As the highest city of its size east of the Mississippi River, there is no place on the East Coast like Asheville. It is a truly quintessential mountain city, surrounded by the highest peaks in the Appalachians, with views of the Blue Ridge and Great Smokys throughout downtown and surrounding areas.
There are half-a-million acres of protected national forest beckoning to be explored. Within a short drive in any direction, we have access to thousands of miles of hiking trails, including the famous, historic Appalachian Trail. We are a destination for mountain biking. People travel from all over to ride Bent Creek, Kanuga, Berm Park, Fire Mountain, Dupont State Forest, and Pisgah trails.
Land activities don’t stop with just hiking and biking. Zip line canopy tours, rock climbing, four-wheeling, wildlife gazing, and leaf viewing draw visitors and residents alike. There’s no shortage of watersports, either. During the spring and summer, our rivers and creeks are always full of people fly fishing, kayaking, tubing, and whitewater rafting.
Spending time outside is, of course, what you expect if you are visiting or have moved to western North Carolina. However, our city gets about forty inches of rainfall annually, spread out evenly across every month of the year. That means there is a fairly decent chance of getting rained on during your Asheville trip.
As it turns out, there is a lot of fun to be had in our area, even on a rainy day. If you know where to look, you might even be thankful for a chance to experience some of the indoor activities in and around Asheville. In this guide, we’re providing a list of options for making the best of a rainy day in western North Carolina.
Museums and Science
A great way to occupy the kids on a rainy day is to spend time learning in a fun environment like one of Asheville’s many science museums.
1) Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS)
“The Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS) is Western North Carolina’s home for experiential science learning, discovery, and exploration. AMOS strives to spark the imagination and foster lifelong curiosity.” – AMOS
For a fun time of learning and growth on a rainy day, AMOS is a must-visit in downtown Asheville. The Asheville Museum of Science is Asheville’s top interactive science destination. The entire family should visit AMOS, which features fully interactive exhibits and a variety of educational activities.
You can pretend to be a geologist in the Hall of Minerals, alter real-time environments at the Terra Box exhibit, search for fossils, and interact with the Teratophoneus dinosaur skeleton.
A museum honoring Bob Moog, the inventor of the synthesizer, The Moogseum, explores Bob Moog’s incredible contributions to sound and music.
Within the Moogseum, you will find multi-sensory, participatory timeframes and displays, an engaging dome presenting how power becomes sound, a historical investigation of synthesizers, and the possibility for visitors to play both theremins and Moog synthesizers.
“Come visit this one-of-a-kind immersive, interactive museum where Bob Moog’s pioneering legacy and the science of sound comes alive to inspire people of all ages.” – The Moogseum
3) WNC Nature Center
“The Western North Carolina Nature Center connects people with the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountain region by inspiring appreciation, nurturing understanding, and advancing conservation of the region’s rich biodiversity.” – The WNC Nature Center
The Western North Carolina Nature Center is a zoo and wildlife facility that allows visitors to see and learn about some of the amazing species of wildlife for which North Carolina is home.
4) The Pinball Museum
“The Pinball Museum is exactly what it sounds like, a building full of thirty-five pinball and thirty-five classic arcade games. And they are not just relics; you can play them as long as you like for just $15. It’s first-come, first-serve, so make sure you check their hours and arrive as early as possible.”
This is one of the most unique places to visit in Asheville, rain or shine!
Small Towns and Trains
Some of the most charming small towns in North Carolina are located in our area. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, you and your family might enjoy exploring some of the adorable communities nearby.
5) Black Mountain
“Named for a mountain range that towers over the town, Black Mountain became a haven for pioneers in the world of art, painting, music, poetry, and architectural design during the mid-twentieth century.” – Explore Asheville
Black Mountain is just fifteen miles east of downtown Asheville and is widely regarded as a favorite among visitors and new residents. There are numerous shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and more. It is home to Black Mountain Adventure Zone, where families can play laser tag, GellyBall, Battle Cage, and more!
6) Mars Hill
Home to Mars Hill University, Mars Hill is located twenty miles northwest of Asheville in Madison County. It is the last stop before you reach East Tennessee. A satellite and college town combined, Mars Hill is one of the most popular places to relocate for people moving to the Asheville area, and as such, it has charming restaurants, shops, and more.
“Mars Hill has a wealth of activities available that make it perfect for your next getaway vacation. The many vacation rentals available make it easy to hit the ski slopes or do some intense hiking on the Appalachian Trail.” – Visit Madison County
7) Bryson City and the Smoky Mountain Railroad
Bryson City is about an hour from Asheville, just a few miles from the entrance to the Great Smoky National Park, the second most-visited national park in the United States. It’s home to delicious food and culture and a hub for numerous outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and whitewater rafting.
Of course, if it’s raining, you’ll probably be sticking to food and shopping, but there is something else to do that is totally unique to Bryson City, the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.
The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad
“Our passenger excursions take you from our historic depot in Bryson City, through the beautiful countryside of Western North Carolina, to various destinations. Our variety of passenger train options and special event trains makes us perfect for making memories and experience the true form of railroading!”
