Over the past few years, I’ve been hearing so many great things about Asheville, NC. This hip, vibrant city is often on the “best of” lists of places to visit in the US. I have always enjoyed visiting North Carolina, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Asheville. Thinking of visiting with your family? Here are some things to do with kids in Asheville North Carolina.
Disclosure: I traveled to Asheville at no cost with Holiday Inn to experience the hotel and area. All opinions are my own.
Things to do with Kids in Asheville North Carolina
Asheville is most popular in the summer and fall months, thanks to the beautiful weather. Many of the best things to do with family in Asheville NC are outdoors, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when you are planning your visit.
The Biltmore Estate
The largest privately owned estate in the United States a must visit when vacationing in Asheville. It’s surprisingly very family friendly. Families can enjoy complimentary admission for kids aged 16 and younger during the summer, and free admission for kids 9 and younger during the rest of the year (with a paid adult admission). Kids will love seeing how the Vanderbilts lived – especially the empty indoor pool and the bowling lanes located in the basement of the house.
Guests can also choose to add on an audio tour to supplement their tour through the house. If traveling with kids, you may want to do the kids’ audio tour. It’s 90 minutes, and is narrated by the Cedric, the family’s St. Bernard dog. During our trip, we saw some kids that appeared completely captivated by the audio tour. It’s also a great way to learn more about the house and the family.
Once you are done touring the home, there are plenty of other things to experience at the Biltmore Estate. Tickets to the estate also include a tasting at the winery. You’ll need to drive there, but it’s worth the visit. At the winery, kids are offered complimentary grape juice.
The estate includes several restaurants. There’s also an ice cream shop and confectionary. All of the restaurants are family-friendly. Kids menus are offered at all of the on-site restaurants, and high chairs are available.
If you’d like to explore even more of the property, there are plenty of other activities. Options include family bike rentals, kids’ fly fishing lessons, horseback trail rides, the Pisgah Playground at Antler Village, and the Farm at Antler Hill Village.
I’ve spent a lot of time around the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island, and the Biltmore is so much more impressive. It definitely feels like an American Versailles. You could easily spend most of your day there if you want, although the house tour is typically only about 90-120 minutes. Visit the Biltmore website for more information about activities, amenities, and ticket options.
LaZoom Comedy Bus
One of my favorite activities in Asheville NC during my trip was the LaZoom Beer and Band bus. We drove around in this fun bus being entertained by a local band as we drove to two separate breweries. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I absolutely loved it.
Of course, that isn’t kid-friendly, but LaZoom does offer a kid friendly comedy tour bus. Geared toward kids aged 5-12, the LaZoom Kids’ Comedy Tour offers a blend of fun comedy and a tour of the surrounding area.
Purchase tickets in advance, and catch the bus at the LaZoom Room at 76 Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. It runs for an hour, so you can definitely combine it with other downtown Asheville activities. See more information here.
Asheville Pinball Museum
Love old school pinball machines? The Asheville Pinball museum is a unique spot that kids will enjoy. Located in Downtown Asheville, the Asheville Pinball Museum offers over 80 classic video games and pinball machines. Once you pay admission, you are able to play any of the games without paying for each game individually.
The pinball museum does reach capacity at 80 people, so it’s best to arrive earlier in the day. Otherwise, you can leave your name and you’ll be contacted when it’s your turn to play. It can get busy on weekends and on rainy days, so plan ahead. Learn more here.
Pisgah National Forest
Asheville is also known for their beautiful mountains and hiking trails. If you’d like to spend some time outdoors, consider hiking to Catawba Falls, in the Pisgah National Forest. During our trip, we went on a guided tour with Asheville Hiking Tours.
The tour we went on was about 2 hours, and approximately 3 miles. It’s an easy to moderate trail, with only a few rocks to go over to reach the 150 foot Catawba Falls waterfall. Our guide explained so much about the area and really made it both fun and educational. While I enjoyed the whole hike, the payoff really was seeing the gorgeous waterfall. It’s absolutely stunning. We received most of the narration while walking to the waterfall, and then the walk back was quicker.
Asheville Hiking Tours offers a family discount. With 2 adult tickets, kids’ tickets (for kids 14 and under) are 20% off. Definitely be sure to bring appropriate shoes (hiking boots or sneakers) for your walk. You’ll be able to do the hike in light rain, but it would be cancelled in heavier rain. I found that it was chilly when we left in the morning, but got warmer as we hiked. Dressing in layers is a good idea.
