A Guide to Things to Do In Asheville
As a family with two young boys, we have had plenty of opportunities to explore the fun side of Asheville with kids in tow. We love checking out new playgrounds, finding the best counter service restaurants, taste testing donuts and exploring the easier hikes close to town.
It’s always fun to add something new to our list of the best things to do in Asheville with kids!
Sometimes we luck out with great spots where kids feel welcome and enjoy themselves, while other times we wish we had ended up someplace else. If you have kids I assume you have been there!!
To help you navigate Asheville with kids, we have compiled a list of the activities that our kids love in and near Asheville. You’ll find everything from hikes to a comedy tour! For more fun things to do in general, check out our list of 60+ awesome things to do in Asheville!
Things to do with kids in Asheville: table of contents
This is a long post, so we have broken it into various sections and provided an easy way to jump around as needed. Happy exploring!
Asheville Attractions FOr Kids
1. Immerse yourself in nature at the NC Arboretum
Starting our list off with an absolute favorite of ours: the NC Arboretum! Our kids love the arboretum’s magical surroundings. Immersed in the natural beauty of Western North Carolina, we all like to explore the woods, meadows and manicured gardens. The main gardens are so much fun with enchanted nooks around every corner.
One of the highlights for kids is the garden scale model train — the Rocky Cove Railroad. It only runs on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 pm from April to October. The NC Arboretum is a great spot for a picnic, whether you bring one in or order from the Bent Creek Bistro.
There are also plenty of great hiking trails that are suited for kids. Check out our article about one of our favorites- the Carolina Mountain Trail.
If you are local, be sure to check out how to get free access to the NC Arboretum every thirty days through Buncombe County’s ZOOM Pass program.
We highly recommend taking your kids to explore all that the Arboretum has to offer. For all the details, check out our article about enjoying the NC Arboretum with kids.
2. Catch a Minor League Baseball game
Just south of downtown Asheville you’ll find the Asheville Tourists stadium. The Tourists are a High-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.
Attending a Tourists game is a great outing for the whole family. Tickets are affordable ($8-10) and it’s never too crowded.
You’ll find various events and specials each week at the stadium. Tickets are BOGO for certain games (every other Tuesday) using the promo code INGLES. As far as events go, they host Thirsty Thursday every other Thursday where you can get $1 beer and $1 cokes. Fireworks Night is every other Friday night featuring post-game fireworks. You’ll also find the occasional Sunday Fun Day.
3. Get close to wildlife at the WNC Nature Center
The WNC Nature Center is Asheville’s zoo and home to over 60 species of wildlife native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. They have everything from black bears and river otters to barn owls and coyotes.
Visiting the nature center feels like you are taking a walk in the woods (except this time it’s ok if you run into a bear!) It’s a great place for kids to see all of the unique wildlife the region has to offer.
Are you local? Just like with the Arboretum and AMOS, you can visit the Nature Center for free through Buncombe County’s ZOOM Pass program.
4. Spark their imagination at a children’s museum
If you are looking for an extremely fun and educational place to spend time with your kids, check out Hands On! Children’s Museum. They have so many fun exhibits, like a Lego raceway, giant light bright, play grocery store complete with a little check out station, Rigamajig construction kit and even a puppet theater
Hands On! Children’s Museum is located 30 minutes south of Asheville in Hendersonville, NC.
If you are local, Hands On! is a participant in the library’s ZOOM pass program.
5. Spend the day touring and playing at The Biltmore
Yes, the Biltmore is kid-friendly! They have amazing gardens and grounds to explore, biking + hiking trails, guided bird walks and even a playground on the premises. The Biltmore also has an audio guide for kids that you can purchase for $12. It is narrated by Cedric, the Vanderbilts’ Saint Bernard!
We have an annual membership and love taking our kids to the Biltmore gardens. It’s dog-friendly, too, so the whole family can come.
You can opt for an annual pass, a day pass to the gardens + grounds or a day pass to the full estate. Admission to the Biltmore gardens for kids under 9 is free with an adult. If you want to tour the house with kids, it’s free without an audio tour for kids under 9 and $15 with an audio tour.
6. Check out a dinosaur at the Asheville Museum of Science
Located in the heart of downtown Asheville, the Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS) is an engaging children’s museum and the perfect place for kids to learn and play.
Our kids love all of the exhibits, ranging from a water splash zone to a gem collection to a space exhibit. The main attraction for them, though, is the climbing structure which is basically a large indoor playground.
AMOS is a great place for kids to get lost exploring and is an especially good activity with kids if you find yourself in Asheville on a rainy day. If you are local, be sure to check out the Zoom Pass for free admission through the Buncombe County Library System.
