Downtown Asheville

36 Hours in Asheville – Fun Things to do

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Looking for things to do in Asheville NC?

If you’re looking for the perfect mix of adventurous activities and sophisticated escapades, Asheville, North Carolina, is definitely the place for you; here is our list of things to do in Asheville, North Carolina.

Now, if you only have 36 hours in Asheville, this should give you a good list of things to choose from when you do visit, and we hope you can come back and explore more! So pick one or more depending on what you are in the mood for and the time it takes to explore.

We love this lively locality. Once part of the Cherokee Nation, Asheville is now a diverse place that holds its history close while also embracing the creativity of its locals, which has turned the city into a cultural hub in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Whether you’re a habitual tourist, a first-timer, or just planning your vacation in the mountains, these 30 things to do in 36 hours in Asheville can give you a better perspective on how to enrich your schedule and make the most of your stay in this quirky and lovely city.

36 hours In Asheville NC

Downtown Asheville

1. Take a stroll in Downtown Asheville

Start getting into the mood by visiting its core as soon as you get to the city. This walkable neighborhood is filled with local stores, breweries, trendy restaurants, artsy buskers, bookstores, galleries, and more attractions that mix the outdoorsy vibes of the Blue Ridge Mountains with the hip and eclectic style of its people. If you aren’t sure where to begin your Downtown journey, you can:

2. Follow the Urban Trail, a 2-hour walking tour made up of 30 stations that give new light into the history of Asheville through classical landmarks like the Saint Lawrence Basilica or…

3. You can also get a similar experience with the people of Asheville By Foot. They have tours exclusively dedicated to the city’s murals.

4. Get a theatrical experience by hopping on one of LaZoom Comedy Tours’ buses. It’s a full tour plus a comedy show on wheels!

5. Go art trekking in the River Arts District

This former industrial zone was taken over by the local artists who, over time, have turned it into the creative headquarters of Asheville’s innovators. Visit galleries, take classes, and support the community’s creators by purchasing their works directly from their studios.

6. Now that we’re talking art galleries, once you’ve seen everything at River Arts District, you might also want to check out: Blue Spiral 1, Grovewood Gallery, Momentum Gallery, and Asheville Gallery of Art.

7. Visit the renowned Biltmore Estate

George W. Vanderbilt’s chateaux is now a U.S. Historic Landmark and one of Asheville’s best-known spots. After you take a tour of the property, we strongly encourage you to make the most out of your visit by enjoying the complimentary wine tasting and admiring the exclusive works of art. But why stay inside?

If the weather is nice, take the party to the estate’s gardens and Biltmore Village. It’s a great family-friendly option for a free day, but it will probably take the entire day for you to visit if you see everything. Check out Christmas at the Biltmore in the winter.

Biltmore Estate

8. Drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway

This is actually one of our favorite things in North Carolina! In our opinion, this is something everyone should do at least once in their lives. The Parkway is 469 miles long, but every single one of those miles has natural treasures along the way. Make sure to check out our article on the top 10 waterfalls to stop at along The Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sunset Blue Ridge Mountains

9. Get to know the area with an exclusive hiking tour guided by an expert naturalist. This is recommended if you want to explore the Pisgah National Forest beyond the limits of your car.

10. Explore beyond the obvious path and wander around the Craggy Gardens. We suggest you go in June, when the Catawba rhododendrons are in full bloom, and create a dreamy scenery.

Rhododendrons NC Mountains

11. Get your adrenaline junkie riled up at the Adventure Center of Asheville

The center is open all year for adventurers as young as four years old (with their parent’s supervision, of course). Choose from a wide range of challenges that will have you running, climbing, jumping, swinging, and more for fun family time.

12. Did you know that Asheville also has its own sport? Make sure you try bellyaking while you’re there. It’s exactly what it sounds like! Kayaking on your belly.

13. If you want to get competitive, there are also the racing zip lines at Navitat Canopy Adventures. The longest one is more than 3600 feet long.

14. However, if you’re feeling more daring than the Average Joe, book a Canyoneering experience with French Broad Adventures. Get closer to the amazing natural formations you can usually only see in pictures.

15. Speaking of the French Broad River, how about some rafting? Venture through four miles of Class II and III rapids and end the day on a high note with a glass of craft beer.

