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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.