Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway with Kids

We visited Asheville mainly to visit the Biltmore Estate, but we did more than just visit the Biltmore. We only had two full days in Asheville because I underestimated the driving time to get from Ohio to North Carolina with 3 small children, so we crammed a lot into a short time! Here’s how we visited Asheville and took in some sights on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway with kids
Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway with kids
C learning how the roads were built. 🙂

We started the day on Saturday with a trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor’s Center. It is a beautiful building with some neat interactive displays. I was sad to learn from the guide that the Mt Mitchell Summit was closed to the public, so our initial plans for the day were thwarted. Instead, he urged us just to head north on the Parkway and stop at many of the scenic overlooks. They did not disappoint.

Brian and I loved all the scenic views! I was a little terrified when we would stop, the barrier walls weren’t very high and with little kids, it was hair-raising at times. I told O (who is prone to some crazy fits) that if he did not listen and fell down, his head would go splat! (Yep, things I never thought I would say as a mother, version #9537).

Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway with kids
Blue Ridge Parkway with kids
And pictures like this are why we will always travel as a family!
Blue Ridge Parkway with kids
We were so thankful for a clear day for views like this!

I know that the Blue Ridge Parkway is most popular in the fall for the vibrant color, but I think there is something to be appreciated about being able to actually see (no leaves on trees meant we had a good view 99% of the time, even while driving). Traffic was low. The road is pretty crazy- I can’t imagine sharing it with tons of motorcycles and camper vans.

The kids were getting antsy (I didn’t think about the fact we were doing a scenic drive just mere hours after a 7+ hour drive), so we decided to head into Asheville, get some lunch, and walk around the town.

Downtown Asheville

For as quiet as the BRP was, Asheville was hopping. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday and 60 degrees, so restaurants were full and the streets were busy. We found lunch at a soda fountain inside of an old Woolworths. It was inexpensive and they had hot dogs. The kids were thrilled!

I knew that Asheville was an artists’ colony, but it was much different than I expected. Asheville as a whole gave me the same feel that Santa Fe did (mountains, culture, great food scene), but there were definitely more hippies (for lack of a better word) and lots of dreadlocks, street performers, etc. It was ok, just not what expected- and I’m amazed that Jackson didn’t ask more questions! Haha. I tried some chocolate truffles from Chocolate Fetish and they were amazing, but most of all we just people-watched and window-shopped.

Blue Ridge Parkway with kids
The Flat Iron sculpture next to the Flat Iron building. (Along with hot dog grease on my jeans).

My top tips for Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway:

1. Stop by the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center to learn of closings or road work – I would not have known about Mt Mitchell had we not stopped. The websites I looked at showed it as being open.

2. Bring a jacket or extra layers. It was probably 20 degrees cooler on the BRP than it was down in Asheville.

3. If you have a family, I highly recommend the Homewood Suites by Hilton on Tunnel Rd. The location was convenient, the room was spacious, and the hot breakfast was one of the best I have had.

4. You may want to avoid a stroller in Asheville. Many of the sidewalks were made of cement tile or brick (i.e. bumpy) and they were full of people.

5. Give yourself enough time- I wish we had one more full day in Asheville. Give yourself 3 full days- especially with little ones!

Have you been to Asheville or the Blue Ridge Parkway? Any tips that you would add?

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4 thoughts on “Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway with Kids”

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  3. What month were you in Asheville? Im trying to plan a trip in march and am struggling to find info about the weather and trails open in march

    1. Hi Angie! We were also there in late March and the highs were in the low 60s and I believe most of the trails were open. We didn’t choose to hike on that trip (our kids were still very little), but we saw other families leaving on trails.

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