If you’re planning to visit Asheville with kids, you’ve come to the right place. Read along for lots of info and planning tips!
Asheville, North Carolina, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is probably best known for the Biltmore Estate. The beautiful mansion and grounds are reminiscent of the splendor of the Gilded Age and are not to be missed, but there is so much more to the eclectic North Carolina town.
The surrounding mountainous landscapes and funky, beer-loving, food-centric downtown are more than enough to keep you busy and offer plenty of reasons to keep coming back. While all of this may not sound like a vacation spot for children, I can show you how to spend a wonderful 48 hours in Asheville with kids (and never even visit the Biltmore).
I absolutely love the Biltmore, but growing up within a half day’s drive, we have visited a lot over the years. So, this trip was all about the mountains and the town of Asheville itself.
While on maternity/paternity leave after our son’s birth, we decided to make a weekend trip to escape the sweltering summer heat of Nashville. Anyone in the South can appreciate that an average high of 84 degrees with about 45% humidity can be blissful in August. The thought of walking outside in August and not immediately needing to re-shower was reason enough for me want to go.
Looking for other North Carolina ideas? Check out this post on visiting Highlands, North Carolina.
Where to Stay in Asheville with Kids
Asheville has more than enough hotels to choose from, but for us we’d much rather stay at a small inn or a unique hotel. There are multitudes of bed and breakfasts or small inns in Asheville, but, unfortunately, many aren’t exactly toddler friendly.
Luckily for us, the Sweet Biscuit Inn is not only kid friendly, but also a fantastic B&B. This seven bedroom bed and breakfast in the Kenilworth area is only one and a half miles from downtown Asheville. The 1915 revival home boasts a library, 11 foot ceilings, and a huge porch made for relaxing afternoons.
The German born hosts, Christian and Claudia, fell in love with the area while visiting to enroll their son in a nearby university. It didn’t take long for them to find the inn, buy the business, and make the move to Asheville. They are wonderful hosts, offering a lot of great information about the area.
Claudia starts your day with a delicious three course breakfast that changes daily. Even though she spent quite a bit of time making the gourmet meal, she was always so sweet to alter our daughter’s breakfast to accommodate “toddler dietary restrictions”.
We stayed in the Bird Song Suite, complete with a living area and bathroom with a clawfoot tub. The large king bedroom is filled with sunlight in the mornings. The living area, stocked with games and children’s toys, has a small refrigerator and a daybed with a trundle. Even with our pack and play, there was still plenty of room to move about. It was the perfect space for our weekend in Asheville with the kids.
The large, shaded lawn makes for the ideal place to spend the afternoons. Our daughter loved the tree swing and the small playground area. It was so nice to have a place to play and enjoy some downtime while little man napped in the room. Had we stayed in a hotel, we would’ve been stuck sitting there in the dark while he slept.
Christian and Claudia were so gracious and understanding with our kids, but I would highly recommend staying at the Sweet Biscuit Inn, whether or not you are traveling with children.
Day One Itinerary
Beer tasting and playtime
Start your weekend at New Belgium Brewery. Since we got to Asheville midmorning, we decided to kick off the weekend with a beer tasting. We went straight for the New Belgium Brewery located right off the French Broad River.
The industrial tasting room, complete with a bar and several tables, has more than enough beers on tap to please any beer-lover. The large windows overlooking the outdoor patio allow views of the river while playing ping pong. They offer a 90 minute brewery tour to “kids of all ages”, which we decided to skip. Out on the large lawn the kids can run around and play while you relax in the Adirondack chairs. There are picnic tables and a food truck, but outside food is also allowed. Address: 21 Craven Street
Lunch at Wicked Weed Pub. This funky gastropub is a great place in downtown Asheville to grab lunch. They have a great patio and 16 beers on tap, all of which they brew. We both ordered a tasting flight, each choosing different ones, so we could sample a large variety. Their menu is varied, complete with kids options as well. We split the burger, and I’d highly recommend it. Address: 91 Biltmore Avenue
Spend the afternoon hiking
Spend the afternoon at skinny dip falls. Take the 60 minute scenic drive along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway to mile marker 417. There you will find a parking lot, and directly across the road is a sign for the Mountains to Sea Trail. After following the trail for 0.75 miles of fairly easy walking, you will come to a bench and a staircase leading down to the falls.
To the right, there are plenty of shallow spots for older toddlers to splash around in the water among the rocks. The falls, to your left, cascade into a six foot deep swimming hole, perfect for jumping in. We stayed for quite a while, letting our daughter play around in the water. Address: mile marker 417 on Blue Ridge Parkways
After getting back to your car, make sure to catch a view of Looking Glass Falls from the overlook. We planned to drive back into town and get ready for dinner out. Unfortunately, as we took off down the road, a bee, which had somehow made its way into our daughter’s carseat, stung her.
