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Asheville Area Attractions

Asheville North Carolina area attractions. A guide to some of the best area attractions in or near Asheville. Sightseeing, mountain hikes and bikes, ghost walks, carnivals and fairs, swimming, downtown adventures and more

Biltmore Estate

 

Asheville Biltmore Estate

Since 1895 this Asheville, NC landmark has been the home of George Vanderbilt's treasures. The Biltmore Gardens, together with the Biltmore House mansion, make up the estate designed in the spirit of the great houses of the Gilded Age. Filled with art collected by Vanderbilt during his travels around the world, the mansion took over six years and 1,000 men to complete. The Biltmore Estate is open to the public and a popular destination for Asheville visitors and residents alike. If it's good food you are searching for, enjoy dining in Biltmore Estate's wonderful restaurants, including the Bistro, the Stable Café, and the Deerpark. Sample specialty dishes alongside wood-fired pizzas, rotisserie and much more! With your appetite satisfied, you can celebrate with a long stroll around the Biltmore Gardens. The gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who is still considered to be America's foremost landscape architect. The garden boasts 2,300 roses and more than 1,000 azaleas. The gardeners plant 40,000 bulbs for the annual Spring Festival of Flowers. Stop by one of Biltmore House's twelve shops for unique gifts, such as gourmet foods, fine wines, Christmas decorations, furniture and furnishings, accessories, books, music, videos, luxury items, and toys! For the more adventurous, Biltmore Estate offers over 8,000 acres for hiking, biking, horseback riding or rafting and exploring!

 

Pack Place, Downtown

Pack Place provides a wide range of activities for all ages! Pack Place stands as the number one center piece of downtown Asheville; this exciting complex includes the Asheville Art Museum, Colburn Gem and mineral museum, Diana Wortham Theatre, The Health Adventure, and the YMI Cultural Center. As Asheville's landmark, Pack Place also offers spare rooms for meetings, creative areas for special events, and educational fun! Surrounded by the lovely mountains of western North Carolina; Pack Place offers unique museum shops.

Asheville Art Museum

Enter a world of imagination and artistry. Explore the 20th century's best known artists and their creations. Let your eyes go wild, visit the magnificent sculptures, paintings, drawings, and more! Discover works in ceramics, glass, and metal. The Asheville Art museum is the only art museum in western North Carolina! It is an educational and exciting place for all ages! Come now, experience the 20th century in pictures! 828-253-3227

The Health Adventure

Is a top pick for school field trips. There are eleven galleries filled with unique hands-on exhibits for every one from age 2 to 92. See an amazing skeleton ride his bicycle! Marvel at the sight of a transparent woman! Enter a room of black light, is your laundry detergent really getting your clothes "whiter than white". For anyone under the age of six don't forget about the creative PlaySpace on the tongue of a lion. Enter a world of discovery where young children and their parents can spend hours of creative fun and play. Learn about your body, exercise your brain and explore your imagination at the Health Adventure! 828-254-6373

Biltmore Lake

Diana Wortham Theatre

The Diana Wortham Theatre holds 500 seats. It is a dramatic and sophisticated setting, showing local, regional, and national performing artists. 828-257-4530

 

Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum

Explore the unique rocks of the earth! See the fantastic shapes and colors of rocks and minerals from around the world, marvel at the sight of brilliant gemstones, and discover hidden marvels under the North Carolina soil. Test your knowledge in the discovery gallery where you may erupt a volcano, move the continents around to make changes in the atmosphere or even examine volcanic ash under a microscope. At the Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum, discover how rocks and minerals enrich your everyday life! 828-254-7162

The YMI Cultural Center

A Proud and Sustaining History The YMI Cultural Center is an enduring asset in the City of Asheville. Housed in a local landmark building which is on the National Register of Historic Places, the YMICC runs programs in cultural arts, community education and economic development. Commissioned by George Vanderbilt in 1892, this beautiful, multi-level 18,000 square foot, Tudor-style structure was built by and for the several hundred Negro craftsmen who helped construct the Biltmore House. It became known as the Young Men's Institute or YMI. Very quickly, the YMI developed into the center of social, cultural, civic, commercial and religious life for local African-Americans. The YMI is also the home of the YMI Jazz Band. The players in the band are all under senior year in high school. The YMI jazz band stars Gary Bradley as director and conductor. The band is a hit at restaurants and festivals! 828-252-4614.

