Being from Argentina, a culture where kids are included everywhere, I wanted to find such a place in the United States. Asheville not only has lots of family-friendly things to do, but it’s also a very child-friendly town, offering some of the most important things any parent needs to raise a child and to have a fun family vacation: lots of outdoor time possibilities, yummy food, delicious desserts, and an engaging community.
Kids are generally masters of living in the present, and when it comes to traveling, they set the rhythm. I’ve traveled with my kids, sometimes for extended periods of time, and I’ve loved rediscovering the world through their eyes and their ability to enjoy the most simple things with the same amazement they enjoy the big ones.
I’ve put together a list of Asheville activities and attractions for kids and their adults, from playing in the park, splashing in a swimming hole, and apple picking at an orchard to getting hands-on in museums, embarking on kid-friendly tours, and attending family-friendly festivals. Some of these Asheville activities are also fun for the furry members of your pack!
Of course, many Asheville restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries are super kid-friendly. They offer plenty of space to play or walk around, cool features for kids, and yummy, world-class food because… this is Asheville!
The best piece of advice I received when I was pregnant for the first time was: “Children will remember more how you felt when you were doing whatever activity you were doing than the activity itself.” So, no matter what family-friendly Asheville activity you decide to do, remember to choose something that excites you and makes you enjoy yourself!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: 13 Fun Things to do in Asheville with Kids
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13 Things to do in Asheville with Kids
1. Take a Hike on Some of the Most Kid-Friendly Trails Near Asheville
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Asheville with kids. There are so many kid-friendly hiking opportunities that the only trouble will be deciding which one to do first.
Your family will love the astonishing 360-degree views after hiking the 1.2-mile Craggy Garden Pinnacle Trail for only 20-30 minutes. This photogenic trail features intriguing twisted trees, wildflowers in the warmer months, tunnels of blooming rhododendron in June, blueberries in late August, and long-range mountain views.
Pack a picnic and head out to Bearwallow Mountain to enjoy 360-degree views in the company of mellow cows (if you’re lucky; they’re not always there) after a short, easy 1.7-mile loop hike.
Other great options are Bent Creek Experimental Forest’s network of all-level hiking trails, including interpretive hikes, and Lake Powhatan. Plus, Graveyard Fields Loop Trail is a go-to spot for blueberry picking in mid-August! Also, check out the beginner-friendly outdoor adventures of the Kids in Parks’ TRACK Trails initiative to get some ideas.
If you are new to hiking, please remember to follow the Leave No Trace Seven Principles when you are outdoors. Also, please always check the state of trails and roads ahead of time.
2. Enjoy the Sunshine While Walking Around the North Carolina Arboretum
The NC Arboretum offers some of the best things to do with toddlers in Asheville. It features a 10-mile network of short, well-maintained, easy trails. If you visit it in the spring, don’t miss the beautiful National Native Azalea Collection that shows every species native to the US (blooming in mid-April to May).
There are special events, exhibitions, programs, and all kinds of activities for kids. You’ll love the G-scale model train, the Nature Discovery Room, the lovely gift shop, and the on-site bistro if you don’t want to pack lunch (open from March to December).
There is no admission fee, but the parking fee is $16 per standard vehicle. Locals can get a membership with free parking, and library card holders of Henderson County, Buncombe County, and Polk County can reserve one free ZOOM parking pass per library card. Also, on the first Tuesday of every month, the NC Arboretum offers a 50% discount on private vehicle parking.
3. Learn About Local Wildlife at the Western North Carolina Nature Center
The WNC Nature Center is home to 60 species of wildlife that live or have lived in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. This is not a regular zoo: the animals at the Nature Center have been permanently injured or imprinted or are part of the Special Survival Plan for endangered species.
If you’re looking for things to do in Asheville with kids, the Nature Center offers daily educational activities and nature play areas that your little ones will love! In addition, you can print activity sheets and scavenger hunts before your visit (bring your pens!). There is a picnic area and snacks and drinks for sale, but you may also leave the park to have lunch elsewhere and reenter later that same day.
