Are you looking for what to do with a weekend in Asheville, North Carolina? We spent several days in this idyllic city nestled in the Appalachian mountains near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It was our first time in this part of the country and it was a great introduction to some of the beautiful things the Smokies have to offer. With 4 days in Asheville, you can hit a lot of places and I think we experienced some of the best things in Asheville. It was a blast and we wouldn’t hesitate to come back someday!
Here is what you can see and day with a weekend in Asheville:
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If you come to Asheville, you absolutely must do some hikes – there are so many options that looked fantastic. If you have a weekend in Asheville, you can absolutely fit in at least a few! We did three gorgeous hikes: Triple Falls, Craggy Pinnacle, and Bearwallow Mountain Trail.
Almost every hiking trail in Asheville is between 40-60 minutes outside of downtown, and depending on what side of Asheville you are staying on, it could be longer. This is just something to keep in mind as you are planning your time.
Triple Falls is located in DuPont State Park, southwest of Asheville. DuPont is known for having lots of hikes with waterfalls! As the name implies, Triple Falls is a forested hike alongside a river that features three different waterfall areas. The three falls are spread out along the hike, which is 3 miles round trip.
At the beginning, there is a little jut-off from the trail where you can go down to the water and play on the rocks. The rocky bank is actually pretty wide and you can easily walk along and get a really great view of the first waterfall and explore near the base.
However, to get to the top you’ll have to turn around and come back to meet the trail again, as there is no connecting point by the falls. Instead, head a bit farther up the trail (it is a little steep here) and then down a set of stairs to get to the viewpoint right by the falls. It’s a beautiful spot. If you’re up for more, another mile or so will bring you to a bridge and the highest falls.
I was so excited for this hike! The trailhead starts high up on the mountain after driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway (gorgeous). Once you get to the parking lot, it’s just a short (15-20 minute) hike, you end up at the very top of the mountain with 360 views and a gorgeous view of the sunset.
Well… we would have had those views if clouds and fog hadn’t rolled in right as we got to the top. Waaa! It was still a really cool hike and the glimpse of views we got were incredible. There are some rocks to climb on and some really interesting plants on the trail. The hike is full of twisted rhododendron, a knobby type of tree that lines the trail. If you can get a clear sky, definitely come up here for sunset. The trail is 1 mile round trip.
This 2 mile round trip trail starts in a forest and switchbacks 10-15 times up this mountain. This was probably the most difficult hike, but it was a really pretty trail, too. At the top, you reach a large meadow with close to 360 views! One thing I loved was that you can see several mountain ridges in the distance. There is plenty of space to spread out and have a picnic while looking out over the valley. There are also cows grazing nearby – kind of a fun, country quaint thing! But… do watch out for cow pies.
The drive up was pretty standard until the last few miles – you are on a pretty narrow, gravel road, so be aware!
Tip: This crazy road is if you approach from the east. There is a westward approach that is paved the whole way.
We found two different walking tour maps for downtown Asheville – the Urban Trail and the Architectural Trail. We hit up a few spots on the Urban Trail. The flat iron building, and the iron sculpture next to it were highlights. The Basilica of Saint Lawrence is a must-see as well! There were still some fun spots to see though!
Another fantastic option is a guided walking tour instead – there are a lot of interesting, historical buildings and it’s fun to hear the stories from a local!
Two fun places to stop in are Rocket Fizz, a candy store with a variety of more eclectic and international candy, as well as bulk “standard” candy. They also had a very large selection of unique sodas and soda flavors!
Stop by Old Europe Pastries for some desserts. Candy and desserts — you know, just the essentials 😉
Biltmore Estate – A Must Do During Your Weekend in Asheville
Of course, the absolute must-do during your weekend in Asheville is the Biltmore Estate! It was built and owned by the Vanderbilt family and is now open for tours.
Biltmore is located just 15 minutes from downtown Asheville – it’s really close!
Tickets are a bit expensive – an adult ticket starts at $64 and can often be more. Children ages 10-16 are half price, and kids under 10 are free. Ticket price includes parking, the estate and grounds, and Antler Hill Village.
While the price is high, we feel that it was worth the cost because A. Everything was very cool and the attention to detail was high and B. There’s just not a lot of places like Biltmore in the United States – you can find tons of places like this in Europe, but not here.
The sprawling grounds and amazing landscaping, the massive estate, the fact that every surface seems to be embellished in some way – it really transported you to another place.
When you buy your ticket, you have to choose a specific time slot. This time is for entry to the estate, but you can visit the village, the grounds, or the cafes before or after that time whenever you want that day.
Parking: Parking is included in your ticket price. If you get to Biltmore earlier in the day, you are able to get into a parking lot within a 5 minute walk to the estate. If you get there later and those lots are full, you will have to park farther away and take a shuttle to the estate.
