Top 15 Things To Do In Downtown, Asheville - Updated 2022

things to do in downtown asheville

Asheville, for its natural beauty and stunning architecture, was named the “Paris of the South” in the 1990s. If you’re looking to have an effortlessly good time, Asheville is the perfect place to laze and enjoy cafes, chocolate, art, and history. If you’re coming to visit for the impressive outdoor destinations, festivities, and adventures, this North Carolina city district has activities lined up the whole year round. Home to Thomas Wolfe, one of the best American writers of his generation, get a glimpse of his life by visiting an old boarding house owned by his mother in the 1900s. You can stay in historic hotels or cabins for rent available in the city. Indulge in fun desserts, colorful artworks, and beer with this list of the top things to do in Downtown, Asheville.

1. Attend local events at Harrah's Cherokee Center

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

"We'll meet again, Don't know where, Don't know when, But I know we'll meet again some sunny day" : Steve Atkins | Fox Cove Photography

Posted by Harrah's Cherokee Center - Asheville on Friday, January 1, 2021

Originally called the US Cellular Centre, this entertainment stadium is an ideal place to check out interesting local events in Asheville, including concerts, sports tournaments, conferences, and educational workshops for people of all ages. There is also a hotel with an on-site casino where you can spend a thrilling evening with your friends or family. Centrally located in the heart of Asheville, this entertainment hub has a variety of facilities such as fun activities for your children, adult-only events, and food bars. There are also accommodations here, in case you wish to stay overnight.

Harrah's Cherokee Center

Address: 87 Haywood St, Asheville, NC 28801, United States

Website: Harrah’s Cherokee Center

2. Float down the beautiful river with this awesome paddleboarding tour (from USD 85.0)

If you are into watersports, this tour is sure to thrill you beyond words. Paddle while standing up through the beautiful French Broad River with a private group. You will be guided by an expert who will show you around and teach you about the historic landmarks along the river. On this tour, you get access to all the equipment you need for paddleboarding, a personal floatation device for emergency purposes, and a free shuttle service to and from the destination.

Asheville Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

48 reviews

3. Explore the city along Urban Trail

Urban Trail in downtown Asheville
Source: Photo by Flickr user Bradley Griffin used under CC BY 2.0

If you’re fond of exploring hiking and trekking spots, Urban Trail is a well-known hiking area you can visit. It takes you through the most historic landmarks in the city over the course of about two hours. If you are interested in culture and history, this can be a truly rewarding experience as you walk along the streets of Asheville checking out architectural wonders such as Guastavino’s Monument and Woodfin House. Check out the historic Asheville City Hall as well as the bronze sculptures around the city. You can also stop by Grove Arcade for a bit of shopping or pop into the many cafes lining the streets.

Urban Trail

Address: 11 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

4. Shop for unique souvenirs at Grove Arcade

Grove Arcade Building, Asheville NC
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jane023 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Looking for a sprawling shopping complex that houses a wide variety of stores and boutiques as well as dining and entertainment avenues? Grove Arcade is the ultimate place to be. Also known as Arcade Building, this is a unique complex that looks like an indoor streetside shopping destination with thoroughfares and walkways inside a Tudor-style building. Luxurious interiors made of glass and bronze welcome you as you shop at handicraft stores, check out unique souvenirs, and pop into local restaurants for a quick bite. It is the pride of Asheville and a must-visit destination here.

Grove Arcade

Address: 1 Page Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, United States

Website: Grove Arcade

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm; Sun: 10am - 5pm

5. Catch a live theater show at Asheville Community Theatre

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Taking the shot. For tickets or more info:

Posted by Asheville Community Theatre on Thursday, November 19, 2020

If you are interested in theatre and the performing arts, don’t miss out on Asheville’s own community theater where musicians, actors, and dancers from all over the country showcase their talents. This historic building has been around for more than 60 years and is an integral part of the Asheville community. Enjoy special events such as concerts or dance performances or catch a live theatre show here. The choices are endless, and you can keep an eye on the website for special events coming up.

Asheville Community Theatre

Address: 35 E Walnut St, Asheville, NC 28801, United States

Website: Asheville Community Theatre

Opening hours: Fri - Sat: 7:30pm - 11:59pm; Sun: 2:30pm - 6pm (closed from Mon - Thu)

6. Have fun playing pinball at Asheville Pinball Museum

Pinball Museum Asheville Interior 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Stilfehler used under CC BY-SA 4.0

In a time where almost everything has shifted to the virtual realm, Asheville Pinball Museum offers a refreshing experience that will surely give you a good time. For just 15 USD, you’ll have the time of your life playing old-school pinball and classic arcade games. There are over 70 historical and rare pinball machines and video games.

Asheville Pinball Museum

Address: 1 Battle Square Ste 1b, Asheville, NC 28801, United States

Website: Asheville Pinball Museum

Opening hours: Sat: 12pm - 9pm; Sun: 1pm - 6pm; Wed - Fri: 2pm - 9pm (closed on Tue)

Price: 15 USD

7. Dare to know haunted tales in a spooky night stroll around Downtown (from USD 26.0)

With the long and rich history that surrounds Asheville, there’s sure to be dark times embedded within it. Along with the beautiful things that line this neighborhood comes a dark history of violence. Unravel the secrets behind this town’s storied past by joining the Asheville Night-Time Walking Ghost Tour. Discover all the spooky sites, go ghost-hunting, and use real equipment to catch their presence.

