Need to reign in your spending but still want to have a good time? You’re in luck. We’ve rounded up an array of free + fun activities in and around Asheville so you can ball on a budget.
Asheville Urban Trail
This 1.7 mile trail includes 30 official stations with eye-catching sculptures — like a giant flat iron and a bronze version of Thomas Wolfe’s shoes — that highlight some of the city’s most extraordinary moments + accomplishments. View an interactive map at each location, or print out a hard copy. And for even more history, keep your eyes peeled for the African American Heritage Trail, which is in development and will highlight the unsung heroes and underrecognized achievements of Asheville’s Black community.
Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary
Looking for a little avian therapy? This eight-acre wetland, managed by the Blue Ridge Audubon, boasts nature trails + boardwalks from which you can see an array of resident and migratory birds. It’s also a great spot for a picnic. Pro tip: The sanctuary hosts bird walks on the first Saturday of every month.
A popular destination off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Craggy Gardens offers spectacular views and even more stunning floral displays, including Catawba rhododendrons, violets, and lilies. Bonus? The 1.4 mile round trip Craggy Gardens Trail also makes for a lovely + leisurely kid-friendly hike.
Dr. George Washington Carver Edible Park
Established 22 years ago to help combat local food deserts, the Dr. George Washington Carver Edible Park is one of the oldest community food forests on the East Coast. Over 20 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs are cultivated there, and it’s maintained by agencies like Bountiful Cities and other volunteer orgs. Check out its community workdays to get involved.
Mount Mitchell State Park
You really won’t want to miss the highest point in the Eastern Continental United States, which offers unparalleled vistas and ample opportunities for hiking+ camping. Plus, the selfies you can snap here are positively epic.
River Arts District
With over 200 artists working in 22 buildings across an array of mediums, this 1.5 mile part of town is an artistic haven. And while it’s always fun to wander around and watch art being made, we love visiting on the second Saturday of each month, when folks can ride the free trolley to each building, meet artists, and see demos.
South Slope Mural Trail
This self-guided, walkable trail is situated on ~2 miles in + around the South Slope. Completed last year, this relative newcomer to the scene features 17 works from local artists including Lara Nguyen, Ian Wilkinson, Ishmael, and Brushcan Custom Murals, and makes one of Asheville’s more vibrant areas even more lively.