If you have to do something on a rainy day, why not explore our beautiful area in an old-timey steam engine? The GSMR takes passengers through Bryson City and the stunning Smoky Mountains to picturesque Fontana Lake. It stops for long enough to explore and get a bite to eat at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
Asheville is known almost as much for the arts as anything else other than the great outdoors. Visiting some of the many art galleries in our area is the perfect way to kill some time on a rainy day, but also something you do regardless of the weather.
8) The Folk Art Center
The Folk Art Center in Asheville, which showcases the best in traditional and modern craft from the Southern Appalachians, is a must-visit location for art enthusiasts. Shop at the fantastic Southern Highland Craft Guild store (shown above), which features a huge selection of items made by hundreds of artisans, peruse changing exhibits in several galleries, and observe an artist in action.
“The Folk Art Center is the most popular attraction on the Blue Ridge Parkway, welcoming 250,000 visitors each year. It also houses a Parkway Store with National Park souvenirs and travel information. Just two miles south is the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center.” – Romantic Asheville
9) The River Arts District
The epitome of art and culture in Asheville, the River Arts District (RAD) is home to a number of world-class galleries housed in renovated warehouses. Its origin was organic, and the RAD is quintessentially Asheville. There are several restaurants and breweries, as well as greenway paths (if the rain isn’t too heavy).
10) Asheville Community Theatre
For those who love music and drama, the Asheville Community Theatre features the best performance artists our community offers. A rainy day is the perfect time to catch a show at Asheville Community Theatre.
“For more than seven decades, Asheville Community Theatre has been delighting audiences with high-quality performances starring the Asheville community!” – Asheville Community Theatre
11) Many Music Venues
Whether it’s rainy or not, you can find a great show at one of Asheville’s many amazing music venues, such as:
- The Grey Eagle
- The Orange Peel
- Isis Music Hall
- Rabbit Rabbit
- Off The Wagon Dueling Piano Bar
- White Horse Black Mountain
Shopping and the Food Scene
Sometimes a little retail and food therapy is exactly the prescription for chasing the rainy day blues away.
12) The Asheville Outlets
Asheville Outlets is a genuinely unique outdoor shopping destination that offers outlet brands from some of the best designers, including Coach Outlet, Banana Republic Factory Outlet, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Cole Haan Outlet, J.Crew Factory, Nike Factory Store, RH Outlet, Under Armour, West Elm Outlet, and more.
The journey is always worthwhile to visit Asheville Outlets due to its convenient location near popular attractions and quick access to I-26 and I-40.
13) Downtown Asheville
The city has worked tirelessly to make sure there are plenty of unique, independent shops in downtown Asheville. Just a few of the retail shops you will find in downtown Asheville include:
- The Grove Arcade shops
- Dolce Vida
- Mast General Store
- Asheville Emporium
- Voltage Records
- So much more
14) Must-Eat Restaurants
While Asheville is certainly known for the outdoors and art, the food scene is renowned as well. Some of the restaurants to check out on a rainy day include:
- Pack’s Tavern
- Table Asheville
- Buxton Hall BBQ
- Farm Burger
- Tupelo Honey Cafe
- Vortex Doughnuts
- Trade and Lore Coffee
- So much more
The Largest House
15) The Biltmore House
Built near the turn of the twentieth century, the Biltmore House is one of the most visited tourist stops in North Carolina.
“The largest privately-owned residence in the United States, the Biltmore House takes you back in time to the turn of the Twentieth Century opulence. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this living time capsule and exploring the intricately-designed grounds.”
The Biltmore House is a fascinating step back in time for adults and families. The grounds have additional fun activities like shopping, horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking if the weather clears up while you’re there.
Sometimes, you just need to burn off some steam when the rain is falling. The kids need to use up their energy, and you need a break from trying to entertain them. Laser tag and GellyBall at Black Mountain Adventure Zone can be the answer.
16) Laser Tag
You might not be aware of how much modern laser tag has changed and developed if you haven’t played it in a while. Laser tag at Black Mountain Adventure Zone is more like a live-action video game.
New LaserWar taggers with sensors and comfortable head straps have replaced cumbersome vests. Gone are the days of long twisty cords getting tangled as your run.
Sound effects and vibrations are used to inform each player of their actions. Players enjoy seeing all their stats displayed on screens in our arena with the game is over. We can efficiently run all sorts of games and scenarios to keep the fun rolling the entire time your party is here.
Laser tag at Black Mountain Adventure Zone frequently serves as the gateway to GellyBall. For those of you who haven’t played it yet, GellyBall is a brand-new, ground-breaking shooting game that combines the best elements of paintball and airsoft without discomfort.
GellyBall ammunition is not just biodegradable but also virtually entirely composed of water. It won’t leave a stain and is non-toxic.
GellyBall is suitable for children as young as five. The blasters are simple to use and run on batteries. They are simple to use and shoot accurately out to sixty feet. With just a brief lesson at the start of the game, both children and adults can be ready to fire in no time. We handle all the reloading. At the conclusion of the session, you’ll feel confident like a professional.
Play Laser Tag and GellyBall at Black Mountain Adventure Zone
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, we’d love to have you at Black Mountain Adventure Zone. Our indoor arena is just fifteen miles from Asheville, so if you see there is rain in the forecast, you can reach out to see if we have openings to book a party. Contact us if you’re ready to plan an event at Black Mountain Adventure Zone!