25+ Cheap & Free Things To Do In Asheville, NC

Experience the best of Asheville on a budget with our suggestions for 30 free and cheap things to do in the area. Stretch your dollars with everything from no-cost admission days and outdoor adventures to free live music and even free brewery tours.

Whether you’re a local on a budget or a traveler seeking to experience Asheville without spending a pretty penny, here’s your guide to the top free things to do in Asheville. A few of these ideas include a suggested donation and we have marked those accordingly.

Free Things To Do In Asheville

Here are our top picks for the best free and low-cost activities in Asheville. It includes everything from no-admission gardens, free tours and even how to access the Biltmore Estate at no cost. We hope this list helps you enjoy Asheville on a budget!

Free Brewery Tour In Downtown Asheville

Exterior of Wicked Weed's Brewing Pub in downtown Asheville

Wicked Weed offers a free brewery tour for 21+ at their original brewpub location in downtown Asheville. What’s great about their tour is that you can reserve a ticket in advance.

The tour includes a commemorative Wicked Weed sample glass, 3 beer samples, a discount coupon for merchandise and a behind-the-scenes look at the Brewpub.

Tour times: Tours are offered on the hour from 2-6 on Monday-Friday and 1-5 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Explore At The Botanical Gardens

Rhoades Bridge over Reed Creek at the Botanical Gardens

Ten-acre botanical garden on UNCA’s campus

The Botanical Gardens at Asheville is a ten-acre non-profit botanical garden located on UNC’s Asheville campus. There you’ll find the Crayton Trail (a half-mile loop around the Gardens), as well as several grassy meadows and creeks, a visitor center and gift shop.

It’s an especially great place to visit after a morning at the nearby North Asheville Tailgate Market. Both are located on UNCA’s campus.

Donations are appreciated

Free Admission To The Asheville Art Museum

Exterior of the Asheville Art Museum

The Asheville Art Museum is located in downtown Asheville and features American art of the 20th and 21st centuries.

While you can purchase a membership or pay a daily rate, there are a few other ways to visit the Asheville art museum for free. See below for details!

  1. Art Museum admission is always free for UNCA students, active-duty military and children under 6.
  2. Locals can visit the Art Museum for free every 30 days with a ZOOM pass.
  3. The Art Museum hosts occasional community days that include free admission. Keep an eye on the museum’s event calendar to stay in the know.

Go To The Biltmore For Free With A Member

Exterior of the Biltmore House with Christmas trees on the lawn

Did you know that Biltmore Estate passholders can bring guests in for free after 4PM?

While free admission with a member doesn’t include a tour of the house, it does include access to the expansive grounds. Shop around Antler Hill Village, check out the winery or take a leisurely stroll through the gardens. There are so many fun things to do at the Biltmore Estate!

Passholders can bring guests starting at 3PM in the off-season during the Biltmore’s member appreciation month. Check the current passholder benefits for the most up-to-date information.

Go On A Free Brewery Tour at New Belgium

Entrance to New Belgium Brewing in West Asheville

The New Belgium Brewery’s ‘Tour Teaser’ is a free 45 minute brewery tour at their West Asheville location. It includes a guided tour of the brewhouse and a beer sample.

Tickets for the free brewery tour are available on a first-come, first-toured basis. Tours are limited to 20 people and open to ALL ages (but only 21+ can take part in the tasting!)

Tour times: Thursday – Sunday 1:30 & 4:30

Free Summer Music Event In Downtown Asheville

Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville

Downtown After 5 is a free music event in downtown Asheville that features both local and national bands. It is typically held the 3rd Friday of each month from April to September.

The event is free and there are food and beverage vendors on-site. It’s held on North Lexington Avenue from 5 to 9:30.

2024 marks the 36th season of Downtown After 5.

Explore Pisgah Natioanl Forest

Trail through the woods toward Lake Powhatan

Conquer scenic trails near Asheville

While hiking is an obvious free thing to do in Asheville, it’s also truly one of the best. There is nothing like immersing yourself in nature and getting a priceless view or experience (with no admission!)

While some of the trails are a bit more difficult and require ‘better’ gear, there are several in the area where you need nothing more than tennis shoes. A few that come to mind are Lake Powhatan (15 minutes from town) and Moore Cove Falls (45 minutes.)

Admire Local Art In The River Arts District

Grafitti in the River Arts District

Walkable working artist studios and galleries

Wander the River Arts District, a haven for over 200 working artists. Browse galleries, witness live demonstrations, and revel in the creative energy – all for free!

The best time to visit is on Second Saturdays, where the River Arts District holds demonstrations, workshops, live music, wine tastings and more. This is, as expected, held every second Saturday of the month.

There’s also a farmers market on Wednesdays in the area and a semi-annual Studio Stroll.

