family friendly tips for asheville

When planning a trip to Asheville, NC, with your kids, you’ll find no shortage of activities to fill your days with fun and educational experiences. From the sprawling grounds of the Biltmore Estate to the interactive exhibits at the Asheville Museum of Science, there’s something to spark curiosity and joy in children of all ages.

You might wonder how to fit it into your visit or which attractions best suit your family’s interests. What if there were insider tips to help you make the most of your family vacation in Asheville? Explore key suggestions that could transform your trip from good to unforgettable.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore the Biltmore Estate with family-friendly tours and children’s activities amidst historical and architectural grandeur.
  • Visit the NC Arboretum for educational programs and scenic picnicking spots suitable for all ages.
  • Discover interactive wildlife experiences at the WNC Nature Center, featuring native animals and educational trails.
  • Engage in hands-on learning and fun at the Hands On! Children’s Museum, ideal for young, curious minds.
  • Enjoy outdoor adventures like hiking the family-friendly trails or winter snow tubing for memorable family bonding.

Explore the Biltmore Estate

Explore the Biltmore Estate

Stepping into the Biltmore Estate, you’ll marvel at America’s largest privately-owned home, boasting 250 rooms and sprawling across 8,000 acres of meticulously designed gardens and grounds.

Stroll through the expansive gardens, a masterpiece of landscape architecture by Frederick Law Olmsted, where the beauty of each season is captured in vibrant displays. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Biltmore’s winery, where you can taste estate-produced wines in a stunning setting.

For families, the estate is a playground of discovery. Kids will love the Children’s Audio Tour, designed to engage them with stories and secrets of the mansion.

The Farmyard offers a chance to meet friendly animals, and seasonal events like Christmas at Biltmore bring the estate to life with festive decor and activities. Whether it’s through exploring, dining, or simply relaxing, your family’s visit to the Biltmore will be an unforgettable adventure.

Visit the NC Arboretum

As you venture into the NC Arboretum, immerse yourself in over 430 acres of stunning gardens, trails, and interactive exhibits. It’s a family-friendly haven where everyone can discover and connect with nature regardless of age.

Wander through the 65 acres of meticulously cultivated gardens, where over 1,000 plant species create a vibrant flora tapestry. Don’t miss the Heritage Garden, which showcases traditional uses of plants, blending history with horticulture. It’s perfect for sparking conversations about the past and how plants play a role in our lives.

The Arboretum isn’t just about viewing, though. Engage in one of the many educational programs and workshops for families and children. These programs offer a hands-on approach to learning that will enrich your visit.

Pack a picnic to enjoy among the gardens, or join a guided tour to gain deeper insights into the natural beauty surrounding you. The NC Arboretum ensures that your family’s visit will be memorable, seamlessly blending education with enchantment.

Enjoy Winter Lights Seasonally

winter lights illuminate nights

Experience the season’s magic at the North Carolina Arboretum’s Winter Lights, where festive decorations and dazzling light displays create an unforgettable evening for the whole family.

As you wander through the themed sections, each corner of the arboretum transforms into a winter wonderland, inviting you and your kids to immerse yourselves in the holiday spirit. Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t miss the Winter Lights:

  1. Stunning Light Displays: The arboretum lights up with thousands of twinkling lights, turning the landscape into a vibrant tapestry of color that captivates the young and the young at heart.
  2. Themed Sections: Each area offers a different theme, from whimsical fairy gardens to bold geometric patterns, ensuring something to spark everyone’s imagination.
  3. Family-Friendly Atmosphere: This event is designed with families in mind, providing a safe and enchanting environment where children can explore and adults can unwind.
  4. Seasonal Charm: Held during the winter months, it’s the perfect time to bundle up, sip on hot cocoa, and create holiday memories that last a lifetime.

Don’t miss this annual spectacle at the North Carolina Arboretum. It’s your chance to experience the holiday lights in an educational and magical setting.

Attend the National Gingerbread Competition

The Grove Park Inn hosts the National Gingerbread Competition every year, drawing creative bakers nationwide to showcase their spectacular gingerbread masterpieces.

Set in the charming city of Asheville, this event isn’t just a competition; it’s a dazzling exhibition of culinary art.

You’ll be amazed by the variety and intricacy of the gingerbread creations, ranging from traditional houses to whimsical sculptures that defy your expectations of what can be done with gingerbread.

