Asheville's Best Attractions: Adventure and Intrigue Abound in This Small Mountain Town

While few could argue with the Biltmore Estate’s power to lure thousands of visitors to Asheville each year, it’s by no means the area’s only major attraction.

If, for instance, you've spent a day or two marveling at the Biltmore grounds but can't get enough of landscape design, stop by the North Carolina Arboretum and browse 60 acres of additional terrain, along with bonsai specimens and a superb azalea collection. More gardens are on view at the Smith McDowell House Museum, along with the structure that's considered the city's oldest home. The three-story brick residence, now restored, features beautifully crafted woodwork and period furnishings. If you've got kids along, make a point to visit Pack Place, an educational complex with a museum devoted to rocks, gems, and earth science.

Adventurists will want to check out the expansive, sky-high zipline tours offered by Navitat Canopy Adventures, which now offers the longest and some of the highest ziplines in the Southeast. Raft enthusiasts will want to explore Asheville area rivers, especially the nearby French Broad River where local raft companies can take novices and experts on thrilling tours. Finally, don’t forget to explore downtown on LaZoom Comedy Tour or munch your way through a tour of French Broad Chocolate Factory. The excitement and the intrigue spill far beyond Biltmore’s gates, as you’ll soon see.

French Broad Rafting
Photo courtesy of Photo by: All Terrain Images


A close proximity to the French Broad River, Nantahala River and Nolichucky River has made Asheville one of the country's most sought-after destinations for whitewater-rafting enthusiasts. With a good mix of calm water floats, which are ideal...  Read More

French Broad Chocolate Factory & Tasting Room
Photo courtesy of Photo by: French Broad Chocolate Factory


After the extraordinary success of French Broad Chocolate Lounge, which owners Jael and Dan Rattigan opened in 2006, it hardly seems surprising to watch this delicious empire grow even further. Located downtown on Buxton Avenue, this unique...  Read More

River Arts District
Photo courtesy of


A unique collection of working artist studios, art galleries, shops, restaurants and venues, the River Arts District is several city blocks of local culture. Providing the opportunity to peek in on artists as they work, peruse their finished...  Read More

Chimney Rock Park
Photo courtesy of Kristen Manieri


Chimney Rock Park has as its centerpiece a monolithic, jutting rock that rises 315 feet above the ground and affords astounding views of the surrounding terrain. Climb it (or take the elevator up) and then experience the rest of the beauty and...  Read More

LaZoom Comedy Tours


You'll definitely feel like a tourist on board the LaZoom Comedy Tour but it's a great opportunity to learn about the area's culture, history and architecture in a way that's far from boring. This open-air purple bus departs on four different...  Read More

Asheville Treetop Adventure Park
Photo courtesy of Kristen Manieri


Located just a few minutes from downtown Asheville, this convenient attraction offers a multitude of daring diversions, including ziplining, mountain biking and treetop adventure trails that give participants as young as four the chance to...  Read More

Navitat Canopy Adventures
Photo courtesy of Navitat Canopy Adventures


Located about 30 minutes north of Asheville in the tiny town of Barnardsville, Navitat Canopy Adventures has long been known for its three-and-a-half-hour guided adventure high above the Southern Appalachian forest. The original 80-acre aerial...  Read More

The North Carolina Arboretum
Photo courtesy of Kristen Manieri


Western North Carolina's beauty and Appalachian culture take the stage at this public garden, located near the Blue Ridge Parkway. More than 60 acres of the arboretum are expertly cultivated gardens that showcase a variety of flora, including...  Read More

Biltmore Area
Blue Ridge Parkway


It's not a destination – it's an experience. Considered "America's most scenic drive," the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway meanders through changing vistas of natural beauty, touching on stellar mountain views, hiking trails, and picnic campground...  Read More

Biltmore Area
Biltmore Estate
Photo courtesy of 3/09


Western North Carolina's beloved "castle on the hill" resides on an 8000-acre estate, complete with manicured gardens, woodlands, and an award-winning winery (the nation's most visited). Built in the late 19th-century by George Washington...  Read More


Meet Kristen Manieri

Kristen Manieri is a travel and food writer with extensive travel experience in the Asheville area. As a regular contributor to Virgin Atlantic, West Jet's UP!, Dreamscapes and Forbes Travel...  More About Kristen