The 13 Best Things to do in Asheville in November
November is an excellent time to visit Asheville. The average temperature is 60°F/40°F (though it’s colder in higher elevations), perfect for long days of playing outside and sleeping without the air conditioning.
Asheville’s fall season is long and beautiful, with sunny, dry, warm days and chilly evenings, and the fall foliage season goes from late September to early November.
In November, fall turns into winter, so many fall activities and landscapes remain to enjoy. Still, many of the most popular December holiday events start in November: the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn, the Winter Lights show at the North Carolina Arboretum, and the Christmas at Biltmore event.
But, if you are like me and don’t want to rush the December holiday season and you wait until the third week of December to get your Christmas tree, there is still much for you to do during the month of November.
The best things to do in Asheville in November range from exploring the always beautiful and calming outdoors to checking out our fantastic shopping scene, art galleries, restaurants, and cafés.
Are you planning to have your family reunion and Thanksgiving dinner in Asheville? Many restaurants, including the ones at the Biltmore Estate and the Omni Grove Park Inn, are open on Thanksgiving and offer special holiday menus. You can order or cater your Thanksgiving meal in Asheville or make recipes with fresh produce from the local farmers’ markets.
I can’t imagine a better place to do your Small Businesses Saturday holiday shopping than Asheville. Our shopping districts, from downtown to the River Arts District and Biltmore Village, have something for everyone and every budget. One thing is guaranteed: you’ll take home something unique and have a blast in the process!
I’ve compiled a list of things to do in Asheville in November featuring activities and events that are very popular among locals. Also, November is the month to give back, so I’ve included a few ways to support the local community, too!
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What to do in Asheville in November: 13 Fun Ideas
1. Enjoy the Last Stretch of Asheville’s Fall Color in Early November
Although the best time to visit the Asheville area for fall foliage is October (color tends to peak in mid to late October, depending on Mother Nature), fall colors can be spotted until early November in lower elevations. This includes the city of Asheville, Biltmore Village, and the North Carolina Arboretum, three of the best places in Asheville to see the leaves change.
Enjoy the fall colors of downtown Asheville, the beautiful ginkgo trees around the Grove Arcade, and the lush urban parks and greenways. Also, going to the Botanical Gardens at Asheville is one of the best things to do in Asheville in November. You’ll love walking the easy, child-friendly trails and checking out the variety of flora in the middle of town.
Take an easy walk around the neighborhood of Montford with its artsy houses, colorful porches, and historical landmarks. Chimney Rock and Lake Lure feature beautiful fall colors in late October and early November. Or take a waterfall hike in Dupont Forest!
2. See Fall Colors and get into the Holiday Spirit at Christmas at the Biltmore
November is a busy month at the Biltmore. But, it might also be one of the best months to visit the Vanderbilts’ estate (aka “America’s Largest Home).” The reason? The fall colors might still be vivid, and Christmas at Biltmore starts in early November.
The 8,000-acre property, gardens, and grounds are astonishing in the fall, with the changing leaves and the autumn flowers. Fall at Biltmore goes from October 1 to November 1.
You can access the Biltmore House and its grounds with your general ticket, but you can also get a ticket to visit just the gardens and spend a day walking or biking some of the 22 miles of hiking trails going through forests and meadows. If you are looking for views, there is a guided rooftop tour.
Christmas at Biltmore runs from the beginning of November to the first week of January, offering a Christmas Daytime Celebration and the famous Candlelight Christmas Evenings.
If you plan to spend Thanksgiving in Asheville, the Biltmore House is open that day, and all the estate’s restaurants are open. You can get overnight packages too!
3. Spend a Perfect Fall Day at Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Visiting Hickory Nut Gap is among the best things to do in Asheville in November. Enjoy their fall festivities (September-November) featuring donation-based pony rides, hay rides, a corn maze, friendly hogs chilling on the grounds, as well as plenty of chickens and goats.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm produces grass-fed meat and meat products that can be found in the best restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets around town. You can get everything at their unique store, where they also sell apples from Henderson County.
They offer a fantastic fresh-pressed apple cider made with their apples during the fall and use the pulp to feed the hogs. I also love the frozen cider popsicles, so be sure to give one a try!
There is a fun Sausage Festival in mid-November. They also host a holiday market by the end of November and a Small Business Saturday fair where you can get your holiday shopping done.
You can also take a farm tour and order pies for your Thanksgiving feast. They host many fun, collaborative events, so check out their calendar and their social media channels for updates.
Also, some of these pick-your-own apples farms are open through the first week of November!
