There are countless delicious restaurants with outdoor picnic tables so your little ones can run around while you enjoy a beer and a burger. There are brand new playgrounds sprinkled all over the city and loads of great outdoor activities to take advantage of.
It’s easy to find things to do in and around Asheville to keep your kids entertained. Read on to find out all of our favorite spots to eat, drink, and play with your little ones during your trip!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: Fun Things to Do in Asheville with Kids!
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Best Things to Do in Asheville, NC with Kids
1. Visit One of the Many Breweries
One of the reasons that Asheville attracts such a young, hip crowd is that they have a ton of unique craft breweries sprinkled throughout the city. And while you may not think of breweries as being kid-friendly, in Asheville they really are!
Most of the popular Asheville breweries have plenty of outdoor seating, empty space inside that is free of breakables, food that kids will eat (like french fries and ketchup), chill staff members who don’t mind dodging wild children, and, most importantly, beer and wine for you!
We have visited our fair share of breweries in Asheville (for research purposes only of course), and have a few favorites that stand out. Sierra Nevada is a bit outside of the city, but they have a gorgeous outdoor area where kids can run around and explore. Plus they have baby chairs (not all breweries do) and a good (albeit pricey) kid’s menu.
Hillman Beer is by far our favorite brewery in Ashville because there’s so much seating and everyone always seems to be in a good mood when they’re there! It’s a favorite with locals who want to enjoy the sunshine and a cold beer and make a few new friends. The food is delicious (the roasted turkey salad wrap is our favorite), as is the beer. It’s the best spot in town for a late lunch with the kids!
Wedge Brewing Company is our close second favorite family-friendly brewery in Asheville. The outdoor seating space is massive and they have cornhole, occasional live music or DJs, and a food truck serving up creative grilled cheese concoctions. Plus the raspberry sour beer is the perfect refreshment on a sunny afternoon.
Hi-Wire Brewing has several locations but we preferred the South Slope location just south of Downtown for ease of parking. The walls are painted with colorful murals and it has a casual vibe so the other patrons shouldn’t be bothered by occasionally unruly kids at the next table.
2. Play at the Park
For being a relatively small city, Asheville is actually chock-full of awesome playgrounds and parks! And most of the playgrounds are pretty new and in great condition. It’s perfect for getting some time outdoors while your kids get to run around and play.
We’ve had a chance to play at most of the parks around town and have a few favorites. Our top pick is actually outside of the city, near the Sierra Nevada Brewery. Mills River Park has a brand new playground that is covered with a shade structure so it doesn’t get too hot, even in the middle of the day. Kids of all ages will have a blast here and afterward you can head over to Sierra Nevada for a cold one!
Lake Julian Park was a close second on our list of faves. Not only is the park awesome for kids (there’s even a double swing if you want to keep your little one safely in your lap), but it’s right on the lake so you can enjoy the view as well. Plus for just a quarter you can purchase food to feed the friendly ducks that hang out on the shore. This one is not-to-be-missed!
Carrier Park is a great option if your kids are into playing basketball, roller skating, or biking. There’s also a wooden playground structure that’s fun for kids of all ages. And if you need a public bathroom, these are some of the nicest and well maintained around. Just note that it’s a bit of a trek from the parking lot and you’ll have to climb a pedestrian overpass to reach the playground.
3. Picnic at the Arboretum
The North Carolina Arboretum is a gorgeous area that is great for both kids and parents alike! Kids will love running around the nature trails and checking out the water fountains. And parents will love wandering around the gardens and learning a bit about the various plant species along the way.
Not only is the arboretum a great place to spend an afternoon with your kids, but it’s also ideal for packing a picnic to enjoy at sunset! Or if you don’t feel like planning, you can order from the onsite restaurant and have it delivered to you in the park. Relax, have a snack, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings while your kids burn some steam right before bedtime.
There is no fee to enter the arboretum, although the fee to park is rather steep ($16/car) so it’s worth looking into an annual pass if you plan to visit more than a few times.
4. Explore the Grove Park Inn
There are two gorgeous hotels in Asheville – the Biltmore Estate and the Grove Park Inn. You’ll need to pay a fee to visit the Biltmore (unless you’re a guest), but the Grove Park Inn is open for all to enjoy their various amenities!
