Asheville offers enough tours to keep you occupied for many days. Here are some of the most notable tour offerings in Asheville. A few are free, but most have a fee. Some offer discounts for seniors, military personnel and AAA and AARP members. In most cases, advance reservations are required. More notable tours are highlighted in RED. Keep in mind that some of these tours are run by individuals with a cell phone and website and are subject to frequent change.
Asheville Brews Cruise (828-545-5181, www.brewscruise.com) takes beer lovers on tours of three or four local breweries for $52 to $67 per person. Van tours, daily except Monday (less frequently in winter), last about three hours and include samples of around a dozen beers and ales. The same company, which started in Asheville, now offers brews cruises in Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Charleston and Charlotte.
Asheville Food Tours (828-273-0365, www.ashevillefoodtours.com) offers tasting tours of Downtown. Typically, in the 2 1/2-hour walking tour you’ll visit at least seven food shops and restaurants, taste some items and perhaps meet the chef. Tours are Tuesday-Friday at 2 pm March-November. Downtown tours meet at 1:40 at the elevators in Grove Arcade at 1 Page Avenue and cost $44.
Asheville Hot Air Balloons (909 Smoky Park Hwy., Candler, 828-667-9943, www.ashevillehotairballoons.com) lets you get a mile high and experience Asheville and the nearby mountains from the sky. Sunrise balloon flights (winds are usually calmer at daybreak than at other times) last about an hour, and the whole process takes about 2 ½ hours. Cost for a shared flight is $235 per person. A private flight is $600 per couple and includes complimentary champagne. The company flies daily, mostly over the Hominy Valley southwest of Asheville, as long as weather conditions permit – a minimum of 3 miles visibility, wind less than 8 mph and no thunderstorms. Asheville Hot Air Balloons has a staff of three experienced pilots (one is also qualified on 747s) and about 11 “chasers” who follow the balloon to its landing site. Where the balloon lands depends on wind speed and direction.
Asheville Running Tours (828-280-1867, www.ashevillerunningtours.com) allows you to experience Asheville on the run. ART’s jogging tours of downtown Asheville are available for runners of any level. See website or call for dates and times.
Asheville Urban Trail (Asheville Parks & Recreation Department, 70 Court Plaza, 4th Floor, 828-259-5800, www.ashevillenc.gov/parks) is an excellent self-guided, free walking tour that takes you to 30 of Asheville’s most important historic, literary and architectural sites, on a 1.7-mile route. It takes about 2 hours to complete the tour. The Urban Trail was established by the City of Asheville. Free Urban Trail maps are available at the Asheville Visitor Center at 36 Montford Avenue or its satellite kiosk in near Pack Square, and at many businesses in Asheville. Download a free map, brochure and audio mp3 files from the City of Asheville website.
Eating Asheville Walking Food Tours (828-489-3266, www.eatingasheville.com) has food, brewery and occasional cocktail walking tours in downtown Asheville. The 2 ½-hour food tours operate several days a week at 2 pm from March to December. Check the Eating Asheville’s website calendar page for information. Meet inside the Battery Park Champagne Bar in the Grove Arcade at 1 Page Avenue at 1:45 pm. Eating tours are $57 and $47. Prices include food and drink tastings.
Electro Bike Tours (24 College St., 828-513-3960, www.electrobiketours.com) offers the chance to bike Asheville with a little help from electricity. Electro Bike Tours offers pedal-assisted biking tours and rentals. Electro uses Ketler Twin electric bikes, which are similar to a Moped – you pedal but the power assist helps you get up hills or move more smartly in the flats. A two-hour guided tour ($45 including the bike) takes you to the highlights of Asheville. Rentals are also available.
Ghost Hunters of Asheville (828-779-4868, www.ghosthuntersofasheville.com), billed as “Asheville’s only interactive ghost tour” with “free access to ghost-hunting equipment,” Ghost Hunters offers downtown and Montford walking ghost tours. Hours and dates offer vary seasonally but most leave after dark from the Battery Park Champagne Bar in the Grove Arcade at 1 Page Avenue. Adults $18, children 8-14 $10, children 7 and under free. A Ghosts and Grapes tour is $65.
