Fun Family-Friendly Summer Activities in Asheville, North Carolina
Family Friendly,  Attractions

12 Fun Family-Friendly Summer Activities in Asheville

When kiddos are out of school, the initial excitement of taking a break and enjoying some relaxation sometimes gives way to boredom if we don’t head it off. That’s why we’ve put together this summer fun scavenger hunt that lets local kids and visitors alike go out and try to achieve a few challenges and fully enjoy the many things that make summer in Asheville so fun. Why is Asheville such a great, family-friendly place to enjoy summer? Let’s take a look!

The Top 5 Reasons Why Asheville is the Place to Spend the Summer

  1. First and foremost, cool nights and warm days seem to be the consensus around here. Our nights are cool enough for open windows, except during the very hottest week or two, but the warm days mean that you can spend your summer days in the swimming pool. It’s neither too mild nor too scorching. 
  2. Blue sky days looking out over our green mountains are a great reason to come to Asheville for some (or all!) of the summer. My shoulders relax the minute I look out at those vistas.
  3. Great bands come through our town, so there’s a good chance for live shows at big and small venues throughout the city every single weekend. Whether you’re partying by the river at Salvage Station or enjoying a quieter singer-songwriter on stage at The Orange Peel, this is the time of year when the music schedules heat up. 
  4. We’re close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and Pisgah National Forest, putting you in the right spot to go waterfall hunting, mountain biking, or horseback riding through beautiful summer greenery.
  5. Too hot out there? Been reaching for your water bottle a lot? Cool off with any of our incredible cold beverages that are locally made: from locally produced sodas to kombucha to the literally dozens of flavorful craft beers in our area. There’s a patio with your name on it, no matter what you prefer to have sitting in front of you – covered with beads of good ol’ Southern condensation, of course.

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12 Fun Family-Friendly Summer Activities in Asheville

1. Chase the Sunshine Sammies Truck

Family Friendly Summer Activities in Asheville: Sunshine Sammies
Image courtesy of Sunshine Sammies

When I heard the sound of ice cream trucks as a kid, I always expected to find a variety of brand-name bars and cones available when I saw the menu. In Asheville, true to form, we have our own ice cream truck that literally brings locally made, high-quality ice cream and ice cream sandwiches made with great ingredients and interesting flavors to our neighborhoods! 

Sunshine Sammies combines the nostalgia of childhood ice cream trucks with the top-notch foodie reputation of our town and makes getting an ice cream sandwich like the snickerdoodle-and-salted-caramel combination a super sweet item to check off your summer scavenger hunt list. 

2. Dance Along With Shindig on the Green

Fun Summer Activities in Asheville for Families: Shindig on the Green

Many towns have summer concert series, but the city of Asheville’s signature concerts on Pack Square, Shindig on the Green, have a special spot in my heart. Organized by the Folk Heritage Committee, these concerts zero in on musicians, storytellers, and dance organizers who have connections to authentic Appalachian music. 

The tradition infuses every evening, and often people get up and dance along with the beautiful music. Even in a very modern city full of bustling new businesses, this series helps us connect to the roots of this region of Western NC. You’ll love the feeling that comes with people of all ages enjoying each other’s company and learning about their own heritage.

3. Catch Splashville on a Hot Day and Cool Off

Fun Family-Friendly Summer Activities in Asheville: Splashville

It’s a bit of a joke that splash pads or splash grounds (fountains designed to allow children to run and play and get soaking wet) are a bit temperamental. Frequently they will open for the hot summer season only to close quickly for repairs. 

Still, Asheville sports our own splash ground, “Splashville,” a large interactive fountain in Pack Square Park. The fountains sometimes spray high in the air, sometimes burble close to the ground, and the patterns make for the starting point for many little-kid games of tag and chase. 

When the heat gets rough in the summer, which thankfully isn’t too often in Asheville, this is the place to flock – the kids stay cool in the water and make new friends with others enjoying this way of relaxing in Asheville. 

4. Tube Down the French Broad River With Friends

One of my favorite summer activities in Asheville is the chance to tube in the French Broad River. While this would be a fun and relaxing pastime regardless, it becomes even more fun with a group. A few friends and I got together and used carabiners to click our tubes together for the long slow sections of the river so that we could chat while enjoying the lovely cool water and the beautiful scenery along the way. 

We unclipped those carabiners whenever rocks or small fast-flowing sections came up so that we could each get the mini-thrill of a fast-moving tube ride. While the section of the French Broad River that flows through Asheville is often a lazy, calm section, big rains can change the outlook slightly, but the section that French Broad Outfitters offers to guests is wide and slow flowing, so it tends to be a safe option. 

While some folks just park one vehicle at the takeout and one at the put-in, if you want to rent a tube, French Broad Outfitters and Zen Tubing are two companies that will drive you back from the takeout and rent you the tube, as well as answer questions you have if you’re a first-timer. 

5. Check Out the Latest Pups at the WNC Nature Center

Family Friendly Summer Activities in Asheville: WNC Nature Center

The WNC Nature Center goes by the shorthand “the zoo” in our house, but it really isn’t – it’s so much better. A big zoo is typically highly costly and requires a whole day to see, while the WNC Nature Center is affordable, especially with a membership, and features just enough running around areas, animal exhibits, and play zones to keep my kid happy for a couple of hours before we head home to eat and nap. 

Recently, the grey wolves had eight adorable pups and that exhibit was by far the most crowded for a season. Similarly, new exhibitions with armadillos and raccoons are on their way. If you find yourself with a lot of time and a serious love of nature, there is a robust volunteer program here where you can learn about the inner workings of the nature center and be a part of keeping this place so affordable for the community. 