After your visit, you’ll know how to differentiate red and gray foxes and how river otters are fed, and you will hopefully have tons of photos of Mitchell the cougar and Gloria the red wolf not only to embellish your Instagram account but to remind you how important it is to protect our precious wildlife and their habitat.
4. Explore Downtown Asheville
Your kids will love meandering along the free, self-guided Asheville Urban Trail, which follows 30 stations marked by cool metal sculptures, including a gigantic iron.
Many street art pieces will make great backgrounds for your family photos. Check out the Chicken Alley and Positive Sign pieces. Plus, the tiny fairy houses on the walls of Woodfin Street (going up Lexington) will spark your kid’s imagination!
While it might not be budget-friendly, downtown shopping is one of the best things to do in Asheville with kids. Some fun stores are Loft (great Asheville souvenirs), Mast General Store (lots of candy!), Instant Karma (hippy Asheville at its finest), and Curio (toys). Of course, the Grove Arcade is always a fun activity if you’re visiting Asheville with kids.
If you need some quiet time, head out to Malaprops, a local bookstore/coffee shop with a great children’s section (Get Goodnight Asheville for the kiddos!). Or go to the public library next door and read or play quietly in the children’s section, which includes a lovely puppet theater ideal for toddlers.
Some of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants downtown Asheville are Mamacita’s (great burritos!), White Duck (amazing tacos), Dobra Tea (Eastern tea rooms), Old Europe (tea and cakes), the S&W food court, Farm Burger, and Double D’s coffee shop.
5. Keep it Simple in Asheville’s Urban Parks and Greenways
If you’re wondering what to do in Asheville with kids, the Botanical Gardens at Asheville is five minutes from downtown. Your kids will love the easy trail, the creek with plenty of safe rock-hopping opportunities, the giant, busy bird feeder, the educational activities, and the flowers! Plus, entry is free which is always a perk.
Asheville has a growing system of greenways throughout the city. These trails are walking, running, biking, and stroller-friendly and connect neighborhoods and parks with local cafés and restaurants, which means they offer some of the best family activities in Asheville.
From the Botanical Gardens, for example, you can walk or bike to Weaver Park, a good playground for little kids next to Luella’s Bar-B-Que (one of the best places to eat Southern food in Asheville!).
One of the best Asheville activities for kids is an afternoon at Carrier Park. Located in West Asheville by the French Broad River and once a DIRTcar racetrack, it is now a velodrome bicycle track, perfect also for scooters and strollers. There is a huge wooden playground with features for kids of all ages, sand volleyball courts, and walking trails.
Another family-friendly activity within the city limits is to blend shopping and outdoors at one of Asheville’s many wonderful farmers’ markets. This is also a great way to support the local community!
6. Keep Your Kids Dry on a Rainy Day with These Indoor Activities
Your little kids will love playing at the jungle gym of Mountain Play Lodge when it’s gloomy outside. Alternately, We Rock the Spectrum is an inclusive indoor playground that offers safe, fun activities for all children.
The Asheville Museum of Science is perfect for younger kids. It features gem and mineral collection, a virtual climate display, and a dinosaur skeleton. Plus, the gift shop is full of exciting items.
It’s not in Asheville, but kids love the Hands-On Children’s Museum in Hendersonville, featuring 13,000 square feet of fun experiences. Of course, a visit to the Asheville Art Museum will always spark your kids’ curiosity. You can visit the Perspective Café afterward and enjoy a beautiful view of downtown.
For older kids, the Asheville Pinball Museum is always one of the most fun family activities in Asheville. Located downtown, this quirky place has 35 pinball machines and 35 classic video games. Another favorite option for gaming is the Asheville Retrocade.
But if the purpose of your rainy day outing is to disconnect from technology, Well Played Board Game Cafe offers a selection of 700 games organized by difficulty level.
