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The Best Asheville Trip Itinerary

Asheville, North Carolina is a fun and funky city to visit. It stands as one of my family’s favorite destinations – but there are so many things to do in the area that you need an Asheville trip itinerary to figure out what might suit you best! The city of Asheville has everything from delicious food & locally brewed beer to amazing hiking trails and waterfalls. There are often farmers markets, craft fairs, local music, and other fun events going on. Being a smaller city, it has a homey atmosphere and an eclectic feel. There is something for everyone from families to young adults looking to get away for the weekend.


If you are looking for the best time to visit, you are going to want to come in the fall during the leaf season. As its namesake suggests, this season is when you can view the leaves turning in the fall. The colors in the area and from the surrounding mountains are gorgeous. If you can’t make leaf season, September or late spring is still a beautiful time in Asheville. If you visit during the summer, expect hot temperatures and the potential to have a high incidence of ticks on the trails. This is still an ok time to visit if you plan to stay in the urban areas and not do too much trail hiking. During the winter, cold temperatures, some humidity, and some ice may prevent you from enjoying the experience as much as you would in the fall or spring.

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Due to the spread out nature of the trails in the area, we recommend visiting for 3-4 days. Even if you only have one day, it’s worth it to make a quick stop to see the downtown area of Asheville – more on that below. We recommend spending a longer time in the area so that you have time to explore hiking trails that are a short drive from the center of the city.


So you’re driving through the area and you only have ONE day to explore. These are our top choices!

MORNING: Do a short hike or walk the French Broad River

French Broad River Park: The hiking areas in Asheville are all around 30-40 minutes from the city’s center. So if you are short on time or don’t have access to a vehicle, we recommend talking a walk or a bike ride at French Broad River Park. This park is fun for both kids and adults. You can view the French Broad River from any point on the trail. At the park, the trail is paved, and then if you head under the bridge you will find a long dirt trail that you can ride, run, or walk for a few miles. Parking is usually fairly open at this park.

French Broad River Park

If you do have time for a hike, we recommend one of the following trails, both with have a short summit and beautiful views.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail: This Craggy Pinnacle Trail is about 40 minutes from the city center along Blue Ridge Parkway. So, in addition to the hike, you also get to drive a portion of this famous and beautiful stretch of winding roadway. You will find this hike just past the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center. Drive through the tunnel and the parking lot is on the left. Not to be confused with the Craggy Gardens Hike (which is also nice, but is 2.2 miles and begins at the visitors center). Craggy Pinnacle is short, but sweet and suitable for both adults and young kids. The hike is 1.2 miles roundtrip, takes you to a beautiful summit, and will take you around an hour to do, depending on your pace. The trail goes uphill and is moderately challenging.

Bearwallow Mountain

Bearwallow Mountain Trail: If you want slightly more of a challenge, opt to summit the bear mountain trail. At the top of this 1.7 mile (roundtrip) trail, you’ll find a large grassy area suitable for a picnic. The mountain features 360 degree views of the surrounding area. This trail is also around 35-40 minutes from the downtown center. Parking is limited at the site, so plan to arrive early to enjoy the views – you can park at Bearwallow Gap, GPS: N35.4607, W-82.3681

AFTERNOON: Explore Downtown

Most of the store in the downtown area are open 10-6, with restaurants open later. So after you hike or walk, you have plenty of time to explore the streets of downtown and grab dinner from one of the great local restaurants. While downtown, parking can be a bit tricky. Keep in mind that most of the lots and meters are pay until 6pm. There are a couple of easy parking garages to use, and if it’s not the weekend or a high traffic time, there are usually spots available. Parking can cost anywhere from $2 an hour to $15 for the day. We do not recommend going into downtown in the evening on a Friday or Saturday night. Plan to arrive by 3pm and stay, rather than circle around at 5 or 6 looking for a space.

The two parking garages we have used frequently are: the Wall Street Garage and the Biltmore Avenue Garage.