After driving for a few minutes to find a pull off, we were able to calm her down. She kept saying her throat hurt, which terrified me that she was having an allergic reaction. Then she got sick, either from the pain or riding the curvy roads. Needless to say, the drive didn’t take us nearly as long getting back into town. Once we got back and everyone feeling better, we decided to find a low key spot for dinner.
Bhramari Brewing Company is where we landed. It is a great spot located behind the Orange Peel. The fairly large patio area had corn hole and several tables for outdoor dining. Everything on the menu has a beer element to it, and the brewer has experience as a chef so they can recommend some great pairings for you. The menu isn’t exactly kid-friendly, but they were more than willing to accommodate our little ones. Address: 101 Lexington Ave
Day Two Itinerary
Explore Craggy Gardens
After a delicious breakfast, head out for a another drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to hike at Craggy Gardens. The drive to mile marker 364 will take you about an hour, bringing you right to the visitors center where you can park your car. Inside, they sell children’s binoculars, an inexpensive treat for being good during a fairly long car ride.
This high elevation hike starts off in a lush green but rocky forest, quickly coming to a picnic pavilion. This would be a perfect stop for a lunch stop if you come later in the day, or want to linger around afterward. Continuing after the pavilion, the trail opens up into grassy meadows with wildflowers and knobby trees. The trail ends at an overlook with views over the surrounding valleys. In the summer, there are wild blueberries everywhere. The entire hike, roundtrip, is just shy of two miles.
Address: mile marker 364 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Lunch and Playtime
All of that hiking will leave you hungry for some lunch. Make your way back into town and go to Sierra Nevada Brewery for lunch and afternoon fun. This was one of the nicest breweries we’ve been to. We weren’t sure whether we would like it because it is much more commercialized than we usually go for, but once we saw the grounds, we knew it was worth the trip. There is a huge indoor dining area, but you can also ask to sit on the back patio for a more casual lunch menu. The choices are mostly small plates meant for sharing. We ordered a few, along with a couple of beer flights. Surprisingly, the food was delicious.
The best part is the outdoor space. Make sure to go on a sunny day, so you can take full advantage of it. There is an outdoor amphitheater, of which the steps and seating area kept our toddler entertained for at least 30 minutes. There is also a fairly large sandbox with a few toys for children to play in while you relax. Address: 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River, NC
After a fun-filled morning, head back for naps and downtime. Our daughter had napped on and off in the car all morning, so she opted to play outside on the beautiful grounds at our B&B. Staying in such small place gave us the freedom to put the little one down for a nap, while we sat on the porch and let our daughter play.
Dinner and Dessert
Once everyone is recharged, make your way over to the River Arts District, where you can check out lots of great shops and art studios. There are a few restaurants in the area, but we weren’t starving by any means. So, we decided to try The Bull & Beggar. This is definitely not somewhere we would take our kids at 7pm (reservations are recommended). Luckily for us, it was only 5pm and no one else was there, as they had just opened.
We decided to take a chance, and they graciously welcomed our children. We opted to split a few appetizers, knowing we might not have enough patience for a full meal here with a toddler. Everything was delicious. This would be a great place for a date night, but we were definitely able to make it work as a young family.
Address: 37 Paynes Way
Now, we all know that the best way to get good behavior out of an almost three year old is bribery…whether or not we like to admit it. The entire time we were eating at “the nice restaurant” we kept promising our daughter a treat if she used her manners and was on her best behavior. We secretly knew all along, that we’d be making the trip to The French Broad Chocolate Lounge. This is the place for sweets and treats in Downtown Asheville.
Often, as it was in our case, there is a line out the door. Don’t let it deter you. Once inside, you will be overwhelmed with options ranging from housemade ice cream to artisan truffles. There are cakes, brownies, cookies, and multiple options for drinking chocolates. It is more than enough to make every sugar lover’s eyes bulge in excitement. Address: 10 South Pack Square
Day Three Itinerary
Flowers and Butterflies
Before leaving town and getting back on the road, make sure to stop at the Asheville Botanical Gardens. Entrance to the 10 acre gardens is free. There are multiple species of native plants and butterflies everywhere. Inside the visitors center, there are investigation passports for kids. These are meant to help guide the children and provide a fun way for them to explore. There are five different options to choose from, each focusing on plants, bird, insects, animals, or nature words. Our toddler was a little young to understand it, but she still enjoyed trying to find the bugs mentioned in her passport.
One of the best parts of the Asheville Botanical gardens is the creek running behind it. After climbing down a small hill, you can access the shallow waters. It is a great spot for young toddlers to play in the water and splash around. There are more than enough rocks to throw for hours of fun. Just make sure to have a dry change of clothes in case of a fall. Address: 151 West T. Weaver Blvd
I hope you enjoy your weekend trip to Asheville with your kids. Let us know what you think!