Welcome to the Asheville Adventure Guide’s Best Family Adventures section. Below you will find information on the best family adventures in the Asheville, NC area including the Appalachian Amusement Center, Lake Lure, the Laurel River Trail, the Davidson River, and the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay.
For a unique, once in a life time experience head over to Waynesville (30 minutes) and try the Appalachian Amusement Center’s vertical wind tunnel. This simulated skydiving experience will give you the thrill of flying without having to jump out of a plane. Fliers typically soar 5 to 15 feet above the net while enjoying outstanding mountain views. Also a 3 to 5 minute flight is comparable to a 30 minute aerobic workout and all you gotta do is relax and enjoy. This is great family friendly adventure and requires absolutely no previous experience. Once you catch your own big air be sure to ask the good folks at the Appalachian Amusement Center about Travis Pastrana’s world famous 80 foot aerial stunt above the net. Minimum weight requirement is 40 lbs.
Directions from Asheville: Take I-40 W to Exit 20. Head 7/10 of a mile to a right turn onto Adventure Park. Turn left up the driveway just after the Appalachian Amusement Center sign.
Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle the warm waters of Lake Lure, a mountain lake nestled in the heart of Hickory Nut
Gorge. Rocky domes and green peaks surround the family-friendly lake on all sides. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent at the Lake Lure Marina. After the paddle, chill-out and build sand castles at the Beach of Lake Lure.
Directions from Asheville: Take I-240 E to Exit 9. Stay on 74A E for 20 miles. The Lake Lure Marina is a few miles past Chimney Rock Park.
For 3.6 miles, the Laurel River trail follows the picturesque stream of the same name, offering families a flat but scenic hike that ends at a ghost town where the Laurel meets the French Broad.
Directions from Asheville: Take I-26 W for 8.5 miles to Exit 19A to merge onto US 25/70 towards Marshall. Take US 25/70 for 21 miles towards Hot Springs. The Laurel River Trail is at the intersection of Hwy 25/70 and Hwy 208. There is a gravel parking area about 100 yards south of the intersection. Look for the brown Laurel River Trail Forest Service sign.
There are lots of nice swimming holes and sliding rocks on Davidson River to explore. We recommend this family friendly spot due to safe access to the river, the nice picnic spots and flush toilets (always a plus when in a national forest). After a dip in the river, check out the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. Admission is free to explore their various mountain wildlife exhibits.
Directions from Asheville: Take 1-26 E to Exit 40. Turn right on NC 280 towards Brevard. Follow NC 280 for 16 miles to Hwy 276. Turn right on Hwy 276 for 5 miles to the Coontree Picnic Area on your left. If you want to stop by the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, head up Hwy 276 another .5 miles. Bear to the left onto Forest Service Road 475 for 1.5 miles to the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.
Carrier Park and the French Broad River Park (part of the Wilma Dykman RiverWay) on Amboy Road offer two miles of flat, paved greenway trails perfect for biking with younger children. Pedal by the French Broad and enjoy a picnic on the banks of the river. Be sure to check out the newly opened trail just past Carrier Park that heads south along the river towards Bent Creek.
Directions from Asheville: Take I-240 W to Exit 1-B (Farmers Market, Hwy. 191). Turn left at the light and pass over I-240. Turn left at the very next light (I-240 E/ I-26 W.) and stay in the right lane. Take Exit 1-C (Amboy Rd). There are two parking areas along Amboy Rd.—Carrier Park is the first on your right; the French Broad River Park
will be on your left a few miles down Amboy.
Large lakes with expansive mountain views are hard to come by in the Asheville area. However, just 40 miles east is the 6500 acre Lake James with 150 miles of shoreline and sweet views of the Black Mountain Range. Your best bet for recreation is the Lake James State Park which currently covers 600 acres with another 3000+ acres (graciously donated by Crescent Resources) opening for public use. A portion of that new area will be open in spring 2010 and will include an additional swimming area with facilities.
Directions from Asheville: Travel approx. 37 miles on I-40 E to the Nebo/Lake James exit (Exit 90). Head north for .5 mile, turn right onto Harmony Grove Rd./State Road 1747 and follow it for 2 miles to a stoplight. Proceed straight across the intersection and past Nebo Elementary School to a stop sign. Turn right onto NC 126, and follow the signs to the park entrance 2.3 miles on the left.