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. For additional information on hiking, ziplining and other outdoor tours, please see the sections on Sports.
The Amazing Pubcycle (828-214-5010, www.amazingpubcycle.com) is a bicycle made for 14 that peddles its way (10 of the 13 riders have to help peddle, with the guide occupying the 14th seat) through Downtown, past various pubs and other sights. Regular guided tours, which should be booked in advance, last about 1½ hours, make two pub stops and cost $25 per person. A shorter “nomad tour” is also available. The 40-minute tour with no pub stops costs $15. Tours, which leave from the Aloft or Renaissance hotels, are BYOB, but glass containers aren’t permitted. The Pubcycle usually doesn't operate in winter.
Asheville Brews Cruise (828-545-5181; www.brewscruise.com) takes beer fans on tours of three or four local breweries for $60 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. This company was established in Asheville and now operates in more than a dozen cities nationwide.
Asheville Brewery Tours (2 Wall St., Suite 110, Downtown Asheville, 828-233-5006, www.ashevillebrewerytours.com) offers walking and van beer and food tours. Tours last about three hours, include sample beer tastings. Costs range from $49 to $69 per person, and some tours include lunch.
Asheville Food Tours (1 Page Ave., Grove Arcade, Downtown Asheville, 828-243-7401, www.ashevillefoodtours.com), the city's longest-established food tour company, offers tasting tours daily of Downtown. Typically, in the 3-hour walking tour you’ll visit at least seven food shops and restaurants, taste some items and perhaps meet the chefs. There are also weekly tours of West Asheville and other special-interest tours, including a weekend brunch tour and the "Asheville Burger Challenge." Prices range from $55 to $65 per person, depending on the tour. Tours operate year-round, but those scheduled from December through March require a minimum of four reservations.
Asheville Hiking Tours (828-476-8687, www.ashevillehikingtours.com) offers several waterfall tours, along with a tour to see the elk in the Smokies and in late spring a synchronous firefly tour. Rates are $50 to $75 per person, more for private and special tours.
Asheville Hot Air Balloons (Enka-Candler, 828-667-9943, www.ashevillehotairballoons.com) lets you get a mile high and experience the mountains around Asheville 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 $300 per person. A private flight is $800 per couple. There is a weigh limit of 250 pounds per person. Flights must have a minimum of two passengers and a maximum of eight. Usually passengers meet at Starbucks at the Ingles Supermarket on Sand Hill Road in Enka-Candler. 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 6 mph, a ceiling of at least 3,000 feet and no rain or thunderstorms. Asheville Hot Air Balloons has a staff of experienced pilots and “chasers” who follow the balloon to its landing site. Where the balloon lands depends on wind speed and direction.
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.
Blue Ridge Hiking Company (828-713-5451, www.blueridgehikingco.com) offers guided day and overnight hikes. A private full-day hike including guide and lunch is $265 for up to three hikers, $40 for each additional hiker; a half-day hike is $175 for up to three hikers ($25 for each additional hiker.) Rates for overnight hikes vary depending on the number of nights and number of hikers. For example, a two-day, one-night hike for two persons is $375 per person.
Brew-Ed Asheville Brewery and History Walking Tours (828-278-9255, www.brew-ed.com) has walking tours of several Downtown. Tours usually start at Asheville Brewing Co. on Coxe Avenue. Tickets cost $50 for a three-hour, three-stop tour. Walking tours with stops at two breweries are $37.
Eating Asheville Walking Food Tours (828-489-3266, www.eatingasheville.com) has several food, brewery and cocktail walking tours in Downtown Asheville, visiting up to six or seven local restaurants. The food tours operate almost daily and run from two to three hours in length. Check Eating Asheville’s website calendar page for information. Eating tours are $55 to $74. Prices include food and drink tastings, and the "High Roller" tours include five beverage pairings.
The Flying Bike (225 Coxe Ave, Downtown Asheville, 828-450-8686, www.flyingbiketours.com) does electric bicycle tours of Downtown Asheville. Tours typically last 2 1/2 hours, cover about 9 miles and cost $62 per person. Two to seven riders go with a single guide, visiting Montford, the South Slope, the Grove Park area and Downtown. Tours usually are at 9, 1 and 4 daily, depending on the weather, from mid-February to mid-December. Private tours and bike rentals are also available. To operate an electric bike, you must be at least 16 years old; riders must be at least 8. Weight limit for Pedego Boomerang bikes is 350 pounds. Electric bikes make going up hills easier, but bikers must also do some peddling.
