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Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute

Explore Fairview near Asheville, NC

If youre traveling with little scientists or if you simply want to inspire an interest in space, be sure to set aside time to visit the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute . Nestled deep in the Pisgah National Forest, this NASA facility is also an educational center that welcomes astronomers of all sizes and skill levels. Your kids will love exploring the Galaxy Walk, seeing an antenna that once communicated with astronauts, and checking out the gallery of artifacts from the Space Shuttle Program. Enroll the kids in a science camp program for more space fun.

Exploring Asheville With Kids: 16 Best Kids Activities

Posted on Last updated: February 12, 2022

Dont miss the best things to do in Asheville with kids, including outdoor activities, museums, and farms. Spy a shark or dinosaur, zipline, and sit in a plane.

Many times, our inbox is filled with readers looking for the best kids activities in Asheville, NC. And, if you know Christine and Thomas, you probably see our furbabies plastered all over Instagram.

This is exactly why we consulted our favorite mom blogger, Tori from Explore With Tori, asking her for the top kid-friendly activities in Asheville .

Tori loves to get outside with her family, hiking and chasing those waterfalls. Their road trips are full of adventure, delicious food, and educational but equally fun tours.

Plus, Tori and her family of 4 frequent Asheville, stopping for wine and beer with your favorite uncorked travel writers.

Tori wishes to create lifetime memories for her children and show you how to have extraordinary vacations, too.

Below, Tori is sharing the best things to do with kids in Asheville. Find Asheville kids activities for the entire family that even adults will love.

See where you can pet farm animals, sit in planes, and watch sharks feed. Zipline, mountain bike, and pick some apples. Lets get started!

This post may contain affiliate links that earn us a commission at no extra cost to you.

Dont miss out on these Asheville properties on Booking.com, too.

Best Family Attractions In Asheville

1. At the Asheville Pinball Museum, play as much as you like from the collection of about 35 pinball machines, including some original games from the 1940s, for a flat fee.

2. Explore the mineral collections at the Asheville Museum of Science with a scavenger hunt guide. Younger kids will enjoy the water table or fossil dig.

3. Big kids can burn off some energy indoors with laser tag, go-karts, mini golf, bumper cars, a climbing wall, and more at Fun Depot.

4. Take little ones on a rainy day to indoor playground Mountain Play Lodge.

5. Plan on spending an entire day at the Biltmore Estate to take advantage of the extensive grounds as well as a house tour. Theres a farm, childrens maze, trails, horseback riding, a playground, and lots more family-friendly activities. Dont skip the house tour which is so over-the-top even kids will appreciate it.

6. Visit Zaniac, a hands-on STEM activity center.

7. Just outside of Asheville youll also find Hands On! Childrens Museum in Hendersonville or Kidsenses Childrens Interactive Museum in Rutherfordton, NC.

8. Check out a train ride, hayride, or see baby farm animals at Hickory Nut Gap Farm, depending on the season. You can even buy farm-raised meats.

9. Adventure Center of Asheville has a zip line designed just for kids under 10, as well as a treetop adventure course.

10. Like bears? Visit the WNC Nature Center. All the animals here are rescues and native to the area.

12. Dont miss an Asheville Tourists Baseball Game.

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Why We Recommend This Activity

Take the kids on a fascinating detour around history on this National Park Service site which honors all the world-renowned accomplishments of American poet Carl Sandburg within the premises of his home.

Here youll be able to get in touch with the past along with Sandburgs massive collection of stories about the American peoples plights, struggles, joys and hopes, which will make for some interesting insights and life lessons for kids and adults alike.

The Omni Grove Park Inn

Visiting the Asheville museum of art with kids

Located just minutes from downtown Asheville, this historic resort hotel has a little something for everyone. With a full-sized golf course, indoor and outdoor pools, a sports complex with kids activities, and an award-winning spa. Above all, The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa is an ideal spot for families visiting Asheville.

If youre planning an Asheville NC family vacation with kiddos, this is definitely one hotel to consider!

An iconic hotel located atop Sunset Mountain in downtown Asheville, the Grove Park Inn Resort has been welcoming guests for over 100 years. This 5-star resort and spa have over 500 luxurious rooms and suites available for guests. With four locally sourced restaurants on-site your family will be sure to find something they love!

If you are looking for family-friendly activities in Asheville, NC, be sure to visit the Gingerbread Houses at Grove Park Inn. Most importantly, this beautiful hotel features a special Gingerbread House display every December that is perfect for children of all ages. For over forty years, this annual tradition has delighted visitors from near and far with its whimsical assortment of gingerbread houses! This is definitely one of the must-do fun things to do in Asheville with kids.

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Watch Sharks & Stingrays Feed

Vacations with kids can add up, so if you are curious about inexpensive things to do with kids in Asheville and the surrounding areas, consider taking a day trip to Hendersonville to check out the Aquarium and Shark Lab.

