The 16 Best Things to do in Asheville in August
Though the mountains always bring some relief during the evenings and nights, make no mistake: Asheville in August is a hot time! You’re likely to get all the benefits of Asheville in summer during this month: taking downtown strolls in your tank top and flip-flops, wading into creeks and splashing in swimming holes on trails and out by the Blue Ridge Parkway, and getting refreshed at one of the many breweries.
While everyone has a different best time to visit Asheville, you’ll find wonderful summer days and summer nights in town during this month. You won’t have to look far for many options for what to do in Asheville in August. Whether you’re out enjoying the warm and sunny weather or finding a spot to hunker down during the heat of the day, there’s always something new to enjoy.
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What to do in Asheville in August: 16 Fun Ideas
While August is the last chance to sneak in a vacation before members of the family have to get back to school or college, it’s actually not the peak of Asheville’s tourism season.
Because the autumn foliage is so beautiful and the weather a little cooler, August may not be as packed as September or October, so don’t be afraid to check for lodging availability, even if this is a bit of a spontaneous trip – you never know what might be available.
When it comes to things to do in Asheville in August, we’ve included some fun places to go for both those who want to be in nature all day and those who want to explore Asheville’s downtown businesses and shops!
1. Journey Between the Waterfalls at Gorges State Park
Just because the weather is hot doesn’t mean that you should neglect one of the most popular and unique offerings of Asheville: world-class hiking in nature! Take your group down to Gorges State Park, a little over an hour from Asheville.
Enter the park and follow the trails to see incredible river gorges and rock walls while hiking to see Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls. There are also the Hidden Falls and Stairway Falls, as well as a partial view of Bearwallow Falls from the trail overlook that bears its name.
Particularly after big summer rains, these falls will offer incredible views and a feast for the senses. If you love it as much as we do, you don’t have to rush off – there are primitive campsites and picnic shelters to help you make a full trip of it.
Finally, some of the trails are multipurpose, with the option to bring horses for a trail ride or take the Auger Hole Trail on a mountain bike. No matter how you journey between the waterfalls, the views are going to be spectacular!
Location: 976 Grassy Ridge Road, Sapphire
2. Go Whitewater Rafting to See Nature at its Finest
Trip coordination and guiding is available for whitewater rafting trips through Asheville Adventure Company, Nantahala Outdoor Center, and French Broad Rafting. These companies coordinate the timing and amount of people to fill up rafts for different kinds of trips, both shorter morning or afternoon trips and full-day trips with lunch included.
They bring a wealth of experience to the process of navigating different levels of rapids, and they offer guidance as to how old a child should be to take a given trip, since some encounter more rough water than others.
Keeping everyone safe helps you focus on enjoying the challenge of being part of a whitewater rafting crew, pulling your weight but also taking in incredible views and enjoying the thrill of the drops through whitewater rapids. Grab some friends and see which trip fits you best, since August is the best time to visit Asheville for rafting.
3. Try for Gold While Gem Mining Near Asheville
The mountains around Asheville are known for having produced precious gems and gold over the centuries, and as a result, a variety of small companies run gold and gem mines, particularly in the area around South Mountains State Park north of Marion but also scattered throughout the surrounding counties.
Visiting a mine like Emerald Village in Little Switzerland, NC, can be a lot of fun for a family, especially if at least one child is getting interested in geology. This is a good example of an all-day fun activity since you can start with a visit to the NC Mining Museum to learn how people really used this area to try to strike it rich.
After that, take a Black Light Mine Tour to see how UV light shows off the cave’s hidden colors, and then try gem mining and gold panning for yourselves, enjoying the sunshine and the occasional whoop of excitement when someone catches sight of something shiny! Enjoy the fun atmosphere and many activities available in this unique part of the state.
4. Beat the Heat at Asheville’s Swimming Pools
Even if you’re visiting Asheville as a tourist, there’s no reason why you can’t cool off with the locals at the Parks & Recreation public pools.
While obviously it’s a great idea to use a hotel pool if you have one available, getting an individual session pass to either Recreation Park Pool at 65 Gashes Creek Road or Malvern Hills Pool at 75 Rumbough Place is affordable – $3 per person in the 2022 season.
It’s also possible to swim on stormy days by getting a guest pass to one of the locations of the WNC YMCA, which has various indoor pools around the Asheville area.
5. Have a Picnic at Lake Julian
Lake Julian is a real gem in South Asheville – complete with extensive playground equipment and lots of lakefront views. It’s a great place to take a crew of kids of all ages to burn off some steam and explore nature without having to head out into the wilderness.
It’s also just a really well-equipped spot for a picnic, and with hungry kiddos coming back from climbing and sliding their way through the playground, you’ll be glad you found a good table for your picnic spread.