Location: 57 Sugar Hollow Rd., Fairview
4. Get Closer to Asheville’s Culture and People by Attending the Asheville Holiday Parade
The annual Asheville Holiday Parade happens on the third Saturday of November at 11:00 am on Biltmore and Patton avenues, and it has a different theme every year. Grab a warm drink from one of the wonderful downtown coffee shops, and enjoy your chance to hang out with locals and learn more about local businesses and non-profits.
This is not your usual holiday parade because, well, this is Asheville! You can see, for example, a group of (fake) nuns riding on the roof of LaZoom’s purple tour buses while interacting with the crowd.
The parade features 100 entries, including marching bands, dance teams, youth sports teams, church groups, businesses, and a grand finale with Santa and Mrs. Claus!
There are different festivities around town after the parade, and they vary every year, including bouncy houses in Pack Square and free photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Grove Arcade.
5. Lose Yourself in the Grove Arcade’s Shops, Christmas Decorations, and History
The Grove Arcade (or “Asheville’s original indoor mall”) is a historic landmark and a wonderful place to visit during the holiday season. It features a Christmas tree competition, gigantic Christmas trees, festive decorations, and free events for the family.
The Grove Arcade is one of the most known downtown Asheville architectural landmarks (take a free self-guided architecture tour while you’re there). Like the Grove Park Inn, it was built by E.W. Grove, “the father of modern Asheville” (read his fascinating story when you get the chance!).
The mall opened in 1929, becoming the center of commerce in Western North Carolina until it closed during WWII. It reopened in 2002 and now hosts unique shops and restaurants.
Go to Bebettes: A New Orleans Coffee House, Summit Coffee, and Well-Bred Bakery (voted “Best Bakery in Western North Carolina” annually since 2014) for coffee and goodies. Also, Modesto has fantastic Italian food, and Huli Sue’s BBQ & Grill serves Hawaiian barbecue and sumptuous desserts.
6. Check Out the North Carolina Arboretum’s Trails and Light Show
Visiting Asheville in November is great because you can enjoy some fall colors and activities while slowly entering the December holidays mode. The NC Arboretum offers it all, from a fantastic 10-mile network of short, well-maintained trails and beautiful gardens during the day to one of the best holiday lights shows after dark.
The gardens have beautiful displays of trees and flowers, a G-scale model train, a Nature Discovery Room, and many interactive activities for kids and families (plus a gift shop and bistro!).
There is a parking fee per car. However, Henderson County, Buncombe County, and Polk County library cardholders can reserve one free ZOOM parking pass to the Arboretum per library card (ask your local librarian).
Winter Lights is an open-air walk-through light show featuring over one million lights. It happens annually from November to January. The display changes yearly, and it’s one of Ashevillian’s favorite (if not the favorite!) holiday traditions.
7. Check Out the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn
The Omni Grove Park Inn is one of our area’s most famous attractions and is worth a visit every day of the year. From November to January, though, this Asheville landmark hosts one of the most popular holiday events in Western North Carolina: the National Gingerbread House Competition.
If you’re wondering where to have your Thanksgiving dinner in Asheville, think no more! The Omni Grove Park Inn offers top-notch dining options – from epic buffets to seasonal menus – in all of its restaurants.
After your meal, you can walk around the resort to admire the creative gingerbread houses, watch a beautiful sunset, get some fun and unique Asheville gifts, or relax by one of the giant 36-foot-wide fireplaces in the lobby.
Plus, the Grove Park Inn is one of the best places in town to see Christmas lights in Asheville, where 80 illuminated Christmas trees, garlands, and lights create a charming, magical, and festive ambiance. Walking around the resort is free, but there is a parking fee during the holiday season.
8. Have an Unforgettable Farm-to-Table Thanksgiving Dinner
Asheville is known for being a popular destination for celebrations of all kinds. From weddings and elopements, bachelorette and bachelor parties, anniversaries, and Thanksgiving family reunions.
Everything here is inviting to folks wanting to have a relaxing and fun celebration: fantastic food and drinks based on local produce, whimsical landscapes, and friendly people.
Many of our best restaurants are open during Thanksgiving, and you can check their websites to see what they offer. Local favorites are The Blackbird, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Isa’s French Bistro, and Pack’s Tavern.
Of course, you can also cook your own Asheville-style Thanksgiving dinner by buying the best local produce and meats at our farmers’ markets and ordering pies and sweet treats from the city’s excellent bakeries and dessert places.
9. Get Your Holiday Shopping Done While Supporting Local Businesses
Even though, in Asheville, every day is Small Business Saturday, and you can get fantastic stuff all year long, our beautiful shops have great deals on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Stroll around downtown Asheville to get everything you need (or didn’t know you needed until you saw it!), from birth gemstones, local honey, and tarot readings to hip clothing and vinyl.
