Asheville With Kids: 15 Family-Friendly Tips for Visiting Asheville, NC
Load up the kids and head to Asheville, North Carolina, the edgy, artsy, and inviting mountain town where you’ll find something fun to do around every bend! Asheville is the ultimate playground, with an almost unlimited selection of adventures it’s an ideal destination for active and family-friendly getaways.
What makes Asheville a great destination for kids? Luckily, I spend summer months in Asheville which gives me time to dig a little deeper and get the inside scoop on the best attractions, places to eat, and things to do in Asheville with the kids.
So, check out these 15 tips for kid-friendly family fun, and some of the attractions are pet-friendly too!
1. Asheville Pinball Museum is tops on the list primarily because many locals don’t even know about it. More arcade than a museum, pay a flat $15 fee, $12 for kids 10 and under, and play as much as you like from the collection of over 80 pinball and classic video games without any quarters or tokens needed.
2. Asheville is a great place to access the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway for incredible views of the Blue Ridge and the Smoky Mountains. Pack a picnic and stop off at any of the numerous observation areas to soak in the beautiful mountain vistas.
3. Head to Pisgah National Forest for an easy trail like the mostly flat, shady Pink Beds Loop, a family and pet-friendly hike or try the Cane Creek TRACK Trail, which has downloadable kids guides.
4. Don’t miss Sliding Rock, an awesome natural water slide, also in the Pisgah National Forest just north of Brevard. There are 2 observation platforms and lifeguards are on duty during the season. This is one place where you’re invited to “take the plunge” down a 60-foot slippery cascade into the 50-60 degree, 7-foot deep pool. Entry is $3.00 per person for sliders and observers.
5. Try tubing, paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing on the French Broad River with French Broad Outfitters.
6. Explore the local flora and fauna at the free Botanical Gardens of Asheville with an Investigation Passport for the kids (ages 4 – 10) that you can pick up at the garden’s visitor center. Then, round out the day with a trailside picnic on the provided benches and tables, or bring a blanket and make your own spread.
7. Borrow a geocaching packet, a discovery day pack, join a Wee Naturalist Program or just take a hike to explore the beautiful cultivated gardens and miles of nature trails at The North Carolina Arboretum. Many trails are leashed dog-friendly too.
8. Bring anything you can bang and join the lively Friday Night Drum Circle (starts around 6 pm in Pritchard Square Park April – October.) Watch people dance to the thunderous rhythm of the dozens of drums, or better yet, join in by playing or dancing!
9. Take a blanket and stake out a spot for great free outdoor music at Saturday evening’s Shindig on the Green. In its 53rd year, Shindig on the Green is the place where locals and visitors alike come together downtown around sundown, about 7:00 pm for those who wear a watch and goes until around 10:00 pm. Concessions are available. This is a no-frills way to experience the music and dance traditions of Southern Appalachia.
10. Kids of all ages love cooling off at Splasheville, Asheville’s interactive water fountain located downtown in Pack Square Park. With arching sprays of water that fly up randomly, this is a perfect way to get soaked and cool off. The fountain generally runs daily from 9 am to 9 pm April through November.
11. Head to nearby Bryson City and view the scenic mountains from a vintage train ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.
12. Take little ones on a rainy day to Mountain Play Lodge, a super-fun indoor playground and party place.
13. Head over to McCormick Field and take in a baseball game with the Asheville Tourists. The Tourists play in the Class A South Atlantic League and are a farm team of the Colorado Rockies. There are many great promotions throughout the season, so you’re sure to find something to suit your style.
14. Stop by for delicious and hand-crafted vegan, gluten-free, goat’s milk or regular ol’ ice cream in luscious flavors at The Hop. Check the schedule of weekly children’s events too.
15. Plan on spending an entire day at the pet-friendly Biltmore Estate to take advantage of the extensive grounds, restaurants, as well as a house tour. There’s a farm, children’s maze, horseback and bicycle riding, and lots more family-friendly activities. Don’t skip the house tour which is so over the top even the kids will appreciate it.
Asheville is such a fun city to visit with plenty to do with your little ones. Have you visited other kid-friendly attractions in Asheville that are super fun? Let me know in a comment below, and be sure to subscribe to the blog!
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I love the variety of activities you included, for all different interests. Now I want to go to Asheville!
Come on! Asheville is a great mountain town with TONS to see and do!
This place sounds amazing! There’s so much to be done there! My top picks are the Botanical gardens and the handmade ice-cream. But I love all the other options! It definitely goes to my bucket list! 💗
The ice cream is fantastic! Very Asheville-ish flavored too…there’s one that inspired by craft beer, which is one of the things Asheville is known for. 🙂
There’s such a thing as a pinball museum? Who knew?! That sliding rock looks like quite the adventure!
Sliding Rock is soooo fun! It’s a surprisingly smooth ride with a plunge into the cold mountain water pool at the bottom. Everyone who tries it loves it!
Thanks for all these great ideas! I love including a baseball game whenever we can!
I grew up on baseball in Baltimore and spent many a day in the old stadium there. Very fond memories for sure.
The hikes and the geocaching packet at The North Carolina Arboretum sounds like the perfect activities for us. Very excited to visit.
I love the geocaching options too. This area has so much to see and do with the kiddos in tow.
Wow, this was really great! I’ve never been interested in vacationing in the Carolinas because I didn’t think there was anything there that would peak my interest but this article totally made me want to plan a trip over there.
There is so much to do in the Asheville area. Come visit!!
These are all such great ideas! I love the train and Shindig in the Garden!
The train is so cool!!! There’s something special about passing road crossings and people are waving at the train as it goes by!
