One of the most popular destinations in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers spectacular outdoor activities, a vibrant arts scene, and a relaxed pace of life. Thanks to the nearby mountains and rivers, this fun, family-friendly city is packed with activities that are great for kids. Most attractions sit close to Asheville’s many vacation rentals, so you can spend less time in the car and more time making memories.
1. Float the French Broad River
Cool off and see the sights of Asheville with a float trip down the French Broad River. The water near Asheville is calm and free of rapids, so it’s safe for kids of all ages. Rent inner tubes from local companies such as French Broad Outfitters or Zen Tubing. Some outfitters offer multi-person tubes that comfortably accommodate a parent and a smaller child; you can also opt to rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, or cooler floats for easy snack transportation.
2. Try a Natural Water Slide
Whether your kids are 3 or 30, the Sliding Rock natural water slide is certain to delight. The “slide” is a long, angled natural rock formation that sits under a flowing river. Climb to the top and slide down the rock as water flows around you, and end in a natural pool. The pool is 8 feet deep, so it’s a good idea to bring PFDs for little swimmers. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, come early to beat the crowds.
3. Visit The Adventure Center of Asheville
If you’re traveling with active kids, head straight for The Adventure Center of Asheville. Complete a high-ropes course with the Asheville Treetops Adventure Park program, or take a zip line tour through the canopy of trees and enjoy a view of downtown. The park also features KidZip, a zip line that’s designed specifically for kids aged 10 and under. The center also features a mountain bike course and a 65-foot Quick Jump.
4. Play Pinball
Escape the heat or inclement weather with an afternoon at the Asheville Pinball Museum. This one-of-a-kind attraction is part museum, part arcade, so your little ones can stay busy for hours. Pay a flat fee for each child and adult, and enjoy unlimited games on any one of the museum’s many pinball machines. During the high tourist seasons, the museum fills up quickly; the owners recommend arriving before opening hours or later in the day. Alternatively, you can put your name on the waiting list.
5. Join a Drum Circle
Experience Asheville’s laid-back culture with a trip to the city’s legendary weekly drum circle. Each Friday night, head to Pritchard Park to watch an eclectic collection of drummers put on an exciting performance. Everyone is free to join in, so your kids can bring drums and join the show. Otherwise, simply join the large crowds to watch the fun. In the winter, the drum circle takes place indoors at New Mountain Asheville on North French Broad Avenue.
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6. Head Out for a Hike
Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a hiker’s paradise. A variety of kid-friendly route sits within close proximity to downtown, so you can be on the trail soon after leaving your vacation rental. Just north of downtown, the trail through the Asheville Botanical Gardens offers a peek at shady groves, unusual plants, and creeks for kids to play in. Head out of town on the Blue Ridge Parkway to find the Craggy Gardens trail, which is less than 1 mile long and offers spectacular views.
7. Explore the Biltmore House
No trip to Asheville is complete without a trip to the spectacular Biltmore House. Here, you can let the kids explore palatial gardens, pet animals at the onsite farm yard, ride horses, find their way through a maze, and check out a 250-foot model train. Don’t miss the tour of the house; the outrageous architecture is fascinating for all ages, and the mansion even offers a special kids’ audio tour that’s read from the perspective of the owners’ dog.
8. Go Whitewater Rafting
Explore the wilderness around Asheville at high speed with a whitewater rafting trip. Local outfitters host a range of trips that are suitable for kids as young as three years old. Take your teenagers on a hair-raising ride through intense rapids, or enjoy a family-friendly trip through gentler waters. Most routes require no paddling experience and include the services of a professional river guide.
9. Check Out a Museum
When the weather turns, head indoors for a visit to one of Asheville’s unusual kid-friendly museums. Join a Haunted Asheville tour to see the underground Asheville Mystery Museum, which was assembled by a local ghost hunter. At the Antique Car Museum, your little ones can marvel at a vintage fire truck, historic cars, and horse-drawn buggies. If you’re visiting around Christmas, don’t miss the bizarre Aluminum Christmas Tree Museum in Brevard, where you can walk through a forest of themed retro trees.
10. Indulge at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Treat yourselves to a delicious snack at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. This legendary Asheville hot spot serves up a spectacular range of chocolate concoctions, from high-end truffles to decadent ice cream. Try the signature Liquid Truffle sipping chocolate while your kids chow down on rich cakes and sundaes.
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