19 Best Sights in Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville Art Museum

Fodor's choice

Established in 1948, this architectural centerpiece of downtown incorporates the footprint of the old Pack Library—a 1926 Italian Renaissance–style building—and a recently completed $24 million addition that includes a contemporary glass entrance, a sunny atrium, and the rooftop Sculpture Terrace and Perspective Café. Expanded galleries display more of the museum's permanent collection of American art since 1860, with an emphasis on Southeast regional artists, including those from Black Mountain College.

Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar

Downtown Fodor's choice

At this unusual bookstore and bar, you can relax on an overstuffed chair or sofa while sipping one of 80 wines and champagnes by the glass. The inventory includes more than 20,000 secondhand books, with special strength in Civil War, American history, and North Carolina subjects. It's pet friendly, too, with an "espresso dog bar."

Biltmore House and Estate

Fodor's choice
Biltmore House and Estate
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Built in the 1890s as the home of George Vanderbilt, this astonishing 250-room, 175,000-square-foot French Renaissance château is America's largest private house and the number one attraction of its kind in North Carolina. Richard Morris Hunt designed it, and Frederick Law Olmsted landscaped the original 125,000-acre estate (now 8,000 acres). It took 1,000 workers five years to complete the gargantuan project. On view are the antiques and art collected by the Vanderbilts, including notable paintings by Renoir and John Singer Sargent, along with 75 acres of gardens, formally landscaped grounds, and hiking and biking trails. You can also see the on-site Biltmore Winery, the most visited winery in America.

Also on the grounds are a deluxe hotel, a more moderately priced hotel, many restaurants, and an equestrian center. Antler Hill Village includes a hotel, shops, restaurants, farm buildings, and crafts demonstrations. Most people tour the house on their own, but guided tours are available. Candlelight tours of the house are offered at Christmastime. Note that there are a lot of stairs to climb, but much of the house is accessible for guests in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Pricing is complex, varying by month and day of the week, and not inexpensive, but a visit is well worth the cost for its access to the house, gardens, winery, and extensive grounds. If time allows, a bike rental from the Bike Barn in Antler Hill Village allows you to fully explore the pastoral countryside that feels miles from the nearby city. 

Self-guided visits to the interior of the house typically require advance reservations.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe

Downtown Fodor's choice

This is what an independent bookstore should be, with an intelligent selection of new books, many author appearances and other events, and a comfortable café. Staffers speak many foreign languages, including Hungarian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, French, and German.

North Carolina Arboretum

Fodor's choice

Part of the original Biltmore Estate, these 434 acres completed Frederick Law Olmsted's dream of creating a world-class arboretum in the western part of North Carolina. The arboretum is affiliated with the University of North Carolina and is part of Pisgah National Forest. Highlights include southern flora in stunning settings, such as the Blue Ridge Quilt Garden, with plants arranged in patterns reminiscent of Appalachian quilts. A 10-mile network of trails is great for hiking or mountain biking. The 16,000-square-foot Baker Exhibit Center hosts traveling shows on art, science, and history. Dogs are welcome on the grounds but must be leashed.

Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Fodor's choice

Asheville's most famous son, novelist Thomas Wolfe (1900–1938), grew up in a 29-room Queen Anne–style home that his mother ran as a boardinghouse. In his prime in the 1930s, Wolfe was widely viewed as one of the best writers America had ever produced. The house—memorialized as "Dixieland" in Wolfe's novel Look Homeward, Angel—has been restored to its original 1916 condition, including the canary-color (Wolfe called it "dirty yellow") exterior. Guided tours of the house and heirloom gardens begin at half past each hour.

Asheville Museum of Science

Exhibits at the small but worthwhile AMOS include a large collection of North Carolina gems and minerals, interactive astronomy and climate displays, and a Teratophoneus dinosaur skeleton. 

Asheville Pinball Museum

A favorite of locals and visitors alike, this museum/arcade features 70 vintage pinball machines and video games. Bring the kids, who'll probably ignore the modern machines in favor of those from the 1930s. There's also a bar serving snacks and craft beers and restrooms labeled Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man.

Basilica of St. Lawrence

A collaboration of Biltmore House head architect Richard Sharp Smith and the Spanish engineer-architect Rafael Guastavino, this elaborate Catholic basilica was completed in 1909. It follows a Spanish Renaissance design, rendered in brick and polychrome tile, and has a large self-supporting dome with Catalan-style vaulting. Take a self-guided tour with one of the free brochures in the vestibule, or book a 25- to 45-minute guided tour at least two weeks in advance.