Parking is free for the first 3 hours and it’s unlikely you’ll need more time unless you stay for dinner. The main lobby has two enormous stone fireplaces with rocking chairs in front for relaxing in front of the fire. If your kids aren’t fans of relaxing, you can take them to the hotel shop to check out the candy selection.
Outside on the patio, you’ll find an amazing view of Asheville. And down the steps, in front of the spa, is a lovely little waterfall. You don’t have to be a guest of the Grove Park to enjoy all that this hotel has to offer. But, as you may have already guessed, it’s also a great choice if you’re looking for a place to stay in Asheville!
5. Enjoy a Beer and a Burger Outside
We already mentioned a few of the awesome Asheville breweries above, but there are also other casual restaurants/bars with loads of outdoor seating. Many of them have high chairs available and since it’s picnic bench style seating outside, the waitstaff won’t mind if your little one tosses their dinner on the ground.
Our go-to child-friendly restaurant happens to serve the best tacos in the south! White Duck Taco Shop is arguably Asheville’s number one restaurant and a must-stop during any visit. Kids will love the picnic tables nestled right on the banks of the river and parents will love the savory Bangkok Shrimp tacos and refreshing sangria.
The Whale: a Craft Beer Collective is a hip bar located in West Asheville. As with our other recommendations, the outdoor picnic tables are great for kids and they’ll have plenty of space to run around (away from any street traffic). They don’t serve food but you can order something at Haywood Common right next door to enjoy with your ice-cold beer.
It’s a bit further out of downtown, but Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co is another great option for a sunny day lunch or dinner with the kids. As you probably guessed by the name, they serve up yummy pizza and beer. And if you have time, they also have a movie theater on-site so you can catch a flick after you eat!
6. Dine on Ice Cream
If you’ve followed our list, your kids are probably a little sick of watching their parents drink beer for their entire Asheville vacation and are ready for a different kind of treat. Good thing there are lots of delicious ice cream parlors around town to choose from!
The Hop Ice Creamery has several locations around town and is popular with kids and adults alike. In their pre-Covid days they offered more activities for kids but have put those on hold for safety reasons. We’re hoping they’ll start them up again in the coming months but until then you can still try their delicious concoctions like cardamom ice cream!
If you want a fun ambiance while dining on your sweet treat, there is an old-school soda fountain inside the Woolworth Walk that you must see for yourself! You can order old-fashioned ice cream favorites like shakes, malts, and floats while sitting on those iconic red and silver barstools. It’s great fun for the whole family!
7. Take a Hike
One of the best things about Asheville is all of the outdoor activities available if you’re the adventurous type. If you’re picnicking at the arboretum, there are lots of trails to explore in the Bent Creek area. But if you don’t mind driving a bit out of town, there are plenty of short, easily accessible hikes that your family can enjoy.
Looking Glass Falls is just a quarter-mile round trip and it’s one of the most popular waterfalls in all of North Carolina! The single-tiered waterfall is easily accessible from the road and can be visited any time of year. Moore Cove Falls is another gorgeous waterfall right nearby but the hike to get there is longer.
Triple Falls in DuPont State Forest is a 1-mile roundtrip trek that takes you to 3 scenic waterfalls. The trail follows Little River through the forest so you’ll have lovely views the whole way. Be careful when you reach the falls, the rocks get really slippery! Hooker Falls is also located in DuPont State Forest and it’s just .6 miles roundtrip. Bring your suit if the weather is nice as there is a great swimming hole below the falls!
8. Go Fruit and Veggie Picking
Ten Acre Garden is located just 30 minutes outside of Asheville and is a great place to get out in nature with your kids. Ten Acre has been using organic and environmentally friendly farming techniques for 60 years. They sell their produce and flowers and also have CSAs (community-supported agriculture) and U-pick fruits and vegetables.
Check their website to see what fruits and vegetables are in season during your visit and get your kids to work! You can pick some organic veggies to make a home-cooked meal at your Airbnb later in the evening. Or, better, yet, visit Ten Acre Garden on a Saturday and enjoy one of their delicious wood-fired pizzas!
9. Enjoy the Botanical Gardens
Another great place to get out and do some nature walks with your kids is the Botanical Gardens at Asheville. The trails are well maintained and provide a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown Asheville.
