Asheville, North Carolina was the location that inspired us to turn our road trip dreams into a reality. There is so much food, so many things to do, and we couldn’t wait to get out and explore everything this awesome city nestled in the mountains. Visiting Asheville with kids can be a little daunting since so much of Asheville is geared towards adults, but Asheville is great for families too. Visiting Asheville with kids was a blast, and we can't wait to go back.
Where We Stayed
We stayed for three nights at the Crowne Royal Plaza in West Asheville and, man, was this hotel cool. The first two nights we were staying at budget hotels along the way, and I was honestly waiting for the catch because this place looked incredible online but it was suspiciously cheap. Even more, when we got to this resort, it was a real deal resort. The sprawling property had a golf course, a spa, and a real restaurant. The lounge areas impressed us and were lounges you actually would want to hang out in.
Like all of the hotels we stayed in, we made sure this place had a pool. Unlike the other ones, they had THREE awesome pools and not one of those sad tiny pools on the ground floor just steps from the lobby. The two outdoor pools we swam in we great sized pools that were fenced in and had plenty of lounging areas next to it which was great when we decompressed after a long drive.
Favorite Places to Eat in Asheville with Kids
Homegrown was the restaurant that inspired the whole road trip. Man, did this place not disappoint. Easily our favorite restaurant in Asheville (specifically, we went to the West Asheville location), it was hard to explore other options because we kept wanting more. We went three separate times while staying in Asheville, and we have zero regrets. Twice, I ordered the Open Faced Fried Chicken Biscuit smothered in Sausage Gravy and Cheddar Cheese. Both times it was absolutely fantastic. Just everything you’d ever want in a Southern Meal. The crispy and juicy fried chicken, flaky and buttery biscuits, and THAT SAUSAGE GRAVY. Just thinking about it makes me want to drive three days just to go get that again.
We thought visiting Asheville with kids was going to make us not be able to experience all the amazing food this place has to offer. Sure, there were a few places that didn't pass our sweat pants rule, but we ate like kings the entire stay.
Luella's was our first experience with Southern BBQ, and it lived up to the hype. We went here after our hike up the Craggy Gardens, and we were starving. We got a little bit of everything: ribs, chopped pork, smoked turkey breast, and the pulled chicken. I’m telling you, those ribs and chopped pork especially were incredible. I thought we had BBQ up North. I was wrong.
The girls were happy with their hotdogs and mac and cheese. We were happy with their creamy mac and cheese too. And those hush puppies--man, where have they been all my life. It is a good thing I don’t live in Asheville because my diet would consist of BBQ, hush puppies, and all the bbq sauce. Try their spicy BBQ sauces!
The Hop was the coolest little ice cream place we came across. My girls love ice cream. Like, they will both eat adult sized ice cream cones plus our ice cream cones if we’re not watching ours carefully enough.
The West Asheville location was such a cool place, and I wish we had one here. First of all, their flavors are crazy good. I had the buttermilk marmalade ice cream, and I could eat this by the gallon. A lot of their flavors are unusual (although they have plenty options for picky palettes) and so many dairy free/vegan options. My girls loved the goofy mural and interactive wall that they had for kids. Whoever designed this place clearly had families in mind--it’s perfect. If you are visiting Asheville with kids, you need to stop here.
Finally hiked to the top of a mountain… with our kids!
Getting to the Craggy Gardens
If you remember from one of my previous posts, you’d know hiking a mountain was a real goal of mine for my family. I wanted to see the mountains and I wanted to give that experience to my children including the small one who clearly would never remember. My wife is not into hiking, but this mountain was the perfect beginner’s level hike.
I was so serious about hiking, I made a deal with my wife that I could wake up hours before the kids and do a solo hike if it meant that much to me because the kids would not be good for a several hour hike. Instead of driving in darkness throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains to climb a mountain at dawn while my family slept, I researched and found the Craggy Gardens Summit. It seemed like a perfect fit--not too strenuous, a mountain top hike, less than 45 minutes away. I did a quick search on Instagram, and I saw plenty of kids throughout the geotagged pictures, so I knew it was accessible. This was my pitch to my wife.
Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful and anxiety inducing
One thing I didn’t know or warn my wife about was the drive itself was on the Blue Ridge Parkway; I found the drive so breathtaking, I literally begged my wife to pull over so I could take pictures while my wife has never had a more anxiety induced driving experience. It is a winding road hugging a mountainside and there were even people biking UP the road. My wife gets anxious crossing a bridge, so this was torture for her--beautiful, but still torture. She also thought the kids and I would fall off the side, so she didn’t want our 4 year old to come with me to take the pictures from the side of the road.
Knowing my four year old, I do think it was a better move to keep her in the car, plus in and out of the car seat is the worst. Our youngest fell asleep on the way there, so the fact my wife was even okay with me constantly opening and shutting the door should tell you how excited I was and how much she knew it meant to me.
Hiking Craggy Gardens
Craggy Gardens was a beautiful and easy hike. If you go in the summer, you’ll love the fact it is about 15 degrees colder once you park--this was an added bonus since we were mid-heatwave. There is plenty of parking, and you can wait out some clouds in the gift shop and ranger station if you’d like. The was relaxed enough that my wife had our youngest in a Tula, my oldest could run ahead without danger, and there were places to stop and explore along the way.
If you’ve never hiked before, this is an amazing first trail you can experience with your family. My daughter loved being able to climb on logs and trees (one she explained was the magic tree of the mountains) and I loved that the incline was low enough that it never felt too strenuous.
The sights along the way were truly magical…
...but that summit was breathtaking.
Asheville was great because it had a little bit of everything. I could live in the wilderness with Big Foot, but my wife really loves a nice, walkable town for vacation. I do too, but it’s my wife’s jam. If it is your jam too, you’d love downtown Asheville.
Asheville has a ton of cool stores to pop into like Mast General where you can find fun souvenirs from your trip, but there are so many boutiques to see too. You should check them out if your kids will cooperate. Ours, not so much. All in the same area, we hit some shops; got coffee from Double D's, the cafe inside a double decker bus ; and took photos at the Before I Die wall.
We completed our trip by driving over to the Iconic “Good Vibes” Water Tower which has since been painted over with the new and equally fitting “Stay Weird.” We found the tower by searching for White Duck Tacos (who have amazing tacos to eat post impromptu photo shoot). I was relieved to see a family finishing their professional photographs at the tower as we got there, because it’s an empty loading dock covered in graffiti. Obviously super hip and transparently for the gram, this place was a stop I totally don’t regret doing because it took 15-20 minutes and the pictures are wonderful.
If you are going or have been to Asheville, tell me your favorite spots! We hope to go back someday soon, finances permitting. It was such an amazing experience, and it really started our road trip on a high note. Visiting Asheville with kids was something we thought could go either way, but we knew it would define the mood for the rest of the trip.