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Free Things To Do in Asheville, NC
- #2View all Photos#2 in Asheville, NC0.1 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/Area, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.1 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/Area, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Weaving through downtown, the 1.7-mile-long Asheville Urban Trail walks visitors through the cultural and architectural history of the city. Created by the city of Asheville to showcase its unique past, each of the trail's 30 stops is marked with a public sculpture that captures an important person or moment in the area's history.
The self-guided tour is divided into five time periods – from the Gilded Age to the present Age of Diversity. The trail starts at Pack Square at the intersection of Biltmore Avenue and Patton Avenue and circles around the downtown area, arriving back at the square for the final bronze statue. Visitors who want to explore all 30 landmarks should set aside about two hours. Even if you choose not to explore the entire trail, you'll likely see one or two statues during your time downtown.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Asheville, NC21 miles to city centerFree, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND21 miles to city centerFree, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Offering more than 500,000 acres of land about 40 miles northeast of downtown Asheville, Pisgah National Park is jampacked with activities and breathtaking vistas. With hundreds of miles of trails and numerous waterfalls and swimming holes, the forest provides ample opportunities to appreciate the great outdoors.
One of the first national forests in the country, created partially with land that once belonged to the Biltmore Estate, the park is home to the first forestry school in the United States as well as the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute and Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Asheville, NC25.6 miles to city centerFree, Hiking, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND25.6 miles to city centerFree, Hiking, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Winding its way from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail spans 2,190 miles through 14 states. About 320 of those miles are found in North Carolina (including 224 miles along the Tennessee border).
The North Carolina section offers many of the Appalachian Trail's highest peaks, several above 6,000 feet. Hiking enthusiasts can set out on a multiday or weeklong journey (keep in mind that you'll need permits to camp and hike in some areas, especially inside the Great Smoky Mountains).
- #8View all PhotosfreeFolk Art Center#8 in Asheville, NC4.1 miles to city centerMuseums, Free, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND4.1 miles to city centerMuseums, Free, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
At milepost 382 off the Blue Ridge Parkway, you'll find the Folk Art Center, home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The guild dates back to the 1890s and still represents the artists and craftsmen of Southern Appalachia.
One of the most popular spots off the Blue Ridge Parkway, welcoming 250,000 visitors annually, the center displays traditional and contemporary crafts in three galleries, and is home to a bookstore, a parkway information desk, a library and the Allanstand Craft Shop – the oldest of its kind in the nation. From March to December, the center also features daily craft demonstrations, and hosts special events that highlight materials (such as glass, fiber and clay) used in Southern Appalachia crafts.
- #9View all Photos
When artists came to Asheville to soak up the natural beauty and free-spirited atmosphere, they had to find large spaces to work. Enter the River Arts District. Comprising 22 former industrial and historical buildings – including a former tannery and a cotton mill – near the French Broad River, the area keeps the art scene alive in Asheville. Guests can stroll around the district to meet artists and enjoy works from more than 200 artists in various mediums like textiles, ceramics and paintings, as well as photography and jewelry. It's also a great place to pick up a unique souvenir from your time in the city.
Visitors to the district say local artists are always willing to chat, but the hotbed of creativity could use better signage as some galleries in old warehouses are difficult to distinguish.
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