Tour The Moog Music Factory For Free

Minimoog synthesizer

Free Moog Music factory tour

Discover the artistry and engineering behind the unique Moog sound with an up close look. They offer free in-store presentations in downtown Asheville twice daily (10:30 and 3:30.)

Plan to spend 45 minutes in the session, which includes history of the company and demonstrations of the instruments. You can also visit their showroom Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm.

Visit The Antique Car Museum

Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum in Asheville's Grovewood Village

If you are into rare antique and vintage automobiles, you won’t want to miss the collection at the Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum.

The museum features the collection of local legend Harry D. Blomberg. He was the area’s Cadillac-Pontiac dealer for over half a century.

The Estes-Winn collection features over 15 automobiles, including a rare 1957 Eldorado Brougham. There’s also a 1922 American LaFrance fire truck.

The museum is open April to December from 10am to 5pm. It’s located at Grovewood Village by the Omni Grove Park Inn.

Free admission with a $5 suggested donation

Explore Grovewood Village

Garden sculptures at Asheville's Grovewood Village

Stroll and admire at Grovewood Village

Speaking of Grovewood Village, it is actually a great place to visit to enjoy strolling around shops and a calm area. There’s are two museums (closed January to March), artist studios, galleries

Grovewood Village is a historic site that once housed the weaving and woodworking operations of Biltmore Industries. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as an arts and crafts destination.

Apart from the shopping and museums, there is a nice garden art area with ivy-bordered pathways and a sculpture garden.

Visit Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell State Park entrance sign.

Visit the tallest mountain in North Carolina

At 6,684 feet in elevation, Mount Mitchell is not only the tallest mountain in North Carolina, but it’s the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi River. It is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains within the Appalachian Mountain Range.

There are trails to explore at Mount Mitchell State Park, an observation deck, picnic areas, a gift shop, museum and a concession stand. There is no entry fee.

It’s an especially fun place to visit when it’s hot out because it’s always so much cooler there! If you are visiting on a spring day, make sure to bring a few layers.

Locals Only: Free Admission To Attractions

Zoom Pass for the Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS) issued by the Buncombe County Public Library

The Buncombe County ZOOM pass is one of our favorite parts about living in Asheville. It gives Buncombe County residents free access to several attractions including the Arboretum, the WNC Nature Center and the Asheville Museum of Science.

To be eligible for a ZOOM pass, you’ll need a Buncombe County library card. If you live in the county and don’t have a library card– start there! You can get one in person at any one of our libraries with a valid ID.

The list of attractions occasionally changes, but you’ll find familiar places like the NC Arboretum, the WNC Nature, Asheville Museum of Science, the Asheville Art Museum, Lake Julian watercraft, the Hands On Children’s Museum and even the Asheville Community Theater. In the summer they even have passes to community pools available.

Free Omni Grove Tour

Front exterior of The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.

The iconic Omni Grove Park Inn is set on 150 acres in North Asheville with sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and downtown Asheville.

It’s a fun place to visit even if you aren’t a guest, especially during the holidays when they have the Gingerbread House Competition on display. There’s also a small hiking trail and views for days.

The hotel property offers a free 45-minute self-guided walking tour. Make sure to bring your own earphones for it. But you’ll need to be quick if opting for the free tour because of fees associated with parking. See below for details.

The Omni Grove Park Inn is open to the public, though you do have to pay for parking. Parking is free for the first hour between January 3 and September 30, 2024. After that, 1-3 hours is $12, 3-6 hours is $22 and 6-24 hours is $28. So, if you are looking to make it a no-cost day, plan to spend less than hour there!

Free Admission To Asheville Tourist Games

Tourists Baseball Game Asheville NC

The Asheville Tourists Baseball Club is a High-A Affiliate of the Houston Astros. Their stadium is just south of downtown Asheville.

While you can’t go to every Asheville Tourist game for free, the team does occasionally host community events with free or reduced admission. Keep an eye on their calendar and promotions for upcoming events and giveaways.

Tourists tickets are BOGO for all Tuesday games when you use promo code INGLES online. This is for adult general admission tickets only. The game on 5/14/24 is excluded.

Spend A Day On The Blue Ridge Parkway

Road to the Craggy Gardens picnic area

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a can’t-miss attraction when visiting Asheville. And lucky for all of us, it’s free!

The Parkway cuts right through Asheville, so you can either take it south through the Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest or north toward Blowing Rock.

We love packing a picnic and disappearing for at least half a day. There is no entrance fee, dogs are allowed at all of the stops and there is so much to see.

If you are looking for a fun day trip itinerary on the Parkway, check out our parkway loop that includes a stop in Brevard, NC.