Family-Friendly Outdoor Adventures In Asheville
7. When in Asheville… go on a hike with your kids!
There’s no activity that we love more than getting outdoors and going for a hike with our little ones. Now, there have been plenty of times that they haven’t made it back to the car without being carried, so we’ll try to steer you to the kid-friendly hikes in Asheville. Check out some of our favorites below.
- Lake Powhatan Loop (1.6mi loop | 10 mi from downtown Asheville): Start at the hard times trailhead and walk through the woods, along a creek and around a lake with very little elevation gain. Read about our time on the Lake Powhatan loop with kids here.
- Carolina Mountain Trail (1.2mi out and back | 10 mi from downtown Asheville): This easy to moderate hike is located inside of the NC Arboretum. You’ll walk by Bent Creek toward the end of the hike and have opportunities for splashing in the creek. There is also a small waterfall. Read more about this family-friendly hike here.
- Craggy Gardens (1.9mi out and back | 18 mi from downtown Asheville): Beautiful vistas with a forest full of rhododendrons. Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get there!
- Bearwallow Mountain (2mi — options to loop or can be out and back | 19 mi from downtown Asheville): Serene pasture trail with woodlands, pastures (with cows) and views all around. Read more about this great hike for kids.
- Black Balsam Knob (1.5mi out and back | 37 mi from downtown Asheville): Hike through a balsam fir forest and then to a bald with spectacular views. Check out our hike on Black Balsam Knob here for more details.
8. Zipline through the forest
You can’t beat ziplining from tree to tree through the forest on a hot summer day! And luckily there are several fun adventure companies in and near Asheville that offer ziplining. One of which is found at the Adventure Center of Asheville near downtown. They have a few different ziplining adventures available, with KidZip designed specifically for kids ages 4-10.
For kids over 50 pounds and ages 5+, Navitat is 30 minutes north of Asheville and offers various tours depending on weight and skill. Their Treetop Express Tour allows kids to traverse the canopy at height up to 75 feet! Additional zipline tours available based on weight. Book a Navitat tour here!
The Gorge Zipline is another great option for family-friendly ziplining with older kids. It’s located south of Asheville in Saluda, NC. Their weight limit is 70 pounds and courses are best suited for those over 10 years of age.
9. Climb, roll, walk, jump, swing and rappel among the trees
Speaking of the Adventure Center of Asheville, they also have a great aerial challenge course with over 77 challenges across 30 trees.
There are trails for all ages 4+ and skill levels at the Asheville Treetops Adventure Park. It’s a choose your own challenge-style course, so participants can select the trails they are most comfortable with.
The Asheville Treetops Adventure Park can be combined with KidZip (see above!) to reduce costs.
10. Slide down a 60-foot water slide
If you have adventurous kids, don’t miss Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest! Sliding Rock is a 60 foot water slide that ends in an 8 foot deep pool of water.
Admission to Sliding Rock is $5. This fee includes parking and restrooms. Note: the parking area can fill up!
Sliding Rock is located a few miles in the Forest past the entrance in Pisgah Forest, NC. Dolly’s Ice Cream and The Velvet Cup (mini donuts) are both located at the entrance. This is also along the route in our day trip to Brevard and the Blue Ridge Parkway itinerary.
Sliding Rock is closed during high water and severe weather. It’s officially open Memorial Day to Labor Day and operates under an ‘enjoy at your own risk’ status during the off-season.
11. Go apple picking at a mountaintop orchard (August-October)
Apple picking is the quintessential fall activity with kids. Our two LOVE the apple orchards here because they not only have tons of apple trees, but you can also get apple cider donuts and even hop on a hay ride.
Our #1 must-see apple orchard in Asheville (especially with kids!) is Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, NC. It’s a 45-minute drive from downtown Asheville down I-26.
Sky Top offers free admission and has amazing panoramic views, fresh apple cider, slushies and hot apple cider donuts. They also have a bee train, ponds, a barnyard and picnic areas.
Apple varieties ready for picking change as the season goes on. Keep in mind that all orchards will eventually get picked over, so you’ll want to go early in the season if possible!
12. Enjoy fresh air and fun at one of Asheville’s many awesome playgrounds
There are so many playgrounds in and around Asheville that you’re sure to find one nearby. We love exploring around town and checking out new ones. Each has its own vibe and different types of equipment. Our guide to the best playgrounds in Asheville highlights this.
