School’s out for summer, and that means day after day of free time to fill. Lucky for you, Asheville and Western North Carolina offer plenty of outdoor, kid-friendly activities. Everyone will sleep well after a day spent on one of these outdoor adventures.
1. Hike to a waterfall.
The mountains around Asheville are known for their waterfalls. Whether you’ve got tots who’d just like to dip their toes in an easily accessible pool or you want to wear out teens with a hike to a mega-fall, WNC provides. Check out our 10 Best Waterfalls Near Asheville article for ideas!
2. Try ziplining.
With plenty of tall trees and deep valleys, Western North Carolina is natural ziplining country. Options abound: Adventure Center of Asheville is close to home and has 7 aerial trails with 77 unique climbing, zipping, walking, jumping, swinging, and rappelling challenges. Or visit Navitat, with two distinct tours and speeds up to 65 miles per hour.
3. Check out the wildlife.
School may be out, but learning is still in. Head to the WNC Nature Center to learn about and check out local wildlife, like black bears, red wolves, and otters. It’s too late to sign kiddos up for this year’s summer camp, but plan for next year, when they’ll get to take a deep dive into more native species.
4. Plan a lake day.
There’s nothing more quintessentially summery than packing up a picnic basket and heading to the lake for a day of sunshine and watertime. Many of our local lakes boast wide beaches perfect for playing, or you could rent a boat and check out solitary coves. For more ideas, read up on our favorite Asheville-area lakes in 5 Best Lakes Around Asheville.
5. Hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Blue RIdge Parkway is officially the most-visited landmark under the National Park Service. It might be popular, but there’s enough room for everybody, especially once you get an hour or so away from Asheville. We’ve got plenty of hiking guides along the Parkway in our article The Blue Ridge Walkway.
6. Find your food.
Asheville is known as a foodie hub, and that reputation really starts from the ground up. There are innumerable native, edible species around Western North Carolina, and there are plenty of foraging companies that can help you find them. We don’t recommend foraging without a professional, but you can find a local company to help you forage around Asheville in our article Walking on the Wild Side.
7. Tube the day away.
We love our local lakes, but we love our rivers just as much. Sure, you could try kayaking, SUPing, canoeing, or any other myriad activities on a river, but those sound like too much work. Instead, plop yourself and your little ones in a couple of tubes and float away. Check out our Guide to Tubing in WNC for inspiration.
8. Go camping.
Even if you’re local, there’s something magical about spending a night underneath the stars in WNC. There are plenty of places to go camping around Asheville, from souped-up glamping experiences to old-fashioned campers to regular old tent camping. Our latest story, Into the Wild, has everything you need to go camping in Western North Carolina.
9. Take a bike ride.
The Asheville area is known for its gnarly mountain bike opportunities, but there are plenty of places to get young newbies some less intense experience. Pick a local park (we love Carrier Park) or a quiet neighborhood (Montford’s got the best eye candy) and roll through summer in style.
10. Visit the Cradle of Forestry.
The nation’s first forestry school, the Cradle of Forestry is now home to exhibits, trails, and plenty of kid-friendly activities deep in the Pisgah Forest. They’ve got lots of events on the calendar for little ones, like Woodsy Owl’s Curiosity Club, for kids ages 4 to 7 to learn about local flora and fauna, and Smokey Bear’s Birthday Party on Aug. 7.