Asheville’s stunning mountain vistas, tasty local dining and quirky character give this southern town plenty of charm. Families with kids from toddlers to teens can embark on a magical family getaway with treetop fun, throwback video games and engaging tours to appreciate the town’s local history. Just don’t forget the ice cream.
Many of Asheville’s exhilarating outdoor adventures appeal to adults and teens. But that’s not the case at the Adventure Center of Asheville, where the staff happily accommodates kids as young as four.
With a grown-up tagging along, young daredevils explore this giant jungle gym 12- to 20-feet high in the sky, traversing swaying bridges, sidestepping tightropes and gliding along zip lines.
Adults enjoy peace of mind thanks to the smart belay system that only disengages after pint-sized adventurers return to solid ground. Not enough hair-raising fun? KidZip features nine zip lines designed for kids 4 through ten.
Revisit Asheville’s Rich History
Don’t be turned off by the pricy tickets for the Biltmore. Children 9 and under are free, and reduced youth tickets seem like a steal when you look at what a day at this Asheville institution includes.
Pick up the free scavenger hunt guide, which invites kids to peek behind the velvet ropes and search for clues in the nooks and crannies of each room. Outside you can roam the gardens, pack a picnic to enjoy by the Pisgah Playground and pet the goats at the Antler Hill Farmyard.
And if you really want to get the kids excited about this historic spot, read the middle-grade novel “Serafina and the Black Cloak” before your visit — or better yet listen to the audiobook as you drive around town — and follow the heroine’s footsteps from the cellar of the big house to the deep dark woods surrounding the estate.
Comedy on the Road
Worried your tween will roll his or her eyes at the mere suggestion of a bus tour? Not after spotting the bright purple LaZoom bus zipping around town, often trailed by a cast of wacky sidekicks, including a nun riding a comically large bike and toting a water gun.
Most of LaZoom’s excursions are decidedly adult, with booze, raunchy jokes and a strict PG-13 policy. However, the kid-centric Saturday morning Comedy Tour promises an hour of madness with goofy skits and goofier tour guides to captivate the 5- to 12-year-old set.
Channel Your Inner Pinball Wizard
Disconnect from the Wi-Fi and return to the days when the coolest video games could not fit in the palm of your hand at the Asheville Pinball Museum. For a flat fee play more than 75 classic arcade games and pinball as many times as you like without the hassle of inserting coins.
Doughnuts and Tacos and Ice Cream, Oh, My
Stroll along Haywood Road to experience the most critical of family vacation food groups — doughnuts, tacos and ice cream.
Start with light and airy sweet treats at Hole Doughnuts. Pretend every day is Taco Tuesday at Taco Billy, where you can nosh on breakfast tacos for breakfast or lunch. Then complete your food tour at The Hop Ice Cream Café, where a rotating menu of dairy and vegan options tempts all palates and diet restrictions.
Flavors change but always include riffs on the classics (Salted Caramel and Mocha Oreo), kid-approved standards (Birthday Cake and classic Chocolate) and unexpected flavors like Mascarpone Peppercorn. Set a family squad goal to visit each of The Hop’s three locations around town.
Brewing up Family Fun
If mom and dad are craving a cold one, Asheville’s breweries appeal to beer fanatics and families alike.
Archetype Brewing puts a new spin on “pub crawl” with a twice-monthly storytime in the taproom geared toward wee ones and their caregivers. And the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company‘s North Asheville outpost truly has it all — a movie theater showing newer flicks and classics for just $3 a person, a game room (complete with Ms. PacMan), pizza and a beer list of unique brews for the parents. We don’t need to remind you to drink responsibly, right?