Get a fun, sassy Asheville souvenir at LOFT, or go to Charmed for whimsical gifts. Then, update your wardrobe at Virtue Boutique or Hip Replacements. Don’t miss Lexington Ave, Wall Street, and the Grove Arcade. Finally, if you need a break from shopping, try some of these other fun things to do in downtown Asheville.
The River Arts District features its annual Studio Stroll in early November. It’s a fantastic opportunity to buy arts and crafts gifts made by local artists while strolling the studios and checking out great restaurants and cafés, including Obama’s favorite Asheville barbecue place, 12 Bones Smokehouse).
10. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
With most leaves gone in higher elevations, November is the perfect time for long-range views. There are many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. You can take one of the many scenic drives around Asheville and watch a beautiful sunset (or sunrise!) from a lookout, hike for hours to reach amazing viewpoints, or take a short drive and a few steps to see a waterfall.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is the best scenic drive around Asheville and one of the most famous in the nation. So pack a picnic and enjoy this Asheville jewel any way you want! Rough Ridge Overlook, Devil’s Courthouse, and Cowee Mountain Overlook offer amazing views.
Black Balsam Knob (6,214 feet) in the Pisgah National Forest is one of Ashevillians’ favorite trails, along with Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Trail and Max Patch. All are easy, short hikes with great views and among the best kid-friendly hikes around Asheville.
The Adventure Center of Asheville hosts a Green Friday instead of Black Friday, donating 50 percent of all the proceeds to local non-profits. As a result, you and your family can enjoy zipline canopy adventures, treetop explorations, and KidZip, America’s first zipline adventure designed for kids under 10, while helping the local community.
11. Spend a Gloomy November Day Having Some Indoor Fun
Although Asheville in November features fall weather for the most part, we do have an occasional cooler, gray day. However, there are many fun things to do in Asheville on a wintery day!
Chilly afternoons and books are one of the best matches ever made! Check out books from local and regional authors at Malaprop’s and used books at Downtown Books & News. Plus, Battery Park in the Grove Arcade has a sophisticated combination of used books, a champagne bar, and fantastic charcuterie tables.
When the weather takes a turn for the worse, it’s a great excuse to treat yourself to one of the many pampering experiences in Asheville. I love going to the Sauna House for a couple of hours or spending the day at Shoji Spa & Retreat, a Japanese-inspired wellness center overlooking a national forest.
Museums are another great way to stay warm. Adults will love the Asheville Art Museum and the many fantastic art galleries and studios, while kids will be endlessly entertained at the Asheville Pinball Museum.
12. Spend an Entire Day Exploring Downtown Asheville
Exploring downtown is one of the best things to do in Asheville at any time of year. But in November, the lower temperatures and the long, sunny days make it perfect for a stroll. You’ll love the variety of shops, restaurants, and cafés, and the many chances to people-watch.
There are plenty of fun things to do in downtown Asheville. You can start by following the free, self-guided Urban Trail featuring most of downtown’s historical landmarks. The Architecture Trail is also an interesting option.
Get drinks and snacks along the way at Old Europe Pastries (try the crunchy-creamy-fluffy Hazelnut Napoleon), sip a chocolate beverage at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, or have family-friendly fun at Double D’s Coffee & Dessert bus. Or, for local beer, the self-guided South Slope Mural Trail has plenty of opportunities to sip and socialize!
Taking a tour is always a fantastic way to explore downtown Asheville. There’s a lot to choose from, including the award-winning LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours and hop-on, hop-off Gray Line Trolley Tours to pubcycle and e-bike tours.
End your day with an epic meal at a downtown restaurant. A few suggestions would be the Spanish tapas and fine wine at James Beard award-winning La Bodega by Cúrate, the unforgettable Indian street food at James Beard award-winning Chai Pani, the excellent Southern comfort food at Tupelo Honey, and the elegant gluten-free dishes at Posana.
13. Share Your Joy by Giving Back to the Community
“If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the world. If you can read this message, you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.” (Unknown)
The National Day of Giving is celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. November in Asheville is all about giving back to the wonderful non-profits and organizations that work to overcome some of our biggest challenges.
Even if you are traveling and have only a few hours to dedicate, you can share your holiday abundance by volunteering to provide and serve meals. Bounty & Soul, 12 Baskets Cafe, and Haywood Street’s Welcome Table offer one-time Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities for the entire family.
You can also volunteer or visit a local garden, like Elder & Sage Community Garden, which is maintained by elders from the nearby Battery Park and Vanderbilt buildings. They’d love a pie! Another way to give back is to donate to non-profits close to your heart.