Asheville, North Carolina, is considered to be one of the greatest small cities in the United States—for various reasons.
Set within the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a superb place for outdoor pursuits. From hiking and cycling to fishing and whitewater rafting, there is a plethora of adventurous things to do in Asheville. It’s an incredibly scenic city, surrounded by rolling mountains, woods and rivers.
The city itself is quite small, but chock-full of stores, restaurants, art galleries and breweries—it is often regarded as the best beer destinations in the United States, home to more than a dozen breweries. In addition, Asheville hosts a huge number of festivals throughout the year, from beer festivals over music festivals to food festivals. It’s a vibrant, progressive, entrepreneurial and young city, boasting a university and a few colleges.
With all these features, it is no wonder that Asheville ranks as one of the United States’ most livable cities. The city is regularly included in lists with titles such as “Best Places to Retire”, “Best Places to Reinvent Your Life”, “10 Most Beautiful Places in America”, “Must-Visit American Cities for Outdoor Adventure Travel”, “Must-See Destinations in the World”, “America’s Best Beer Cities” and “Best Cities for Writers.”
So, if you’re not already thinking about moving to Asheville (which I seriously am at this point), you should definitely consider visiting it and staying at one of the hotels in Asheville. No matter if you become a local or are a one-time visitor, you will definitely want to include the following things to do in Asheville on your list.
Top Things to Do in Asheville, North Carolina
Inspired by the great castle estates in Great Britain and France, the Biltmore Estate was built for George Vanderbilt at the end of the 19th century. This immense estate features a spectacular mansion and fabulous gardens and parks, which were created by Frederick Law Olmsted, America’s greatest landscape architect who also created New York City’s Central Park. The mansion consists of no fewer than 250 rooms and is the largest private residence in the United States. A visit to the Biltmore Estate is an absolute must-do when visiting Asheville—no question.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Arguably the most popular attraction in and around Asheville and western North Carolina, the renowned Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 469 miles (755 kilometers) along the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a part of the Appalachian Mountains. A southern section of the parkway runs through Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, the most visited national park in the entire United States, before it heads north toward Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, where it connects to the also-famous Skyline Drive. If you’re looking to go for a scenic drive, there’s hardly a better one to find in the eastern United States than the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s extraordinary.
Pisgah National Forest
Pisgah National Forest comprises more than 500,000 acres (2,000 km²) in western North Carolina and its headquarters are based in Asheville. It protects a landscape of towering mountains, including some of the highest east of the Mississippi River; cascades and rivers; and vast forests. There are countless miles of hiking trails in Pisgah National Forest, including sections of three long-distance hiking trails. The Blue Ridge Parkway intersects the national forest, which offers the amazing opportunity to combine two of the greatest attractions around Asheville.
Basilica of St. Lawrence
The Basilica of St. Lawrence in downtown Asheville is a marvelous piece of architecture. Constructed in 1905, this large church is included in the National Register of Historic Places and has the distinction of featuring the largest freestanding elliptical dome in America. With its pink exterior and cavernous interior, this is a stunning structure and is definitely worthy of a visit. You will pass this striking building while walking Asheville’s Urban Trail.
What better way to kick back after a filled day of sightseeing, hiking and/or road tripping than visiting a local brewery. Asheville has one of the highest numbers of breweries per capita in the country and has won the “Beer City USA” award multiple times. There are no fewer than 100 craft beers on tap in Asheville, all brewed by local brewers. If you’re someone who likes a beer or two, Asheville with its plethora of breweries, events and festivals is the place to be.