Planning a winter trip or vacation to Asheville this winter?
Good! So much of the attraction to Asheville is largely centered around the natural beauty of the mountains surrounding Asheville – the fall color, the spring blooms. But there is so much to see, do, and appreciate during the winter months in Western North Carolina. There is much to see in the urban environment, especially in December.
There are also many benefits to exploring outdoors in the winter. Our personal favorite reason to get out in the winter is that there are fewer people on the trails! It can be challenging to get away from the crowds and find peace in the warmer months. We also love getting good views at places where the leaves can block your vantage point. We have several suggestions below to make the most of your winter vacation to Asheville!
Go Hiking at Roan Highlands
Photo of Roan by Stephanie Juergens aka Asheville Hikes
It’s not really a secret that our favorite place to visit in the area is the Roan Highlands. The views are some of the best on the entire east coast and the general scenery is just really unique and stunning. This very much holds true for winter. This is the place you’d most likely be able to find snow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Start at Carver’s Gap and hike north on the Appalachian Trail for great views! Please note that the conditions can be really brutal up at Roan in the winter with really strong winds and temperatures often well below freezing so be sure to wear appropriate winter gear for this hike.
Ice and Elk tours with WNC Photo Tours!
We sat around and put a lot of effort into thinking what would be the most enjoyable half-day winter tour we could possibly put together. What we came up with is a trip that takes you about an hour west of Asheville out to Great Smoky Mountain National Park to see the elk herds in Cataloochee Valley, a waterfall, and hopefully some giant ice walls up on the Blue Ridge Parkway! This tour is our longest half-day tour at 6 hours, making sure we have enough time to get to several different locations, take lots of photos, and learn a lot about photography in the process. Our Winter Ice and Elk tours are very adventurous and sure to please!
There are three main ski areas near Asheville; Beech Mountain Ski Resort, Cataloochee Ski area, and Wolf Ridge Ski Resort. Even though Asheville only averages about 10 inches of snow each year, all of the ski resorts listed here have several snow guns that can blow in large amounts of snow that keep the slopes full of powder during the winter months.
Explore Downtown Asheville
Winter is a great time to explore the abundance of amazing restaurants, breweries, and shopping that Asheville has to offer. You may find it more pleasurable to explore Downtown Asheville in the winter when there are much fewer tourists around. Parking should be relatively painless compared to summer or fall, and hotels should cost a little less, too! Many of the local businesses provide discounts during the winter to accommodate for slower winter sales. We recommend checking out Honeypot Vintage Clothing, Chestnut Restaurant, Bhramari Brewing, and Ben’s Tune Up to name just a few.
Visiting in December? Visit the Biltmore Estate, and N.C. Arboretum, and The Omni Grove Park Inn.
Each one of these spots has something special to offer during your holiday trip to Asheville. The well-known Biltmore Estate is lavishly decorated with traditional Christmas decorations and hosts “Candlelight Christmas Evenings” each evening through January 4th. The N.C. Arboretum does an annual show of amazing Christmas light decorations called the “Winter Lights” that the kids will love. The Grove Park Inn is always well-decorated during the holidays but the real attraction is the gingerbread houses! The Inn hosts a world-renowned gingerbread house competition each year and these tasty homes are quite impressive.