After driving all the way out to the east coast from California in an RV to see our high-risk parents during the pandemic, we figured we’d spend some extra time with family. My sister and her family have been co-quarantining with my parents, so we knew it was safe to spend some extra time with them. We figured it was a perfect opportunity for a little family getaway to Asheville with kids.
We knew we wanted to pop down to some National Forest area, but wanted access to downtown, as well, for some great food. So we decided to rent an Airbnb with strict cleaning protocols together to explore some outside-focused activities.
Our Asheville trip was relaxing and active and perfect for spending a lot of time outside with kids – and a pup! My brother-in-law found a so many amazing options through his research that were kid-friendly and also dog-friendly (since they brought their beautiful husky along). We loved our time there and hope this info is helpful to you, too!
Things to Do In Asheville with Kids: Outside Activities
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Where We Stayed in Asheville with Kids
We stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb on the outskirts of town in Mars Hill. We really loved the home where we stayed – it was lovely, there was no one else around, and the scenery was top notch. Still, it wasn’t the most convenient to all the things to do in Asheville with kids. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly and pet-friendly home rental, it’s a great choice.
You can get $35 off your first Airbnb booking with this link!
What To Pack For a Family Trip to Asheville
Asheville weather varies quite a bit by season. For a summer visit that’s full of water play and hiking, here were some essentials for us:
- Kids hiking backpacks. Some of our very favorite hiking gear is especially important since Yosemite can get quite hot and dry. Especially when gaining elevation, it’s important to stay hydrated. These little backpacks are perfect so kids can sip away without needing to stop and take bottles in and out of backpacks.
- Layers. Definitely pack a jacket. We love these lightweight down jackets for adults and kids because they stay warm but are packable and thin. They’re a bit water resistant, but you’ll want something sturdier for heavy rains. It’s also nice to have a lightweight sweatshirt!
- Sturdy shoes. For water play, I recommend some sturdy hiking sandals (our favorites for adults, kids, and toddlers). Here’s another great post on picking the best water shoes. Otherwise, sneakers will work fine for the shorter hikes. I recommend hiking boots if you’re doing longer treks (our favorites for men, women, boys, girls, and toddlers).
Here’s our full essentials packing list for kids, or here’s our favorite hiking gear with kids!
Where to Eat in Asheville with Kids
Asheville has some fantastic food! We didn’t even scratch the surface of the places on our list but we hope you’re able to enjoy some of them, too!
- Tupelo Honey – an Asheville institution of Southern food, which has expanded to a few other locations
- Chai Pani – delicious Indian street food. I especially loved the kale pakoras!
- Baba Namh – Mediterranean
- The Blackbird – slightly more upscale Southern
- Mamacita’s Taqueria – Mexican cantina
- Gypsy Queen – Lebanese street food
- Asheville Sandwich Company – lots of sandwich and milkshake options, including several vegetarian varieties
- Laughing Seed Cafe – vegetarian with international influences
- Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian – Italian staples
- Wild Ginger Noodle Bar – Vietnamese
- Little Bee Thai – beloved food truck turned restaurant
- Hops Ice Cream Cafe – an Asheville classic dessert spot
Asheville Waterfall Hikes with Kids
These Asheville waterfall hikes were the highlight of our visit. We loved all of them and highly recommend finding some Asheville swimming holes if you visit during warm weather! Unfortunately, none of these hikes we found are wheelchair-accessible. If you find some great ones that are, please let me know!
Distance: 2.1 miles
Elevation: 305 ft
This is a gorgeous and short hike to a really beautiful waterfall. There’s a bit of mild elevation gain, but totally doable for even younger kiddos. The rocks at the falls are fun to climb but be careful because they can get slippery. There’s a nice little pool for wading at the bottom of the falls, too! The hike is about half an hour east of downtown Asheville and has a large parking area.
Note: the linked website says it’s 2.7 miles RT, while AllTrails says it’s 2.1 miles. Our mileage showed in line with the latter.
Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation: 187 ft
A very short hike with little elevation gain, you’ll be rewarded with lots of fun water play. There are several pool areas, with a smaller pool for younger kids to play. There’s a bridge going across the creek (hold onto little ones tight, especially since there’s only a railing on one side!) that will take you to a deeper pool.
On that side, we loved jumping off the rock into the pool (about 7-8 feet high), even though the water was freezing!! Our 9 and 7 year olds who are strong swimmers were fine jumping on their own. Our 5 year old is also a good swimmer and jumps off diving boards just fine. But this was high and different enough that he felt more comfortable jumping into my husband who was in the water, which worked fine. Even our 2 year old jumped off a smaller rock to his dad in the water!
It was raining when we went, so not many others were around. This one is very popular, though, and gets crowded on warm and sunny days (the parking lot was overflowing when we saw it the next day). About 45 minutes southwest of Asheville.
Distance: 2.9 miles
Elevation: 187 ft
This was possibly our favorite hike of the three we did. While the lower falls were crowded, we were the only ones at the upper falls for the majority of the time we were there. The kids loved sliding down the rocks (be very careful of the wet parts as they get extremely slick!), and we enjoyed splashing in the pools. The water is cold, so beware, but overall, it’s so fun and really beautiful. Just under an hour southwest of Asheville.
Don’t miss our favorite kids hiking gear!
Other Short Hikes Near Asheville with Kids
- Moore Cove Falls – 1.2 miles and 154 ft – serene and beautiful. About 45 minutes south of downtown Asheville.
- Rainbow Falls – 3.9 miles and 770 ft – stunning falls and beautiful views from Gorges State Park. About 1h15 south of downtown Asheville.
- Schoolhouse Falls – 2.6 miles in stunning Nantahala National Forest. About 1h15 south of downtown Asheville.
- Upper Creek Falls – 1.5 miles and just over 400 ft of elevation. Hike down first, then back up, with a rope swing and natural pool and waterslides to reward you. About 1h20 northeast of Asheville.
- Balsam Nature Trail to Mount Mitchell – 1 mile around the summit of the highest peak in the eastern mainland United States. About an hour southeast of Asheville.
- Craggy Gardens – 1.9 miles – high elevation forest with beautiful views and lots of wildflowers. About half an hour northeast of Asheville.
- Mt. Pisgah Trail – 2.3 miles of classic Blue Ridge Parkway views. Just over half an hour southwest of downtown Asheville.
Other Asheville Outdoor Activities
Asheville has so many wonderful, family-friendly outdoor activities! We spent 4 days there and are already itching to go back. Here are some other great options if hiking isn’t your thing!
- Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
- Head to Sliding Rock to slide down a huge natural waterslide!
- Do a zipline canopy adventure
- Go glamping
- Drive to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (about 2.5 hours)
- Drive to Congaree National Park (just under 3 hours)
- Do a ropes course
- Visit the North Carolina Arboretum
- Go kayaking or tubing
- Visit the Biltmore Gardens
- Go mountain biking
This post has tons of other outdoor activities in Asheville with kids!
IF YOU LIKED THIS POST ABOUT VISITING ASHEVILLE WITH KIDS, YOU MIGHT LIKE THESE POSTS TOO:
- 7 Tips for Enjoying Hiking with Kids
- Ultimate Guide to Yosemite with Kids
- 65+ Things to Do Outside with Kids at Home