Summer Fun in Asheville, North Carolina

The mountainous North Carolina city of Asheville has everything you’d want in a family getaway: great attractions, outdoor adventures and kid-friendly venues. Here’s where to go and what to do when you visit.

Biltmore Estates

Asheville’s most popular attraction, Biltmore Estates, is a must see. Families can take a self-guided, guided or specialty tour of the 250-room chateau built by George Vanderbilt, grandson of the famous industrialist, Cornelius Vanderbilt. While there, don’t miss the property’s gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the architect behind New York City’s Central Park.

From the house, head to the Farm in Antler Hill Village to watch craft demonstrations, play turn-of-the-century games and pet farmyard animals. Or, rent bikes, take a Segway tour (age 13 and up), horseback ride or learn to fly fish at the estate’s Outdoor Adventure Center. Kids ages 8 and up can even get a lesson in falconry at the center.

Outdoor adventures

Biltmore Estate isn’t the only place in the Asheville area to have an outdoor adventure. The city is a short distance from the Blue Ridge Parkway and some of the nation’s best hiking. For postcard-worthy views, try the moderate 1.2-mile Craggy Gardens Pinnacle or the deceptively named Hard Times Loop, an easy 6-mile trail. During the summer, plan a refreshing hike to Looking Glass Falls in the Pisgah National Forest.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina. Photo: Daveallenphoto |

The area is also known for rafting. Local outfitters typically offer full-day and half-day whitewater rafting (up to class IV) on the French Broad River for ages 8 and up, as well as scenic float trips for those ages 4 and up. Families can also float in a tube on the river, kayak, canoe or play along its shores.

Adventure Center of Asheville

While there are several zipline courses in the area, Adventure Center of Asheville is only five minutes from downtown. Here, anyone ages 10 and up can soar under a canopy of 150-year-old oak trees on the full or express course while thrill seekers ages 4 to 10 can test themselves on the center’s KidZip.

The center also has a treetop adventure park, featuring 60 climbing, flying, jumping, swinging and rappelling challenges on five different adventure trails, and a mountain bike park with four miles of trails suitable for riders of all ages and levels. (Mountain bike rentals are available.)

Music in Asheville

Asheville is a music city. While many of the music venues and attractions are geared to the 21-and-over crowd, some are family-friendly. One of the most unique is the free Friday night Drum Circle. Every Friday night, April through October, drummers gather in Pritchard Park from 5–10 p.m. to jam, and you’re invited to listen. You can even bring your own drum and join in.

Kids will also get a kick out of The Moogseum when it opens May 23, what would have been the 85th birthday of Dr. Bob Moog. The museum celebrates his invention, the Moog synthesizer, through interactive displays and bays filled with synthesizers, Theremins (an electronic musical instrument) and effect pedals. Kids can even make their own circuit board.