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Here is a list of the top 10 FREE things to do in Asheville to help you fully enjoy your trip. Asheville is home to many beautiful outdoor places so lace up your hiking boots and let’s go!
Some of the most breathtaking sights in the United States can be found driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are also plenty of spots to park and have a picnic with amazing views. Check out these 15 tips for enjoying the Blue Ridge Parkway to its fullest.
This is one of the prettiest water falls in all of the Asheville areas. It is actually on private property but the owner is a kind soul and lets people visit for free. Please respect his privacy though and visit during daylight hours and don’t let pets run wild.
Asheville is home to a ton of water falls including the above mentioned Eastatoe Falls. Here is a list of the top 50 waterfalls in the Asheville area. Take some time out of your day and plan to go on a waterfall hunt! Let everyone in the group pick a couple off their favorites and then go exploring for them.
This 1.7 mile self guided journey through Asheville’s downtown streets will reveal a whole other side Asheville you didn’t know existed. The tour was created by the city of Asheville in order to show off more public art and now encompasses a lot of Asheville’s history as well.
The Botanical Gardens of Asheville is simply amazing. It is 2 miles from downtown and has over 600 species of plants! It would be silly to come all the way to Asheville and not check out this place!
In downtown Asheville, more specifically Pack Square Park on August 9, 16, 23, and 30 the Shindig on the Green happens! This is a FREE mountain bluegrass music and dance festival were everybody comes out for a great time from 7 pm to 10 pm. Enjoy some homemade bluegrass from artists all around western North Carolina.
This is a popular hiking spot that is great for all ages. It got its name from tree stumps that resembled grave stones. Along the way you might even run into a couple of waterfalls!
This is a wonderful place to stop thanks to its amazing view. The Fryingpan Tower was built by the United States Forest Service in 1941 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The tower is very easy to access through a quick hike!
Located in West Asheville this is a great place to explore and see the local talent. There are over 185 artists in 25 buildings! Some artists will even show you how they create their art. On the second Saturday of the month there are a ton of fun art demonstrations so come out if you happen to be there!
This wonderful valley located in the Great Smokey Mountain’s National park is home to elk! 25 elk were released into the valley in 2001 and now their are over 120 of them! There are also 5 historic buildings located in the valley as well. The best time to see the elk is either in the early morning or the late evening.
11. Explore Downtown
Downtown Asheville is full of really cool shops and stores with all kinds of cool stuff around each corner! The Grove Arcade is a really neat old fashioned market place where all sorts of vendors sell boutique items and more! You don’t have to buy anything but you can check out cool items to your heart’s content.
If you’re there in the summertime, here’s your free ticket to some really cool fun! Asheville is not far from the best free swimming pools available.
This beautiful, old church was designed by the same architect as the Biltmore and is one of the few remaining basilicas in the US. You can take a tour there are get a brochure for a self-guided tour.
14. Craggy Gardens
This is perhaps one of the most dramatic views on the Blue Ridge Parkway as you view westward into Tennessee. The visitor’s center is a great place to eat a picnic before you hike up to the viewpoint. In the early summer, the rhododendrons begin blooming and cover the heights in gorgeous colors.
15. Film Locations
Believe it or not, Asheville and the surrounding area is one of the more popular places to film films. Movies like The Hunger Games, The Last of the Mohicans, Forrest Gump, The Fugitive, The Swan, and many more were filmed at different locations. While not all of those locations are free, many places in the DuPont National Forest or the Henry River Mill Village are.
16. Folk Art Center
This museum is a wonderful place to see folk art from all over the Southern Appalachians. The museum is free and so is parking! At certain times of the day, the Guild hosts live craft demonstrations. This is a great chance to show your children the culture and arts of the Appalachians.
The North Carolina Arboretum is a 434-acre public garden. There are even 10+ miles of hiking or biking trails that are pet-friendly and have a range of skill levels. There are so many different sights to see at the Arboretum and admission is free (but you do need to pay for parking).
If Shakespeare is your thing, try out the The Montford Park Players in Asheville is North Carolina’s longest running Shakespeare Festival. Shows are free, but they pass a hat around at intermission for donations. It’s fun for the whole family and a great place for picnics!
For the rock and fossil enthusiasts in your family, this is the perfect place to visit! Admission is free and there are exhibits of all kinds of rocks, minerals, and even a massive T-Rex skull! It’s located in Hendersonville, just outside of Asheville.
Cold Mountain, made infamous by the book and the movie, is a very present reality in Asheville since it looms overhead and is very visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are multiple free opportunities to see this Appalachian beauty, from hikes to music festivals. Check out the webpage to find out more.
This 500,000 acre national forest is a wonderful place to find so many free activities from hiking and camping to fishing and hunting. This area has so much to offer!
Just over in Hendersonville is a really fun place to take your kids to find all kinds of gems! While you do have to pay for buckets of dirt to mine gems out of, there are plenty of attractions there that are free. They have a pen full of goats just begging to be petted and a really cool gift shop to look around.
Less than 35 miles south of Asheville lies the little town of Brevard, a wonderful town full of culture. Visit the town and browse its many art galleries to attend their arts festival or their White Squirrel Festival.
24. Drum Circle
Every Friday night, during the warmer months, Asheville’s downtown Pritchard Park becomes a huge open air session of drums from all over the town. You can join in or just watch or even dance!
Go back in time to the 1800s and visit some of the park’s coolest log buildings. Everything from old mills, churches, barns, and homes can be found in the park and offer some scenic drives or hikes to get to them.