Ghost Hunters of Asheville (828-424-1089, www.ghosthuntersofasheville.com), billed as “Asheville’s only interactive ghost tour” with access to ghost-hunting equipment such as dousing rods, spirit boxes, EVP recorders and EMF meters (whatever they are) and ambient temperature thermometers. Ghost Hunters offers walking ghost tours in Downtown Asheville, Montford and Black Mountain. Hours and dates vary seasonally. See website for details. Adults $20, children 6-15 $13, children 5 and under free. A minimum of four persons is required for a tour to operate, and weather, especially lightning, can cause a cancellation (with full refunds).
Grayline Trolley Tour (36 Montford Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-251-8687, www.graylineasheville.com) offers narrated historic and ghost tours of Asheville on a fleet of red trolleys. In season (March to December) its hop-on, hop-off tours operate daily, every half hour except in November and December when they are every hour, starting from the Asheville Visitor Center at 36 Montford Avenue. There are 10 stops on a 1 ½-hour circuit, including the Grove Park Inn, Grove Arcade and River Arts District. In January and February the tours operate on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only. Hop-on, hop-off tickets are valid for two consecutive days. You can also take a trolley without hop-on, hop-off privileges for $27 adults, $10 children. Ghost tours (about 75 minutes in length) are offered at 7 pm daily except Sundays April to November, leaving from Pack’s Tavern on 20 S. Spruce Street. Ghost tour tickets are $25 for adults, children 5-11 are $11.
LaZoom Tours (76 Biltmore Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-225-6932, www.lazoomtours.com) is a 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 can be, 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 ($29 adults, $26 for seniors and local residents), Haunted Comedy Tours ($26 for adults and $23 for seniors and local residents), Band and Beer Tours -- a live band plays on the bus -- ($34 adults, $31 seniors and local residents) and the family-friendly Kids Tour ($17 for those 4 and up). 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 21 on the Band and Beer Tours, 17 on the Haunted Comedy Tours and 13 on the City Comedy Tours. All tours depart and return to the LaZoom Room at at 76 Biltmore Avenue, which has a bar.
Moving Sidewalk Tours (Asheville Visitor Center, 36 Montford Ave., 828-449-8080, www.movingsidewalktours.com) lets you tour Downtown by Segway personal transporter. Moving Sidewalk Tours has two-hour guided tours (including 20 to 30 minutes of training) on Segway i2s for $60 per person weekdays, $65 weekends. Tours are daily at 10, 1 and 5. Riders must be at least 10 years old and weigh between 100 and 260 pounds.
No Taste Like Home Foraging Tour (828-209-8599, www.notastelikehome.org) does unusual wild food hunts. The Asheville area has some 150 different edible plants, with about 20 plants and 10 mushrooms making up the vast majority of edible wild foods by volume. Tours are expert-led with a cooking demo and tasting and a wild appetizer featuring your finds. A three-hour wild food foraging tour is $75 adults, $30 children 5-11, and includes an appetizer using the food you found prepared at a local restaurant. A 1 1/2-hour wild food stroll on the grounds of the Omni Grove Park Inn costs $40 for adults and $15 for children includes tasting up to a dozen wild plants and mushrooms. Dogs are permitted only on private tours.
The Trolley Company in Hendersonville (firstname.lastname@example.org, 828-606-8606, www.thetrolleycompany.com) in conjunction with French Broad Vignerons, a group of about 14 small area wineries, offers tours of area wineries and cideries. Tickets (a minimum of eight persons is usually necessary for a tour) may be booked by contacting The Trolley Company.
Tumblestone Waterfall Tours (828-242-5563, www.tumblestonetours.com) offers highly rated tours of waterfalls. The company will pick up guests at their hotels or other accommodations in Asheville and take them by van to at least three area waterfalls. There is some walking involved, usually easy to moderate hikes totaling about 3 miles. Tours take 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours and cost $72 to $75 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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