A few weeks ago I took a road trip down to Asheville, NC with my family. It was a wonderful time of year to visit because it is considered to be off-season, resulting in cheaper prices and smaller crowds. We did a lot over the span of just a few days and had a blast! Here are my top five things to do around Asheville, NC.
1. Visit Pisgah National Forest
I think this was my favorite part of the whole trip. Pisgah National Forest is about a thirty minute drive southwest of Asheville. I imagine it gets quite crowded during the summer months, but we were lucky with a relatively quiet forest. The blue sky greeted us as we drove in, ditched the car, and began our hike. There are a lot of waterfalls to check out around the Asheville area, and we were able to see two of them during a relatively short hike: Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock.
Sliding Rock was like nothing I have ever seen before. It is a completely natural water slide that is supposed to be a lot of fun in the summer. Naturally, my sister and I decided to climb up the rock and slide down into the near freezing water. It was so much fun!(?) We still aren’t sure if we should consider it fun, but it made for a great memory. If you ever visit in the warmer months I highly suggest you try it! That water must feel so refreshing after a long hike in the hot sun. For more waterfalls and hikes in the area, check out the Romantic Asheville website for ideas.
2. Stay in a Cabin
When visiting the Blue Ridge/Smoky Mountain region, it is imperative that you stay in a cabin to get the authentic experience. We rented a cabin through the Cabins of Willow Winds website and stayed at Kaitlin’s Hemlock. The cabin was spotless. It came with a hot tub, a large deck with a beautiful view, and a wood-burning fireplace that we lit every night. It was one of the best parts of the trip. I loved waking up with a cup of coffee and enjoying it on a rocking chair on our beautiful deck. We all pretended it was our own little mountain cabin.
It’s important to note these cabins book up fast. So make sure you plan ahead of time especially during peak season: summer/fall. The staff was so friendly and the cabins were all beautiful, so make sure to check this place out!
3. Visit the Biltmore Estate
Wow was this an incredibly huge private estate! I can’t believe only three people lived there – Vanderbilt, his wife, and his daughter. This is definitely one of those “must-sees”– but a word of caution. First, it is expensive to go. And second, get ready to feel like you are at Disney World. The line to get inside practically wrapped around the entire estate. It was crowded once you got inside and they shuffle you through the house along rope lines. It’s not like you get in and it’s a free for all, you have to follow the line. Which of course gets really annoying if you are like my family and like to move through things at your own pace (generally quickly). But it really is an impressive place. It’s not just a big house–they also have a huge garden on the property, horse stables, an Antler Village with cute shops and cafes, stunning views of the mountains, and much more. I recommend visiting during the off season and on a weekday to avoid crowds.
4. Visit Asheville’s Coffee Shops
Asheville turned out to be a bit different than I expected–it is definitely an artsy little city! At times, it reminded me of the Haight-Ashbury area in San Francisco. With that being said, they do have a ton of charming coffee shops. I wish I had more time to visit them, but we were able to pop into a few. Pictured below is a coffee shop called High Five that had excellent coffee and comfy seating. They even had floor tables! Here is a good guide for coffee shops in Asheville from my friends at Two Drifters.
5. Last, but not least, visit the Great Smoky Mountains!
This was the whole point of our trip! We initially planned this trip to stay in the Smoky Mountains, but we got scared of the idea of bears and decided to stay closer to civilization–haha! Such urbanites. Anyway, we made it out to the Smoky Mountains. It was a bit of a drive so we stopped at a great cafe along the way in Waynesville called Panacea Coffee that you must check out. It was right on the Waynesville river and was another great experience during this trip.
Once we made it to the National Park we did some hiking, saw another waterfall, and took in the stunning views. It was a beautiful adventure and I look forward to returning one day during autumn to see all the gorgeous colors.
We had a misty (smoky?) view of the mountains on our way home on a rainy, cool morning. We were lucky we had sunshine and mild weather during the rest of our trip. Overall the Asheville area was a ton of fun!
Have you ever been to any of these places? What are your favorite things to do around Asheville?
For more information, check out my post on Where to Eat in Asheville!