Scouted Cities Winner: An Outdoor Adventurer’s Guide to Asheville, North Carolina

Photography by Rachael McIntosh Photography.

WHY MAKE ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, your destination for outdoor adventure? The beloved town is the winner of the Scouted Cities Contest’s Outdoor Adventure category, and as The Scout Guide Asheville editor and owner Meagan Harris explains, encompassed by the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville lends itself to an unforgettable outdoor experience. The area’s offerings cater to everyone, whether they’re seeking a relaxing scenic overview or an athletically vigorous day of hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping, and more. There are no off seasons in Asheville, but locals find the spring, when everything is in bloom, and fall, when you can take in the beauty of the changing colors of the leaves, especially appealing times to visit. After your time in the wild, there are plenty of post-adventure ways to unwind, from visiting the local breweries to taking in the local art scene. Ready to plan your adventure getaway? Here, Meagan shares her favorite local finds and activities for making the most of your visit. 

*Please note that due to COVID-19 some of these businesses might be closed or have specific guidelines in place. We recommend calling ahead and/or visiting their websites for the latest information on their status, offerings, etc.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE RECREATION // Whether you’re interested in horseback riding, hiking, or zip lining through the tree lined canopy, there are plenty of  heart-stopping adventures in store in the wild areas around Asheville. 

Zen Tubing (1648 Brevard Road and 608 Riverside Drive). Enjoy a relaxing ride down the river with the help of Zen Tubing—the perfect way to take in the natural beauty of the mountains.

Navitat (242 Poverty Branch Road, Barnardsville). Zipline through the beautiful trees in the mountains of Asheville and have a thrilling, unforgettable experience.

French Broad Outfitters (704 Riverside Drive). Revel in the gorgeous atmosphere while kayaking or tubing down the mountain waters in Asheville.

Liminal Equus (82 Williams Branch Road, Barnardsville). Recenter yourself with a horseback ride in the Appalachian Mountains. With scenic trails and breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s the perfect way to experience a new place.

Asheville Picnic Company (book online or call 828.633.3151 for delivery). Asheville Picnic Company is a must-have for any foodie—and ideal for the outdoor lover visiting the city. Whether you are heading out for an intense hike or a leisurely tour of the Biltmore Estate, there is a perfect picnic package for you to enjoy.

Flying Bike Tours (225 Coxe Avenue). Offers electric bike tours and rentals so that you can explore must-see sights, beautiful greenways, and stunning views.

Blue Ridge Parkway. Driving along the parkway is the perfect way to experience the outdoor beauty that Asheville is known for. If you’re feeling up to it, stop at any trailhead to explore some magnificent hiking trails. Craggy Gardens (Milepost 364.4 along the parkway) is a favorite place on the parkway due to its kid-friendly, wide open spaces and fantastic vistas.

Van in Black. Experience all that Asheville has to offer, from city tours to wine tasting to scenic views, in a spacious van or luxury SUV. The passenger van service is also an excellent choice for transportation to and from the airport.

OUTDOOR SPORT SUPPLIERS // Whether you’re hitting the trail on foot, bike, or horseback, these shops have everything you need to stay safe and comfortable in all your adventuring. 

Diamond Brand Outdoors (53 Biltmore Avenue). Located in downtown Asheville, Diamond Brand Outdoors has been coined ‘WNC’s First Outdoor Gear Shop.’ Established in 1964, the company is dedicated to providing quality service and products

Black Dome Mountain Sports (140 Tunnel Road). Locally owned and operated for over 37 years, Black Dome Mountain Sports offers a selection of well- known brands and local suppliers for all your outdoor needs.

Second Gear (444 Haywood Road). Second Gear offers quality second-hand outdoor and sports gear as well as consignment. 

APRÈS ADVENTURE DESTINATIONS // When you’re looking for a way to bring your heart rate down, retire to one of the many breweries in town, take in some culture, and cool off at a local watering hole, these recommendations have you covered. 

Looking Glass Falls (off U.S. 276). This nearby nature spot showcases a beautiful waterfall that’s accessible for most individuals regardless of their athletic ability. A great place to cool off on a hot day in Asheville. 

Green Man Brewery (27 Buxton Avenue). Green Man Brewery is one of the original Asheville Breweries that has a dedication to quality and traditional English styles. 

Highland Brewing (12 Old Charlotte Highway, Suite 200). As the first brewery in Asheville since Prohibition, Highland Brewing has years of brewing expertise behind them. Visit their Taproom Location for a relaxing beer tasting experience.

Lexington Glassworks (81 South Lexington Avenue). The place to go if you’re looking for a taste of the local artisan scene. You can watch one-of-a-kind glass pieces being hand blown…and you can even grab a beer on the weekends.

Momentum Gallery (24 North Lexington Avenue). Momentum offers a contemporary and modern program with an emphasis on emerging and mid-career artists.

Tracy Morgan Gallery (188 Coxe Avenue). Asheville’s only contemporary art gallery featuring photography, works on paper, painting, and sculpture.