As you wander through the displays, you’ll see the entries divided into categories for adults, teens, and even young children. It’s a great opportunity for you to discuss creativity and craftsmanship with your kids, sparking their imagination in ways only art can.

Each piece tells its unique story, crafted with care and detailed precision, often reflecting the personality and skills of its creator.

The Grove Park Inn’s atmosphere during the competition is festive and family-friendly, making it a perfect outing for you and your children during your visit to Asheville. Engage with the artists, learn about their techniques, and maybe even get inspired to start your family tradition of gingerbread crafting!

Discover the WNC Nature Center

explore wildlife at wnc

Why not explore the WNC Nature Center, where you can meet over 60 species of native Southern Appalachian wildlife? This fantastic spot in Asheville offers you and your family the perfect opportunity to get up close with animals and immerse yourself in the natural world.

The Nature Center isn’t just about observing animals; it’s an interactive experience where conservation and education play a pivotal role.

Here’s what you can look forward to during your visit:

  1. Meet Fascinating Animals: Witness majestic black bears, playful otters, elusive red wolves, and various birds of prey. Each encounter is sure to captivate your family’s attention and curiosity.
  2. Interactive Educational Programs: Engage with hands-on exhibits and educational programs highlighting local wildlife and ongoing conservation efforts. It’s a learning experience that feels more like an adventure.
  3. Enjoy Scenic Trails and Gardens: Take a leisurely walk through beautifully maintained trails and gardens. It’s the perfect way to soak in the peaceful natural surroundings.
  4. Fun for Kids: Let the little ones burn off some energy at the on-site playground, designed to be both fun and safe.

The WNC Nature Center is dedicated to connecting people with the natural world and enhancing environmental awareness through direct interaction with nature. Don’t miss this enriching experience where you can learn, play, and discover!

Experience the Asheville Art Museum

After exploring the natural wonders at the WNC Nature Center, enrich your visit with the artistic treasures at the Asheville Art Museum. Here, you’ll discover a world where contemporary art meets interactive exhibits, all designed to spark the imagination of both young and old. The museum features an impressive collection of works by regional and national artists, highlighting Asheville’s lively arts scene.

As you wander through the rotating exhibitions, each piece tells a unique story, making every visit a fresh experience. The museum isn’t just about viewing art; it’s about engaging with it.

Kids can participate in educational programs tailored specifically for younger audiences, making it a truly family-friendly destination. These programs often include hands-on activities that help children understand and appreciate the art more deeply.

Don’t miss the family-oriented events and workshops regularly scheduled at the museum. These are perfect opportunities for you and your kids to create memories while learning about art together. Guided tours are also available, offering fascinating insights and fun facts that keep everyone entertained.

The Asheville Art Museum offers an enriching and enjoyable cultural outing, ensuring that your family’s artistic adventure will be one of the highlights of your Asheville visit.

Fun at Hands-On! Children’s Museum

exploring and learning together

For a hands-on adventure that sparks creativity and learning, visit Hands On! Children’s Museum in Hendersonville, where interactive exhibits and educational programs await enthusiastic young minds. This museum is a treasure trove of fun, offering various activities catering to curious explorers of all ages.

Here are some must-see attractions at the Hands On! Children’s Museum:

  1. Grocery Store Play Area: Kids can play shopkeeper or customer in a realistic grocery store setting, learning about money, nutrition, and social interactions.
  2. Puppet Theater: Encourage your child’s theatrical talents as they perform imaginative stories with various puppets, enhancing their communication and artistic skills.
  3. Rigamajig Construction Kit: This large-scale building kit encourages problem-solving and engineering thinking as children create imaginative structures.
  4. Rocky Cove Railroad: Perfect for train enthusiasts, this exhibit lets kids engage with model trains and tracks, fostering an interest in mechanics and transportation.

Each of these interactive exhibits at the Hands On! Children’s Museum provides not just fun but also educational experiences that stimulate young minds. It’s an ideal spot to blend play with learning, ensuring a memorable visit for the whole family.

Learn at the Asheville Museum of Science

Explore the wonders of science at the Asheville Museum of Science, where interactive exhibits engage kids of all ages with STEM concepts. Here, children immerse themselves in hands-on learning, getting their little hands busy with experiments that make learning fun and memorable.

Whether they’re constructing circuits, delving into the principles of physics, or investigating natural phenomena, there’s always something new to discover.

