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Senior activities for the young at heart in Asheville

Photo: OLLI

Photo: OLLI

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The median age in Asheville is sitting right at 38, but we have a huge amount of folks over 50 (hellooo perfect place to retire). Plus, according to a 2015 report from Explore Asheville, 56% of tourists in Asheville are 55 or older (and 43% are Baby Boomers).

And whether you’ve made Asheville your home base for years or you’re just learning the ropes, the city offers adventures + opportunities perfect for the fabulously more mature set. 💁

So check out our picks here. If you’re in this category, share with your friends to try something new. If you’re not, send over to someone who is and brighten their day.

🎓Education + Enrichment

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) | UNC Asheville Reuter Center
“College for seniors” that makes everyone wish they could take these 4-6 week courses including cooking for two, fine art photography, how to solve sudoku puzzles, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, East Coast swing, yoga, crime fiction books + more. Register + see full schedule here. Plus, partake in free Friday lunch + learn lectures, from 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m., from June 18- Aug. 1. They also host special interest groups ranging from gardening, history books, hiking, travel, wine + more. There is a $25/year membership fee and it costs $125 for a parking pass.

Great Smokies Writing Program | UNC Asheville, Owen Hall, 3rd floor

University-level writing courses taught throughout the region by local + visiting authors. Upcoming courses this fall include “Who writes short shorts?: A Writing Workshop,” “The Poem’s Architecture: A Poetry Workshop,” and “Heart of the Story: Writing for Children and Young Adults Fiction Workshop.” Five-week classes start at $157.06 for in-state residents ($743.14 for out-of-state residents). See the full fall schedule here.

Astronomy Club of Asheville | UNC Asheville Reuter Center

Meetings on a wide variety of sky-related topics take place the first Thursday of each month (besides July and December) at 7 p.m. and multiple stargazes are held throughout the year around town and in Madison County (weather permitted). Meetings are free to attend; membership is $25/year.

Gardening Special Interest Group | UNC Asheville Reuter Center

Visit gardens, exchange plants + learn tips and tricks of gardening in N.C. Meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 4:15 p.m. Bonus: Each meeting ends with an optional “tea with friends.”

Travel | UNC Asheville Reuter Center

Meet new travel companions while you plan your next trip around the world, or share memories from past travels. Meets the third Friday of the month from 2-4 p.m.

See more Special Interest Groups here.

🎭Music + the Arts

Asheville Art Museum, 175 Biltmore Ave. + 2 South Pack Sq.

Membership for 65+ starts at $50 and includes access to events, demonstrations, workshops + more. The Pack Square location is finishing up its renovations now and should be open by late summer.

Asheville Symphony Orchestra, 27 College Pl.

With performances around town at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium + more. Purchase season tickets or a la carte events. Upcoming concerts include Masterworks – an evening of Ginastera, Piazzola, Revueltas, and Ravel on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. Single tickets go on sale in August.

First Fridays + Second Saturdays

Check out all of the offerings + exhibitions from local galleries downtown (on the first Friday of the month) and in the River Arts District (second Saturdays). Read our full piece on making the most of the arts in Asheville, including guided tours of arts + crafts, here.

Craft City Tour, 67 Broadway St.

Monthly walking tours in warmer weather last around three hours and feature food, drink, and behind-the-scenes craft, art, and history in downtown Asheville led by local food + craft experts.

The Asheville Drum Circle, Pritchard Park

Join in with one of Asheville’s favorite traditions for all ages + enjoy this eclectic experience of the city. Bring a drum and be ready to dance or people watch and join in the fun. Occurs Fridays from 6-9:45 p.m., weather permitting

Shindig on the Green, Roger McGuire Green at Pack Square Park

With eight performance on the schedule, this year’s Shindig begins on June 30 and kicks off “Along About Sundown”. The festival, now in its 52nd year, is always free + family-friendly and highlights traditional mountain music. Happens on Saturdays, June-September, from 7-10 p.m.