Picnic at Bearwallow

View from pasture on summit of Bearwallow Mountain

Speaking of picnics and hikes, we wanted to specifically call out Bearwallow Mountain Trail because it’s a fun thing to do that won’t break the bank. The trailhead isn’t located on the Blue Ridge Parkway– it’s actually in Fairview, NC (about 35 minutes from downtown Asheville.)

Bearwallow is an easy, family-friendly hike that ends at a mountaintop pasture. And there are occasionally cows! Bring a picnic and plan to spend a few hours exploring.

Free Shakespeare In The Park Performances

Montford Park Players stage in Asheville, NC

Watch a live performance of a Shakespeare play at Montford Park in one of Asheville’s most charming neighborhoods. Bring a chair, a blanket and some snack to ensure an enjoyable evening. Well-behaved kids and dogs are invited.

Montford Park Players perform on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the summer at 7:30pm.

Shows are free with a suggested donation of $10-15 per person. Donate as you are able!

Attend A free Music Event

There are often free music events in Asheville, like weekly string bands at Jack Of The Wood. You’ll want to plan to purchase a drink or food, though. Lots of local breweries have live music

Here’s another free music in Asheville tip: you can sometimes find free show tickets on Reddit Asheville. There’s typically a free talk thread for buying and selling tickets. You’ll often see free tickets up for grabs on show days when it gets close to the event’s start time. This is especially true for outdoor events when the weather may not be ideal for standing outside.

Visit The Folk Art Center

Folk Art Center in Asheville, NC

Appalachian folk art museum, library and craft shop on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Folk Art Center is a non-profit dedicated to preserving and promoting Appalachian craft traditions. They have a permanent collection from AD 1000 to the present day, as well as rotating exhibitions and even live demonstrations. You can also shop at the oldest craft shop in America here– -the Allanstand Craft Shop.

There’s also a library with over 20,000 historical and current volumes of books, exhibition catalogs and video relating to craft from around the world. The Robert W. Gray Library is on the second floor and open during the Folk Art Center hours.

Live demonstrations at the Folk Art Center are daily from March to December. View their calendar here.

Low Cost Fun At A Local Brewery

Putt putt course at Whistle Hop Brewing in Fairview NC

Whistle Hop is a family-friendly brewery in nearby Fairview with a great outdoor area that includes a small mini golf area. There is also a tunnel slide, small climbing wall, soccer field and more.

While you do need to purchase something to eat or drink from Whistle Hop, it’s a low-cost way to enjoy some outdoor activities.

Art In The Park

Art In The Park is an annual handmade market for professional artists held in Asheville. It’s actually held two different times each year– the event takes place on three Saturdays in June and three in October.

Artists from all over the region showcase their work, including glass, ceramics, wood, jewelry and metal pieces. The market is located in Pack Square in downtown Asheville.

2024 dates: June 8, 15, 22 | October 5, 12, 19

Visit A Playground

Slides, climbing structure and a swing at the Tempie Avery park

Local playgrounds are a great way for families to enjoy free entertainment in Asheville. Our top playground recommendation near downtown Asheville is Tempie Avery in Montford. It’s an especially fun destination for kids ages 5-10.

Another fun playground to visit is Carrier Park in West Asheville. There’s a velodrome here, as well as a basketball court, wooden play areas, sand volleyball and a hockey rink. It connects to the French Broad River Greenway, too.

Go To The Friday Night Drum Circle

Girl holding a drum

The famous Asheville drum circle is held on Friday nights in Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. It’s a fun event that attracts such a diverse group of people.

Drummers spread out and pop in and out throughout the evening. Anyone can participate and it is free of charge. It’s a regular event in the summers through fall.

The drum circle is located just across from S&W Market food hall, which would be a perfect place for dinner before or after!

Visit A Local Farmers Markets

Flowers at the North Asheville Tailgate Market

Experience community vibes at a farmers market

There’s a neighborhood farmers market in Asheville almost every day of the week– a true testament to the community that residents and area farmers and makers have made. All of the farmers markets in town are free to access.

Now, we’ll be honest, most of the products at local farmers markets aren’t cheap. But you can typically find a cup of coffee that isn’t too expensive. And the people-watching provides some free entertainment. Also, there is often live music at Farmers Markets, specifically the North Asheville one.

One other thing to keep in mind is that vendors are known to offer deals on their products as the market comes to an end. This is mostly true for slower days, especially when there is inclement weather. It’s a great way to shop on a budget while still supporting local.

Free Summer Fun At Splashville

The perfectly named Splashville is such a fun way to cool off during the summer. Asheville’s only public splash pad is located in Pack Square Park and has lights and water programming.

There’s a ton of shade and benches nearby, so it’s a great place to hang for a while. Splashville opens daily at 10am in the summer.


That wraps up our guide to free and affordable things to do in Asheville. For other fun ideas, check out our guide to unique things to do in Asheville and what to do on a rainy day in Asheville.

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