Some of the places we have enjoyed downtown – If you have kids (or even if you don’t!), stop by the local candy shop – Rocket Fizz. The shop boasts tons of candy, but the best thing is the variety of various soda pops they have in stock. For another spot for sweets, French broad chocolate has a store downtown and a coffee shop. For your furry friends, Patton Avenue Pet Company has a selection of unique and sustainable items. For books, there are three amazing bookstores – Malaprops Bookstore, Downtown books and news, and Battery Park Book Exchange. All have a wide selection and won’t disappoint.

There is pretty much a funky gift shop on every corner, so if you’re looking for something unique to bring home from your trip, there are tons of options to choose from. That being said, my favorite is the Kress Emporium. It has tons of local artists product arranged in small booths. Everything from handmade jewelry to unique cutting boards. Don’t forget to check the local events calendar to see if there are any farmers markets & local festivals in the downtown area in Pack Square. We have come across several in our travels to Asheville. Pack square also has a splash pad that runs in the summertime!

Pack Square Park

For dinner, there are a variety of options downtown, and you can’t go wrong! For casual dining check out Asheville Brewing Company, Pack’s Tavern, Buxton Hall Barbeque, Barley’s Taproom & Pizza, Farm Burger, or White Duck Taco. If you are looking for finer dining experience, well, you’re going to have to find another itinerary guide, because we just don’t clean up that well. Lastly, if you’re still rocking and rolling into the late night hours, grab a beer or three from one of the best local breweries – New Belgium Brewing Company, Wicked Weed, Asheville Brewing, or Twin Leaf Brewing Company.


Day One

Morning: Walk French Broad River Park or Hike Craggy Pinnacle or Bearwallow Mountain

Afternoon: Explore Downtown

Day Two– Check out one of Asheville Attractions -We recommend the Biltmore Estate or if you have children, the West Asheville Nature Center.

MORNING: Biltmore Estate or West Asheville Nature Center.

Spend a morning or more at the Biltmore Estate. This estate is the largest privately owned home in all of the United States. While expensive to tour, the Biltmore estate is a classic Asheville experience, great for all ages and most is even handicap accessible!

On a budget or have kids with you on the trip? Try the West Asheville Nature Center instead. This zoo is more than your average zoo, with winding trails, boardwalks, and unique animals. They have a petting zoo, a playground, and plenty of animals. Often there are some special events – don’t miss Brews & Bears in the summertime!

AFTERNOON: Mr. K’s, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Brews

After visiting the Estate or the Nature Center, there are some options of activities for the afternoon/evening. We recommend making a stop at Mr. K’s Bookstore on the east side of town, one of the largest used bookstores in the area, and reasonably priced! Also open until 7pm most nights. If you drive the long way around, you can experience another drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping in at the closest visitor’s center (195 Hemphill Knob Rd, Asheville, NC 28803).

For dinner options in this area, you’ll find the Highland Brewing Company or Creekside Taphouse. Highland Brewing company is on 40 acres, with several beach volleyball courts and a disc golf course. They are dog friendly, and have food trucks outside. Creekside Taphouse is also fantastic, especially if you have kids. At this indoor/outdoor restaurant, there is a play area and a creek for little ones to run around while waiting for their food.


Day One & Two

Follow the Guide for Day Two.

Day Three

Today, you can head out for another hike, take a brewery tour, or check out one of the areas other attractions. Or do all of the above!

MORNING: Head back downtown for some amazing coffee and breakfast.

Double D’s

If you are a coffee drinker, you will want to check out the famous red double decker coffee bus in downtown – Double D’s Coffee and Deserts on Biltmore Avenue. It’s fun to sit up in the bus and drink your cup of joe. For breakfast (or lunch too) our favorite is Twisted Crepe. They make amazing crepes, sandwiches, and they even have gluten free crepes! Something unique to eat on your trip to this funky city. Another spot with tasty gluten free treats and vegan treats is Stay Glazed Donuts. If you are looking for a more traditional breakfast, you’ll want to stop at City Bakery or Table Asheville.