16. But maybe you’re not feeling into all that and want a quieter adventure. Go foraging with the guides of No Taste Like Home Foraging Tours. You can have whatever you’ve gathered afterward!

17. Fill your belly in Foodtopia

Asheville’s culinary scene is as varied and exciting as the city itself. Foodtopia is the local foodie center. If you have a hard time deciding where to have a bite, see the options that Asheville Food Tours have for different hours of the day.

18. Enlighten yourself at the North Carolina Arboretum

Deepen your botanical knowledge with 434 acres of exhibitions, gardens, hiking trails, science, and natural preservation. The Arboretum is home to many flora species indigenous to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Make sure to check out the Arboretum’s Bonsai Exhibition Garden

Bonsai Tree at Arboretum

19. For knowledge about the local fauna, visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center. 60 species of animals —like black bears, red wolves, otters, and red pandas— are kept safe in this sanctuary, which is meant to educate people on their responsibility to preserve wildlife in the area.

20. Wild Card: Asheville Pinball Museum

Now, this one seems oddly specific, but bear with us. If you or any of your crew are arcade fans, you simply can’t miss the opportunity to play with over 75 pinball machines and classic video games for an unlimited time. Its nostalgia made fun. Isn’t it fun to know there is a pinball museum in Asheville NC?

Asheville Pinball Museum

21. Go bar-hopping with Brews Cruise

Another great thing about Asheville is its craft beer culture. You will find craft breweries all over the city, and the folks from Brews Cruise will take you to some of the city’s hidden gems.

22. Of course, you can go bar-hopping the traditional way… But how fun would it be to do it on a pubcycle? Drink and pedal away in the Amazing Pubscycle.

23. Get spooky with the Mountain Spirits Haunted Walking Tour

One of the many appeals of Appalachia is its haunted history. As friendly as Asheville is now, its past holds some dark secrets. Uncover them in this tour by Asheville Night Walking Ghost Tour. You can choose the extended 2-hour version… if you are brave enough.

24. If you find that alcohol gives you courage, you might want to go with the drunk version: the Haunted Pub Crawl by Asheville Terrors.

25. Party it up at music festivals

Asheville has been highly lauded as one of the US “greatest music cities,” and we agree! Depending on when you’re planning to go, you can choose from festivals like Downtown After 5, the LEAF festival, Brewgrass, and the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival.

26. If you are drawn to electronic music, tour the Moog Music Factory and the Moogseum.

27. However, if you’re into the classics, check out the seasonal shows of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and the Asheville Lyric Opera.

28. Relax in luxury at The Spa at Omni Grove Park Inn

This subterranean wonder combines the opulence of luxury accommodation with the natural healing properties of mineral waters and other rustic features. Treat yourself to long soaks in any of its 20 water features, massages, facials, and many other amenities at this spa resort in Asheville, NC. 

Omni Grove Park Inn

29. Another exclusive spa experience is the Asheville Salt Cave. The cave is made of 30 tons of 100% pure salt crystals imported from all over the world, designed to create a relaxing atmosphere that promotes wellness and detox.

30. Do some high-end shopping at Grove Arcade

Bask in the historical architecture of this premier spot while you enjoy the finest shopping experience in the city. After you’re done browsing the shops, delight your palate with any of the fine food establishments from Restaurant Row.

Check out the Asheville, NC Grove Arcade! Check out our best BBQ in Asheville, NC, and the best restaurant for BBQ in the Grove Arcade. Also, if you are in the mood for steak, check out one of the newest restaurants in the Grove Arcade, Asheville Proper.

There’s a lot to do, and this isn’t even all of it! When you do go to Asheville, let us know what your favorite spots are (or if you find new ones). We might have to expand the list soon enough. Come back again when you have more than 36 hours in Asheville to explore! 

Grove Arcade

Traveling to Asheville NC

From Knoxville to Asheville, it’s about 116 miles and will take you just under 2 hrs with no stops.
From Charlotte to Asheville, it’s about 130 miles and will take you just over 2 hrs with no stops.
From Raleigh to Asheville, it’s about 250 miles and will take you just under 4 hrs with no stops.
From Nashville to Asheville, it’s about 295 miles and will take you just over 4.5 hrs with no stops.

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