97 Haywood St., Asheville, North Carolina, 28801, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Open for self-guided tours Mon. 11am–12pm; Tues.–Thurs. 11am–1pm and 3–5pm

Biltmore Village

Biltmore Village

Across from the main entrance to the Biltmore Estate, Biltmore Village is a highly walkable collection of restored English village–style houses dating from the turn of the 20th century, along with some newer buildings designed to blend in with the original architecture. Stroll the brick sidewalks and tree-lined streets and visit antiques stores, clothing and jewelry shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center

Although it was around less than 25 years in the mid-20th century, the famed Black Mountain College was important in the development of several groundbreaking art, dance, and literary movements. Some of the maverick spirits it attracted in its short lifetime were artists Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef and Anni Albers, and Kenneth Noland; dancer Merce Cunningham; composer John Cage; filmmaker Arthur Penn; futurist Buckminster Fuller; and writers M. C. Richards, Charles Olson, and Robert Creeley. This museum celebrates their historic work alongside modern exhibitions and performances.

120 College St., Asheville, North Carolina, 28801, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, special exhibits from $5, Closed Sun. and between exhibitions

Cathedral of All Souls

One of the most beautiful churches in America, the Episcopal Cathedral of All Souls was designed by Richard Morris Hunt following the traditional Greek Cross plan and inspired by abbey churches in northern England. It opened in 1896.

New Belgium Brewery

River Arts District
Fort Collins, Colorado-based national craft brewery New Belgium opened its $175 million Eastern U.S. brewery and distribution headquarters in 2015 at the edge of the River Arts District on the site of the former Asheville Stockyards. Take one of the dozen free brewery tours offered daily (every half hour from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm), or sip beers in the tasting room overlooking the French Broad. It offers a lineup of regular, seasonal, and sour beer brews.

New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium's beautiful expansive deck overlooks the French Broad River, making it a major draw for afternoon libations. Excellent 45-minute tours of this state-of-the-art brewery are free every day at 1:30 and 4:30. Tastings of several beers are included.

North Asheville Tailgate Market

On Saturday morning from 8 to noon, the UNC Asheville campus fills with produce, crafts, baked goods, and flower stands from the best small farm and organic vendors in the region. Expect crowds of in-the-know locals. There are typically several food trucks selling breakfast items.

Pack Square Park


In this relaxing 6.5-acre park, there's a stone-and-bronze fountain designed by local sculptor Hoss Haley and the Zebulon Vance Monument honoring a controversial North Carolina governor (he owned slaves). Princeton elms, London plane trees, black gum trees, and hornbeam trees provide shade. At the eastern edge, in Roger McGuire Green, is Splasheville, a large fountain (open daily 9–9 mid-April to early fall), where in warm weather you'll see hundreds of kids, and even some adults, playing in the water. There's also a stage lined with colorful tiles by local ceramist Kathy Triplett, a grassy amphitheater, and a veterans monument. The park is often the site of demonstrations for gay pride, women's rights, and other causes.

Riverview Station

River Arts District

At the southern gateway to the River Arts District, this 1902 brick building houses more than 60 artists, crafters, and entrepreneurs in ceramics, painting, textiles, woodworking, and jewelry. There are studios and galleries where you can see working artists as well as buy art and fine crafts.

Sierra Nevada Brewery

Sierra Nevada, one of the country's largest national craft breweries, situated its East Coast brewery and distribution center on a 190-acre site on the French Broad River. The beautifully landscaped complex includes a good restaurant, tasting room, gift shop, and hiking and biking trails. Sierra Nevada offers the best brewery tours in the region, ranging from a 45-minute brewhouse tour to a three-hour Beer Geek tour.

Tours book up quickly, so reserve as far in advance as possible.

100 Sierra Nevada Way, Asheville, North Carolina, 28732, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Tours $9–$75

WNC Farmers' Market

The highest-volume farmers' market in North Carolina may not have the prettiest exterior, but it's a good place to buy local jams, jellies, honey, stone-ground grits and cornmeal, and, in season, local fruits and vegetables. It's open every day, year-round, except for major holidays. On the grounds of the market is a Southern-style restaurant, Moose Café.