25 Best Things to Do in Asheville (NC)

The romantic purple peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains have drawn generations of visitors to this western North Carolina city. A big fan is George Vanderbilt’s scion, who built America’s largest home here in the 1880s and filled it with priceless works of art. Biltmore House is still family owned and unmatched in its size and grandeur. There are 8,000 acres of the Blue Ridge Mountains on site for you to explore. Downtown Asheville is like a time capsule, with early Art Deco architecture still intact and a framework for shopping, dining, and live entertainment. In fact, from traditional Southern Appalachian crafts at the Folk Art Center to the River Arts District’s open studios to Puck Square’s fairs and performances at his parks, Asheville’s fascinating sense of creativity is evident everywhere. 1. Asheville Art Museum The Asheville Museum of Art in downtown Pack Place reopened in 2019 after a $24 million expansion and renovation project. These galleries host up to 20 large-scale exhibitions each year, but the beauty of this expansion is that the museums are now able to host major traveling exhibitions from the nation’s best institutions. The permanent collection is dedicated to his 20th-century and his 21st-century American art but is also influenced by the traditions and eclectic cultures of western North Carolina and southern Appalachia. Above Pack Square is a rooftop sculpture terrace with views of the Blue Mountains in the distance. The first thing you see when you arrive is Henry Richardson’s Reflections on Unity, a two-ton glass sphere at the entrance.   2. Gray Line Trolley Tours Your first stop in Asheville is the visitor center. Here you’ll find an information desk, brochures, and a convenience store with goodies from all over western North Carolina. This is also the starting point for the Gray Line hop-on hop-off trolley tour. These tours depart every 30 minutes and are 90 minutes in length, with many of Asheville’s highlights packed into his one great package, with plenty of exciting anecdotes along the way… See the Art Deco marvels of downtown, the River Arts District, the famous Omni Grove Park Inn, and the stately residences of the Monford Area Historic District, home to over 600 turn-of-the-century buildings. In the city, he recommends buying a 2-day pass if you stay 2 days.  3. Grovewood Village Adjacent to the Omni Grove Park Inn, this historic campus was once home to the Biltmore Industries woodworking and textile mills, producing top-quality handicrafts and textiles. This tradition continues into the 21st century when the quaint complex was revived as an arts and crafts center. Grovewood Village is home to active artist studios that specialize in everything from pottery to metalworking. Shop for fine handicrafts in the gallery, see techniques in action in the workshops, or learn about the village’s handicraft heritage on a guided history tour. Also be sure to visit the Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum and the Estes Wynn Antique Car Museum, which houses an old textile mill and a range of gleaming vintage cars.  4. McCormick Field If you like quirky old ballparks, the 4,000-seat home of MiLB’s Asheville Tourists is a real treat. His one of the oldest minor league stadiums still in use, McCormick Field is in a typical Asheville location, on a small plateau on a wooded hillside. This stadium has been here since 1923 and was undergoing modernization at the time of writing this article. The history of the Tourist dates back to 1897 and has since progressed through a long list of classes and leagues. When we went to cover them, they were the Houston Astros High-A team. Here, as elsewhere, eating and drinking are part of the experience, with extensive vegetarian options, local craft beers, and specialty hot dogs on Fridays.   5. Fine Arts Theatre Opened in 1946, the movie theater is housed in an elegant Art Deco building downtown. With a stepped gable and a subtle cream façade with two narrow blocks of glass, this venue opened in 1946 and was originally the Strand Theatre. Since then, a second screen has been installed on the old balcony, and both halls went digital in 2012. The Fine Arts Theater is downtown’s only movie theater, specializing in independent, foreign, and classic films. Both screens have curtains, which may shock young people, but it is one of those rare theaters where you can watch while sipping a glass of wine or beer.  6. Asheville Community Theatre (ACT) we know what you are thinking But rest assured, the Asheville Community Theater is no ordinary community theater. Founded in 1946, it is one of the oldest operating companies in the United States. Additionally, legendary actor Charlton Heston and his wife Lydia Clarke helmed one season in 1947. It was here that Clark decided to continue acting full-time, and Heston’s Broadway career took off quickly. These shows are so impeccable, from the performances to the costumes to the production, to the sets, that it’s easy to get carried away. Downtown’s Main Stage Auditorium, named after Heston, offers shows for all tastes throughout the season, all staffed by volunteers.  7. Appalachian Trail All trails end near Asheville along the North Carolina-Tennessee border. On a 3,200-mile route from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine, the trail passes through the quaint town of Hot Springs, about 30 miles north of Asheville. This is a climb suitable for a day hike, perfect for short round-trip adventures to get a taste of what these hardy thru-hikers have to endure. Less than a mile away is the stunning Lover’s Leap Lookout. Another great spot near Asheville is Max Patch, a bare peak dotted with wildflowers and offering sweeping views in all directions.   8. Barley’s Taproom If you love craft beer, I highly recommend a visit to Barley’s Taproom. Asheville has a solid Craft His Beer His scene, led by this local icon on Downtown’s Biltmore His Avenue. Barley’s Taproom was opened by him in 1994 in a converted 1920s home appliance store. Highland