As I’ve written about before, I wasn’t always an Asheville resident. For more than a decade, Asheville was where I went on holidays and vacations to see my in-laws, and as such, I’ve got a pretty solid window into the times of year that people come here for fun and adventure during vacations.
That being said, I’ve now lived here for a year and a half as well, which means I’ve also seen the in-between times, the times when local residents are the primary folks visiting attractions and all that downtown has to offer.
So here we come to the real question: What is the best time of year to visit Asheville? As you might expect from people who love Asheville, all of us at About Asheville can find something incredible to love about every time of year in Asheville.
Fellow writer Laura mentioned that winter brings her inward, helps her enjoy the stillness, and she loves the flowers’ return in spring. She sees fall as marking a new year, letting go of old things the way the leaves of the trees are let go. She, like most of us, has many favorite seasons.
About Asheville’s founder Val loves the fall the best, specifically that she gets to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway every day and see the beautiful scenery, feeling lucky to live here. I personally feel the same about coming over particular ridges when driving on I-240 any time of year – seeing a whole horizon of mountains fills me with a feeling of well-being.
I will hold off till I make the case for each time of year before I reveal my personal favorite. Here are some of About Asheville’s resources on how to make any time of year that you visit Asheville the best it can be!
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Since I was a kid, I loved the first few warm days every year. There’s something so incredibly hopeful after a few gray and cold months about realizing that you don’t need a coat, or at least won’t by midday.
Asheville is a vibrant, green place, and with most of the city proper being in gardening hardiness zone 7A, the last frost is often on or before April 15th, meaning that you’ll find lots of new buds and early flowers before that date. Spring is a riot of beautiful color in Asheville.
If spring is your favorite season in general, you’re likely to love spring in Asheville. When you visit in March, stop by in April, or swing into town in May, you’ll find events and activities are available that are harder to do when it’s cold outside but not quite as much hubbub as you’ll see in the summertime.
Trails may be a little muddy but often you’ll get more hiking solitude than on pretty days in the later seasons – it’s well worth it to lace up your best sturdy boots and go for a trek.
Having spent truly hot summers further south in Texas, I know that Asheville is really the best of both worlds for summer: hot days where you can enjoy swimming pools and popsicles and sunshine on most days, but also cool mountain nights where there are very few evenings that aren’t made nicer by a fire in the backyard fire pit while you watch the stars wink on over the mountains.
It’s also just a big season for travel in general, meaning that Asheville’s festival, concert, and special event scene is in full swing, ready to offer you many ways to entertain yourself any day of the week.
Whether you’re launching summer with a June trip to Asheville, enjoying the Independence Day fun with Asheville in July, or enjoying the heat of the summer in August in Asheville, you’ll find more than enough to keep your days busy and lots of life on the street, where everything from street musicians to artists is visibly on display in downtown.
The heat also makes it possible to enjoy outdoor concerts and festivals on Pack Square, which are often free and open to the public and a top-notch spot for people-watching. This is also the time to visit the famed Pritchard Park drum circle!
If I had to guess what season the highest amount of people would advocate for when it comes to the best time to visit Asheville, I’d guess that autumn is the crowd favorite around here, not because it’s so much more fun than the rest of the year in Asheville, but simply because it’s hard to find the beauty of leaf-peeping quite as “on display” as it is here.
Hiking, biking, and just sitting out on a deck overlooking a mountain scene is a total feast while the leaves change color, cool-but-not-cold weather rolls in, and tons of events continue to keep visitors busy and happy.
Whether you’re considering a visit in September, a trip to Asheville in October, or a cozy time in Asheville in November, this is going to be the most intensely beloved time of year. You’ll see tons of people on the parkway. You’ll also want to get your dinner reservations early in downtown and make sure to book your lodging in advance so that you can get a great place to stay in Asheville.
Between the crisp and comfy weather, the continued high volume of events, festivals, and concerts, and the absolute light show of the trees, your crew won’t take much convincing to come and visit Asheville in autumn.
I actually think of Asheville’s winter as two distinct times of year. The December holidays, primarily Thanksgiving till New Year’s, is a wonderful time for walks with hot chocolate in your hands to keep them warm, enjoying holiday lights displays, and meeting friends for a delicious and cozy dinner downtown.
It’s the time of year to go to the Omni Grove Park Inn and marvel at the complex and intricate gingerbread house competition entries, many of which take as many as 200 hours to construct. It’s meeting Santa at the outlet mall or running a Turkey Trot or just picking out handmade gifts from the many local artisan shops and markets.
This is the time of year when, if you visit, you’ll get a good deal on a cozy cabin where you and your loved ones can play board games and go hiking and cook together with great mountain views. It’s the time of year when your bartender has enough time to not only serve you a great craft cocktail but also shoot the breeze a little because everything is a little less busy.
It’s a time of year when we get a delicious 60-degree day here and there and everyone slips out of their winter routines and just revels in a little sunshine. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’re luckier than most if you get to see the loveliness of the off-season here.
I’ll be honest – my favorite season will be summer no matter where I am because I love warm days, lots of time outside, and longer time in the sunshine. But my belief is that you can make the most of any season here in Asheville, even if there is no single best time to visit.
Here are my best tips:
- Visiting during a holiday season? Book things early, like tours, dinner reservations, and lodging. That way, when you’re here, you can enjoy the hustle and bustle without getting bogged down.
- Visiting during a quiet season? Review the About Asheville archives and find some of the stuff that the locals love so that you can enjoy some of the charms of just living here, or plan for your vacation to be about scenic beauty rather than an action-packed events list. You’d be surprised that you can have as much fun at a small live music night at a local brewery as you have at a packed headliner show at Rabbit Rabbit or Salvage Station.
- Visiting when it’s warm? Make time to cool off at a pool or in Pack Square’s Splashville, and keep lots of frosty drinks on hand – bonus points for local sips like Devils’ Foot Ginger Ale or Buchi Kombucha.
- Visiting when it’s cool? Pack lots of layers rather than an arctic parka, since we do get cold weather but frequently have mild days, even in February. Plan your trip around ways to warm up even if you want to fit in quite a lot of outdoor time, things like planning on a meal at Biltmore, even if you really want to spend time there hiking and enjoying the grounds.
There you have it! The best time to visit Asheville, NC. What’s your favorite time of year to visit Asheville?
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