Asheville Ghost Walking Tour with Mystery Museum Admission

Duration: 2 hours

1183 reviews

8. Please your eyes discovering locals' artworks at Woolworth Walk

Joseph Yoakum
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jessica Epstein used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Woolworth Walk is a gem found in the heart of downtown Asheville. Filled with artworks from local and other artists, you’ll enjoy browsing through the powerful exhibits found in this gallery. You can make a purchase and support local artists or just gaze through the colorful works of art.

Woolworth Walk

Address: 25 Haywood St, Asheville, NC 28801-2835

Website: Woolworth Walk

Opening hours: Sun: 11am - 5pm; Mon - Sat: 11am - 6pm

9. Discover the best of Downtown on a walking tour (from USD 2.0)

Church of St. Lawrence - Asheville, NC
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Upstateherd used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Learn the history of Downtown, Asheville, and a few more tips and tricks for tourists by joining the walking tours. With over two hours of strolling around the district, you’ll be fascinated by the history that lies beneath the walls, structures and corners of Asheville. The tour also includes learning the best places to chill out, dine in, and even places you can hang out for free. Its an interactive tour that entails so much more than learning history. Basilica of St Lawrence, Grove Park Arcade, and several other major attractions of the district are covered in this tour.

Tip-Based Asheville Walking Tour

Duration: 2 hours

644 reviews

10. Explore the mansion of a 20th-century American novelist, The Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Thomas Wolfe Memorial, Asheville, NC
Source: Photo by Flickr user Warren LeMay used under CC0

Thomas Wolfe is a famous American author best known for his novels Look Homeward, Angel, but has written many other short stories, dramatic works and novels. In the early 20th century, his mother purchased a 29-room boarding house, formerly called the Old Kentucky Home, where Thomas spent 10 years of his life writing autobiographic novels. This is where he was said to have contracted Tuberculosis of the brain, a dreaded disease with no cure at that time and died at an early age of 37. It was later called “The Thomas Wolfe Memorial” and has since been a go-to venue for aspiring writers looking for inspiration and tourists wanting to get a good look at the life of one the greatest American writers of all time.

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Address: 52 N. Market St. Asheville, N.C. 28801

Website: The Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

Price: 5 USD (Adults), 2 USD (Children)

11. Get glammed and have the best of your trip captured by a photographer (from USD 125.0)

For locals and visiting tourists, make the most out of your time by having a professional photographer immortalize the experience through beautiful, stunning photos. With extensive experience on outdoor photography, you can make advanced reservations for pre-wedding photoshoots, group and family shoots. You can bring your fur-babies, too, for a more exciting escapade. With an experienced photographer, who knows the in and outs of Asheville, you can have your photo taken in rustic rural areas you may not know about and won’t get charged for any extra fees.

Photo-shoot Asheville

Duration: 1 hour

17 reviews

12. Enjoy a rooftop brunch at Social Lounge

Azul Rooftop Bar Details
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Cmplaya used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Rooftop bars are always a great hangout for its breezy outdoor setting and great views from the top and Social Lounge is no different. Survey the city lights at night from the vantage point of a rooftop spot and enjoy the view of the night sky. The breeze will keep you cool even when the days are a little warm. Aside from spending a whiskey-soaked evening with your friends, you can enjoy a great meal as they serve a pretty good set of brunch and dinner menu.

Social Lounge

Address: 27 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801

Website: Social Lounge

Opening hours: 3pm - 10pm (daily)

13. Taste the best beers around Downtown in a brewery walking tour (from USD 37.0)

Asheville has been nicknamed the “Beer City” with its long list of beers and breweries available in the area. Join a brewery walking tour led by a recognized expert and tag along at unique locations around town while you listen to tales and stories of beer and craft brewery.

Downtown Asheville Guided Brewery Walking Tour

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

290 reviews

14. Take home unique gifts and souvenirs from Asheville Emporium

Asheville Emporium
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Stilfehler used under CC BY-SA 4.0

For a one-stop gift shop that has a wide and unique variety of choices, shop at Asheville Emporium. Crafted by local artisans and global artists, you can get your crazy souvenir fix in Asheville Emporium. Here, you’ll find weird and quirky crafts, from thimbles to advocacy-oriented souvenirs, that are great for the holidays or your everyday surprises.

Asheville Emporium

Address: 35 Wall Street, Asheville, NC 28801

Website: Asheville Emporium

Opening hours: Sat: 9:30am - 8:15pm; Sun: 9:30am - 6:15pm; Mon - Wed: 10am - 6:15pm; Thu: 10am - 7:15pm; Fri: 10am - 8:15pm

15. Laze and treat yourself with sweet delights at French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Saratov pastry shop
Source: Photo by Flickr user michael clarke stuff used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

A little café filled with choices and sweet delicacies, French Broad Chocolate Lounge is a quaint spot for local and tourists to spend their afternoon. Indulge in the sweet flavors of salted caramel and take a bite off that delicious layers of moist chocolate cake. An extremely famous spot for tourists, carrot cake, milkshake, and an afternoon delight is a promise when you drop by French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Don’t forget to take some home for your friends and family, too.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Address: 10 S Pack Square, Asheville NC 28801

Website: French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Opening hours: 11am - 10pm (daily)

Enjoy the best of Asheville from dusk till dawn

Whether it’s a spooky night of ghost hunting or a nice breezy day out to see art, Downtown, Asheville, is a lively place brimming with activities. If you happen to find yourself in the western district of North Carolina, make the most of your time by exploring this set of to-dos. It’s good for family trips, honeymoons, or simply romantic getaways. Be sure to check out some vegan restaurants for excellent dining scenes.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Self-care to me is writing, traveling and binge-watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

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