Location: 75 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville.

6. Find Bugs, Plants, and More at the NC Arboretum 

Fun Family-Friendly Summer Activities in Asheville: Arboretum

It’s a real treasure to have such a beautifully designed botanical arboretum in our area. Whether you’re a local using a ZOOM Pass from the public library or you pay admission to help with the upkeep of this treasure of a space, a visit to the NC Arboretum is a great way to make a science lesson come alive. 

From the bonsai exhibits to the frogs in the ponds, you’ll find observational opportunities and a chance to talk through the things that might seem a little less exciting in a textbook. It’s also a great place to unwind and calm down. If your trip to Asheville has been go-go-go so far, a morning in the gardens and a lunch at the cafe might be just what your family needs to recharge for the rest of the trip. 

Location: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville.

7. Shop For a New Treasure at Asheville Art in the Park

Fun Summer Activities in Asheville for Families: Art in the Park-

Whether you’re fully just window-shopping or set out to find the next artwork to feature in your home, visiting Art in the Park is a great alternative if you have kids that are a little rambunctious but want to help them learn about and understand art. 

In an art museum, there’s breakable stuff around every corner, but at Art in the Park, kids can run off their extra steam before looking at the various booths, and take breaks as needed away from the art. No matter what medium of art you find most eye-catching, Art in the Park features paintings, sculpture, pottery, glasswork, jewelry, and so much more. 

Location: 80 Court Plaza, Asheville.

8. Catch a Fly Ball at a Tourists Game

Watching our hometown baseball team play is a great option for a whole evening of fun – it’s already funny that the team name is the Asheville Tourists, since this town has become such a tourism hotspot that it makes even more sense than the Wild Turkeys or the Black Bears. 

The nice thing about having a minor league team is that there are affordable tickets available, but you get all the closeness of a smaller stadium and a fun crowd. Many people pick their dates based on specials – like $1 hot dogs or the fireworks displays – that sometimes come at the end of home games. 

Getting friends together for an outing to see the Tourists is a great fit even if everyone isn’t a diehard baseball fan. There’s just something enjoyable about a night out in the open air, and afterwards, you’re right in South Slope so you can also go enjoy the nightlife if you aren’t needing to get little kids home immediately.

Location: 30 Buchanan Place, Asheville.

9. Pack a Picnic Dinner to See the Montford Park Players 

Best Things to Do in Summer in Asheville: Montford Park Players
 Image courtesy of Montford Park Players

One of my favorite items on this list can technically be completely free, though a little extra money enhances the experience in many ways. Whether you’re a group of young people, an intergenerational family, or just a couple going on a date, the Montford Park Players are a perfect choice for a pretty summer evening. 

First, many of the performances are pay-what-you-can, allowing anyone to see these great productions in the open-air amphitheater in Montford Park. Second, there is such a rollicking fun spirit at these shows, and you can bring in your own food and alcohol. It’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy the cool evenings here in town. 

Location: 92 Gay Street, Asheville.

10. Meet Friends for a Greenway Walk

Fun Family-Friendly Summer Activities in Asheville: Greenways

The Greenway networks around the city are one of the unsung heroes of this community. There are days where the effort to go find a hiking trail, get geared up, and get all sweaty is too much – you want something casual that can be slotted in around the busy other parts of your life. 

The Greenways are perfect for these times: in whatever clothes you’ve already got on, just head to the UNCA campus or the River Arts District and hop on these wide, paved paths. People love them for casual biking (some of us are too clumsy and accident-prone for intense mountain biking paths), roller-skating, and family walks. 

Plus, the fact that they go through gorgeous scenery like the edge of the French Broad River makes it feel like even a quick half-hour jaunt during a lunch break is a real treat.

11. Make a Meal Out of Farmers Market Produce

Fun Summer Activities in Asheville for Families: WNC Farmers Market

If you want to teach a little economics, a little agriculture, and a lot of fun, consider having your kids work together to budget for, buy, and cook a meal using farmers’ market produce. They can learn a bit about how the WNC Farmers Market makes it possible for farmers and customers to sell and buy directly, without having to ship their produce far away. 

You can look at prices and the available options, and get the freshest items to make a delicious meal together. Finally, getting to practice simple life skills like paying for purchases and being polite to shopkeepers is a great skill! 

Enjoy a picnic or backyard grilling evening with all the yummy items you’ve purchased so that your kids can see how fun it is to be part of the cooking process at home. Maybe buy some sweet treats with any budget leftovers – there’s something sweet about coming in under budget!

12. Make Your Own Adventure Through a Good Wander

While these are great starts for ways to have fun with family and friends in an Asheville summer, many of us have made our best memories by stumbling across spontaneous gatherings, enjoying drum circles, or simply getting out and seeing what’s happening. 

Whether you opt to dive deep into the natural parks around Asheville and find your adventure through the flora and fauna, or simply take an aimless stroll through downtown, the River Arts District, or South Slope, you’ll be surprised by all that awaits you around every corner. Whether you find a one-time experience or create a new family tradition, remember that spontaneity often breeds adventure in Asheville! 

There you have it! Our summer fun Asheville scavenger hunt! What are your favorite summer activities in Asheville? Let us know in the comments below.

Laura finally got to move to Asheville in 2021 after a decade of visits and hangouts here. She loves the food, the coffee shops, and the riverfront in Asheville. Laura is always finding something new and wonderful to try.

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