Grayline Trolley Tour (828-251-8687 or 866-592-8687, www.graylineasheville.com) offers narrated historic and ghost tours of Asheville on a fleet of red trolleys. The company merged with Historic Asheville Trolley Tours, which had white trolleys, in 2014. Grayline says that in season (mid-April to mid-November) its tours leave every half hour from the Asheville Visitor Center on Montford Ave., with around nine stops on a 1 ½-hour circuit. Other times the tours depart less frequently. Ghost tours (about 75 minutes in length) are offered at 7 pm Saturdays in April, and Thursday-Saturday May-October, leaving from Pack’s Tavern on 20 S. Spruce Street. Grayline is closed January and February. Historic and ghost tour tickets are $24 for adults, children 5-11 are $12, children under 5 free. There’s a family rate of $54 for two adults and two children, and seniors get $2 discounts off individual fares. Tickets provide hop-on/hop-off privileges for two consecutive days.
History@Hand Tours (828-777-1014, www.history-at-hand.com) owner Sharon Fahrer of has been collecting oral histories and researching local history for several years. History@Hand offers a guided downtown Asheville tour ($20 adults, $12 students 7-15) and other tours. The Family Store tour is a free, self-guided tour highlighting the history of Asheville’s vibrant Jewish community and pointing out a selection of the locations of some 400 stores owned by Jewish families. Custom tours of Asheville are offered. All tours must be booked in advance.
LaZoom Tours (Ticket office 1 ½ Battery Park Ave., 828-225-6932, www.lazoomtours.com) is the popular tour where you ride a big purple open-air bus and listen to comedy skits and over-the-top jokes. Does that sound like fun? Well, it is, and quite a few LaZoom tours sell out. If you’re 21 or over, you can bring your own wine or beer, in unopened containers, (no hard booze) on the bus and really live it up. Pace yourself, though, as there is no restroom on the bus, and only the 90-minute City Comedy Tour stops briefly for a bathroom break. In peak periods such as October weekends, LaZoom has three or four tours a day, including City Comedy Tours ($24 adults, $22 for seniors, $21 for Asheville residents and $18 for “young adults) and one-hour Haunted Comedy Tours ($21 for adults). Tours don’t operate on Mondays or in January or February, and in slower period tours may not be offered every day. Check the LaZoom website for schedules. Due to adult-oriented comedy routines, riders must be at least 17 on the Haunted Comedy Tours and at least 13 on the City Comedy Tours. Haunted Comedy Tours leave from the Thirsty Monk at 92 Patton Avenue. City Comedy Tours leave from the French Broad Co-Op at 90 Biltmore Avenue.
Moving Sidewalk Tours (Asheville Visitor Center, 36 Montford Ave., 828-776-8687, www.movingsidewalktours.com) lets you tour Downtown by Segway personal transporter. Moving Sidewalk Tours offers two to three-hour guided tours (including 20 to 45 minutes of training) on Segway i2s for $55 weekdays, $65 weekends. Tours are daily at 9, 1 and 5. Riders must be at least 14 years old, must weigh between 100 and 260 pounds.
Winery Tours Tours of area wineries are now offered by French Broad Vignerons, a group of about 14 area wineries, using small air-conditioned buses from Hendersonville’s The Trolley Company. Tickets may be booked online through a national wine tour and events management company, LocalWineEvents (www.localwineevents.com) or locally contact The Trolley Company (firstname.lastname@example.org, 828-606-8606.) Currently there are three different tours weekly, all leaving from the Westgate Shopping Center in Asheville and lasting around six hours. Tours, including Catawba Valley Wine Trail Tour, Elevations Wine Trail Tour and Gourmet Wine Trail Tour, typically each visit three wineries, with tastings of several wines at each winery. Cheese or other food tastings are included on some tours. For example, the Elevations Tour visits Burntshirt Vineyards, Parker-Binns Vineyards and Mountain Brook Vineyards, with tastings of about five wines at each winery, plus a cheese tasting. Ticket prices, including state tax and a ticket fee, range from around $100 to $110 per person.
All content copyright © Lan Sluder except selected photographs used by permission and brief quotations or other fair use text, which are owned by the copyright holder.
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