Cradle of Forestry

Explore the birth place of forestry. Discover the forest's wonders. View a 1995 logging train. Play hands-on nature games. The cradle of forestry offers hands-on learning experiences in the forest environment. Inside the Forest of Discovery Center, explore and learn through self-guided activities or venture outside and walk the Biltmore Campus and Forest Festival Trails. As the first private landowner to hire a trained forester, George W. Vanderbilt of Biltmore estate fame launched the idea of forestry in 1891. Vanderbilt's 125,000 acres, including the place now known as the Cradle of Forestry, became proving ground for the scientific approach to forest management. The land became the outdoor classroom for the Biltmore Forest School, the first forestry school in America. 

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a volunteer-based, private nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the 2,175-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail, a 250,000-acre greenway extending from Maine to Georgia. Our mission is to ensure that future generations will enjoy the clean air and water, scenic vistas, wildlife and opportunities for simple recreation and renewal along the entire Trail corridor. Formerly known as the Appalachian Trail Conference, the ATC is an 80-year-old organization whose roots are traced to the vision of Benton MacKaye, who convened and organized the first Appalachian Trail "conference" a gathering of hikers, foresters and public officials in Washington, D.C., in 1925. Today, we work with the National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office, 30 maintaining clubs and multiple other partners to engage the public in conserving this essential American resource. 

Asheville area Waterfalls

Linville Caverns

Is located at the base of the humpback mountain in the beautiful Linville Valley lies a natural wonder, Linville caverns. After remaining a mysterious secret for centuries, the caverns had been opened for safe convenient public touring. Deep beneath Humpback Mountain, nature has sculpted a veritable master piece in stone. Toiling many centuries, slowly moving ground water has been the primary artist for this creation of underground labyrinths. The water dissolved out an incredible series of rooms passages, and created spectacular formations.

Smith McDowell House

Discover Asheville's first mansion, now restored to interpret 1840 through 1900. This mansion was built by one of antebellum Asheville's most important citizens and was the home of mayors, a confederate major, and friends of the Vanderbilt's. Smith-McDowell House is the oldest surviving house in Asheville and features garden designed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers. 

The southern Highland guild

Is an educational, non profit organization founded in 1930 for the purpose of creating a network and market for mountain craftspeople. Today Guild membership stands at more than 900 artisans selected by a jury for the high quality of design and craftsmanship reflected in their work. The Guild's mission is to bring together the crafts and craftspeople of the southern highlands for the benefit of shared recourses, education, marketing and conservation. Southern Highlands Craft Guild History 1885 In 1885 when Frances Goodrich, a Yale graduate, moved to Buncombe County, NC, to do missionary work for the Presbyterian Church, she could hardly have imagined what would eventually become of her "good work". She found a few women who were still weaving traditional coverlets in wool and cotton, and from these associations Goodrich's idea of a cottage industry that would assist mountain families grew. Allanstand Cottage Industries, which she founded in 1895, in Madison County, NC, would ultimately become Allanstand Craft Shop. Goodrich moved the business to downtown Asheville in 1917 and from her College Street headquarters, she would network with other leaders of the Southern Arts and Crafts movement. In 1928, many of them met at Penland School of crafts and the idea of the Southern Highland Craft Guild was formed. 1930 Chartered in 1930, it would grow to become one of the strongest craft organizations in the country. Second in age only to the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts, the Guild now represents over 900 craftspeople in 293 counties of 9 southeastern states. The Guild has partnered with the National Park Service for more than fifty years. It operates the Blue Ridge Parkway's Folk Art Center. For information on the Craft Fairs of the Southern Highlands, Special Events, the Folk Art Center, The Shops, Membership in the Guild and links to our members that are online, visit our site.

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre

As SART prepares for its 32nd season, the heritage and traditions are alive in our hearts and in our minds. It is a history we have looked up to, lived up to, and chosen to use as the foundation of what we hope to build for a bright future. SART's mission continues to be to produce quality professional theatre by a non-profit company by presenting plays that portray the rich cultural heritage of the people of Southern Appalachia, promoting the development and production of new works, and providing educational opportunities in the communities we serve. Things have changed, but the theatre remains the same; strong and proud. SART still seeks to entertain and present plays that illuminate our understanding of the world in which we live as well as our feelings about it. SART is the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre. SART performs on the campus of Mars Hill college at Owen theatre. SART's actors are professionally paid, Mars Hill college Drama students are very often included in the production of plays!

