40 Fun Things To Do With Kids In Asheville
Your guide by local parents of the best kid-approved activities in Asheville
Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the best things to do with kids in Asheville! As parents to two young kids, you can trust us when we say that we know the ins and outs of family-friendly activities in town.
We love exploring new playgrounds, conquering kid-friendly hikes, dining at counter-service restaurants and finding new ways to entertain our two.
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!
This list focuses on things to do with kids in Asheville. For additional ideas, check out our list of 60+ awesome things to do in Asheville!
Things To Do WIth Kids In Asheville
This guide shares our top picks of things to do with children, from kid-favorite attractions to fun hikes, entertaining tours and even day trips.
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
The Biltmore Estate
Yes, the Biltmore is kid-friendly! In fact, we have a whole guide to visiting the Biltmore with kids. 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 the house tour specifically 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.About The Biltmore Estate Biltmore Tickets
The North Carolina Arboretum
The NC Arboretum is located in South Asheville just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our kids love the Arboretum’s magical surroundings. We all enjoy exploring the trails, meadows and manicured gardens.
The highlight of the NC Arboretum for our kids is the Rocky Cove Railroad. It only runs on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 pm from April to October. You can also catch it as the Polar Express during the Arboretum’s annual Winter Lights event. Additional details on that are in the next section.
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. The Carolina Mountain Trail is one we especially enjoy.
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.More About The Arboretum
Winter Lights At The Arboretum (mid-November to December)
The Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum is the perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit. The trees are decked, Santa is in town and the model railroad is transformed into a tiny Polar Express.
The Arboretum’s Winter Lights typically kicks off in mid-November and is open through the end of the year. It’s one of our favorite holiday events in Asheville.Winter Lights Tickets
National Gingerbread Competition at the Grove Park Inn (late-November to early-January)
Speaking of holiday attractions, be sure to check out the National Gingerbread Competition at the Grove Park Inn.
The gingerbread houses are true pieces of art with remarkable vision and detail. Kids will not only love the gingerbread houses but also the festive atmosphere throughout the Grove Park Inn lobby and common areas.
There’s even a life-size gingerbread house in the middle of the lobby where you can order a delicious cup of hot cocoa before cozying up in a rocking chair in front of one of their giant fireplaces.
Finally, top off your visit with breathtaking views from Sunset Terrace where they have animatronic workshop elves and a sleigh that makes for a perfect photo op.Guide To The Gingerbread Competition
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.Guide To The Nature Center
Hands On! 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. It’s located in Hendersonville and is about 35 minutes from downtown Asheville.
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. You can enter with a daily rate or get an annual pass. If you are local, Hands On! is a participant in the library’s ZOOM pass program.Guide To Hands On
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. You can get a daily pass or annual membership to AMOS. Locals can get a ZOOM pass once per month.Guide To AMOS
Family-Friendly Outdoor Adventures In Asheville
There’s no activity that we love more than getting outdoors and going for a hike with our kids. Your whole family will love the fresh air, great views and unlimited space to explore!
Now, there have been plenty of times that our kids 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. Click the title of each for a full hike guide!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Snow Tubing Near Asheville (Winter)
Snow tubing is our most recommended winter activity for families because it doesn’t require any experience, skill or personal equipment. Plus, it’s something younger kids can do.
There are several snow tube parks near Asheville that open in December just in time for the holidays. And some don’t even have age requirements!Snow Tubing Near Asheville
Apple Picking (August-October)
Apple picking is the perfect thing to do in Asheville in the fall. Our kids love visiting the many apple orchards near Asheville because they not only have tons of apple trees, but you can also get apple cider donuts and even hop on a hay ride.
Two of our most recommended apple orchards near Asheville are Jeter Mountain Farms and Sky Top Orchard. Sky Top has amazing panoramic views, fresh apple cider, slushies and hot apple cider donuts. They also have a bee train, ponds, a barnyard, picnic areas, an apple cannon and more.
Jeter Mountain is the newest orchard in the area and it’s absolutely beautiful. We call it the Biltmore of apple orchards! They have a coffee shop, BBQ food truck, indoor playground, you pick flowers and a darling market.
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!Apple Picking Guide
Ziplining Near Asheville
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.
Adventure Center Of Asheville
The Adventure Center of Asheville has 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.Book Now
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.Guide To Sliding Rock
Playgrounds In Asheville
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.
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.
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 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.
It’s just a few minutes from the North Asheville Tailgate Market, which is one of our favorite farmers markets in Asheville. We love starting Saturdays in the summer with baked goods and coffee from the market followed by a leisurely stroll through the Botanical Gardens.Guide To Botanical Gardens
Speaking of botanical gardens, there’s a wonderful kid-friendly one in Hendersonville. And it has a fairy garden!
Bullington Gardens is a 12 acre botanical garden with tons of plants, flowers and garden features. They have a beautiful dahlia garden, herb garden and gardens full of native plants.
Our kids love exploring their magical fairy trail. This trail meanders through the forest and is adorned with fairy houses along the way.
Bullington Gardens does not charge admission but they do suggest a donation to keep the beautiful gardens operating.More Things To Do In Hendersonville
Splashville splash pad (summer)
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 in the summer (and is really close to Stay Glazed Donuts…)
Cradle Of Forestry
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 For Kids
Hop-On/Hop-Off Trolley Tour
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! Our kids absolutely love seeing the city from the trolley and it’s a fan-favorite when we have friends in town.
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 $15 (adult tickets are $37.) 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.Guide To The Trolley Book Tickets
French Broad Chocolate Factory Tour
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.Reserve Tickets
LaZoom’s Lil Boogers Kid’s Comedy Tour
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.Book Tickets
Self-guided donut tour
Trust me when I say that your kids will love the donut scene in Asheville! Each donut shop has unique offerings and all are absolutely delicious.
Our most recommended donut shop in Asheville is Vortex in South Slope. They have both cake and yeast donuts in a variety of flavors (and excellent coffee!) Hole Doughnuts is another crowd-favorite. They have made-to-order donuts and it’s a cute shop where you can watch the process.
Our kids love building their own doughnuts at Duck Donuts and the mega-filled Boston Cream donuts at the one and only Geraldine’s Bakery.Guide To Asheville Donut Shops
Fun Day Trips From Asheville
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!Tickets
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.Lake Lure Day Trip Itinerary
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.Tickets
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
Go To A Tourists 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.2024 Schedule
Visit 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
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!
Visit an Indoor 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
Enjoy an Indoor Playground in Asheville
Mountain Play Lodge is an indoor jungle gym and party center located in South Asheville (about 15 minutes from downtown.) It’s an especially great thing to do in Asheville with toddlers.
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.
Pan For Gold At A Gem Mine
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.
Enjoy A Pie Flight At Baked Pie Co
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.
Visit A Board Game Cafe
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!Other Kid-Friendly Restaurants
Catch An Outdoor Movie
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.
Take The Family Out To Play Putt-Putt
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!
Check Out The Asheville Pinball Museum
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!
Have Ice Cream and Visit A Toy Shop in West Asheville
Here’s an idea! Stroll down West Asheville’s Haywood Avenue with stops at The Hop West ice cream shop, Sparky’s Toys and Provisions Mercantile. All are great local places and fun for kids.
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 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. And just next door to that is 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.
Visit Woolworth’s Soda Fountain
When you are in 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.
Enjoy 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.