Make a day of it and stop for lunch or dinner at one of the many Asheville eateries located near playgrounds. Some of our favorite playground and food combinations:
- South AVL: Jake Rusher Park followed by lunch or dinner at Rocky’s Hot Chicken
- North AVL: Visit Weaver Park and then hop over to Luella’s BBQ. This combo was actually mentioned in our guide to kid-friendly restaurants in Asheville. Or bring a picnic lunch from Charlotte Street’s City Bakery— you can order ahead and easily pick up!
- Montford: Tempie Avery Park is near All Day Darling and it’s a great stop any time of day!
- West Asheville: Home Ground Coffee Bar + Deli is just across from Carrier Park!
13. Picnic and go rock-hopping at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville
Tucked away on UNC Asheville’s Campus in North Asheville is one of Asheville’s treasures — the Botanical Gardens at Asheville. And best of all it’s free to enter! Just minutes from downtown Asheville, the Botanical Gardens is such a fun (and did we say free!?) place for kids to explore nature.
There is a ton of space to roam, as well as grassy areas and picnic tables that are perfect for a picnic. Our kids’ favorite activities at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville are picnicking in the meadow, walking around the trail and rock hopping in Reed Creek. Read our guide to the Botanical Gardens at Asheville for details.
14. Check out a splash pad in downtown Asheville (summer)
Note: Splasheville is closed for repairs.
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. Both of our kids love it! Splashville opens daily at 10am (and is really close to Stay Glazed Donuts…
15. Learn about the history of forestry in the US
The Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest is such a fun place for kids! Not only can you immerse yourself and learn about the history of forestry in the US. Inside the Forest Discovery Center there are several exhibits included a firefighting helicopter simulator and an adventure zone with hands on activities for kids.
You’ll also find trails at the Cradle of Forestry. The Biltmore Campus Trail is a 1 mile loop through the original structures of the Biltmore Forest School. Our kids love to explore the historic log cabin buildings including a one room schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and living quarters. Meanwhile, on the 1.3 mile Forest Festival Trail, you’ll find an old logging train that kids can climb on and explore.
The Cradle of Forestry has a restaurant on site — The Cradle Cafe. They offer sandwiches, soups and salads and are open on Fridays Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission for the Cradle of Forestry is $6 for ages 13 and up and $3 for ages 4 to 12. Be sure to check that they are open for your planned visit date — they are open for the season from April to November and closed on Tuesdays. Open hours are from 10am to 4pm.
Asheville Tours That Your Kids Will Love
16. Take the kids on a tour of the French Broad Chocolate factory!
What kid would say no to this outing? It’s all made possible by French Broad Chocolate and the factory tours that they offer in North Asheville at their Riverside Drive factory.
The chocolate factory tour includes education about the chocolate-making process, tour of the factory and a tasting experience. Best of all, it’s free for kids under 6 and the admission price for children ages 7-12 is $8. Adult tickets are $12 each.
17. Tour around on the Asheville Trolley
If you’re looking for a great way to explore and tour Asheville while simultaneously entertaining kids, be sure to check out the Hop-on/Hop-off Gray Line Trolley Tour! The old-time-style trolley is a blast for kids to ride on. And it’s even better when the weather is nice and the windows are open!
And yes, even if you are local! We recently took our four year old on the trolley and he absolutely loved it. We enjoyed being tourists in our own city and he loved riding around with the windows open and checking out the sights. The tour officially starts at the Visitor’s Center in Montford and heads to the Grove Park Inn, downtown, River Arts District and Biltmore Village before circling back. It’s a hop-on/hop-off tour, though, so you can start and end wherever.
Kids under the age of five ride free and ages 5 – 13 receive a reduced ticket price of $13 (adults tickets are $35). Note that there are no seatbelts on the trolley. The trolley stops at 10 locations around town, making it a great way to check out all of Asheville’s main areas. As a bonus, you learn all about the city from the trolley driver who doubles as a tour guide.
18. Hop on the LaZoom Lil Boogers Kid Comedy Tour Bus
Have some laughs while touring the city with LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours! While not all of their tours are family-friendly, their Lil Boogers Kid’s Comedy tour caters to kids aged 5-12. Learn about Asheville and be filled with laughs– their tour guides are comedians, after all!
A LaZoom tour is a great way to experience the city, whether you are young or just young at heart.
19. Go on a self-guided donut tour of Asheville
Trust me when I say that your kids will love this! Our kids are a bit too young for dozens of donuts, but our nephews aren’t! We took them around all of our favorite spots and sampled so many donuts. The winner… Vortex! But all were amazing.
The kids especially loved building their own doughnuts at Duck Donuts and the mega-filled Boston Cream donuts at the one and only Geraldine’s Bakery. Check out our full list of the best donuts in Asheville here. To make a day of it and to take a break from all of the sugar, visit a few of Asheville’s best playgrounds while out!
