Looking for free things to do in Asheville, NC? With a 5,000-foot elevation change, our area of the lush Blue Ridge Mountains has one of the longest-running fall color displays in the country. You don’t have to spend a bundle to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Here are ten vacation getaway ideas for all of us on a tight budget:
- Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the top scenic drives in the country with breathtaking views from overlooks, walking trails, and great spots for picnics.
- Take a hike with trails for all fitness levels, from short walks in the woods to strenuous hikes up to mountain peaks. Find hundreds of trails along the Parkway, and in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests.
- Experience Downtown Asheville with hundreds of locally-owned boutiques and art galleries. Enjoy street entertainers, great people watching and the Friday night Drum Circle.
- Drive to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Rockies, and enjoy panoramic views from the observation deck. Take a jacket! It’s always 15-20 degrees cooler up top.
- Discover lots of art since this is one of the top arts destinations in the country. Galleries abound in downtown Asheville and in Biltmore Village, along with artist studios in the River Arts District. The Folk Art Center has galleries and daily craft demonstrations.
- Find waterfalls in free state and federal parks. At Dupont State Forest, take a short hike to see three waterfalls. Other waterfalls include Looking Glass Falls, Rainbow Falls and Linville Falls. We have guides to our 60 favorites.
- Watch elk graze a short distance away from your car in the Cataloochee Valley section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are two additional entrances to the park within 50 miles of Asheville with many free historic sites, hiking trails and more.
- Tour the Estes-Winn Antique Automobile Museum with collection of 20 classics, just a few miles from downtown.
- Explore architecture, art and history on downtown Asheville’s Urban Trail, a 1.7-mile walking tour.
- Enjoy the fall foliage from your bicycle on many mountain bike trails in Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests.
For more details on these and the fall foliage forecast and reports, go to our 700-page free online Asheville NC travel guide.