AFTERNOON: Hike another one of Asheville’s great hikes or head to one of the area attractions (see below)

There are so many great hikes within an hour or Asheville’s center. The two that we recommend if you are up for some more adventure are:

Dupont State Forest – Dupont state forest is about 50 minutes outside of the city center. This area is amazing if you want to see some local waterfalls while visiting Asheville! Dupont has several. We recommend doing the 3-mile hike to see 3 waterfalls – triple, high falls, and ending at Hooker Falls. If you are visiting in the summer, you can swim at the bottom where Hooker Falls is located. You can even stand on the rocks in the waterfall!

If you have time after hitting the Dupont State Forest (and it’s spring/summer) make a pit stop at Sliding Rock before heading back. Just as its name suggests, this is a natural waterslide! Expect to get wet while sliding down the 60 foot rock.

Chimney Rock State Park – Even if you aren’t a “hiker” per say, you will enjoy the experience at Chimney Rock. There is an entrance fee to get into the park, and it is about a 45 minute drive from Asheville. The climb is a staircase climb to several different lookout points. You can make the trip as long or as short as you like. Even non-hikers can ride the elevator up to the viewpoints. Once you climb the stairs, you can continue on to more trails, or stop and have lunch at their cafĂ©. At the bottom of the rock, there is also a gift shop.

Chimney Rock

Not up for Hiking? Take the kids to Carrier Park. This is the best playground in the area. It is one of the few classic wooden castle playgrounds left around the area. You do have to walk over the wooden bridge to get into the playground area. No kids? Take in a brewery tour.

LATE AFTERNOON/EVENING: Take in a brewery tour.

If you don’t have kids, spend a night on the town. Take in a Brewery Tour – there are several breweries in the area that offer tours. Sierra Nevada at Mills River offers several different tour types – make sure to reserve a spot on the tour of your choice. Many of these tours are handicap accessible and most do not accept any children, just for your knowledge. There are also tours at Highland Brewing Company, Wicked Weed (free tour), and New Belgium (summer tours only).


Day One, Two, & Three

Follow the Guide for days one, two, and three

Day Four

Still up for more? Take a chocolate tour! Then spend the afternoon being adventurous.

MORNING: Tour French Broad Chocolate Factory

Not to be confused with the store downtown, French Broad Chocolate has a separate location on Riverside Dr. This is where the prepare the chocolates that they sell downtown and all over the country. During the tour, they have you tasting some of the chocolates, and then show you around their facility. It is very reasonably priced, and even my 9 year old enjoyed the tour. I would not recommend this activity if you have kids younger than around 8 years old. It does involve sitting and listening to a presentation.

AFTERNOON: Bike, Climb, or Explore the Asheville River Arts District

Into adventure? You won’t want to skip the Asheville Adventure Center. Enjoy one of the ropes courses, zip line course, or bike park. During the summer, they have an evening ropes course, which we tried out the last time we were there. The obstacles are fun and challenging! Wear comfortable clothing and leggings or pants to help with wearing the harness. There is plenty of parking at the center and there is a small store when you check in to buy snacks and water if you need.

Don’t have the funds for the adventure center but enjoy mountain biking? Explore the area just north of downtown off in Richmond Hill Park. Tucked away in a neighborhood, you can find miles of mountain biking trails, nice hills, and even a pump track to practice or to have fun with older kids. This is a great and free park to mountain bike.

If you don’t mountain bike or climb, but want to have your own adventure, you’ll want to walk the Asheville River Arts District! Personally, we have only walked this area once, so if you adventure choice is the arts district, I recommend reading this article on exactly how to spend your afternoon there!

If you have questions about your Asheville Itinerary, please feel free to email us at [email protected]

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