One of the best parts about Asheville is the abundance of affordable things to do. Being surrounded by one million acres of national forest means lots of hikes and waterfalls to explore – made even more date-worthy with the addition of picnic supplies – and the city’s walkable neighborhoods also can make for fun, affordable date nights (or days). Here are 10 free and cheap date ideas to try in Asheville.
Set out on America’s favorite drive
Pack a cooler and a couple of chairs or hammocks and set out on the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest toward Tennessee or northeast toward Virginia. Whether you want to fill a couple of hours or a whole day, a drive along this breathtaking 469-mile route means quality time together enjoying the sights, rocking out to some road-trip worthy songs and perhaps a couple of stops at overlooks or trails to stretch your legs. Bonus points for timing out the experience to enjoy a sunset or sunrise along one of the parkway’s many stunning vantage points.
Speaking of the Blue Ridge, why not wow your date at the highest peak east of the Mississippi and head to Mount Mitchell? This nearly 7,000-foot summit has incredible views and only sits about 35 miles from downtown and will certainly make for memorable selfies with your date from its observation deck.
Hammocks and views
Passing a lazy day or afternoon swinging from hammocks is a favorite pastime of many Ashevillians, especially since hammock powerhouse ENO got its start in Asheville and has been making the city proud since 1999. Grab a couple of trees near the French Broad River at Carrier Park or head to the Rattlesnake Lodge area above downtown where a couple of fire pits invite impromptu campfires to day-hikers.
For a mix of history, culture, and art, consider taking a self-guided walking tour of downtown Asheville’s Urban Trail. This collection of 30 stops includes bronzed plaques and statues that tell the story of Asheville and some of its famous citizens like author Thomas Wolfe. Along this 1.7-mile scavenger hunt, pop into some of the stores, restaurants, galleries and bars to make this romp around town extra-special.
South Slope brewery hop
Asheville is a city of beer lovers, so exploring Beer City also makes for a fun date. To keep the cost down, split flights at South Slope breweries like Burial Beer Co., Green Man Brewery and Twin Leaf. Hungry? Food trucks frequent this area too, and can make for an affordable and tasty dinner solution.
River Arts District crawl
Exploring the River Arts District can easily fill a day. Watch artists in action at places like the North Carolina Glass Center or Silver River Center for chair caning, and windowshop at the many galleries collected in this funky part of town. Consider stopping for coffee after your art stroll to talk about your favorite pieces or grabbing affordable tacos from White Duck to round out the date.
West Asheville stroll
Another walkable area of Asheville, this neighborhood lines one main street, Haywood Road. Date-goers will find consignment shops, breweries, music venues and restaurants to while away the hours, but to turn up the playful factor, be sure to challenge your date to a game of pool or darts at Westville Pub or The Anchor Bar. Or, make the entire date about games and hit the Barcade –$10 all-you-can-play with a collection of pinball machines, skeeball and video games, plus a small bar.
This affordable outdoor destination charges by the carload, so for about $14, lovebirds can explore the expertly manicured gardens and trails hand-in-hand, plus learn a little more about this incredibly biodiverse region. Additionally, the campus includes several trails and hosts lots of special events and traveling exhibitions.
Outdoor festivals and events
Asheville hosts all kinds of affordable events, like a free concert series at New Belgium Brewery or Downtown After 5, happening every third Friday May through September. On these dates, a section of downtown becomes pedestrian-only so food and beer vendors can line the street and a large stage can be erected right on the street. Plenty of other food, music, beer, adventure and art festivals happen throughout the year, including RiverLink’s monthly concert series and Mountain Sports Festival, so mark your calendars and invite your date to one of these fun events.
Waterfalls undoubtedly make for magical moments, and the sheer volume of waterfalls in and around Asheville can make for quite an adventurous day. Pick out a handful and snap photos together in front of tall trickling falls, powerful gushers or even a few you can walk or drive behind and make a day of it.