Western North Carolina is a popular destination, whether you’re just visiting or thinking about moving here, you’re bound to find something that will interest you.

This is partly because much of the area is family friendly and offers a lot of fun and safe activities for families to engage in year-round, although the breath-taking mountains may be reason enough. Whether your family is looking for an outdoor adventure, a cultural experience, or ya’ll want to learn something new, WNC has something for you!

There is a good balance between small town feel and big city convenience, and much of WNC is quite safe as well. Many families move here year after year and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. In fact, WNC has seen an unprecedented population growth since 2018. NC has had the largest numeric increase in population since 2018, falling only slightly behind Texas, Florida and Arizona. 

Because of all these new residents moving to the area, with the majority of them being families, many places on this side of the state are trying to keep up by building more entertainment venues, parks, and family friendly facilities and activity hubs. Fortunately for you, we’ve done the research and are happy to make suggestions. Keep reading to learn about family friendly activities in WNC!

1. Asheville Museum of Science. Located in the heart of downtown Asheville, this small, unpretentious education venue is specifically designed with younger children in mind. Inside the facility, there is a small play area, a French Broad River water exhibit, a classroom-like lab with STEM activities for young kids, and fossil and geology exhibits. Many of these activities are designed for children to explore the world with their senses. They also feature a small gift shop where children can find and take-home books, stuffed animals, and educational activities. They welcome school groups, birthday parties and offer other events such as summer camp programs and “ask the scientist” series where kids can ask their most pressing scientific questions.

2. WNC Nature Center. A 42-acre education and outreach facility featuring trails and exhibitions of over 60 species native to the area, the WNC Nature Center is fun for children and adults alike. The park was recently renovated and stays very well maintained by caring staff and volunteers who participate in trail and garden clean up, and other groundskeeping and maintainence to keep the facility beautiful. Animals have large enclosures, and many of them were rehabilitated and unable to be released in the wild due to illness, injury, or “imprinting” on humans. Along with previously rehabilitated animals, they have a breeding program set up for some of the most endangered animals, such as the Red Wolf, which is nearly extinct in the state. They also have an exhibit of two red pandas who were introduced to the park in 2019, and although they are not native, they are a distant relative of a species that once was native to the area known as the “Bristol’s panda” which was found to be living in the Appalachian Mountains nearly 5 million years ago. 

3. Carl Sandburg Home and Dairy Goat Farm. Located in Flat Rock, NC, The Carl Sandburg home was once the home of the famous poet and author Carl Sandburg. The site includes 22 historic buildings, 40 acres of pasture with a small dairy goat farm, a couple small lakes and several miles of woodland trails. The trails are low impact and fairly easy and accessible to even the littlest of legs. Entry is free, and although the site offers many different ways to enjoy it, such as tours, the dairy goat farm tends to be the most popular with both kids and adults. Before you go, however you may need to check with local guidelines regarding Covid-19 as some things may still be closed off to visitors. 

4. The Adventure Center of Asheville. If you and your children are looking for a little more adventure, the Adventure Center of Asheville is a good choice. The facility has a ropes course, a zipline and a mountain bike park for a fun filled, activity packed day of adventure. Kids under the age of 4 are not permitted, and liability waivers must be signed to participate. They offer a zipline specially made for kids under the age of 10, so your youngster can still enjoy age-appropriate activities, and they offer off site tours and activities such as whitewater rafting and Asheville Zipline Canopy Adventures, a bike park for all levels and bike rentals to hit the trails with. 

There you have it, some of our favorite local family friendly activities we encourage you to check out whether you’re just visiting or planning on moving here! For more information and other ideas for local activities, we recommend you check out Romantic Asheville which has many more activity ideas and information here.