WHERE TO STAY // From a high-style boutique hotel in the heart of Asheville to a luxe stay in Biltmore Village, you’ll find the perfect place to relax and rest up for your next adventure. 

Hotel Arras (7 Patton Avenue). Located in the center of downtown Asheville, Hotel Arras is one of the hot new hotels in the AVL scene. Featured in the hotel is Bargello, a Mediterranean restaurant, and District 42, a lounge and bar. 

Wanderlust Lofts (11 Southside Avenue). On the south side of downtown Asheville, the Wanderlust Lofts allow visitors to feel at home during their trip to the mountains. The lofts are in a renovated century-old building and feature new-age Spanish styling. 

Grand Bohemian Hotel (11 Boston Way). Contrast the ruggedness of the outdoors with a luxury experience at the Grand Bohemian hotel, located in Biltmore Village. The antique-filled, rich atmosphere will create a completely unique hotel experience.

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK // Asheville is a foodie mecca, with innumerable options to sate your hunger and whet your whistle. 

Hemingway’s Restaurant & Bar (15 Page Avenue, 4th floor). Located in the Cambria Hotel, Hemingway’s brings delicious Cuban food to Asheville. With a stunning view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the taste of authentic Cuban fare and drinks, this is a great spot for a night out. 

The Montford (199 Haywood Street). Enjoy the lovely views Asheville has to offer while sipping on a curated cocktail or local brew.

Antidote (151 Coxe Avenue). A beautiful 19th-century cocktail lounge with a can’t-miss hidden rooftop botanical bar.

Curate (13 Biltmore Avenue). Focusing on the celebration of Spanish cuisine, Curate features a variety of authentic tasting tapas and delicious eats. Listed as one of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Curate is a go-to for wine lovers.

Bahm Nahm (Grove Arcade, 1 Page Avenue, Suite 129). Middle Eastern food done simply and healthy. Bahm Nahm is the perfect place for a quick bite of something new and fresh.

S & W Food Hall (56 Patton Avenue). Recently opened in the historic S & W Building downtown, this bustling food hall features a variety of independent restaurants to delight the taste buds of everyone in your group. 

Buxton Hall BBQ (32 Banks Avenue). A must-visit lunch spot due to its whole-hog barbecue and famous fried chicken sandwiches made by James Beard Award winners.

Smoky Park Supper Club (350 Riverside Drive). If you’re looking for a dinner that’s distinctly Asheville, this is the spot. Don’t miss the char grilled NC oysters.

The Bull & Beggar (37 Paynes Way). Tucked away in the River Arts District, this restaurant offers an intimate atmosphere. Try the filet served with madeira sauce and bone marrow.

Bargello (7 Patton Avenue). An innovative, Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that focuses on local ingredients and offers exceptional cocktails.

WHERE TO SHOP // If outdoor excursions aren’t your thing, or you need a little retail therapy after a day of adventuring, Asheville does not disappoint. Here, Meagan recommends her favorite shopping spots. 

Bette Boutique (2 All Souls Crescent), NEST Boutique + DIY Studio (10 Biltmore Plaza and 54 North Lexington Avenue), Peace & Nice Boutique (32 All Souls Crescent), and Scout Boutique (18 Brook Street). These shops, all within Biltmore Village, carry on-trend women’s apparel and accessories.

The Gardener’s Cottage (34 All Souls Crescent). A quaint store within Biltmore Village that sells florals and gifts.

MTN Merch (22 Lodge Street and 49 North Lexington Avenue). Another can’t-miss with locations in Biltmore Village and downtown. Offers locally made and locally themed goods.

Traveling Chic Boutique (30 Haywood Street), Hazel Twenty and Maisie Twenty (16 Patton Avenue), Minx (64 North Lexington Avenue), and blu29 (146 Church Street). More clothing boutiques that are local favorites.

Provisions Mercantile (728 Haywood Road). A modern-day mercantile with the perfect mix of nostalgia and modern trends for the home and gift-giving. While you are there, grab a latte from Kafe Neo.

Playdate Goods (315 Haywood Road, Suite 111). Cozy vibes and sustainably focused children’s items.

NOT-TO-BE-MISSED EVENTS // Mark your calendars for these timely experiences that are sure to enrich your view of the great outdoors. 

Mountaintop Sunset Yoga Hike. From mid-June to late-August, engage in a two-mile hike to a mountaintop for sunset and an hour of yoga. Center yourself while taking in the panoramic views of the mountains. 

Walking Tour of Dupont Forest Waterfalls. From late-June to late-October, join tour leader Shawn McMurray for an enjoyable walk to High Falls and Triple Falls. On the way, you’ll learn about the interesting history of the forest of the North Carolina mountains.

Brews and Bears. From early-July to mid-August, head to the WNC Nature Center to admire the indigenous black bears while enjoying drinks, music, and food vendors.

For additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Asheville, follow The Scout Guide Asheville on Instagram.