Make it extra fun by having the various family and friends on your trip visit a local spot like the WNC Farmer’s Market or the French Broad Food Co-Op to buy locally-made snacks and drinks, putting together an all-local spread that everyone will enjoy.
In the middle of August in Asheville, nothing tastes quite as good as some locally grown fruit, a great salad, and a local kombucha or craft soda to wash it all down.
6. Play Your Way Through the Pinball Museum
The Asheville Pinball Museum is part arcade, part museum, and even part bar, bringing together a bunch of fun experiences in one all-you-can-play adventure. When you pay your set admission fee, you can play on any available machines, seeing how vintage pinball machines work and how much fun they can be.
At the same time, a variety of decor and display-only machines will intrigue you as you explore all that the museum has collected. Best of all, you can get a beer or a non-alcoholic beverage while you explore and play.
Be aware that this is a popular destination, especially on rainy days, so aiming to arrive when they open can get you in faster. They have a good system for adding people to a waiting list and texting you when room opens up, so you can easily take a stroll around the Grove Arcade while you wait for your turn to launch the ball and play your way to victory.
Location: 1 Battle Square, Asheville
7. Rock Your Way Through Downtown After 5
The association of businesses in downtown Asheville organizes a free, open-to-the-public concert series in the summer months called Downtown After 5, bringing in a wide range of hopping bands to play on a Lexington Avenue Stage while many businesses stay open a little later than usual.
The whole atmosphere is fun and festive, with beers, ciders, and seltzers on tap and eight different food trucks and vendors. While you can stay and watch the full set for each show, you can also let their music be the backdrop for a journey around downtown, eating at a local restaurant, stopping in for some music, and popping in and out of shops and galleries for the rest of the evening.
It’s a great way to join a crowd and feel truly a part of something special. Be prepared for a lot of folks on the sidewalks this evening, though, and if you have a particular restaurant in mind, make those reservations – people love these concerts and definitely make it a point to go downtown for them.
8. Get In Touch With Your Roots at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival
The same folk heritage committee that puts together the Shindig on the Green concert series offers a three-day festival in August in Asheville that celebrates all things related to Southern Appalachian arts and culture.
The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival includes three 7 pm showcases of dance, music, and storytelling, with each performance a little different. The performers bring their clogging talents, bluegrass sounds, or ability to perform the Big Circle Mountain Smooth Dance.
Each performance is held on the campus of UNC Asheville, making it easy to access, and tickets are always kept affordable with a discount for those who attend all three nights.
Make it a point to learn more about the kinds of music and dance that are unique to this part of the world and see how the history of our region is woven into every element, from what the dancers wear to the instruments that the musicians play. You’ll leave impressed and inspired!
9. Taste the Sweetness at the Sourwood Festival
Honey in the mountains is delicious, and in August, you can celebrate all things Sourwood honey in nearby Black Mountain at their Sourwood Festival. This small town takes honey seriously: they bring in 200 vendors for everything from honey and honey-themed items to arts, crafts, and other food options.
Live music is on the schedule for both Saturday and Sunday, and much of the Black Mountain business community stays open or extends their hours to participate in the hoopla. While the event itself doesn’t offer any alcohol, many local restaurants and pubs offer a great wine list and local brews on tap.
If you stop by at the right time, you’ll see locals and visitors alike cutting a rug at the main tent across from the Old Depot – there’s even a “Sourwood Idol” contest the night before everything kicks off! Taste mountain summer in all its glory.
10. Bike the Asheville Greenways
One of the most beautiful parts of Asheville is the ribbons of forest and babbling creeks that run along various portions of the city – once you get outside the dense downtown grid, you quickly encounter signs of nature everywhere you look.
For those who aren’t quite up for the up-and-down of mountain biking, greenways like the one through the River Arts District, the Glenn’s Creek Greenway through UNC Asheville’s campus, and the winding Reed Creek Greenway in North Asheville can all give you gentle slopes on paved paths, all with the benefit of beautiful natural scenery around you.
Particularly because these paths end up having more shade than sun, they are a perfect way to keep from getting too hot and a great thing to do in Asheville in August.
11. Go Out for Artisanal Ice Cream
While there are plenty of excellent chain restaurants where you can get ice cream in Asheville (and I’m not knocking them – I’m a big fan of the drive-through gelato/Italian ice stand called Jeremiah’s!), there’s something about fresh, high-quality ice cream produced locally and with surprising and delicious flavor combinations.
Places like The Hop, Ultimate Ice Cream Company, and Sunshine Sammies all share a passion for finding the best quality ingredients and combining them into tasty treats like the cookie ice cream sandwiches at Sunshine or a Jitterbug, a shake made with ice cream and cold brew coffee from The Hop.
Each of these shops is located in spots in different parts of the city, giving you plenty of options for finding a great scoop no matter where you are. When Asheville dishes out an August afternoon when you’re sweaty and tired, dish up some excellent ice cream to get your whole crew back ready for adventures.
