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5 Things to Do in Asheville, NC

One of the best things about living in the middle of North Carolina is being so close to pretty much every part of the state you'd want to visit on a semi-regular basis. We're two hours from the mountains, and three to four hours from the most beautiful beaches the East Coast has to offer. When I stop and think about it, in fact, we're pretty darn spoiled. Charlotte is a thirty-minute drive, and Winston-Salem, Hickory, Greensboro, and Raliegh are also close at hand. Whether we're in the mood for hiking, checking out nature's beautiful offerings or shopping, dining, and exploration, we truly have it all (or at least have it nearby).

My sister and brother-in-law happen to be visiting us this week (they live in OK), and we promised a jam-packed week filled with fun things to do. When my sister mentioned that it had been 12-13 years since she last visited beautiful Asheville, NC, we both agreed that a day trip to the gorgeous mountain city was a must. Asheville, NC is a two-hour drive from home for us and makes a wonderful spot for a day trip. It's a busy, funky, elegant mountain community nestled in the Blue Ridge, and is  Western NC's pride and joy.

With so many awesome things to see and do in Asheville from tubing and hiking to enjoying a day at the Biltmore House, we had a hard time narrowing down our choices. We knew that whatever we chose to do, it had to be fun for both kids and grown-ups. We sort of mapped out our day to include an activity for the kids, along with shopping, lunch, and a drive on the BR Parkway.

Aunt Britt and Uncle Cory enjoy spotting wolves in their den with Bean, at the WNC Nature Center in Asheville, NC.

Stop #1: WNC Nature Center

I had no idea that the WNC Nature Center even existed until I started poking around online. This large park and zoo is run by the Asheville Parks and Rec Dept. and is quite the fun little place to check out with your family. It's a recognized NC Zoo and is home to over 300 species of animals and more. 

These two loved the rock climb up to the big slide!

The WNC Nature Center costs around $10/person (less for kids, and 2 & under are free) for admission. There are many activities for the kiddos scattered about the park, like digging for fossils, painting with water, barn chores role-playing, a climbing area, slide, building with natural materials, and much more! Many of the animals were asleep while we walked through the park, but we did get to see bears, bobcats, foxes, red pandas, wolves, etc. We missed the daily otter feeding by about 45 minutes, but were excited to pet a live turtle and pet and brush some of the animals in the petting barn area.

Sistahs out to lunch in Asheville, NC

Stop #2 Tupelo Honey Cafe

We knew we'd be hungry after a morning at the WNC Nature Center, so we had to pick a spot for a delicious lunch. With so many amazing places to eat in Asheville, it's always hard to pick just one spot when you're in town for just one day. Since this day was about treating my sis and bro, of course, we wanted them to choose where they wanted to eat. We had narrowed it down to Sierra Nevada and Tupelo Honey Cafe, two locally famous spots to dine, always highly recommended by locals and visitors to the area.

At the end of the day, Tupelo Honey won out. We determined that Sierra Nevada (while amazing) was probably not the best option for the kids, and Britt had never been to Tupelo, and really wanted to try it since we've talked about it so much before.

We headed downtown to College St., where the swanky and hip Tupelo location is. They also have another location closer to Arden, NC, along with a few other NC/SC restaurants. We've been to their Charlotte location, as well.

The best part of dining at Tupelo Honey? The biscuits, of course!

Tupelo Honey is an Asheville institution, and we love dining there. I've been there a number of times, and have enjoyed each and every meal I have had with them. There are many delicious menu offerings, including breakfast all day, sandwiches, burgers, and entrees. Scratch-made biscuits are brought to your table, along with house honey, and housemade blueberry compote. I could just eat the biscuits with the honey and compote and be perfectly content.

Free-range chick sandwich with cranberry mayo!

The chicken is hands down my favorite thing to order at Tupelo. It's amazing. This time, I had a buttermilk fried chick sandwich on harvest grain bread, and it was like Thanksgiving in August. Amazing. Other diners at my table enjoyed Pecan French Toast, Chicken and Biscuits (also AMAZE!), and the kids had the chicken strips and fries. We love the staff and atmosphere at Tupelo, not to mention the amazing food. It keeps us coming back!

We spent around $100.00 for 4 adult meals, and 1 kids meal + drinks & server tip. A bit of a splurge for lunch, but absolutely worth it! Everyone left with very full and happy tummies.

Stop #3: Window Shopping Downtown

Downtown Asheville is so funky and fun. We love just walking around and popping into boutiques and shops. Some of the shops are very pricey, but with many offering organic apparel, well, that's just the way the cookie crumbles. We visited the toy store downtown, and many clothing boutiques, and I was happy to see that several of them were extremely reasonable with their prices. If you love to shop and look at cool art while being serenaded with the sounds of street performers, Downtown Asheville is the place to be! There is plenty of metered street parking available, as well as multiple parking garage options.

Stop #4: The Chocolate Fetish

The Chocolate Fetish is a must when in Asheville. This local chocolate shop is located downtown, not far from Tupelo Honey. They make all of their chocolate in house, and are famous for their cases filled with truffles. My faves are the champagne and deep velvet varieties (if you like dark, these are for you!). Your mind will be blown when you check out the case of chocolate seashells (take a minute to spot the only real shell in the case!). We love to look at the specialty chocolates, and buy a few favorites by the pound. Everyone leaves with a little treat when we visit The Chocolate Fetish!

Stop #5: Malaprops

Before we head out of downtown Asheville, we love to stop into Malaprops Bookstore and Cafe. It's such a fun little nook to pop into and sit for a while. They have a lovely children's section filled with books for early readers and explorers. Both of my kiddos sat at the reading table and poured through a few books while in the store. Of course, they each chose a new book for me to purchase for them, and the books kept them quiet and entertained on our drive home. Malaprops has a delicious coffee bar to enjoy as well. They host lots of events that are worth checking out if you live in or around Asheville.

There is so much more to see and do in Asheville than the five things I have listed here. You could spend a week in Asheville and still run out of time to see and do everything! Since Ashville is one of our favorite places to visit in NC, I have lots more places to recommend for another blog post.

On your way out of Ashville, take time to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway (it is breathtaking!). My kids love driving through the tunnels and stopping at the overlooks. It's a free thing to do that will keep everyone oooing and aaaahing! Take a picnic lunch and enjoy all of the little stops along the way. The Folk Art Center is also located along the BR Parkway, and it's free to visit. It's filled with beautiful handmade items like baskets, jewelry, artwork, and quilts!

I'll be back soon with another post about day-tripping to Western NC! I hope you enjoy these recommendations!

Have you ever been to Asheville? Where have you visited, or where would you like to visit in Western NC? 

Let's chat Western NC Day Trips! Drop me a comment below or catch me on social media @mommysblockparty on Facebook or @mommysblockparty on Twitter and IG.

1 comment

  1. Looks like you are living up to your promise of a "jam-packed week filled with fun things to do"! I'm a little envious I don't live in NC.


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