And to make the Botanical Gardens even more interesting for your kids, they offer a free Investigation Passport that focuses on animals, birds, insects, nature words, and plants. So your whole family can hone your observation skills to spot different things along your walk. It’ll keep them entertained while you enjoy the spectacular gardens!
10. Play Indoors at the Mountain Play Lodge
The Mountain Play Lodge is a fun indoor play area filled with equipment to help kids of all ages get their wiggles out. Here you’ll find a miniature city of Asheville that consists of a “baby Biltmore”, a police station, and a doctors office for a little taste of life in the real world. Plus there are jungle gyms, slides, and a variety of soft items to safely climb.
The play floor is padded so you can rest assured that your little one will be okay, even if they take a little tumble. Just be sure that everyone in your party is wearing socks – they are a must!
The open play admission at the Mountain Play Lodge is $15 for children aged 3-12 and $10 for 2 and under. Adults are free! Hours are currently limited to Thursday and Friday from 9am until 12pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 12pm until 6pm. This is also a great place for a special birthday party or event for your little one and their friends!
11. Hit the Hands On! Children’s Museum
While the Hands On! Children’s Museum isn’t located in Asheville, it’s right nearby in the town of Hendersonville and is most certainly worth the 30-minute trip to visit. Here you’ll find interactive exhibits so your kids can have hands-on learning experiences while they play.
The museum exhibits include a giant lightbright, a kids-sized grocery store, a playground with giant foam blocks, an ice cream parlor, a sound zone, and even an 850 square-foot indoor mountain and waterfall! Your kids can run around to the various exhibits and start playing with anything that interests them. All of their senses will be stimulated while they get some of that seemingly endless energy out.
During the summer Hands On! is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00am until 5:00pm and they are closed on Sundays.
12. And The Children’s Museum of the Upstate
If you don’t mind making a drive to find entertaining things for your kids to do, then The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is another great option! They have locations in Spartanburg and Greenville, both towns are about an hour and 15 minutes from Asheville.
The Greenville location is larger with multiple exhibits and is suitable for kids of all ages. The Spartanburg location is a great option for kids aged 5 and younger. Both offer hands-on exhibitions that encourage sensory exploration and learning during play.
If you visit with a toddler there are plenty of exhibits to keep them entertained. There’s a farm, a teddy bear clinic, a Publix Market, and a construction zone that are designed especially for busy toddlers. There are also specific storytimes throughout the week to keep kids engaged.
The locations have different opening hours, admission fees, and booking regulations so check the website prior to planning your visit.
13. Go Adventuring at We Rock the Spectrum
If you think your kids may be too old for the children’s museums listed above, then We Rock the Spectrum is a great option to check out during your trip to Asheville! And their inclusive philosophy and uniquely designed sensory equipment means that it’s also ideal if your children have sensory processing disorders and/or special needs.
We Rock the Spectrum offers Open Play daily which allows children full use of the gym (with your supervision of course). The equipment is sensory-safe and is designed to exercise and stimulate the senses through positive physical, emotional, and social development. Activities for kids include a zip line, crash pit, trampoline, tunnel, swings, an arts and crafts area, and multiple climbing structures.
Gym hours are Monday through Sunday from 9:00am until 7:00pm. Check their schedule of events for different class offerings and note that this is a great option for your child’s birthday party as well!
14. Learn Something New at the Asheville Museum of Science
The Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS) is a small museum that has a wonderful gems and minerals exhibit and a Teratophoneus Curriei dinosaur skeleton! Older kids that have an interest in geology and fossils will love this interactive museum and their large gift shop.
If you’re living in or around Asheville, check out the AMOS calendar of events. The Little Explorers Club is a FREE in-house, educator-led pre-school program for kids aged 3-7 on the first and third Friday of each month.
You’ll need to reserve a timeslot on their website to visit. The admission price is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for kids aged 3 and older, and free for kids 2 and under.
15. See a Movie in the Park in Hendersonville
If you’re looking for a fun (and free!) outdoor activity for your kids and don’t mind driving 30 minutes to Hendersonville, then check out the Movies in the Park schedule! Movies start around 8pm and are projected on a big screen. They offer cider for purchase and an onsite food truck in case you get peckish. Just bring a chair or blanket and get comfy on the grass.
Be sure to check the movie schedule as some aren’t totally appropriate for little ones.
We hope your family has a wonderful time exploring Asheville together!
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