Are there any skaters in your family? They’ll have fun at RAD indoors skate park! If not, the entire family will enjoy a visit to Recline & Unwind Social Spa in Pack Square. No need to shush your kids, as guests are encouraged to talk, laugh, and take tons of selfies!
7. Stroll Around the Streets of Montford, Asheville’s Most Historic Neighborhood
Montford is one of the best Asheville neighborhoods to walk around. You’ll love the ample streets, the ancient trees, the artsy houses with colorful porches, and the friendly neighbors. Plus, if you’re looking for things to do in Asheville with kids, you’ll find plenty of things for the family to do in this part of town.
One of Asheville’s most beloved family activities is to pack a picnic and head out to Montford to see the Montford Players perform in an amphitheater surrounded by trees and under the stars. This 50-year-old theater company features Shakespeare and other classics on the weekends from June to October, and entrance is free.
Just a few steps from there, the Montford Community Center has a newly remodeled playground with things for kids of every age. But my kid’s favorite thing has always been playing hide-and-seek in the empty amphitheater and the surrounding forest!
It might not be for everyone, but the Riverside Cemetery (1885) offers a nice walk and lots of historical info. There is also the nearby Montford Park. It doesn’t have a playground but features fun hills to roly-poly. This is a favorite sledding spot for locals when it snows.
8. Learn More About Asheville by Taking a Kid-Friendly Tour
When it comes to Asheville activities for kids, you’ll love that this city has a tour for every interest, including many kid-friendly options.
The famous LaZoom comedy tours mix comedy and history on purple buses guided by a magician with special appearances along the way. “Lil Boogers” is their kid-friendly tour and is also dog-friendly.
The Gray Line Asheville Trolley offers an award-winning Hop-On Hop-Off Tour with 10 stops along a 15-mile route. Also, tickets are valid for two consecutive days!
Amazing Pubcycle is one of the most trendy, fun Asheville tours. The pedal-powered (motor-assisted) trolleys go everywhere around downtown, and their Nomad Tour is family-friendly.
You can also explore Asheville with one of the Flying Bike Tours that can accommodate the whole family. Another option is to rent an e-bike and design your tour!
Tour the French Broad Chocolate Factory and learn about cacao farming and how cocoa beans become a chocolate bar. Also, taste cacao in its different forms. For something a bit different, No Taste Like Home offers foraging tours. Your kids will love to walk around the forest, pick up food, and eat it on-site or have it cooked at a local restaurant.
Older kids might enjoy learning about Asheville’s most famous ghosts by taking the Haunted Asheville Ghost Tour.
9. Have Fun with these Seasonal Summertime Activities
Asheville is magical year-round, but certain things only happen during the warmer months. If you’re visiting Asheville with kids, Movies in the Park shows a monthly movie in Pack Square and offers other kid-friendly activities.
Pack Square is also home to Splashville, a perfect spot to eat a picnic while the kids play in the water. Grab food at a local downtown restaurant and enjoy it at the park! The lighting features make Splashville an excellent place for photos. It’s not free, but Rabbit Rabbit also offers movies after dark and other family-friendly outdoor events.
Kids love the Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park. This is one of the best places to grasp Asheville’s vibe. The Middle Eastern restaurant Jerusalem Garden Café is across the street and has outdoor seating from where you can still enjoy some drum circle action while watching belly dancers perform!
Of course, going to swimming holes, visiting waterfalls, and playing around the water are some of the best things to do in Asheville with kids in the summer. Sliding Rock is a 60-foot natural water slide that ends in an 8-foot-deep pool! Plus, you can’t leave Asheville before joining dozens of locals tubing on the French Broad River.
10. Experience Fall Foliage (and Much More) in Autumn
There are so many seasonal activities to enjoy at this beautiful time of the year! The weather is lovely, with warm days, cool evenings, lots of sunshine, and colorful foliage.
Visiting the Hickory Nut Gap during the fall is one of the favorite Asheville activities for local families. There is a corn maze, a hayride, a pumpkin patch, horseback rides, lots of apples, and excellent snacks (the apple cider popsicles and the grass-fed jerky are a must!).
