- By Nneka M. Okona For the AJC
Located in western North Carolina, the city of Asheville is best known for its setting in the awe-inspiring Blue Ridge Mountains. But there's plenty to do in Asheville beyond simply gazing at the mountains in the distance.
Make the most of a quick break with these can't-miss Asheville activities.
242 Poverty Branch Road, Barnardsville, 828-626-3700
Sail through the trees bordering the Blue Ridge Mountains with Navitat Zipline Canopy Adventures as your guide. Since opening in 2010, Navitat has built upon their commitment to honor and care for the trees, prioritizing environmental education and ongoing development for all staff members.
The natural beauty of the area makes the zip lining experience a special one. Navitat offers two thrilling courses to choose from: Moody Cove Adventure and Blue Ridge Experience. Moody Cove Adventure is their signature course, stretching to 1,250 feet long and 200 feet up in the air. This zipline adventure lasts up to 2.5 hours and features multiple cross bridges, a rappel line to the floor of the forest and a stunning spiral staircase. The Blue Ridge Experience caters to the more adventurous, with ziplines up to 3,600 feet long, and makes the most of the breathtaking mountain views. also at the pricepoint of $99.95, is for the most adventurous of them all. The highlight of this group of ziplines, some of which are 3,600 feet long, are the breathtaking mountain views.
Each course costs $99.95, or do both for $169.95. For those short on time, there's an hour-long RTV-guided experience for $44.95.
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, 828-665-2492
Stop and smell the roses at the 434-acre North Carolina Arboretum. Located south of the center of Asheville and within the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the land the arboretum occupies is technically part of the Pisgah National Forest. Plant lovers will delight in the 65 acres of gardens, featuring the Bonsai Exhibition Garden and other seasonal garden exhibits. All the flowers and plants are chosen to reflect the biodiversity of the region.
The gardens aren't the only draw. There's more than ten miles of hiking trails of varying levels of difficulty and biking trails for those who would prefer to traverse the area on wheels. Art lovers will be pleased to find rotating art exhibits, as well as a permanent Art Walk. Feeling hungry after your exertions? The Bent Creek Bistro has you covered.
Hours of operation vary based on the time of year. Admission is free for members of the arboretum, while non-members pay just $14 per vehicle.
Various locations around town, 828-233-5006
Cheers to beers in this immersive beer-fueled tour around some of Asheville's best craft breweries. Asheville Brewery Tours takes the guesswork out of imbibing on the greatest local beers with their carefully curated tours. Their brew tours start at $49 and take place either or on foot or, for the mobile tours, in a passenger van. The walking tours zig zag throughout downtown Asheville, stopping at breweries such as Twin Leaf and Ben's Tune Up. The mobile tours typically include stops at Highland Brewing Company, Oyster House Brewing Company and Catawba Brewing.
Tours take place throughout the week, so be sure to check the calendar on their website for details. For those who'd like a bite to eat along with their beer, consider the recently launched Food & Brew Tours. Each tour includes either lunch or dinner at Upcountry Brewery and two other brewery visits.
Calling all art lovers. The River Arts District is an assemblage of 22 former industrial buildings nestled along the French Broad River. More than 200 artists create and show their work in the area. You'll find pottery, painting, sketched visuals, textiles, mixed media, glass, metal, photography and more.
Although there are no set events in the Arts District, there's always something to see and experience. Most of the working artists have their studios open for visits and the galleries dotted throughout the district have constanly changing exhibits. Check the Studio Guide for up-to-date details before your visit.