22 Affordable Summer Adventures Your Kids will Love

Here are 22 WNC summer activities to try with your kids.

Your stash of sidewalk chalk is worn down to nubs. There’s glitter in cracks of your countertops you’ve never noticed before. And you’ve personally seen this episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants” three times so far this week.

When does school start back?

It may feel like your energy for keeping the kids busy is winding down faster than summer break. But there are plenty of local adventures that everyone in the family will love. Here are 22 WNC summer activities to try with your kids.

Enjoy a Picnic in the Park

Summer is a great time to take advantage of the many public parks and greenspaces around WNC. Pack a picnic lunch and head out to the riverbank with the kids. For an added bonus, take your picnic to the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater in Asheville for a performance from the Montford Park Players.

Float down the River

Nothing cools you off in the summer like a dip in fresh mountain springwater! Enjoy floating down one of our local rivers, like the French Broad, with the whole family. All you need are an innertube (or rafting guide from French Broad Rafting) and some sunscreen. And your floaties, of course—safety first!

Learn Something New

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that your imagination should take a break, too. Keep your kids’ minds sharp with a visit to a local children’s museum. We recommend AMOS (Asheville Museum of Science) and Hands On! in Hendersonville.

Scream for Ice Cream

Summer isn’t summer without ice cream and popsicles! It’s fun to make your own, but there are plenty of local ice cream parlors to try if a craving hits while you’re out and about. We’re partial to The Hop in Asheville and Log Cabin Frozen Treats in Waynesville.

Become a Pinball Wizard

No quarters are necessary to visit the pinball museums in Asheville or Hendersonville. A modest entrance fee is all you need to play all day on their classic and more modern machines. Asheville Retrocade in West Asheville is another great option for kids of all ages!

Have a BBQ

In the South, the smells and tastes of summer always include burgers, baked beans, and barbecue. Enjoy a cookout at home, or take the whole family out for dinner at one of WNC’s top barbecue restaurants. We guarantee you won’t have to argue about finishing your plate!

Party in the Street

WNC summer festivals are still going strong! Watch your kids get their boogie on at the upcoming LEAF Downtown Asheville or Mountain Dance & Folk Festival. And save the date for one of the area’s many Labor Day celebrations.

Enjoy America’s Pastime

Take the whole family out to a ball game. The Asheville Tourists have attracted baseball fans of all ages for well over 100 years! While you’re there, don’t forget the peanuts and Cracker Jack, and root, root, root for our home team. You know the rest….

Go for a Hike

Work off some of your kids’ copious stores of energy on the trail! Whether you prefer the paved paths of your local park or a lookout over the Blue Ridge Parkway, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature and get a little dirty.

Experience the Power of Volunteering

We love our local nonprofits! Teach your kids the value of giving back by diving into the mission of a local organization. There are plenty of single-day opportunities for volunteers of all ages, or you can find a local event that could use a few extra hands.

Meet the Local Wildlife

There are a lot of bears around WNC, but if you see one in the wild, it’s best to stay away. Instead, visit the animals at the WNC Nature Center—all of them are native to our region! If you’re in Downtown Hendersonville, we also recommend stopping into Team ECCO, our local aquarium and shark lab.

Make a Splash

From community swimming pools to natural pools throughout our mountains, there are myriad natural and man-made swimming holes! Sliding Rock near Brevard is perhaps the most preeminent of them all—It’s a natural waterslide! Kids too young for the pool will also love Splashville, Asheville’s seasonal interactive play fountain.

Practice Your Putt

Looking for an opportunity to mix outdoor sports with a big game safari and family-friendly competition? We’re big fans of WNC’s mini golf courses. Choose from indoor or outdoor courses, and watch out for the volcano!

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

An alley cat frozen in time. The center of the bullseye. A WWII bomber plane. It’s easy to build your own scavenger hunt. (All these suggestions can be found around Downtown Asheville.) Or look for family-friendly pre-made options online or from local tour companies.

Have a Family Game Night Out

Did you know that Asheville has its very own board game cafe? At Well Played, one flat fee gets you access to an entire wall of board games for players of all ages! Never worry about missing pieces again. And don’t miss their kid-friendly snacks like goldfish crackers and ice cream floats.

Climb to the Treetops

Fly through the air with the greatest of ease! Kids as young as four can enjoy a zip line adventure of the treetops. From Asheville to Saluda to Bryson City, there’s a zip line company available near you.

Be Superheroes for a Day

Your kids don’t want to wait for Halloween. They want to dress up like Batman today! Take them somewhere where their imagination is encouraged—your local comic book shop. You can find comics, toys, and more for kids of all ages. And many host events year round.

Go Green

Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the North Carolina Arboretum offers tons of opportunities to get outside and explore! Their youth and family programs make it easy to learn STEM skills. And the Nature Discovery Room lets you observe live animals in realistic habitats.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Battle pirates for buried treasure. Fly through outer space to rescue the damsel in distress. Solve the mystery of the missing chocolate chip cookie. It’s all available to you—within the pages of a book! Visit your local library or independent bookstore to begin your journey today.

Take a Bite of the Season’s Best

There are so many reasons to love your local farmers market! Show your kids how much fun it can be to shop local and eat local, all in one place. While you’re there, try something new and bring home fresh produce to prepare together. It’s a memory and a skill they’ll have for life.

Go Stargazing

Did you know you can rent a telescope from the Buncombe County Library? If your kid loves to stay up late, stargazing could be a great activity to try. Visit the Asheville Astronomy Club during one of their public events or trek up to the Bare Dark Sky Observatory in Burnsville.

Take a Vacation (in Your Hometown)

The suggestions above allow you to take advantage of what your hometown has to offer. But there’s still more to see! Spend a couple days pretending like you’re on vacation in your own hometown. It’s a great way to gain a new perspective of the landmarks you pass every day!

What did you think of this list? Did we miss any local activities that you enjoy sharing with your kids?


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