This is the first inland aquarium in WNC. Children under 2 are free, kids 2-4 are $4.40, and visitors 5-65 are only $6.

Meander through the majestic ocean life exhibits, let the little ones get up close with the touch tank, witness a shark and stingray feed, or catch the reptiles when theyre brought out for personal encounters.

Aquarium and Shark Lab | 11 N Main St, Hendersonville, NC 28792

The Adventure Center Asheville

To go right along with the theme of outdoor adventure and activity is the The Adventure Center of Asheville. It is perfect for kids since they have a kids zip line and a lower level ropes course called Asheville Treetops Adventure Park that is perfect for kids. You can plan on spending a whole afternoon here if you are going to do the ropes course and the zip line!

We got there and the kids got suited up to do the ropes course first. The workers were great with the kids and very helpful in getting everyone ready to go. We hit the first course and Cannon and Carson took off!

Knox made it past the first section and wanted to get down . . . It was his birthday that day and he had just turned 4, which was the youngest you could be to go on the course.

Melia was the same way and it took her a few times to feel comfortable doing more of the course. Cannon continued to run through the course and Carson decided to go up to the next level where you had to be 8 years old to do it. He hit a few parts that were very scary for him and even for Craig who went with him but they made it through!

Next up was the kids zip line. You start at the beginning and zip line to the first platform where you climb up a short incline rock wall structure to get to the next zip line and it continues like this for about 6 different zip line experiences. Each one higher then the next!

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Western North Carolina Nature Center

Wildlife lovers big and small will appreciate a trip to the Western North Carolina Nature Center, which houses injured and orphaned animals. Kids will enjoy viewing black bears, mountain lions, and more than 60 species in natural habitats as well as getting up close to reptiles and amphibians. We recommend timing your visit so that it coincides with one of the many animal feedings scheduled throughout each day.

Visit The North Carolina Mountain State Fair

Modern & Mountain | Asheville Art Museum Downtown | Video Tour of 21st Century Artwork

There is nothing else like the North Carolina Mountain State Fair, which transforms the WNC Ag Center into a fantastic fall festival each September. Enjoy the fairground attractions and midway rides, fair food, livestock shows, agricultural exhibits, local entertainment acts on stage, and countless kids activities. Exhibits include arts & crafts for children, 4H animals to meet and learn about, flower/vegetable/plant exhibits by Appalachian State University students. Dont miss the chair lift ride across the fairgrounds which provides beautiful views of the mountains. This truly is one of the most magical and fun things to do in Asheville with kids.

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Free Things To Do In Asheville With Kids

15. Bring anything you can bang and join the lively Friday Night Drum Circle.

16. Or grab a blanket and stake out a spot for free outdoor music at Saturday evenings Shindig on the Green.

17. Kids of all ages love cooling off at Splashville, the geyser-spurting fountain and sprayground in Pack Square Park.

18. Find free storytimes for babies and toddlers at Buncombe County Public Libraries.

19. Follow Ashevilles Urban Trail to see 30 bronze sculptures and plaques sprinkled around downtown. It’s a fun way to learn about Ashevilles history.

20. Check out Christopher’s Garden, the eclectic found-object sculpture garden created by artist Christopher Mello at the corner of Westwood Place and Waynesville Avenue in West Asheville. There are some toy dump trucks and gravel to play with, a fun circular lawn, and lots of neat nooks and crannies for kids to explore.

21. Catch free outdoor Shakespeare and other classics by the Montford Park Players. The lively and humorous performances will even appeal to kids.

22. Kids can do a scavenger hunt to learn about the historic Mast General Store and receive a little reward at the end.

23. Explore the local flora and fauna at the free Botanical Gardens of Asheville with an Investigation Passport for the kids, and then cool off with a dip in the path-side stream.

We discovered a flock of sheep on an easy hike along the French Broad River.

Is Biltmore Kid Friendly

When we first moved here, Ill be honest, Id never even heard of Biltmore Estate. Once I got the scoop, and saw ticket prices, I was very skeptical. But curiousity won out, and we headed over. It IS expensive, there is no way to sugarcoat that. With that being said, we really enjoyed going . The house will be a bit challenging if you have, say, 4 kids under 4 or something but I would say overall, Biltmore is definitely kid friendly and my family really enjoys visiting. Get money saving tips and see more of what there is to do there, in my post with tips for visiting Biltmore with kids!

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Free Kid Activities In Asheville Nc

In my opinion, Asheville is pretty affordable for vacations, but if your budget is tight, consider some of the fun, free kid things to do in Asheville! If youre a local or know a local with a library card, use the Zoom pass to check out the Arboretum, Nature Center, Art Museum, Science Museum, and more for free.

