Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Destination: Asheville with kids

Posted May 23, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my family's trip to Biltmore in Asheville. I mentioned that I planned on writing more about Asheville the next week, but I forgot how crazy this time of year is with festivals, activities and all sorts of things to fill up my time.

So, as promised ...

As I wrote before, my kids and I traveled to Asheville with my father during spring break. My father and I had been there once before, long before I had kids. We met there for a long weekend when he was on a business trip in Atlanta and I was working in Mount Airy, N.C.

Our week in Asheville, this second time around, was much different. First, we had much more time to explore the city, but we also had young kids to keep engaged. We had no trouble doing that.

So in addition to Biltmore (read my review here), here's what I can recommend after our week in Asheville.

1. Colburn Earth Science Museum: My eight-year-old is fascinated with rocks and minerals so I knew this would be a perfect fit for her. I was surprised how much my three-year-old enjoyed our time here, thanks especially to the age-appropriate scavenger hunt that they had for both her and my older daughter. Be sure to ask for one at the front desk if they don't offer it. This small museum in downtown Asheville features a variety of gems, minerals and rocks and lots of information about mining. Colburn Earth Science Museum

2. Gray Line Trolley Tour of Asheville: Asheville is bigger than I thought and the trolley tour was a great way to get our bearings during our first day there. Our driver Matt, I believe his name was, shared some great history and stories about the town. My kids absolutely loved riding in the trolley. We hopped on and off, stopping at the Grove Park Inn for (an overpriced) lunch. At least the view was beautiful. We also explored the art district where my older daughter lingered at the studio of artist Jonas Gerard. We would never have covered so much ground just driving around on our own. And we even met another family from Raleigh on the trolley too.

3. Asheville Art Museum: This is in the same building as Colburn and my older daughter really wanted to go here on our last day. After a week away from home, I wasn't so sure that my three-year-old would make it through a visit and almost suggested that I take her for a walk outside. I'm glad I didn't. The museum has some lovely exhibits. But the best part, at least for my kids, was the recently opened Art PLAYce for Children. This 1,600-square-foot space includes a variety of hands-on activities for kids in two bright, colorful rooms. My kids could build with large blocks, draw, and more. This is an absolutely wonderful space. I'd love an art museum in the Triangle do something just like it (hint, hint). Art PLAYce for Children at the Asheville Art Museum

4.Thomas Wolfe House: We spent much of a day walking around downtown Asheville, exploring the shops and eating a lot. A favorite stop that day was a tour of the Thomas Wolfe House, one of North Carolina's state historic sites. Again, a scavenger hunt saved the day for my kids, who hunted for objects as we went on a tour. (I was one proud mom when two women on our tour commented how well behaved my kids were). Wolfe, a novelist, grew up in the home, which his mother ran as a boarding house, and based his experiences there in his book "Look Homeward, Angel." Thomas Wolfe House

5. Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds: This collection of cabins about four miles from downtown Asheville and Biltmore was just what my family needed. We rented a three bedroom cabin. It wasn't huge, but there was plenty of room for my dad, kids and me and my husband, who met us at the end of the week. The area has so much to offer that most days we left in the morning and returned after dinner. But we carved out some time here, fishing in the trout pond and exploring the property, which includes two playgrounds and a water balloon station. We had a great experience here. Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds

6. And we ate. We ate a lot of food that week, thanks to all of the amazing restaurant options in Asheville. Our favorites were Corner Kitchen, Tupelo Honey Cafe, Early Girl Eatery, Moe's Original BBQ, 12 Bones Smokehouse and West End Bakery. Check out for links to the restaurants and everything else in Asheville. Kids meal at Early Girl Eatery

We also spent a day on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad in Bryson City. I'll have more about that in the next couple of weeks.

I know we scratched just the surface of what this region has to offer. If you have favorites that we missed, please share in the comments.

There are many things that I'd like to do when we get back there, including a visit to Brevard, Sliding Rock, Chimney Rock State Park and the new Asheville Treetops Adventure Park.

I guess that just means we'll have to go back.

Go Ask Mom features places to take kids every Friday. Usually they are in the Triangle. If you're looking for other ideas, check our posts on parks and playgrounds and Triangle family destinations.


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  • shall6 May 24, 2013

    Thank you couldbeanyone!! Not sure she'd make the 40 pound cut now, but definitely in the next year or so. Have a great time at Willow Winds!! Wishing I was headed back there too!


  • couldbeanyone May 24, 2013

    Sarah - we took our son for the first time two years ago - he had just cleared the weight limit of 40 lbs - he did GREAT and we have been back every year since. We always hire a guide and they have been super kid-friendly. There's even a place where they will pull over and let you swim or jump off this huge rock. We use - right off the main road. We are headed to Willow Winds in two weeks for a 14 night stay and floating the Tuck is on the menu for us again.

  • shall6 May 24, 2013

    Yes! That's right. We also had planned to make it to the nature center too. We ended up getting there a day later than planned because of a family funeral and missed that. Thank you for the reminder. I will be sure to add that to our list. I love the rafting idea ... my younger one is 3 so wasn't sure how she'd do on it.


  • horsnroundagain May 24, 2013

    On your next visit, check out the Western North Carolina Nature Center. It is a great place for kids to see NC's wildlife and they have a petting zoo. They usually have a daily meet the animal presentation. When we were there they had screech owls, which my kids loved. If I remember correctly, it is free with a NC Zoo membership :)

  • couldbeanyone May 24, 2013

    We love Willow Winds and have been staying there for several years. I also would add the Western NC Nature Center to the list! It's like a mini-zoo. And there's a great city pool right there near the center that we love.

    Downtown also has a drum circle on Friday evenings that my kids dig and we always make time to play at Splashville fountain.

    There's also kid-friendly rafting further west in Dillsboro on the Tuckaseegee river - no rapids makes it a perfect fit for kids too young for the Nantahala trip. Or rent stuff in Asheville at Asheville Adventure Rental and put in on the French Broad!!