The house is incredibly opulent and actually really fun to walk through. Our favorite rooms were the banquet room, the library (ugh, such a good library!), and the winter garden. We also loved practically everything in the basement – the multiple kitchens, the bowling alley, and the swimming pool were all somehow both quaint and over-the-top.
We spent just under two hours walking through the house. It’s a self-guided tour, so while you have to enter at a certain time, you can wander through the tour at your own pace.
If you have kids with you, ask for the kid’s treasure hunt booklet as you enter the house – there are things to look for in each room and our kids loved filling it out!
This isn’t just a simple garden. It’s a sprawling complex of amazing landscaping divided into different themes and featuring many different types of gardens – the Azalea Garden, the Shrub Garden, the Walled Garden, etc.
We particularly liked the Walled Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Conservatory! Definitely plan some time to wander around. There are also more bike and walking trails that go deeper into the estate grounds and down to a lake, if that is of interest to you.
Antler Hill Village
About 15 minutes from the house is a little “village” called Antler Hill Village. It was clearly designed as a tourist destination, but it is really cute! We stopped by the fountain and the cafes, then peaked into the model train display, the barn for craft demonstrations, the farmyard, and finally the playground.
Model Train Display
The train display had several trains going on different levels throughout the display, with probably 15 different train stations from important cities in the United States strategically placed throughout. Our kids loved exploring and noticing all the details (and so did we!). It was really fun.
The Barn Craft Demonstrations
This barnyard area was divided into sections – some had exhibits, or old farm machines on display, and some had demonstrations. There was a blacksmith demonstration, a woodworker, and a broom maker.
When we were there, only the blacksmith was in (it sounds like it is normal to only have some of the artisans there at once – or at least it was normal during Covid). The blacksmith shop was legit! There were tons of tools and equipment and iron parts that he was working on – and from what the blacksmith said, it sounds like he does actual, real work for the Biltmore estate, as well as making craft pieces. While he was talking, he was heating up and working on an old horseshoe.
The whole thing was very authentic – not just telling about old blacksmiths, but actually showing what it was like by doing the whole process while we watched. The kids were entranced (he was great at engaging the kids) and we spent a long time here.
The farmyard was a small petting zoo. There were a few horses out to pasture nearby. We spent about 10 minutes here. The kids were less interested in the chickens and goats and more interested in heading to the playground nearby.
However, possibly the MOST exciting thing from the Biltmore estate was while driving up to the house. There’s a 10 minute drive between the entrance and the parking lot through the woods, and we saw a BEAR! He ambled out right by our car!
All told, we spent 6 hours on the estate between the house, the gardens, and Antler Hill Village. We ate in the car between the estate and the village, but if we had eaten in one of the many Biltmore restaurants, it could easily have been 7+ hours. Picnicking on the grounds is not allowed.
Overall, the Biltmore estate was a HUGE hit with both the kids and adults. It was easily the highlight of our weekend in Asheville!
Blue Ridge Parkway
The parkway is an absolutely stunning drive – you definitely need to do this sometime during your weekend in Asheville. The length we drove hugged the mountain on one side and had views over the valleys, with mountain ridges in the background. It truly was spectacular.
There were many spots that you could stop and pull off at. We drove this on the way up to Craggy Pinnacle hike. There are several hikes off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but if you are not doing one of those hikes, it is still absolutely worth driving the parkway just for the views.
Where to Stay During Your Weekend in Asheville
There are a lot of really beautiful accommodations with views over the mountain ridges. If you, like us, have a large group, then this spacious cabin in the mountains is the way to go. There are wrap around porches with stunning mountain views, a little waterfall on the property, and a hot tub to soak in at night, plus large gathering areas inside.
If you have a single family or a small group, then I highly recommend this super cute modern farmhouse. The inside is updated and really charming, and the outside has – again – that wraparound porch and the mountain views – *chef’s kiss*
If you prefer to stay in the middle of the action in downtown Asheville, I recommend this modern, updated hotel convenient to a lot of downtown locations. Plus, you can enjoy the mountain views from the rooftop pool and gardens!
Asheville has its own airport, but the airports at Greenville, SC; Knoxville, TN; and Charlotte, NC are all within a 1-2 hour drive of Asheville.
If you are flying in, a rental car is an absolute must. While there are city buses, there is no public transportation option that will take you to all the hiking spots, and because a lot of them are far outside the city, Ubers would be very expensive.
A Weekend in Asheville: Final Thoughts
I couldn’t believe how much I loved our time in Asheville! The views were stunning, the trails were plentiful, and Biltmore was such a fun experience for everyone. I would love to come back again someday and explore more of this varied city!