Families will love visiting Asheville, whether they enjoy the outdoors, good food, or mountain culture. Here is a 3 day Asheville Itinerary with kids.
Tucked in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina, Asheville is a small, Southern city with an artsy vibe! Once a secluded retreat, the city has blown up in popularity as a travel destination in the past 10 years, leading to lots of new restaurants and a bustling downtown.
There are modern hotels and woodsy cabins depending on what experience you’re looking for, or several campgrounds to choose from. It’s within a half-day drive to the beach, Atlanta, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and Nashville, making it a great place to stop on a summer road trip around the South. Families will love visiting Asheville, whether they enjoy the outdoors, good food, or mountain culture. It’s hard to find a restaurant without a kid’s menu, and you can’t walk far downtown without seeing happy families (and dogs) strolling around!
Craft breweries are easy to find, and many cater to families with open grass space to run around and sometimes games or live music for kids to enjoy. Most attractions are spread out, so a car is recommended unless you plan on strictly staying downtown. Many downtown hotels have local shuttles, and you can hire tour guides to take hiking excursions with transportation. The local airport has connections to most major ones, or you can fly into Charlotte or Greenville and rent a car to drive over. If you’re visiting a local, ask them to check out free passes for local attractions from the library with a Zoom! pass.
If you want to extend your trip or brainstorm other options during your stay, check out this list of 40+ things to do in Asheville with kids, with local tips and lots of photos!
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3 Day Asheville Itinerary with kids
This itinerary was written with kids aged 4-13 in mind. If you’re visiting with little ones, I would add in one of the kid-friendly indoor playgrounds to get some energy out! If you’re visiting with older kids, I’d choose a harder hike and add in a visit to the bustling River Arts District where you can see artisans at work, book individual workshops or lessons, and see lots of colorful murals.
Day 1: Biltmore Estate
Start out big with a day exploring the famous Biltmore Estate! The Biltmore is a modern American castle, built in the late 1880s by George Vanderbilt and kept in the family ever since. Now a major tourist attraction, it is kid-friendly and has lots to do there! In addition to the activities below that are included in your ticket price, consider adding on a carriage ride, Segway tour, horseback ride, or another exciting excursion to make the visit feel special.
Buy your tickets ahead of time to save money and plan for almost an entire day. Touring the house with kids isn’t as nerve-wracking as it sounds since most valuables and art are blocked off from foot traffic. While you can just walk through and read signs as you go, it’s fun to upgrade with the kid-friendly audio tour that is narrated by Cedric, the famous family dog who used to live on the grounds.
After touring the house, plan on exploring the gardens. There is a formal greenhouse garden full of hothouse tropics, cacti, and jungle greenery. Grab a quick snack at the lunch cart, and eat on the patio there before heading out on the trails and exploring the formal rose garden!
Next, drive over to the Antler Hill Village area and get energy out on the Pisgah Playground. There is a sandbox, slides, swings, and teeter-totter all within a gated area that keeps little runners contained. Right nearby is the farmyard, where baby animals are available for petting, and friendly staff will tell you about the critters on display. Walk up into the craftsperson area to catch free demonstrations for blacksmithing, woodworking, or broom-making. Don’t forget to stop in the big barn and see what crafts they’re running for kids, or play with the old-time toys.
If you’ve road tripped and have bikes or scooters at your disposal, there are paved trails that connect here. It’s simple to head out and go exploring. Be sure to take a map with you, so you don’t get lost, or note where the shuttle stops are to take you back to your car!
Last, you can pop in for a meal at one of the casual restaurants, and then stop in at the Vanderbilt family exhibit. You can learn about their history and see interesting artifacts. If you want to unwind, check out the free wine tasting where kids get apple juice! If you are done for the day, exit the estate and hit up Sunny Point Cafe or Juicy Lucy’s. Both are nearby, family-friendly restaurants with a smaller price tag than Biltmore’s offerings.
Day 2: Go Hiking
You can’t get far in Asheville without seeing lush greenery and blooming flowers, but to really appreciate nature you need to take a hike!
