smoked chicken wings, and watch families play together in the sunshine.
5. The Hop - The best ice cream in town, local and hand made! Enough said.
My 4 favorite date night restaurants-
1. Zambra - Tapas, delicious cocktails, and easy breezy dining are all what I think of when I dream of Zambra for dinner! Their great service and extensive menu are also amazing! My husband and I love to go have a long meal, let the tapas arrive one by one, and enjoy each other’s company in the relaxing atmosphere.
2. Salsas - Hecka yum! This Mexican-Caribbean restaurant has the most amazing flavors in every dish. You seriously cannot go wrong with anything you order here. Their salsas and guacamoles are absolutely amazing, and every dish I have ever eaten has been top notch. Is it too late in my life to marry the chef? Or at least marry one of their fabulous margaritas?
3. Asheville Proper - We LOVE the atmosphere here, and their wood fired meat and seafood is always prepared so perfectly. Not to mention, their sides are a must try! Our favorite meal is to share a bottle of red wine, each order our favorite steak, and share a side like the crispy confit potatoes.
4. Copper Crown - With their rotating seasonal menu, local fresh ingredients, and wonderful wine and cocktail options, this restaurant is such a delight! I love their New American fare, it always has my tastebuds looking for more! I never order the same thing, and I always love what I eat!
My 8 favorite things to do in Asheville-
1. Hike! - I listed my favorites for you below, so lace up your shoes and get outside!
2. Breweries - With over 50 craft breweries in the Asheville area, you could spend weeks visiting them all. From traditional craft beer to ginger beer and cider, there is something for everyone’s palate. My favorites are Innovation Brewing, Burial Beer, and Highland Brewing.
3. Biltmore Estate - Even though I Iive here in Asheville and have been to Biltmore Estate hundreds of times, I love visiting it! There is so much more to do than simply tour the house. If you visit the estate, plan to spend the entire day. With over 20 miles of walking and biking trails, over 75 acres of gardens, many delicious restaurants, specialty tours, a winery, two ponds, a waterfall, a river, gorgeous mountain views, quiet nooks and crannies, beautiful picnic spots, and more, I could honestly stay for 3-4 days before I fit it all in. I recommend choosing some of your favorite things to do, and make a day of it.
4. Photo shoot - Of course scheduling a photo shoot with me to document your epic Asheville adventure is a great idea! Whether you opt for photos at Biltmore Estate, in downtown Asheville, or on a mountain top, let’s get you in front of my camera! I LOVE capturing families and couples in all of their happiness. Contact me now to chat!
5. Walk around downtown and River Arts District - There are many shops, art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, and people watching spots downtown. I often spend an entire day walking the streets when friends are visiting. I could spend another full day in RAD between the greenway, art studios, breweries, and restaurants. Put on some comfortable shoes and explore on foot!
6. Float on the French Broad River - Though this does require renting a watercraft, I highly recommend it. In the heat of summer you will see dozens of people tubing the river. While this is a great option, I love to either canoe or kayak it. It’s peaceful, relaxing, and a great way to see the area from another avenue.
7. Whitewater Rafting - Western NC is full of rivers and river adventure. One way to experience this area is with a whitewater rafting trip! There are many rivers to choose from, but for mid level adventure, I recommend a trip with Nantahala Outdoor Center on the French Broad River. For high level adventure, I recommend a trip with Nantahala Outdoor Center on the Chattooga River.
8. The Adventure Center of Asheville - For a day of in-town adventure, visit the Adventure Center for zip lining, treetop adventure fun, and a bike park. This is a place of fun for kids and adults alike!
My 5 favorite short hikes-
2. Snowball - This 2.75 mile round-trip hike is challenging at times, but worth it! Especially when you take a few extra steps and climb up to Hawkbill Rock. The view is incredible!
3. Sam Knob - This heart pumping hike is worth every step! It’s 2.5 miles round-trip with 360 degree views of western North Carolina. Plus the drive to the trailhead is along the Blue Ridge Parkway which has amazing views.
4. Catawba Falls - With a beautiful waterfall at the end and only a moderate incline, this is a perfect family hike. At 2.7 miles round-trip, it’s great for the whole family, and it’s fun to stop and play in the creek along the way.
5. Graveyard Fields - No graves, but there are two waterfalls! You can spend as much or as little time here as you like, wandering on the trails, viewing waterfalls, following creeks, and climbing on rocks. I recommend spending a couple of hours to really relax and take it all in.
My 3 favorite long hikes-
1. Shining Rock - With epic views and vistas along the way, this 10 mile round-trip hike is absolutely amazing! It follows a section of the Art Loeb trail, which in total is a 30 mile trail across part of Pisgah National Forest. I recommend making a day of it with lunch and a beer for the summit.
2. Pilot Cove Slate Rock Loop - With wildflowers, creeks, and beautiful views, this is a trail I frequented when I first moved to Asheville almost 10 years ago. This is a wonderfully moderate 7.2 mile hike in the heart of Pisgah National Forest.
3. Panthertown Valley - This is an area with a network of trails leading to amazing mountain views, countless waterfalls, creeks, swimming holes, backcountry camping spots, and more. It’s always beautiful when I go, regardless of the season. Be sure to take a map though, as there are many trails that weave and connect.
For more tips of how to spend your days in Asheville, click over to Winter is Here! How to Beat the Winter Blues in Asheville!.