Sky Top Orchard is a favorite destination for apple picking in the fall. Don’t miss the delicious made-while-you-watch apple cider donuts.
Eliada’s Fall Festival has the best corn maze! They also have many kid-friendly activities, like hayrides, pumpkins for sale, slides, face painting, and food trucks. Plus, you’ll be helping Eliada accomplish its mission to help kids succeed.
Leaf Global Arts‘ three-day festivals in the spring and the fall are super popular events among local families who love to camp out by the lake (there are other lodging options) and enjoy music and artistic performances from around the world.
11. Discover These Family-Friendly Asheville Holiday Traditions
Walking around the Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum around that time of the year is one of the best Asheville kids’ activities. Winter Lights is an open-air walk-through light show featuring over one million lights. There are wintery snacks and drinks, opportunities to cozy up by the fire, and live performances offering fun for the whole family.
The Omni Grove Park Inn is one of Asheville’s best hotels, featuring the famous Gingerbread House Competition. Your kids will love the display, the gigantic fireplaces, and walking around the hotel. Entry is free, but there is a parking fee during the holidays.
Christmas at Biltmore is a one-of-a-kind experience. The Candlelight Christmas Evenings feature glowing fireplaces, live music, and the invitation “to imagine yourself a guest at the first Vanderbilt family Christmas in 1895.”
The Gray Line Asheville offers a family-friendly Holly Jolly Christmas Trolley Tour that includes a drive around the town’s decorations and Christmas caroling (don’t worry, they provide the lyrics!).
If you want to get an idea of the many tribes of Asheville, go to the Asheville Holiday Parade, a fun people-watching experience with many fun kid-friendly activities.
12. Have Your Family Take a Class in the River’s Arts District
The River’s Arts District (aka RAD) by the French Broad River is a former industrial area that became one of Asheville’s hippest neighborhoods after being abandoned and run-down for years.
The RAD hosts 280 artists and 200 art studios located in 23 buildings. There are also restaurants, cafes, breweries, and many excellent street art pieces. Plus, your kids will love being by the railroad.
The studios are open daily, and your family will be inspired by watching the artists work on-site. In addition, events happen all the time, and many studios offer one-day classes. Check the RAD website to see what’s going on the day of your visit.
The North Carolina Glass Center, for example, offers one-day glass-blowing workshops. My kids and I have taken one-time watercolor painting classes with local photographer and artist Julieta Fumberg. It was a great way to connect through art.
There are special events in the RAD and a free trolley to tour the shops on the second Saturday of the month. Plus, the skaters in your family will love the graffiti-covered skateable sculpture park next to the RAD indoor skatepark.
13. Enjoy Asheville’s Food Scene at these Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Breweries, and Cafés
Sunny Point Cafe (West Asheville) is one of the best brunch places in Asheville. It’s adjacent to a vegetable garden with many things that delight little ones.
12 Bones (in the River’s Arts District) serves some of Asheville’s best BBQ (the Obamas visited it three times!), and it’s very kid-friendly.
Beer City USA is for everyone! Asheville Pizza and Brewing (north Asheville location) offers local beer, delicious pizza, and a 150-seat dine-in movie theater all in one place. Sierra Nevada and The Wedge (also in the RAD) are also trendy breweries to visit with kids.
Asheville offers fabulous sweet treats. Old Europe Pastries in downtown Asheville is the sweet spot for locals and tourists. Your kids will love the sweet treats (make sure they try the colorful macaroons), and the European vibe of its ambiance will feel fancy.
If you prefer frozen treats, The Hop Handcrafted Asheville and Sunshine Sammies are your best bet. Downtown Asheville has many chocolate shops, too. Try the handcrafted artisanal chocolates of French Broad Chocolates, the truffles of Asheville Chocolate and The Chocolate Fetish, and the fudge at Kilwins!
There you have it! The 13 best things to do in Asheville with kids. What are your favorite Asheville activities for kids? Let us know in the comments below so we can give them a try!
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