Grandfather Mountain

WNC Farmers Market

The WNC Farmers Market is located on a 36-acre site overlooking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and the Biltmore Estate. Retail vendors offer year-round selection of farm fresh produce, canned goods, honey, and handcrafted items. The NC Deli, Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor, located in the Retail Building A, has a wide selection of deli sandwiches, hamburger and hot dogs. And, to top off the meal, there are fresh made pastries, cakes, fudge, and an Ice Cream Parlor. Jesse Israel & Sons Garden Center provides high quality plants, trees, shrubs and garden supplies. The market's on-site restaurant, the Moose Café, is conveniently located to the south of the main market entrance. The Café is famous for its mouth-watering menu of farm fresh produce. Five truck sheds provide space for farmers and dealers to display and sell horticultural crops. Truck shed #1 is specifically designated for certified farmers who sell what they grow directly to the consumer. The market has a small dealers building and two large wholesale buildings. Daily price information, inspections and general marketing services are provided by the market. More than 2 million people shop at the Western North Carolina Farmers Market each year. Many of these folks are return visitors from the region while others are visitors who make the Market a regular addition to annual vacation plans. Fresh from the farm fruits and vegetables are a main attraction at the Farmers Market. However, the vast selection of handmade mountain crafts, preserves, flowers and ornamental plants provide market shoppers with an array of choices. With local farmers, wholesalers, area merchants and crafters, the WNC Farmers Market meets the needs of consumers and retailers alike. The WNC Farmers market is conveniently located between Interstates 40 and 26 in Asheville. 

Wolf Laurel Ski Resort

When you ski Wolf Laurel Ski Resort at Wolf Ridge, you'll enjoy the cool, crisp mountain air at Western North Carolina's top rated ski slope. Wolf Laurel Ski Resort is a family-oriented area that offers 65 acres of fantastic terrain. From the beginner to the expert, in skiing or snowboarding, we've got the ski runs for everyone. Wolf Laurel Slopes operates with two double lifts, one quad lift, a surface lift and one magic carpet. The slopes can accommodate 4,500 customers per hour and offers 100% snowmaking capability. While visiting the slopes you can take a break from the cold and relax by the large fireplaces in one of the two rustic lodges. Grab a bite to eat at The Grill at Wolf Laurel Lodge or at The Lodge Steak & Rib Restaurant located near the top of the slopes at Wolf Ridge Lodge. Wolf Laurel Ski Resort at Wolf Ridge is Western North Carolina's most accessible ski slope. You won't find miles and miles of two-lane switchbacks here - we're just 5 miles from I-26 (exit 3) and just 30 minutes from Asheville, North Carolina. Make plans to visit Western North Carolina's family-oriented ski area...Wolf Laurel Slopes!

Asheville Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens in Asheville is located in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, one of the most diverse temperate ecosystems in the world. Our mission is the preservation and promotion of the native plant species and habitats of these mountains. We hope to increase public awareness of this region's unique botanical diversity by maintaining gardens for the enjoyment of the public and by providing educational programs and research resources for the community. The Cole Library of The Botanical Gardens at Asheville contains more than 1000 books relating to botany, horticulture, ecology, and ornithology. The grounds of BGA are open year round from sunrise to sunset for the enjoyment of the community, and no admission is charged for entrance. The Botanical Gardens is an independent nonprofit corporation financially supported by memberships, donations, endowments, proceeds from the Garden Path Gift Shop, and fees from special events and programs that are offered to the public. With the exception of the occasional competitive grant, we receive no city, state, or federal tax dollars. Although the Gardens is located on land belonging to the adjacent University of North Carolina at Asheville, we operate independently and are overseen by a Board of Directors elected from and by the general membership of the Botanical Gardens.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Asheville Urban Trail

Asheville's Urban Trail is a historic walking tour, traveling 1.7 miles through the streets of downtown Asheville. Asheville's history and past are told through 30 pieces of public sculpture which function as landmarks along the UT. The Urban Trail was begun by the City of Asheville as part of its ongoing program to improve the quality of our city through the display of public art. The Trail was designed by volunteers and built with donations from individuals, groups and organizations who wish to leave a lasting legacy to their community. This tour, guided by local Ashevillians, is perfect for any history buff or architecture lover, local or tourist, downtown stroller or urban explorer alike. Asheville's history is rich, and the Urban Trail highlights upon five distinct time periods that are signified by pink granite markers in the sidewalk: the feather represents the Guilded Age, the horseshoe represents the Frontier Period, an angel for the Times of Thomas Wolfe, the courthouse for the Era of Civic Pride, and an eagle for the Age of Diversity. Learn the legends and lore of our city while enjoying the outdoors, and Asheville's beautiful skyline, streets and sculptures.

