Why We Love Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is full of fun, nature and good eats — and it’s an easy three-hour drive from Atlanta. Don’t miss these things to do on your next visit.
Launching Point to Great Hiking Trails
Craggy Gardens (40 minutes north on the Blue Ridge Parkway) leads to a summit trail just past the Visitors Center that’s easy enough for preschoolers. The benches in lookout viewing spots at the summit let you take in the mountain vistas.
DuPont State Forest (35 miles south of Asheville) has several waterfalls, including Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls. Bring swimsuits in summer to take a dip or just dip your toes on chillier days at Hooker Falls. Triple Falls, about a 10-minute walk from Hooker Falls, has three cascades totaling a 120-foot drop. The trails are easy and paved with some hills to climb to reach the waterfalls.
Chimney Rock State Park, a popular tourist site, can be plenty challenging and beautiful. We climbed about 1,000 steps to reach Exclamation Point. The view was certainly worth it when we saw the cliffs and valley below. We also hiked about a mile to Hickory Nut Falls, a 400-foot waterfall at the park. You can snap neat photos standing in the bottoms of the falls and wading pool.
More than a zoo, it’s a nature center featuring animals native to the area. The trails wind through the center with interactive play areas including a musical play zone with a pebble harp, wooden xylophone, balance beams, and a paint-with-water station. Kids enjoy the slide by the otters, the spider playground, and playing in the barn with small tools, wheelbarrows and brooms. The petting zoo with chickens and turkeys is fun, too.
(40 miles south of Asheville)
Visit the baby goats on the farm, hike around the 30-acre property, and take a guided tour of Sandburg’s home to learn about his life and work (the furnishings in the home are being restored and will be back in 2018). Pick up a copy of Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories to read to the kids on the drive back home.
Listening to Live Music
Street musicians abound and are the perfect opportunity to listen to all kinds of music and instruments with no commitment – from playing spoons, banjos, washboards and more. The Grey Eagle and The Orange Peel are legendary music venues in Downtown Asheville that have some shows for all ages.
After all the hiking we did, we really appreciated the food and breweries in Asheville. Mom’s Garden Pizza and a Rocket Girl craft brew at Asheville Brewing Company hit the spot. At Wicked Weed Brewing, enjoy chips and bean dip, boiled peanuts, and the (not printed) kids menu and get a beer tasting flight for the adults. Eat an amazing fruit bowl with kiwi, peaches and grapefruit and biscuits at Biscuit Head in West Asheville. The Harmony Bowl and South by Southwest burrito were delish at Laughing Seed Café. We also loved the fun, healthy comfort food at Early Girl Eatery in Downtown Asheville.
– Laura Powell