Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina, is a vibrant city known for its art, culture, and beautiful natural surroundings. With breathtaking landscapes and diverse attractions, day trips from Asheville offer adventure-seekers and travelers a chance to explore the rich history, nature, and beauty of Western North Carolina within a 2-hour drive.
From relaxing strolls along Lake Junaluska to challenging hikes to summits like Max Patch, with its 4,600-ft. elevation offering stunning 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are day trip options for every type of traveler.
Additionally, Asheville’s proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park allows visitors to venture into some of the most beautiful and diverse outdoor landscapes in the eastern United States.
Whether embarking on a family getaway or a solo journey, these day trips will enhance your Asheville experience by providing unforgettable adventures and indelible memories of North Carolina’s captivating beauty. So pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready to explore the wonders waiting just beyond Asheville’s city limits.
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Day Trips for Nature Lovers
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a spectacular scenic drive that stretches for 469 miles through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. This beloved road trip offers breathtaking vistas, stunning picnic spots, and access to some great hiking trails. Here are a few highlights along the way:
- Craggy Gardens: A popular attraction with beautiful rhododendron blooms in late spring/early summer.
- Linn Cove Viaduct: An awe-inspiring engineering feat that curves around Grandfather Mountain.
Asheville is surrounded by a myriad of picturesque waterfalls in nearby National and State Parks. Some of the most popular include:
- Catawba Falls: A family-friendly 1.5-mile trail in the Pisgah National Forest leads to this enchanting waterfall.
- Sliding Rock: A naturally occurring waterslide found in Pisgah National Forest, perfect for a thrilling summer day.
- Triple Falls: Three majestic cascades within Dupont State Recreational Forest provide a moderate hike with rewarding views.
Hiking trails abound in the Asheville area. Here are some of the best options for nature enthusiasts:
- Rough Ridge: A moderate hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
- Appalachian Trail: Extending from Georgia to Maine, the famous Appalachian Trail boasts stunning sections in Western North Carolina.
- Art Loeb Trail: This 30-mile trail traverses the Pisgah National Forest, showcasing the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
National and State Parks
There are several National and State Parks within a short distance of Asheville, providing a variety of outdoor activities:
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Explore over 800 square miles of mountainous terrain, whether you want a leisurely scenic drive or a challenging hike.
- Pisgah National Forest: This enormous park offers countless recreation options, such as hiking, fishing, and camping.
- Nantahala National Forest: Known for diverse landscapes, this expansive area provides opportunities for biking, fishing, and camping.
By experiencing these remarkable day trips from Asheville, nature lovers can create lasting memories in the pristine landscapes of North Carolina.
See Related: Best Bus Tours From Columbia, South Carolina
Must-Visit Small Towns Near Asheville
Black Mountain is a charming small town, located about 20 minutes east of Asheville. Nestled in the shadows of the Seven Sisters mountain range, it offers various hiking trails and a picturesque downtown area. As you stroll down the main street, don’t forget to visit Town Hardware and the quaint Sassafras store.
A 40-minute drive from Asheville, Lake Lure is a beautiful destination known for its stunning lake and surrounding hills. In this cozy town, you can take a day trip to try water activities, hike on surrounding trails, or just relax and enjoy the breathtaking vistas. The area also features vacation cabins for weekend getaways.
Chimney Rock Village
Chimney Rock Village, around 45 minutes from Asheville, is home to the famous Chimney Rock State Park. Visitors can hike to the remarkable Chimney Rock and take advantage of various trails with different difficulty levels. The charming village offers delightful shops, restaurants, and activities for the whole family.
Weaverville is a quaint town just 15 minutes north of Asheville. Visitors can enjoy the scenic drive to Weaverville by taking the Blue Ridge Parkway. The town is known for its artistic community, local bakeries, and antique shops. Don’t miss the picturesque Main Street, where you can grab a cup of coffee and explore the vibrant art scene.