Fun Day Trips From Asheville
20. Get close to nature with amazing views and an animal habitat
At 1.5 hours away it’s not super close to Asheville, but Grandfather Mountain is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for great views, hiking opportunities, and a peek at local wildlife.
Admission includes access to the swinging bridge, the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, hiking trails and their wildlife habitats. Reservations are required for Grandfather Mountain and can be made through their online site. You have to select an entry time, so plan ahead!
21. Spend the day at a (lake) beach
Lake Lure, NC is about 45 minutes from Asheville and is not only a beautiful mountain lake, but it has an awesome sandy beach area for splashing and swimming. The Beach at Lake Lure is $10 for adults, $8 for kids under 12 and free for kids 4 and under.
We have a day trip itinerary to Lake Lure here if you want to plan a day trip! It’s action-packed with a hike at Bearwallow followed by the beach at Lake Lure and a stop at Whistle Hop Brewery on the way back to Asheville.
22. Hike to the top of a towering rock formation
Speaking of the Lake Lure area, Chimney Rock State Park is just a few minutes away from the lake. You’ll guaranteed spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding area. Chimney Rock has several hiking trails, including the trail that takes you to the top of the towering 315 foot rock formation. You can also take an elevator if that sounds better!
Another great trail at Chimney Rock is the Hickory Nut Trail. This 1.4 mile trail takes you to the bottom of a 404 foot waterfall (one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River!) It’s rated moderate and is great for kids.
The only downside is that tickets are required. Current prices are $17 for adults and $8 for ages 5-15. Kids 4 and under are free.
23. Cool off in NC’s only show cavern
Kids love to go underground and explore caves at North Carolina’s only show cavern — Linville Caverns. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for kids aged 5 – 12.
It’s a great place to visit in the summer heat because the caverns stay 52 degrees year round! You may want to bring a jacket because it’s also a bit damp and drippy.
Linville Caverns is about a 1 hour drive from downtown Asheville (or a 2 hour drive if you take the Blue Ridge Parkway). They are open seasonally March to November and are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Other Fun Things To Do With Kids in Asheville
24. Make your own pizza at Pizza Mind
This is such a fun one!! Pizza Mind has a build-your-own pizza option on their kids menu. But the twist is that the kids actually get to build it! Your server will bring out dough, sauce, cheese and one topping and your kid’s inner chef can come out.
It’s such a clever addition to the menu because it not only indicates they are truly kid-friendly, but the activity really keeps kids entertained. And gets them excited about eating!
25. Hang out at a Kid-Friendly Brewery
Bring your kids along as you kick back and enjoy a beer at one of Asheville’s many kid-friendly breweries. While there are a few exceptions, most breweries in town expect parents to bring children along. Especially on days with beautiful weather!
A few kid-friendly breweries in Asheville that we love:
- Highland Brewing (East AVL)
- Burial Beer (South Slope)
- Wedge at Foundation (RAD — close to the trainyard!)
- Asheville Pizza and Brewing (South Slope)
- Sierra Nevada
26. Test your driving skills at a racing simulator
Here’s a great activity in Asheville for older kids! The Track at Asheville is an indoor racing simulator located near Biltmore Village. You can book an intro to sim racing, a drop-in race or even a Formula 1 experience with The Track.
Their Advanced Rigs have a minimum age of 16 but there is no minimum age on their Standard Rigs. They do recommend for drivers to be at least 48” tall. We’ve had plenty of 10 year olds, and even younger, have a great time driving!
Learn more about sim racing here.
27. Get your energy out at an indoor jungle gym
Mountain Play Lodge is an indoor jungle gym and party center located in South Asheville (about 15 minutes from downtown.)
Though kids of all ages can enjoy it (including adults), the main area of Play Lodge seems best for the age range 4-8. There’s also an under 3 area to the side. Pool gates are used to keep older kids from entering this area.
There are a ton of slides, climbing structures and hideout spots inside Play Lodge. There’s also seating for parents and a canteen if you need a snack or coffee. If you plan to go, bring socks! They are required.
28. Go panning for gems
Asheville is home to several precious gem mines where you can sift through a bucket of gem-bearing material at a gemstone flume.
Emerald Village is the most immersive experience into gem mining with the NC Mining Museum and a historic underground mine you can venture into. You also have the opportunity to mine for gemstones and pan for gold.
Other gem mines include Gem Mountain, Asheville Gem Mine, Elijah Mountain Gem Mine and Pisgah Forest Gem Mine.