Asheville North Carolina Arboretum

The North Carolina Arboretum is a 434-acre public garden located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest of the Pisgah National Forest. Surrounded by the dense folds of the botanically diverse Southern Appalachian Mountains, the Arboretum is nestled in one of the most beautiful natural garden settings in America. Established in 1986 by the General Assembly as an inter-institutional facility of the University of North Carolina, the Arboretum came into existence nearly a century after this country's father of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, first envisioned such an institution near Asheville. A center for education, research, conservation and economic development, and garden demonstration, the Arboretum offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. Stop by the Information Desk at the Visitor Education Center (VEC) to pick up a brochure listing this month's educational programs, tours, garden demonstrations and workshops. If you would like to serve as a volunteerr call (828) 665-2492. The North Carolina Arboretum is a public institution -- integrating education, landscape, and research -- that elevates the aesthetic, cultural, and economic quality of life in North Carolina. The Arboretum, through conservation of the traditional values, environmental resourcefulness, and botanical mystique of the Southern Appalachian region, broadens contemporary expressions of landscape stewardship.

Grandfather Mountain

You'll be looking directly in the eyes of eagles and watching otters dive, spin and somersault underwater. And you might see deer, black bears and cubs at play in the beautiful natural settings. Hiking and picnicking isn't required to enjoy your visit to the mountain. If so inclined, there are miles of interlaced trails, offering some of the best hiking in the south, and a couple of delightful, short walking trails. For a gentler outdoor experience, we've made it easy to find a majestic place to picnic in the midst of nature's company. You'll learn a lot more about the mountain at Grandfather's Nature Museum. Exhibits and award-winning films speak to its many species, endangered species, priceless gems, unique weather, and colorful wildflowers and birds. Shopping is natural in the Museum's shop and meals are made-to-order in its family restaurant.

 

French Broad River

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is literally the "Backbone" of a great scenic mountain region embracing the Southern (and highest) portion of the Appalachian mountain range winding its way 469 miles through mountain meadows and past seemingly endless vistas. Opening up vast mountain areas for the benefit and enjoyment of all, the Parkway forms a broad avenue of approach, and at the same time a high balcony from which to view the natural wonders of this mountain region. This great 469.1-mile scenic parkway follows closely the highest ridges between the Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, attaining altitudes of more than 6,000 feet and averaging between 3,000 and 4,000 feet. it is designed especially for leisurely enjoyment of the scenic wonders along the way - a high road of adventure intended for gypsy-like travel on the ride -awhile, stop-awhile basis. The numerous overlooks provide parking areas from which to enjoy some of America's finest scenic views.

Chimney Rock

At Chimney Rock Park, magnificent scenery is only the beginning. Here you'll find the best of the mountains in one place. Your visit is a chance to interact with a dazzling abundance of rare and ingenious plants, extraordinary geological formations and a variety of native wildlife. Whether you want a leisurely stroll, a challenging hike or something fun and interactive for the kids, Chimney Rock Park's five different nature trails, ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous, make the ideal outing. Most trails are open all year, weather permitting. The view is accessible to everyone, thanks to the elevator inside the mountain. Pets are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. The Park also plays host to a year-round calendar of events, like Rock Climbing Exhibitions, Dog Days of Summer, and Easter Sunrise Service, that all make the most of the Park's scenic splendor. Dr. Lucius Morse came to these mountains seeking a more favorable climate. What he found was a breath of fresh air- and then some. Sufficiently intrigued by the giant granite monolith towering over Hickory Nut Gorge, he did the most logical thing possible: He bought the 64-acre parcel surrounding it and pledged to create a nature preserve and scenic attraction for all to see and enjoy. Today, his vision lives on in Chimney Rock Park. Still owned and operated by the Morse family, the Park, now encompassing over 1,000 acres, continues the doctor's legacy in ways even he might not have imagined. But, just as he was astonished by his first encounter with the Rock over 100 years ago, we're sure he'd be equally delighted by what the Park has become.

French Broad River

The water and rapids of the French Broad River create plenty of family and outdoorsman entertainment and sports including rafting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking. The rapids vary and there are different levels of the river for inexperienced rafters and the experienced. There are plenty of companies that will provide you with guided rafting tours, or rent you the equipment for unguided tours; their expertise will guide you in the right direction of which one and what level of rapids you should be taking, based on your experience. The French Broad is thought to be the third oldest river in the world. Unfortunately the French Broad has seen it's share of abuse over the years, pollution became a great concern when industries started popping up around the river. With the Clean Water Act of 1972, the French Broad started to slowly come back to normality. But the river still needs work and there are current organizations in place to see that the river is not further polluted and to continue the ever long river cleanup.

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