12. Do Some U-Pick Berry Picking at a Picturesque Farm
If you’re out hiking and know your plants, there are certain spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway where your hike will lead you to a treasure trove of wild blueberries at the end of August.
However, if you don’t want to have to take a hike to find your fruit, berry farms in Marshall, Weaverville, and Fletcher offer various seasonal berries where you can pick the berries yourself and then stay for a nice packed lunch.
It’s a great way to teach kids about farming while filling them up with high-quality, healthy fruit! Look into The Berry Farm, Dogwood Hills Farm, and Cloud 9 Farm, but be aware that because many of these farms are small and local, you’ll want to call and find out what is available for picking around the time you want to go, since at some points in the season the berry fields get picked pretty bare and need a little bit to recover and get full of newly-ripening berries again.
13. Experience Pampering at a Local Spa
Sometimes you just want a moment to take a deep breath and rejuvenate your body and mind – local spas are perfect for this. From Sachi Spa in Asheville’s Northern “Wellness District” to Sensibilities Day Spa in South Asheville’s Biltmore Park, you’ll find that every part of town has at least one calm and comforting spot to get a massage, facial, sauna visit, or soak.
One of the elegant options is the Spa at the Omni Grove Park Inn, where overnight guests purchase day passes and reserve spots for all kinds of high-quality massages in a setting with literal waterfalls and underground pools – you’ll find luxury in every nook and cranny of this spot!
If this is your speed while you’re visiting Asheville, drink the whole experience in, but for those who aren’t staying at the Inn, there are plenty of delightful options for an affordable and comfortable spa date.
14. Spend a Whole Day at Sierra Nevada or New Belgium’s Brewery Campuses
While individual breweries offer a personalized, warm, and fun experience (we’re always a fan of barhopping through South Slope to try the microbrews there), two macrobreweries have made their homes in Asheville, and they are well worth a trip.
Both Sierra Nevada and New Belgium have created large complexes that feature their standard, well-loved favorites, as well as experimental and small-batch beers uniquely made for on-site visitors. Each spot features lots of seating, outdoor places to hang out, tours on select days, and even food options – New Belgium hosts local food trucks and Sierra Nevada sells food in their taproom.
There are special events and live music at New Belgium, and Sierra Nevada invites guests to experience their nature trail, all while getting access to a wide tap list.
If you want to throw a come-and-go party for friends or simply spend a truly relaxed day together, these large breweries are built to accommodate you and surround you with a boisterous, fun atmosphere.
New Belgium: 21 Craven Street, Asheville
Sierra Nevada: 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River
Asheville in August for Locals
Many people opt to come to Asheville for a season or for good. Whether you’re doing seasonal work at a major tourist attraction or settling into the community as a new resident, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do in Asheville in August.
Either way, we always like to include a few of our favorite options that even locals will find pleasurable. This month, we focused on flavor sensations that might appeal even more once you’re familiar with some of the common favorites in town.
15. Step Outside the Beer Bubble
For those who have already tried a lot of the brews in town, there are quite a few options for having satisfying summer sippers that aren’t beer. Try the Holy Water Seltzer options at Thirsty Monk, for instance, or sip a flavored ginger beer at Ginger’s Revenge.
Cider at Urban Orchard or Noble Cider are also great options, and Bold Rock in downtown offers a wonderful spot to look out on the populated downtown streets and people-watch with your drink.
There are also wine bars to try, including 5 Walnut Wine Bar in downtown and Bottle Riot in the River Arts District, and a whole winery region south of the city near Hendersonville. Don’t feel limited just because Asheville produces dozens of award-winning beer brands – the longer you’re here, the more your horizons can expand!
16. Go Out for an Only-Dessert Meal
While there is certainly a reason to get your whole grains, veggies, and proteins, Asheville offers you the opportunity to occasionally revel so fully in the decadence of dessert that it’s your whole meal. Multiple dessert-themed restaurants make it possible to order a sweet drink, a flavorful dessert, and even pack up some truffles to go home with you.
For instance, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge on Pack Square frequently has a line out the door, and when you go in, you’ll see why: behind their incredible patisserie, gelato, and cake case is a menu that features hot chocolates and rich “liquid truffles,” as well as many coffee and tea options, but it’s pretty much just dessert!
They source their chocolate from bean to bar, as they say, so each chocolatey-infused dessert is also made with incredibly high-quality ingredients. You’ll also find dessert options galore at Asheville Chocolate, and if you’re looking for a dinner out, we love Crave Dessert Bar, where yes, you can technically order from a robust dinner menu first, but you can also pick from more than a dozen intricate desserts as well as a wide variety of dessert-themed cocktails!
Yes, we recommend three square meals a day, but once in a blue moon, make your Asheville in August treat a dessert meal!