Shakespeare in the Park, 92 Gay St.

North Carolina’s longest-running Shakespeare in the Park festival, put on every summer by the Montford Park Players, will feature works including Romeo and Juliet + Winter’s Tale this season. Bring chairs or blankets and drinks + snacks. This free event runs Friday-Saturday evenings in the summer.

Asheville Community Theatre, 35 E. Walnut St.

Summer shows include Rabbit Hole ($12+), Love Linda ($25), and local storytelling event Listen to This, hosted by comedian and writer Tom Chalmers ($15).


Biltmore Estate,1 Lodge St.

Tour the country’s most famous and largest privately-owned home and explore the surrounding gardens + trails. The 2019 Summer Concert Series, with headliners like The Beach Boys + The B-52s, opens July 25. Annual membership is $219. Bonus: Do you have an annual pass? Check out this “annual pass holder” meetup group.

Grovewood Village History Tours, 111 Grovewood Rd.

See the historic site of Biltmore Industries, which was founded by Edith Vanderbilt and shipped its famous textiles all over the world. Tours include a visit to the Dye House (usually closed to the public) and last around 45 minutes. Tours run Wednesday through Saturday, starting at 1 p.m., from April–November.

Carl Sandburg Home, 1800 Little River Rd., Flat Rock

See Connemara – the home of renowned poet Sandburg and wander the beautiful gardens + grounds. Protip: Be sure to stop by the goat farm, which still breeds goats from Lilian Steichen Sandburg’s famous line of the animals. Guided tours available daily– $5/adults, $3/children + seniors.

Asheville Trolley Tours, 36 Montford Ave.

Gray Line Trolley provides an all-ages tour of Asheville’s historic spots – including ghost tours and holiday tours on special, seasonal occasions – in an atmospheric trolley car.

Haunted Asheville, 80 Broadway St.

Walking tours in spots including downtown + Biltmore Village, filled with the history of all of the supernatural entities + fascinating stories in the area. Tours last approximately two hours and feature guides who are experts on all things ghostly. Interested in the technical side of ghost hunting? Try Ghost Hunters of Asheville, whose interactive walking tours in downtown, Montford + Black Mountain include using spirit boxes, EMF meters and ambient thermometers.

Pinball Museum, 1 Battle Sq.

Get nostalgic with this vast collection of 80+ classic pinball games, all in working condition (so you can play as much as you’d like). Admission is $15. Closed Tuesdays.


The North Carolina Arboretum, 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way

Enjoy walking trails, special exhibitions + events (including the current perfume exhibit and the popular Bonsai exhibition). Additionally, explore native plants and wildlife. Annual membership starts at $50 and includes free parking.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Explore the nation’s most-visited national park day or night. Take in the views while driving, or park to catch a closer glimpse along the scenic overlooks and trails (including the state-long Mountains to Sea trail) as well as some of the most famous + highest peaks in the area – including Mt. Mitchell and Mt. Pisgah.

WNC Nature Center, 75 Gashes Creek Rd.

Meet native fauna like black bears, otters, foxes + more. Special events + volunteer opportunities are available. Membership (in the Friends of the WNC Nature Center) starts at $34 annually and includes free admission.

Botanical Gardens at Asheville,151 W. T. Weaver Blvd.

Stroll through 10-acres of streamside gardens filled with native plants next to the UNC Asheville campus.


There are many opportunities to get involved in Asheville by volunteering. Check out our piece on volunteering here to explore a few of them.

Buncombe County Library Events, Multiple locations

Programming is daily, and this week includes Pack is 100: Bibliobrew Tap Releases & Library Outreach; Geri- Fit Workout for Seniors; Hidden History of Asheville Book Release + more. Full schedule here.

Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe, 55 Haywood St.

Free author events and readings, plus book clubs that meet approximately once a month, including groups that read works in translation, mystery, and women writers.

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