Asheville, NC, has become one of the top travel destinations in the southeast and the nation overall. The city was recently listed by Travel and Leisure as one of the best in the US, with the natural beauty of the mountains, rich cultural history, and fun activities attracting visitors of all ages from around the world. If you’re planning a trip to the mountains, here are the best times of year to visit Asheville and the top things to do in every season.
What is the best time of year to visit Asheville, NC?
Asheville is at its very best in spring, when the city is full of beautiful blooms, and fall, when the surrounding mountains are vibrant with glorious autumn colors. More specifically, plan for March through May or September through early November (according to the U.S. News and World Report’s guide to visiting Asheville). These seasons are also when temperatures are the most moderate, staying between 60-70 degrees during the day.
The Biltmore Estate is glorious in the springtime, and a definite must-see for visitors and locals alike.
How many days do you need in Asheville, NC?
Depending on your travel itinerary, you can easily spend three days in Asheville, especially if you’re planning to spend an entire day outdoors or at an attraction like Biltmore or the Grove Park Inn. If you want to take a short day trip to some of the waterfalls in the Asheville area, state and national parks, or small towns outside Asheville, consider adding an extra day to your trip.
Planning to visit Asheville in the spring or fall? We have recommendations on the best places to stay. Here are our recommendations for things to do.
Spring in Asheville, NC
- If you’ve never experienced the historic Biltmore Estate, spring is a great season for your first visit to this Asheville landmark. The gardens surrounding the house are in full bloom during April and May, filled with thousands of vibrant tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. You can also explore the rest of the estate’s 8,000 acres on foot, on your bike, or even on horseback.
- Visit the River Arts District, just west of downtown Asheville, to stroll through avenues of artists’ studios, enjoy a meal, and sample local coffee, beer, and wine.
- Go birdwatching at Beaver Lake, Chimney Rock, or another popular spot for feathered friends near Asheville. Here’s a guide to eight birdwatching hubs.
- Spend the day at the Botanical Gardens, part of the UNC Asheville campus (just five minutes from downtown). In the spring, the garden’s many species of wildflowers (including rare and uncommon types) will be blooming beautifully. The garden is free for all to enjoy.
To experience the fall season in its full beauty, a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway cannot be beat.
Fall in Asheville, NC
- Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best ways to see fall colors in the mountains, and because this historic highway runs through Asheville, there are multiple entrances throughout the city. As you drive at a leisurely pace, pull off at some of the many overlooks to see the Blue Ridge in all its autumn glory. (Dates for peak leaf color vary from year to year, but aiming for mid- to late-October is a safe bet). If you’d rather take a hike, check out this list of the best autumn hikes near Asheville.
- Enjoy crisp fall air and local brews as you ride on the Amazing Pubcycle, one of the most unique ways to experience downtown Asheville. This pedal-powered (and motor-assisted) vehicle seats 10 pedallers and 3 non-pedallers, and the company offers guided tours that stop at breweries throughout downtown. Climb aboard and take in the sights and sounds of downtown as you sip, pedal, and laugh.
- For a slower-paced day, the small towns around Asheville are full of fall ambiance. Check out Waynesville, Hendersonville, Black Mountain, Weaverville, or Brevard (all less than an hour from Asheville) to find small town charm, artists’ shops, local music, homegrown produce markets, fall activities, and more.
Asheville’s summers and winters have great perks of their own as well. Visit from June through August to experience downtown Asheville’s vibrant summer events, or take a hike followed by swimming in cool mountain springs. Winter brings festive holiday events and, of course, Christmas at the Biltmore House. Here are our top recommendations for summer and winter.
Summer in Asheville, NC
- Head to Craggy Gardens (off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 367.6) in June to enjoy a hike and see spectacular pink and purple rhododendron blooms. Because this is a high-altitude area, the air is crisp and temperatures are cooler. Drive up to the picnic area and take a short, moderate hike up the trail to the flats, where you’ll see many wildflowers throughout the summer, including violets, blackberry, Mayapple, and Turkscap. Stop at milepost 364.1 instead if you’d rather take a more challenging hike up to Craggy Pinnacle, where the panoramic view is breathtaking.
- Another way to beat the heat is by tubing, kayaking, or rafting down one of the mountains’ rushing rivers (check out our guide here). Swimming holes are also great ways to cool down – here are nine of the best near Asheville.
- Catch an outdoor performance by the Montford Park Players, Asheville’s longest-running Shakespeare theater company. The group holds free summer performances at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre in Montford Park, as well as winter shows in the downtown Masonic Temple. Bring a picnic and lawn chairs and enjoy the company’s unique takes on classic plays.
The North Carolina Arboretum has a spectacular Winter Lights event that is fun for the whole family.
Winter in Asheville, NC
- One of Asheville’s most magical traditions, the North Carolina Arboretum’s Winter Lights event has been a local favorite for many holiday seasons. In light of COVID-19, the display has been converted to a drive-thru experience, with per-car ticketing. Grab your family, jump in the car, and drive through an enchanted forest sparkling with over 1,000 Christmas lights. This year’s exhibit features nature-themed light displays (such as daisies, butterflies, and winter wildlife), which will dazzle kids and adults alike.
- Christmas at Biltmore transports visitors back in time, as carolers sing familiar tunes, candles flicker and decorations adorn every inch of the historic home. To top it off, the Biltmore’s enormous Christmas tree stands in the Banquet Hall, welcoming guests in with festive cheer. It’s an immersive experience that may just become your new tradition.
- Downtown Asheville is delightful at Christmastime, with cheerful window displays and shimmering lights adorning the trees in Pack Square Park. Stop into a local cafe to get a cup of hot chocolate and stroll the streets, enjoying mountain music and shopping for artisan-made gifts.
The Biltmore presents a magical Christmas season, and literally decks the halls from top to bottom of America’s largest privately-owned home.
As you plan a visit, make sure to check any hours adjusted for COVID-19 precautions, and remember that outdoor, socially-distanced events and activities are safest.
No matter the season, Asheville has something for everyone. If you’re considering moving to Western North Carolina, let us know! We can help you find your dream home in the Asheville area.