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5 Best Day Trips Around Asheville, North Carolina

You’ll have no shortage of day trips available when visiting Asheville, NC. However, if you want some ideas to start your planning, we’re here to help.

There’s no need to drive far to find beauty and historical landmarks outside the city limits. From gorgeous waterfalls to art galleries to rocks millions of years old, this part of North Carolina has much to offer.

Join us as we dive into five of the best day trips you can take from funky Asheville.

Let’s go!

About Asheville

Asheville is a haven for lovers of nature, art, culinary delights, and live music. With a population of about 100,000, this city sits within the Blue Ridge Mountains and is a popular destination. Day trips from Asheville are plentiful, but first, we’ll let you know what this town has to offer.

If you enjoy places with four distinct seasons and mild weather, you’ll probably love Asheville. Outdoor activities are an option no matter what time of the year you visit. You’ll find miles of trails for hiking and biking throughout the city and surrounding area. 

Asheville is home to a vibrant art scene. You can stroll through numerous galleries and studios displaying works from local artists. 

When you get hungry, you’ll have countless food choices. Whether vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or carnivorous, you’ll find plenty of local eateries to fill your belly. 

If craft brews, hard ciders, or wine are your thing, you won’t go thirsty in this town! Asheville takes its local drinks seriously. 

FYI: Asheville isn’t for everyone; here are 5 reasons to avoid it.

In addition to great food, the entertainment available in this town is top-notch. From small clubs to weekend-long festivals, you can catch live music nearly every night of the week. And the famous Orange Peel venue draws big-name acts like Smashing Pumpkins, Modest Mouse, and Bob Dylan.

You can arrive in Asheville by plane and rent a vehicle to tour the area. On the other hand, you might choose to take a road trip in your RV or car to this beautiful mountainous location. 

While there’s plenty to do in Asheville, you’ll have several options for day trips to explore more of the region. We’re highlighting five of our favorite places to visit within a short drive of this funky town. 

#1 Brevard, NC

Located in Transylvania County, Brevard is about 50 minutes southwest of Asheville, making it a perfect choice for a day trip. If you love waterfalls, you can easily spend your time chasing them here. In addition to the 400-foot drop of Whitewater Falls, you can also ride down the 60-foot Sliding Rock natural waterslide. 

Brevard is also one of the country’s top mountain biking destinations. So bring your bike along on your day trip from Asheville. Or you can rent one from a local cycling shop. 

While strolling through this mountain town, you’ll likely see numerous white squirrels. They became residents of Brevard in the 1950s when the original critters escaped from a traveling circus. Since then, they’ve integrated themselves into the local culture. There’s even an annual White Squirrel Festival held every May. 

#2 Hendersonville, NC

Between Brevard and Hendersonville, you could potentially get two day trips in one, as they’re both less than an hour from Asheville. And the towns are about a half-hour drive from one another. 

Hendersonville’s Main Street is bustling with locally-owned shops and restaurants. You’ll also find galleries and museums showcasing artists from the region. 

The area offers numerous hiking trails and outdoor activities such as swimming, fishing, and kayaking. If you visit in the fall, you can go apple picking with the whole family. 

Also located here is one of the nation’s largest craft breweries, Sierra Nevada, famous for its legendary Pale Ale. Beer lovers from California will be familiar with them as they originated in Chico, CA. In addition, their taproom in Hendersonville offers a fantastic menu of brews and food. 

#3 Black Mountain, NC

Our next day trip recommendation is less than a half-hour drive from Asheville. Named after the range towering over the town, it became a mecca for artists of all varieties during the mid-twentieth century. 

As with most areas surrounding Asheville, you’ll find miles of hiking trails to explore. And with the typically mild winter weather, you can enjoy most outdoor activities year-round. 

TripAdvisor readers named Black Mountain the “Prettiest Small Town in America.” Once you visit this charming location, you’ll know why. 

In addition to the various galleries and shops, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center is a great place to visit. It’s located in a 1920s fire station and provides a fascinating background of the area. They also offer guided tours highlighting significant historical landmarks. 

#4 Highlands, NC

About an hour and a half drive from Asheville is our next suggestion for a day trip. Highlands is a charming town with an elevation of 4,118 feet, the highest point east of the Mississippi River. 

While the year-round population is just over 3,000, summertime brings the number closer to 18,000. In addition, the nearby Nantahala National Forest draws many visitors to the area. 

But Highlands gives you plenty of reasons to travel there without leaving the town limits. A vibrant theater community offers professional summer stage productions. In addition, the annual Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music series provides a wonderful selection of musical events every July. 

The Highlands Heritage Trail offers two options for exploring the downtown area. You can choose the short three-block tour or the longer 20-block walk. While strolling along the streets, you’ll see 51 historical spots of interest. One such site is the town’s first school, built in 1878, which is now the Town Hall.

#5 Blowing Rock, NC

We couldn’t let a place touted as “North Carolina’s Oldest Travel Attraction” stay off the list of day trips from Asheville. Especially when it’s only an hour and a half drive away. 

The history of Blowing Rock goes back over one billion years. As the name implies, you’ll be visiting rocks that were part of the monumental formation of the Blue Ridge Mountain region. The “blowing” part comes from the winds that whip upwards from the Johns River Gorge 3,000 feet below.

While there’s a small fee to enter the area, it’s well worth it. Sitting at 4,000 feet above sea level, the view from the Observation Tower is spectacular. In addition, you’ll see two of the highest peaks in the region from this spot, Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell. 

Asheville Day Trips Won’t Get Old!

These five day trip destinations from Asheville are just the beginning. We didn’t even get into all the beautiful spots you’ll encounter along the way. That’s for you to tell us about when you make the trek yourself. 

So start planning your vacation to Asheville, and don’t forget to include at least a couple of these side trips. You’ll be glad you did!

REVEALED: Overnight parking options in Asheville.

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