Sliding Rock looks AWESOME!
Sliding Rock is super fun!! The water is refreshing, the rock itself is surprisingly smooth, that the pool at the bottom is deep enough that there’s no worries about its depth.
Asheville seems like so much fun. I know my older kids would love to try out the sliding rock and my younger one would love Splashville and the railroad.
There is so, so much to do in Asheville. All ages love it here and find something that makes them want to return year after year.
Adding ALL of these to my list. The pinball museum looks especially fun for my kiddos.
O love that place!! The best part is that it’s really a little known gem and would be perfect for a rainy day.
We live just south of Asheville and have been wanting to make it up there for a weekend. Pinned this for future reference! These all sound like fun activities!
Come visit Jocelyn!! If you aren’t too far away, make it a day trip!
Looks like some good fun for the little ones! Great post! Thanks!
Thanks Laura. I couldn’t leave the little ones out so there’s things for them to do as well.
Looks like such a great time! definitely on out list of places to visit!
When my daughter told me she was moving to Asheville after college in 2009, I had never heard of the place. Since then, I have fallen in love with it myself and bought a summer home nearby to enjoy when my teaching school year is over.
Looks like so much fun. I lobe the pinball museum and sliding rock! Bucket list!
Thanks Kat, those are favorites in my family too!
I was convinced the second I saw that sliding rock! We will be visiting with the kids! Thank you for sharing!
Sliding Rock is a huge hit around here!
I have never been to North Carolina but you have inspired me to explore a possible trip!
Awesome Melissa! Western North Carolina is a haven for fun and active things to do, suitable for the entire family. Come visit!
We have a cool Slide Rock here in AZ too!
Gail, I would love to travel to Arizona! Where is your rock slide? Is it similar to Sliding Rock in NC?
I want to go to the pinball museum! This is a great variety of activities – something for everyone.
Thanks Christa…I tried to have something appropriate for all age groups.
The drum circle is fun for all. I’m dying to try Sliding Rock but I worry that it will be much rougher on a 50 yo body than on a kid!
Annick, the rock is surprisingly smooth! I’ve done it in my 50s and it was super fun!
I have never been to NC, but it sure look so much fun to do for kids to enjoy!
Come visit Crafty! There is so much to do, especially in the Asheville area. A true smorgasbord of fun activities.
This place looks like so much fun – need to schedule a visit. I am all about that sliding rock and Great Smoky Mountain Railroad!
Those ate two of my favorites as well.
I have been to Asheville once before I had kids and absolutely fell in love with it. I’m just waiting for the moment when we take them (although now that I know about Slippery Rock, I think I’ll have to wait until they’re a bit older because I really really want to check that out!).
It’a a pretty cool place for sure!
I’ve never thought to ever visit NC but after reading your great list of things to do with my family it looks like an amazing place to visit! My kids would enjoy everything but I think they would love the natural water slide, ice cream, and pinball museum the best! 🙂
Kids LOVE Sliding Rock! It’s always a fav whenever we take visiting kiddos!
This looks like so much fun! Rock slides were something I loved doing when I was a kid. Asheville wasn’t on my radar, but it is now definitely on my travel list!
There’s something for everyone here Janine! Take a chance and schedule a getaway!
I’ve always wanted to visit Asheville – and it looks like there are wonderful sites and things to do. I love that Sliding Rock!
Asheville truly has something for everyone form leisurely spa days, to horseback riding, to epic hiking (long and short trails), to river activities….the choices are practically endless.
We have been wanting to go to Asheville. It looks so awesome!
I hope you get a chance to visit. It’s magical!
I absolutely LOVE Asheville! Lived in Hendersonville for 10 years and going to Asheville was heading to the big city LOL!
For many, Asheville is a big city. I get what you’re saying though! The little town with big ideas!
Thanks for all the great info! Love it all!
I have been intrigued by this area for awhile, knowing about Biltmore. The kids haven’t been to NC yet, and I haven’t been since I was a kid. Sounds like there is a ton of fun things to do in Asheville! Thanks for sharing.
Asheville has so much to do, truly there’s something for everyone!
This has so many great ideas!!!! Thanks for putting things in like the pinball museum, love it!
That place is one of my favorites for sure!
I’ve always wanted to go to Biltmore Estates! One day!
Kirstie, I hope you get to visit soon. It’s a fantastic place, and there’s so much to do on the estate. It’s a full day experience!
Sliding Rock seems so cool! Eventually when we make it to Biltmore, we’ll have to stop there too! The Friday night drum circle seems so fun too!
Visiting Ashville, NC is on my bucket list – I want to visit the Biltmore Estates! My supervisor told me about the beauty and showed me pictures. Even before that, my husband and I went to NC about 20 years ago and we passed it. That moment I was intrigued and did some research – I was sold! One day though!
Visiting Ashville is on my bucket list – I REALLY want to see the Biltmore Estates. My kids would enjoy the other activities but for me, just the Biltmore.
Natashia, I hope you get to visit Asheville one day. It truly is a place that has something for everyone and it’s a very happy place!!
We were in Ashville last summer, and had less than 24 hours. It is definitely a place I want to go back to. Love all of your recommendations for visiting with kids.
I hope you get to come back soon Alison!
I am seriously ready to plan a roadtrip to Asheville after reading this. My 11 year old son would LOVE that arcade and the waterslide. Hubby and I would love the Biltmore, the train, so many great ideas here!
Hey Veronica! Plan a visit for the summer! The slide is super fun but your son will appreciate warm sunshine after sliding into cold mountain water! I have season passes for the Biltmore Estate since I never tire of it. It’s beautiful any time of the year.