Located about 30 minutes north of Asheville, Marshall is a lovely riverside town that offers a picturesque setting for day trips. The town is steeped in history, which is evident through its beautifully preserved historic district. Visitors can explore nature by accessing nearby hiking trails or enjoy a scenic walk along the French Broad River.
Historical Day Trips
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, located in Flat Rock, about 30 miles from Asheville, is a beautiful historical property that was once home to the famous American poet and writer, Carl Sandburg. Here, you can explore the 264-acre property, including the Sandburg’s former residence, where you’ll discover his extensive collection of books, and the working goat farm that his wife, Lilian, maintained. The site offers guided tours and features several trails for hiking and enjoying the surrounding scenery.
Historical Sites and Landmarks
There’s no shortage of history in Asheville and the surrounding areas. Here are some prime locations to visit on your historical day trip:
- Biltmore Estate: Just a few miles from downtown Asheville, the Biltmore Estate stands as America’s largest privately-owned home. Built between 1889 and 1895 by George W. Vanderbilt, this impressive 250-room château is a must-visit attraction. Experience its stunning architecture and fascinating history through a self-guided tour.
- Thomas Wolfe Memorial: In downtown Asheville, you can visit the childhood home of American author Thomas Wolfe. The preserved boarding house, now a museum, offers a glimpse into the early 20th-century life and showcases Wolfe’s literary contributions.
- Cherokee Heritage: Embark on a day trip to the nearby town of Cherokee, where you can immerse yourself in Native American history at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Oconaluftee Indian Village, and the “Unto These Hills” outdoor drama (available during summer months).
A day trip to explore the rich history surrounding Asheville, North Carolina, is both enjoyable and educational. From the serene landscapes of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site to the awe-inspiring Biltmore Estate, there’s plenty to discover and appreciate.
Cultural and Artistic Adventures
Asheville Art Scene
Asheville, North Carolina, is a vibrant city known for its art scene, making it an ideal destination for creative day trips. The city boasts numerous art galleries, studios, and museums. For example, the River Arts District offers over 200 artists showcasing their work in several converted studio spaces. Visitors can explore this area on foot, stopping by various studios to observe artists at work and purchase unique pieces.
Another must-visit destination is the Asheville Art Museum, which houses a diverse collection of American art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum offers both permanent and rotating exhibitions, as well as educational programs and events.
Craft Beer and Breweries
Asheville’s craft beer scene is another big attraction for day-trippers. The city has been dubbed “Beer City USA” due to its high concentration of craft breweries. There are over 30 breweries in the area, offering a variety of styles and flavors to suit any taste. Some notable establishments include:
- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company: Known for their sustainable brewing practices, Sierra Nevada offers tours and tastings at their state-of-the-art facility.
- Highland Brewing Company: As Asheville’s first brewery, Highland Brewing offers unique beers and seasonal releases in a lively atmosphere.
- New Belgium Brewing Company: With a strong focus on environmental sustainability, New Belgium is a must-visit for craft beer enthusiasts.
For a more immersive experience, consider joining an Asheville brewery tour. These guided tours often include transportation, tastings, and the opportunity to learn about the brewing process and the history of Asheville’s craft beer scene.
In summary, Asheville offers a wealth of cultural and artistic adventures for day-trippers. From exploring the art scene to sampling craft beer, there is something for everyone in this beautiful North Carolina city.
Asheville, North Carolina, offers a plethora of outdoor activities for those looking for a day trip adventure. In this section, we’ll cover horseback riding, biking trails, and camping opportunities in the area.
Explore the beautiful landscapes of North Carolina on horseback by embarking on a day trip from Asheville. Some popular destinations for horseback riding include:
- Lake Lure: Known for its picturesque views, Lake Lure offers guided horseback riding tours through the surrounding forests and along the shoreline.
- Chimney Rock: Take a ride through the scenic Hickory Nut Gorge and enjoy the breathtaking views of Chimney Rock State Park. Guided tours are available for all experience levels.
Biking enthusiasts can find numerous trails in and around Asheville, suitable for all skill levels. Some of the most notable biking trails are:
- Blue Ridge Parkway: This iconic stretch offers