Learn more about Asheville Hiking Tours here.
In the summer, you may also want to visit Sliding Rock. Also located in the Pisgah National Forest, Sliding Rock is a 60-foot slippery natural slide. It’s very popular in the summer, when there are lifeguards present. If you do visit Sliding Rock, bring along swimsuits that you don’t mind wearing down on the natural rocks. See more about Sliding Rock here.
Tour Asheville Breweries
With the most breweries per capita than any other US city, Asheville definitely has plenty of breweries to visit. While you may not consider visiting them with kids, many of them are kid friendly.
We visited the Highland Brewing Company during our Band and Beer tour, and it would definitely be a place that you could bring kids. There’s a large meadow, which often hosts events. The brewery also frequently has food trucks visit. This article lists some options for family-friendly breweries in Asheville.
River Arts District
Asheville is home to hundreds of independent artists, many of whom have their studios in the River Arts District. This neighborhood of Asheville features galleries and studios that are home to working artists.
During our trip to Asheville, we took a tour of the district with Asheville Art Studio Tours. The owner and guide, John Miguel Almaguer, is a River Arts District artist himself. He showed us a few of the studios along the way, where we had the opportunity to meet with the artists and learn about their studio and their artistic process. Families are welcome on John’s tours, and children under 10 are free with a paying adult.
If you’ve got older kids, I’d definitely recommend an experience tour. That’s what we did during our trip, and it was one of the highlights of my visit. There are several options, but we did the Clay Experience. At the start of our tour, we visited a local clayroom where we learned how to use a pottery wheel and create our own pot. While it wasn’t easy, there were two artisans there to assist. We did have to leave our pots there to be fired and glazed, but they will be individually shipping to our homes when they are ready.
Learn more about Asheville Art Studio Tours here.
Adventure Center of Asheville
If you want to spend some time being adventurous outside in Asheville, you’ll want to visit the Adventure Center of Asheville. This outdoor adventure center offers family friendly activities that are great for adventurous families. Here, you’ll find a zipline canopy tour. Depending on how long you have, you’ll have the option of either the full canopy tour or the express canopy tour.
There’s also the Treetop Adventures Park, where you can experience 60 individual challenges including flying, climbing, rappelling, and swinging.
If you’ve got younger kids, you may want to do the KidZip. It’s made for children aged 4-10 years old, and includes 9 ziplines. Or, if you’d prefer to bike, there’s the Kolo Flow BIke Park, where you can rent a bike or bring your own. See more about the Asheville Adventure Center here.
If you want to experience an escape room with your family, there’s a great option in Asheville. The Conundrum is located right behind the Grove Arcade in Downtown Asheville. While they offer standard escape room experiences (and a Speakeasy!), they also have Kidnundrum adventures. These are geared towards younger kids and are available on a limited basis. The latest one is the The Mystery of Malicious Magician, which is 60 minutes. See more information on the Conundrum here.
Pritchard Park Drum Circle
We were in downtown Asheville on a Friday night, but just missed the Pritchard Park Drum Circle. It runs from April through October on Friday nights from about 5-6pm through 10pm. Anyone can bring their own drum and participate, or you can just be a spectator at any point during the evening.
Asheville Fun Depot
If you are looking for some indoor activities in Asheville NC, the Asheville Fun Depot is a great option. It’s mostly indoors, and offers so many attractions including laser tag, bumper cars, indoor mini golf, a climbing wall, Go Karts, arcade, mini bowling, and 4D theater.
You can pay individually for the activities, or purchase a game card. There are also all day passes that are offered occasionally. See more about the Asheville Fun Depot.
Where to Stay in Asheville With Kids
Asheville is a small city, but there are still plenty of accommodations for families. I recommend staying somewhere that will be comfortable for your family, with some amenities that you may enjoy during your vacation.
For my stay in Asheville NC, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Asheville Biltmore East. This boutique hotel is one of several Holiday Inns in the area. It was recently awarded the prestigious Torchbearer Award, and the staff at the hotel are so friendly and helpful. It’s so comfortable for families, and rooms include a microwave, refrigerator, and very comfortable beds (among other amenities). The hotel also has a 9-foot deep outdoor pool, which is the deepest pool in Asheville. I’d definitely recommend staying there.