29. Get a pie flight at Baked Pie Company
This is both a treat for the kids and parents! We love taking our kids to Baked Pie Company for pie flights. You get to choose three slices of the best pie in Asheville from their bakery case and pair it with vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
It is such a treat for our kids and has become our go-to place to celebrate something.
We typically let the kids pick the pie flavors, which is always fun! A few of our favorite pies include their cherry crumb, honey pecan and tres leches.
Keep in mind that their bakery cases are fuller earlier in the day, especially if you want a crowd-favorite flavor or the holidays are approaching.
30. Play the day away at a board game café
If your kids love playing board games, don’t miss Well Played Board Game Cafe in South Slope! They have over 700 games with everything from classics to newer games. Friendly and knowledgeable staff as well as an awesome food menu make it a great place to spend time!
Well Played is open all day and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. As far as admission goes, you can get day passes or an unlimited play membership. It would be a a great place to host a birthday party!
31. Catch a family-friendly movie at Rabbit Rabbit
Not only does Rabbit Rabbit in South Slope put on great events for adults, but their kid-centric events are not to be missed! During the summer they show free outdoor movies on Saturday mornings.
They also have family movie nights on Thursdays where kids under 16 get in for free. Tickets are $5 and shows typically start at 6pm.
32. Get a hole-in-one at Tropical Gardens Mini Golf
If you’re visiting Asheville, nothing screams family vacation more than a good old-fashioned game of putt-putt. Tropical Gardens Mini Golf in West Asheville takes the game to the next level and is a local favorite.
Their safari-themed miniature golf course is a blast for kids and parents. To top it off you can treat the family to a sno-cone after you finish your round. It’s a great place for all-around family fun!
33. Check out a retro arcade with all-you-can-play pinball
This is the perfect activity for older kids in Asheville. The Asheville Pinball Museum has a ton of vintage pinball and arcade games to play. It’s not actually a museum but instead you’ll find a really great old-school arcade vibe. Asheville Pinball Museum is very clean and you can tell they are really passionate about what they do. And for the non-kids in your group, they have beer!
34. Have ice cream and shop at a local toy store
Here’s an idea! Stroll down West Asheville’s Haywood Avenue with stops at The Hop West ice cream shop and Sparky’s Toys. These are two spots that kids will definitely love.
The Hop makes really good homemade ice cream with fun rotating flavors. My all-time favorite is Cookie Party while our oldest prefers their Unicorn Poop ice cream. Our little ones are always happy when The Hop is on the itinerary. Right across the street from the Hop is Sparky’s Toys, which is a cute local toy shop with plenty for kids to see and get inspired for their birthday or Christmas wish lists.
Oh, and while you’re there treat yourself by popping into Provisions Mercantile — it’s such a cool shop with something for everyone! Psst: if you need more Asheville ideas, we did a Q&A with the owners of Provisions and found out their favorite Asheville things to do.
One last thing! If it happens to be Tuesday, don’t miss the West Asheville Farmers Market. It’s right next to Sparky’s and features a ton of local vendors selling produce, dairy, ice cream, sauces, seafood and pasta, among other things. There’s also live music and it’s such a fun way to feel like a local (even if you aren’t one!) The market is every Tuesday from 3:30-6:30pm, rain or shine from April to December.
35. Grab an old-fashioned ice cream treat at Woolworth’s Soda Fountain
When you are near downtown Asheville and in need of a fun kid activity, head to Woolworth’s!
Not only do they have a ton of fun art to peruse but they also have a working soda fountain. It’s a great place to jump back in time and enjoy a yummy ice cream treat. Apart from ice cream, you’ll also find hot dogs, sandwiches, soups and salads on their menu.
36. Watch Shakespeare in the park
If you have any drama-lovers to entertain don’t miss the Montford Park Players! They put on live performances of a Shakespeare play at Montford Park each week.
Shows are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30pm. It’s a bit too late for our kids under 5, but an awesome idea for older kids. Shows are free to the public with a suggested donation of $10-15 per person.
4 thoughts on “36 Things To Do In Asheville With Kids By Local Parents (2023)”
Wow! Thanks for your effort and advice. Your article was well thought out and well written with helpful tips and suggestions. As a parent to a toddler, I’ve added several new adventures to our calendar. Again, thank you!
What a happy comment!! Thank you! Hope you have fun on your adventures! 🙂
Thank you so much for this information. Over the decades, Asheville has grown so much since it was a weekend romping area from when I lived in Greenville, SC. Now, I’ve got grandchildren and want to bring them to one of my favorite places in the world. I see zip lining, tubing, and pie eating in our near futures.
I’m so glad to hear pie eating is included in your future adventures! You won’t be disappointed!! 🙂 Thanks so much for the kind comment!
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