There’s no shortage of opportunity for adventure in and around Asheville—something for families with kids in every age range. You can find the right-size adventure for yours in the woods, on the water, at the farm, or at a local science or history site. No matter how they define fun, your kids will enjoy their visit to Asheville just as much as you do.

Animal Adventures
Kids can get up close to their favorite animals at the WNC Nature Center. Located just five minutes from downtown, it’s full of discovery for even the littlest ones, with pettable animals such as sheep and goats and wild ones including bears, red wolves, and the ever-popular red pandas. There are play areas and lots of hand-on activities for every interest.

At Winchester Creek Farm in Waynesville, you’ll find fluffy, lovable alpacas grazing in the fields and a variety of miniature animals (donkeys, cows, horses, and pigs) as well sheep, bunnies, and loveable sheepdogs there to greet you. Plus, there’s ice cream!

While in Haywood County, head to Cataloochee Valley for a look at the famous elk, among the few found east of the Mississippi. While they roam free freely through the valley and sighting isn’t guaranteed, you’re likely to spot them in the late afternoon and close to dusk near the ranger station.

On the Water
WNC’s rivers call out to be enjoyed in so many ways. For a laid-back afternoon, you can float the French Broad with tubes from Zen Tubing  or Headwater Outfitters, who will also help with your transportation. There are multiple places to pull in and out of the river depending on how much time you want to spend on the water. If stand-up paddleboarding is more your speed, Wai Mauna SUP Tours can supply the equipment or take you on a tour.

Asheville Adventure Company offers a range of watercraft, from kayaks and canoes to tubes. They also offer whitewater rafting on the French Broad with experienced guides. Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC)’swhitewater rafting trips are legendary, but they can also help you out with other kinds of outdoor excursions in Western North Carolina’s rivers, lakes, and forests.

If your family is looking for a truly epic adventure, try the French Broad Paddle Trail with a day trip or an overnight at one of the trail’s 11 paddle-in camping areas. The trail area includes mostly flat water at its start in Rosman, with class II and III rapids sporadically located as you get closer to Asheville.

In the Woods
There are thrills for every member of the family at The Adventure Center of Asheville with the Kid Zip zipline (designed for kids aged four to 10), Asheville Treetops Adventure Park ropes course, Zipline Canopy Tours, and Kolo Bike Park, for mountain bike riders of every level.

Go deeper into the woods at The Bike Farm in Brevard, offering instruction plus guided rides in Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Recreational Forest for beginners to experienced riders.

Farm Fun
Head up the Blue Ridge Parkway to The Orchard at Altapass on a Saturday and you’ll have enough to do all day: live old time music and dance, nature trails and the famous Storytelling Hayride, a 45-minute ride through the orchards with professional storytellers who spin yarns about the Overmountain Men and more. Plus, there’s an in-store ice cream counter and a lunch wagon.

At Stepps Orchard in Hendersonville there are seasonal U-pick activities depending on the timing of your visit as well as hayrides, nature trails, and, on the weekends, the farm’s famous the “apple canon” where you can try your skill at hitting a target with an apple.

Friendly Competition
There’s nothing like a game of mini-golf to bring out a spirit of friendly competition in the family. At Lakeview Putt and Play, there are 18 chances for that perfect hole-in-one, plus other amusements, including laser tag and gellyball, a new paintball-style game with no stain and easy clean-up, as well as VR gaming. There’s truly something for everyone. Parents love Salt Face Mule in Weaverville for the same reason—they can enjoy the brewery’s own craft beers and Appalachian-inspired menu then hit the putt-putt course with the kids, or let them play while the grown-ups enjoy a drink.

Active Imaginations
Kids of all ages love to create. Pass the hours making something you can take home with you. Whether it’s a rainy day or the family could use some creative time together, stop in at Claying Around and play in the play. In addition to painting pre-made items ranging from mugs to figurines and much more, you can book a lesson on the pottery wheel or hand-build your own pieces. At Fired Up Creative Lounge on Wall Street in the heart of downtown Asheville, you can try your hand at building your own pieces, too, paint existing pieces, or take a spin on the wheel. If painting on canvas is more your thing, you can try that, too, or learn the art of glass fusing.

History and STEM
The home of America’s “People’s Poet,” the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock offers kid-friendly performances of Sandburg’s stories every Thursday and  Saturday at 10:15 a.m. during the summer plus dairy goat barns with pettable goats and gentle hiking trails up Glassy Mountain.

At Fort Dobbs in Statesville (a little over 90 minutes from Asheville), costumed interpreters in British and Cherokee garb educate visitors about life and events that took place during the Seven Years War (1754-1763) when this was America’s western frontier. Admission is free and guided tours around the blockhouse are available for a small fee.

Little stargazers can learn about the galaxy at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) which invites the public to dark sky nights and offers group tours with a resident astronomer.

Asheville has earned reputation for family fun—there’s so much to do for every kind of interest, and kids of all ages. No matter the time of year or the weather, you’ll find a place to create perfect memories. Visit our Play page for more ideas on how to make the most of your visit.