This museum is not just about observing; it’s about actively engaging. Their eyes light up as they grasp complex concepts through playful activities. Check out the table below for a snapshot of what you can expect:

Feature Description Ideal for Age Group
Rotating Exhibits Fresh, engaging topics are introduced regularly. All ages
Live Demonstrations Real-time science experiments. 5 years and up
Educational Workshops Guided sessions for hands-on learning. 6 years and up
Family-Friendly Events Special events designed for family participation. All ages
Interactive Displays Self-guided learning stations. 4 years and up

Plan a visit to the Asheville Museum of Science and watch your children’s curiosity transform into a passion for science!

Kid-Friendly Hiking Adventures

family friendly outdoor excursions

Asheville’s kid-friendly hiking trails offer a perfect blend of adventure and education, allowing your family to discover the area’s natural beauty while staying active. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely walk or something more challenging, Asheville caters to all levels of experience and ages, making it a prime destination for great hiking.

Here are four top trails that guarantee an enjoyable day out with the kids:

  1. Botanical Gardens at Asheville: Engage with nature without straying too far from the city. Easy paths meander through native plant species, offering beauty and a chance to learn about local flora.
  2. Craven Gap Trail: Ideal for families, this trail provides gentle terrain and the chance to possibly spot wildlife, turning a simple hike into an exciting nature hunt.
  3. Mount Pisgah Trail: For those looking for a bit more challenge, this trail rewards you with breathtaking views from the summit. It’s a great way to introduce older children to more strenuous hikes.
  4. Craggy Gardens: Experience stunning panoramic views and wildflower meadows that captivate all ages. The paths here are well-maintained, ensuring a safe trek.

Embark on these adventures and watch your kids’ love for the outdoors grow as they explore Asheville’s scenic landscapes!

Winter Snow Tubing Excursions

During winter, you can experience the thrill of snow tubing down the glistening, snow-covered slopes near Asheville. Imagine yourself sliding down a pristine white hill, laughter echoing around as you and your family enjoy one of the most fun things to do in the area.

Destinations like Moonshine Mountain Snow Tubing Park and Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing beckon with well-maintained lanes offering safe, exhilarating rides. It’s a joy for kids and adults, ensuring everyone can join in the fun without any hassle.

Each location has dedicated lanes, ensuring everyone from the smallest slider to the most daring teen finds their comfort zone.

Seasonal Apple Picking

harvesting apples in fall

If you’re visiting from August to October, don’t miss the chance to go apple picking at local orchards like Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard or Sky Top Orchard. Here, you can gather a variety of apples, including Honeycrisp, Gala, and Fuji.

Apple picking isn’t just fun—it’s a hands-on lesson in nature and agriculture that everyone will cherish. Here are a few things you’ll love about apple picking in Asheville:

  1. Variety of Apples: From the crisp Honeycrisp to the sweet Gala, you can pick your favorites directly from the trees.
  2. Family Fun Activities: In addition to apple picking, orchards often offer hayrides, corn mazes, and a chance to meet friendly farm animals.
  3. Scenic Views: Asheville’s orchards aren’t just fruitful but picturesque. Imagine the Instagram-worthy photos you’ll take amidst the rows of apple trees with mountain backdrops.
  4. Freshness and Flavor: There’s nothing like the taste of an apple picked right off the tree. You’ll notice the fresh, juicy difference immediately.

Whether filling your basket or teaching your kids where their food comes from, apple picking is a perfect blend of education and recreation. Don’t forget to grab some homemade apple cider before you head home!

Thrilling Ziplining Experiences

For an exhilarating adventure, consider ziplining through Asheville’s picturesque mountains and lush forests, where you’ll experience breathtaking views and heart-pounding excitement.

Asheville’s ziplining adventures cater to all ages, making it perfect for families looking to inject some excitement into their trip. Kids will be talking about the adrenaline rush long after they’re unhooked. They’re safely secured and guided by professionals, ensuring everyone feels confident as they zip from platform to platform.

Imagine gliding through the air with the wind in your face and a panoramic view of the mountains around you. It’s an unforgettable way to bond as a family and create memories that will last a lifetime. So, prepare for a thrilling ride over Asheville’s stunning landscapes.

Adventure at Asheville Adventure Center

perfect phrase for asheville s adventure center

At the Asheville Adventure Center, you can elevate your family vacation with various thrilling aerial adventures and ziplining experiences designed to challenge and delight visitors of all ages.

