Winter is actually a great time to visit Asheville, especially during the holidays! Though the leaves have already changed and parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway may be closed, there are plenty of great things to do and see.
This article shares ideas for how to enjoy winter in Asheville, from outdoor activities like skiing and snow tubing to fun holiday festivities, warm places to cozy up, tours and more.
What You’ll Find In This Article
If you haven’t booked a hotel yet, check out our guide to the top hotels in Asheville! It shares our picks for where to stay and why.
Things To Do Outdoors In The Winter In Asheville
Did you know there are several ski slopes within a 2 hour drive of Asheville? We can’t think of a more adrenaline-filled way to spend a winter day in Western North Carolina than on the slopes.
For the best skiing, you’ll need to drive a couple of hours to Sugar Mountain. But you can also have a really fun day at Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley. It’s about an hour drive that takes you West on I-40.
Ski slopes typically open in December and stay open through February.
Spend The Day Snow Tubing
If you aren’t quite a skier but want to spend the day in the snow, check out the nearby snow tube parks!
Snow tubing is a great way to get outdoors in the winter and is the perfect family-friendly activity. In fact, a few of the snow tube parks don’t have an age limit! Our guide to snow tubing near Asheville shares details on dates, age + height limits and more.
Hike Around Lake Powhatan
The loop around Lake Powhatan is a great option for any time of the year. The total trail is 1.6 miles, but there are several turnaround points if you are short on time. And given the minimal elevation change, it’s a great option for both kids and dogs.
The best part about it is that it’s only 15 minutes from downtown Asheville. It’s just next to the North Carolina Arboretum. And since it’s not off the Blue Ridge Parkway, you don’t have to worry about access roads closing in inclement weather.
Hike The Bearwallow Mountain Trail
You’ll find the Bearwallow Mountain Trail on the other side of Asheville from Lake Powhatan– it’s actually in Gerton, NC. We love this hike any time of year because it offers a steady (but not too steep!) climb that ends in a view.
Holiday Activities In Asheville
Below are a few of our favorite holiday things to do during the winter in Asheville. These are great options if you’ll be here in December. Make sure to check out full guide to holiday events in Asheville if you are looking for more Christmas inspiration.
Gingerbread House Competition
The Omni Grove Park Inn hosts an annual gingerbread competition, with this year being the 32nd event. It’s the perfect way to stay warm and get in the holiday spirit.
Expect beautiful, elaborate displays and even a life-size 10′ x 10′ Great Gingerbread House serving up hot chocolate.
The display begins November 27, 2023 through January 2, 2024. It is closed for viewing December 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 and January 1.
If you aren’t staying at the resort, you can view the houses anytime Monday through Thursday and after 4:00 p.m. on Sundays. All Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for registered resort guests and those that have confirmed dining reservations.
Christmas At The Biltmore
If you are looking for an absolutely magical experience, plan to visit the Biltmore Estate to experience their Christmas festivities.
Christmas at The Biltmore House is like no other. There are twinkle lights and trees everywhere, with candles and fireplaces guiding the way. It is so much fun to imagine what Christmas was really like in the house for the Vanderbilt family
And it’s not just the house that’s decorated. Even the trolleys have wreaths and lights!
You can either visit just the grounds or opt for a more expensive ticket that also includes a house tour. The grounds ticket includes access to Antler Hill Village. You’ll find shopping, decorations and hot chocolate here, as well as a model train and a playground.
Winter Lights at The NC Arboretum
Bundle up and head to the NC Arboretum for the evening to enjoy a spectacular outdoor walk-through light display featuring over one million lights. Their 50 foot tree is lit up and lights in the Quilt Garden are time to holiday music.
Our kids especially love it because the Rocky Cove Railroad model trains run during Winter Lights. Apart from lights, the train, hot chocolate booths and live music, you’ll also find firepits and heaters. Smore’s kits are available for purchase.
Visit A Christmas Tree Farm
Did you know that there are several Christmas tree farms only 30-40 minutes from Asheville? It’s a great way to shop local, enjoy an adventure and get in the Christmas spirit!
Our top recommendation for a Christmas tree farm near Asheville is Boyd Mountain. It’s an experience for the whole family! They open November 16th and close once they sell out, so plan to go early if you want a tree.
Other than you cut Christmas trees, they also have Santa visits, a small play area for kids, a market with wreaths and other decor, food, drinks, fire pits and more. It’s a fun way to spend a cold winter day!
Tours For Winter In Asheville
There are several fun ways to see the sights of Asheville in winter. Below are a few of our top picks!
Explore Asheville On A Trolley Tour
One of our top recommendations for exploring Asheville this winter is the Asheville Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour.
The trolley tour is a great way to see Asheville sights at your own speed, plus you don’t need to worry about parking. It’s especially fun if it’s your first trip to Asheville.
The trolley stops at all the major highlights in Asheville including Montford, Grove Park Inn, Downtown Asheville, River Arts District and Biltmore Village. Don’t worry if that sounds like a lot to do in a day — the trolley ticket is good for two days for unlimited hop-on/hop-off privileges so you can keep exploring.
Take a guided tour with Asheville Jeep Tours
With their custom Jeeps that look like safari vehicles, Asheville Jeep Tours offers a really fun way to tour the Blue Ridge Mountains. And don’t worry, there are plenty of winter views that make it worth the trip!
They will take you through the little known roads and paths in the mountains near Asheville, showing you some of the most stunning views around. In fact, you’ll get even better views in the winter of those hidden waterfalls.
Children ages 5 and older can ride in the Jeep– you’ll need to bring your own car seat, though.
Other Fun Things To Do In The Winter
Rent A Rooftop Winter Cabana
Looking for a way to stay warm and enjoy the outdoors? The Hemingway’s Cuba rooftop bar in downtown Asheville has the perfect solution for you. They have two repurposed greenhouses that act as seasonal rooftop cabanas.
Choose from a cozy lounge with the feel of a modern lodge, or opt for a full dining experience with panoramic mountain views.
Their menu features hot toddies, a s’more package and even a polaroid package!
Visit A Train-Themed Brewery
While a brewery with an outdoor play area for kids may not sound very winter-friendly, it’s actually a great place to warm up! You can opt to sit outside by a fire pit or inside with some seriously warm heaters.
It’s a fun place to bundle up and spend time outdoors. Plus, it’s not too far from the Bearwallow Mountain Trail mentioned above. The two make for an excellent day out!
Whistle Hop doesn’t have a kitchen but they do feature rotating food trucks. Our personal favorite is Smashville!
Disclaimer: Hours, pricing, menus, etc. may have changed since we last updated this post, so make sure to confirm all of this directly prior to visiting any business or attraction listed on our site.
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