Mt. Mitchell State Park
It can be hard to choose with so many options, but a fun day trip is to head over to Mt. Mitchell State Park. You’ll take the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway to get there, and then drive up to the concrete overlook. You’ll walk to the overlook from a parking lot, where you can admire the mountains for as far as the eye can see! A short loop back takes you to the Balsam nature trail, which has an entirely different feel with moss and craggy pine trees. Ask kids to keep an eye out for salamanders (but don’t touch them!) and colorful mushrooms along the way.
On your way back to the parking lot, pop into their free museum that teaches about the region and history of the park, with fun things to touch and listen to. Drive halfway back down the mountain and enjoy a kid-friendly lunch at their on-site restaurant. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a table near the window for breathtaking views. Everyone should take some time to use the outdoor patio rocking chairs on the way out. If your kids still aren’t tired out, consider stopping by the Craggy Gardens Pinnacle hike that is beautiful and short, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway and on your way back to Asheville.
Dupont State Forest
If you’re itching to see a waterfall instead, consider going south to the Dupont State Forest. There are several waterfalls here, so you can choose as long or short of a hike as you’d like in order to see one (Hooker Falls is even at the end of a mostly paved path, perfect for strollers or wheelchairs).
The visitor center is small but offers kids a chance to learn about the area and ask questions of the ranger. During peak times, they may run free programming for the public, so look on their calendar ahead of time. Teenagers might be impressed to learn parts of the Hunger Games were filmed here!
After you take in the trails, Brevard is an adorable town nearby that’s perfect for grabbing lunch and wandering around. Don’t miss the white squirrel hunt while you find a tasty dessert. O.P. Taylors is a popular old-fashioned toy shop that will delight young shoppers and always has fun display windows to peek into! There are also gem mines in the area, a fun add-on activity for kids to pan for gold or dig out their own semi-precious stones to take home.
Day 3: Explore Downtown
For your last day, and possibly with tired legs, stay in the city proper. There are several options for kids to have fun here. I’d recommend choosing between the art museum, science museum, or Well Played Board Game Cafe and spending a few hours having hands-on fun. If your kids love animals, consider exploring the WNC Nature Center to see the wildlife that calls this area home.
All of those are half-day activities that you can follow up with a pleasant walk around downtown to check out public art and enjoy one of the many popular restaurants. See if you can spot the waterfall stairs that are near the board game cafe, they make for a perfect photo opportunity!
Get dessert at the nationally renowned French Broad Chocolate Lounge, and then take time to run off steam in Pack Square Park (there is a free splash pad during the summer!). Make sure you leave time to wander around looking for street musicians. Kids love tipping with money in their hat. Friday nights host the famous drum circle downtown that is hard to forget, and if you’re visiting during summer, you can also catch the free musical Shindig on the Green downtown.
If you’re hoping for a souvenir to take home, consider visiting Mast General Store for an old-timey feel with lots of options. You could also stop by Woolworth Walk to pick out original art from lots of different artisans, or Asheville Emporium to find local handmade products and traditional souvenirs.
If you’ve already explored downtown Asheville, consider checking out one of the unique small towns in the area that all have their own vibe and cute downtowns. Black Mountain, Blowing Rock, Hendersonville, Chimney Rock, Brevard, and Sylva are all within 2 hours of downtown Asheville and have their own claims to fame, drawing tourists in and giving them a fun mountain experience.
Where to Stay in Asheville
Grove Park Inn
I only walked through the Grove Park Inn during Christmas time to see the gingerbread houses and did not stay here, so I looked up on their website to see what they offered. The place is so big I was surprised to find out they only had 513 rooms.
- 513 luxury rooms including 14 suites and 28 rooms on a private, adults-only Club Floor
- 18-hole, Donald Ross designed mountain golf course
- 43,000-square-foot subterranean spa
- Multiple casual and formal restaurants boasting panoramic mountain views
- Three indoor and three outdoor tennis courts
- 50,000-square-foot Sports Complex featuring weight rooms, fitness classes, an indoor pool and more
- Two retail promenades
- 55,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting and event space
During the holiday season, The Grove has a gingerbread house competition and I must say they are very impressive.
Do not valet your car during busy times. It takes forever to get it back!