This center is a hub for kid-friendly activities where your little adventurers can safely test their limits under the watchful eyes of trained guides. Here’s why the adventure at Asheville Adventure Center is a must-do:

  1. Ziplining Thrills: Soar through the trees and experience breathtaking views. It’s not just about the thrill; it’s about creating those priceless memories.
  2. Treetop Adventures: Climb, swing, and navigate through an obstacle course set high above the ground. It’s a fun way to build confidence and physical agility.
  3. Aerial Challenges: Engage in various high-altitude games that require teamwork and strategy, making them perfect for family bonding.
  4. Professional Guidance: Feel secure knowing that experienced guides are always there to ensure safety and provide assistance.

Whether you’re swinging through the canopy or conquering aerial obstacles, the Asheville Adventure Center offers an unforgettable adventure as exciting as it’s safe. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to add a spark of adventure to your family trip!

Splash Around at Splashville

Plunge into fun at Splashville, where kids can splash and play in the heart of downtown Asheville‘s Pack Square Park. This lively splash pad brings cool refreshment with its water features, including playful jets, exciting geysers, and mysterious water tunnels that beckon children to explore.

As the sunbeams, your little ones can dash through the sprays or plot their next move from one water feature to the next, guaranteeing hours of joyful play in the water.

Best of all, Splashville is completely free, making it a perfect pit stop for families looking to enjoy downtown Asheville without breaking the bank.

Open during the warmer months, it provides a safe, engaging environment where kids can interact with water and each other under the watchful eyes of their guardians. Don’t forget to pack towels, sunscreen, and snacks to keep the energy up as they dart from spray to spray.

Tour the French Broad Chocolate Factory

explore chocolate making process | Visiting Asheville

Explore the delicious world of artisanal chocolate-making with a guided tour at the French Broad Chocolate Factory, where you’ll see firsthand how cocoa beans transform into exquisite chocolate treats.

As you walk through the bustling production facilities filled with the rich scent of chocolate, you’ll be drawn into a fascinating world where quality and creativity meet. Here’s what you can expect on your tour:

  1. Insightful Learning: Discover the intricate process of chocolate making, from bean to bar. Learn about the sourcing of ethically produced cocoa beans and the steps involved in refining them into luxurious chocolates.
  2. Engaging Demonstrations: Watch skilled chocolatiers craft beautiful confections. You’ll see the art and science that goes into tempering chocolate and creating smooth, glossy finishes.
  3. Interactive Experiences: Get a chance to ask questions and interact with the chocolatiers. You might even get to try some basic chocolate-making techniques!
  4. Delicious Samples: No tour is complete without tasting. Sample a variety of French Broad Chocolate’s creations, each telling its own story of flavor and finesse.

This guided tour isn’t just educational; it’s a treat for all your senses, making it a perfect stop for families exploring Asheville.


As you wrap up your Asheville adventure, remember each moment spent exploring from the grand Biltmore Estate to zipping through treetops. Whether marveling at winter lights, learning about local wildlife, or indulging in sweet treats at the chocolate factory, Asheville offers many delightful experiences.

So pack your bags and bring your family to this vibrant city where every corner promises a discovery, ensuring memories that will last a lifetime for you and your kids.

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  • Bibi Jordan

    Bibi Jordan is a seasoned travel writer and photographer with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. At 65 years old, Bibi has traversed the globe, documenting her experiences with vivid storytelling and stunning imagery. Her work celebrates diverse cultures, unique traditions, and the beauty of the natural world. With over three decades of travel writing under her belt, Bibi brings a depth of knowledge and an insightful perspective to her readers, encouraging them to embark on their own adventures. Her website, Travels with Bibi, serves as a treasure trove of travel tips, detailed guides, and inspiring narratives that resonate with seasoned explorers and new adventurers alike.

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By Bibi Jordan

Bibi Jordan is a seasoned travel writer and photographer with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. At 65 years old, Bibi has traversed the globe, documenting her experiences with vivid storytelling and stunning imagery. Her work celebrates diverse cultures, unique traditions, and the beauty of the natural world. With over three decades of travel writing under her belt, Bibi brings a depth of knowledge and an insightful perspective to her readers, encouraging them to embark on their own adventures. Her website, Travels with Bibi, serves as a treasure trove of travel tips, detailed guides, and inspiring narratives that resonate with seasoned explorers and new adventurers alike.

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