  • Carl Sandburg home A National Park site, its a fun free place to roam. You can tour the house and learn more about Sandburgs life BUT we usually just go and hike the trails after visiting the goats! Check out a book of his poetry for kids or short stories for kids before you go! We love stopping by the nearby Park at Flat Rock in the same trip, its super fun with open space and a huge climbing structure.
  • Hike a track trail certain trails around the area have fun little brochures with activities and learning information in them, free of charge! Read more about the program here.
  • Visit Splashville In the heart of downtown, this splash pad has lots of open green space nearby for playing! Double check for closures before you go, and be aware it doesnt have its own parking lot .
  • Visit the Asheville Botanical Gardens Check out the beautiful flowers and try their investigation passport activity but be clear that they do not want kids running around and roughousing in the gardens, per their website.

Also a few of the ideas in my top 10 are free too! Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, take a hike, or visit the River Arts District.

Adventure Center Of Asheville

Visit the Greensboro Children

Looking for a real adventure? Spend an afternoon at the Adventure Center of Asheville, which offers a list of adrenaline-pumping fun. Explore Asheville Treetops Adventure Park, packed with 60 climbing and zipping challenges way up in the trees. Or hop on a bike at Kolo Bike Park, which features 4 miles of mountain bike terrain. Little adventurers will love KidZip, a ziplining challenge for children ages 4 to 10. Children of all ages will have a blast on QuickJump, a free-fall adventure for the family.

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Rock Out With A Dinosaur

Little science lovers will be thrilled at the Asheville Museum of Science, complete with hands-on exhibits and scavenger hunts to make navigating the museum engaging and educational.

Become a geologist, dig for fossils, and learn about the French Broad River and its ecology. After, climb and explore through the forest-themed indoor playground.

Dont forget to spy on the Teratophoneus Curriei, a giant dinosaur skeleton. Though we dont think youd be able to miss him!

Plus, take advantage of the Little Explorers Club, an in-house and free preschool program on the first and third Friday of every month, with ever-changing activities and themes.

Asheville Museum of Science | 43 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Where To Eat In Asheville With Kids

Meals

  • Creekside Taphouse With a playground for the kids and outdoor seating, it doesnt get much easier than this! American food with lots of beer & bbq sauce options.
  • Pizza Mind Kids get to make their own mini pizza at the table, there is a kid friendly show on the TV and an old school toy claw machine so bring quarters.
  • Asheville Pizza and Brewing The North Asheville location plays movies and has lots of fun things to look at while you munch.

Dessert

I dont have any specific AirBNB recommendations but a few commercial places to consider

  • Asheville Cabins of Willow Wind-Quiet log cabins with loads of amenities sound perfect for families. There are on site playgrounds, party games, even a fishing pond!
  • Omni Grove Park Inn- A hotel option that welcomes kids, giving them sweet treats at check in and a backpack of fun items to borrow and explore the area with.
  • The Biltmore Hotels Free guest activities include movies, bonfires, morning yoga, hikes and tours. Plus, there are kids menus at all Biltmore estate restaurants.

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Visit Asheville Nc With Kids

The warm winters and mild summers make Asheville a great place to visit year-round. There are lots of kid-friendly things to do in Asheville North Carolina, including family-friendly outdoor activities, breweries, and museums. Plus a wide selection of amazing local restaurants and family-friendly hotels in Asheville NC. So regardless of what your family enjoys, theres always something fun for everyone to do in Asheville NC with kids.

Amazing And Fun Things To Do In Asheville With Kids

Beer City USA with kids – Asheville, NC

We fell in love with Asheville the minute we pulled in! Maybe it had to do with the walking/biking path that ran through the middle of our campground or the river flowing right behind our site, but the vibe made us want to be outside exploring. We definitely took advantage of the beautiful landscape and tried some really fun and unique adventures. Check out our list of things to do in Asheville with kids!

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Take A Train Ride Through History

Grab the entire family and take a train ride through history. The open-air train ride is a perfectly unique Asheville experience, especially for those train loving littles.

Learn about the railway history of WNC, and hop aboard some of the old train and trolley cars.

Two-hour train rides begin at $90 for a family of four and increase in price with additional riders.

Plus, if youre searching for seasonal kids activities in Asheville, youll find fall-themed events, as well as a Jungle Bell Trolley Ride in December, complete with hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit from Santa.

Craggy Mountain Line | 111 Woodfin Ave, Asheville, NC 28804

Meet Wncs Wildest Animals

One of the most popular things to do in Asheville with kids, the Western North Carolina Nature Center showcases the various animals and plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Find animal exhibits, including the American Black Bear, Red Wolf, Bobcat, and more, as well as interactive learning exhibits and nature play areas.

Practice balancing on natural beams, make music with natures instruments, paint with water, and more. Options are endless when nature is your playground.

The WNC Nature Center prides itself on reminding families that children thrive when exposed to nature.

Age and grade-appropriate nature packs and activity sheets also offer scavenger hunts and more nature-themed kids activities in Ashevilles premier zoological area.

More than just a zoo though, the WNC Nature Center is a truly immersive experience for kids of all ages.

WNC Nature Center | 75 Gashes Creek Rd, Asheville, NC 28805

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