See the Most Popular Asheville Attractions with Gray Line Tours
Let’s be honest, on a parent-to-parent kind of level. I know that when I’m traveling with my family it’s always helpful to familiarize myself with a city before I head out to chart a course in my own vehicle with my sweet but ever-needy, “I need a snack,” “Listen to my knock-knock joke,” “She’s on my side of the seat,” “I can’t find my iPod” children, who often prove to be quite a distraction while driving.
I mean, I’m sure you can admit that getting your bearings in any city, especially one that you’re unfamiliar with, can sometimes be an extremely difficult task. If you and your family are considering a visit to Asheville, North Carolina, I highly recommend taking a Hop-On/Hop-Off Trolley Tour with Gray Line Trolley Tours of Asheville. Not only will this provide maximum vacation relaxation and some fun, informative facts about the city, but it will also take you to the most popular Asheville attractions and help you learn how to navigate through the area…and all without having to try to hear your GPS commands over the constant squeals coming from the backseat. Ahhh, now doesn’t that sound nice?
What To Expect from Gray Line Trolley Tours of Asheville
In addition to the smiling and relaxed faces of your family, a tour on the Gray Line Trolley will also provide a fully narrated ride, highlighting the history, homes and hot spots of Asheville on a nostalgic trolley that allows you to hop-on and hop-off at 10 different locations. Passengers also have the option to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride for a full 90-minute journey around the city. We chose to do both.
My family and I boarded the trolley at the Asheville Visitors Center after purchasing our tickets. We then took the complete 90-minute tour around the city and marked all of the locations where we wanted to get off in order of our interest level. This not only gave us a good idea of how to navigate the area but also let us decide which Asheville attractions we wanted to see first, and how long we should spend at each stop, just in case we found ourselves short on time.
Another thing we really enjoyed was the flexible schedule that allowed us to travel at our own pace with no rushing required. From March through December, the daily tours begin just a few minutes after 9 am and allow boarding at various locations until just before 5 pm. The trolleys stop at each of their 10 Hop-On/Hop-Off locations approximately every 30 minutes throughout the day, making it easy for passengers to enjoy an area for a small or large amount of time. Nice!
List of Asheville Attractions by Trolley Stop
The Hop-On/Hop-Off Trolley Tour allowed us to get on and off at 10 different stops throughout the city and the locations and attractions were as follows. Tip: There is a fair amount of walking at each location depending on where you’d like to go and what you’d like to see. Wearing comfortable shoes and having a travel stroller available for smaller children is suggested.
Stop 1: Asheville Visitor Center
Located in the Montford Historic District, the Asheville Vistor Center houses the main ticket booth for Gray Line Trolley and also offers other information for tourists who are visiting the area. Here you will also find large, clean restrooms and a small gift shop that carries various souvenirs, snacks and drinks. While this isn’t necessarily a “visiting” spot, it is a nice location, complete with plenty of free parking, to begin and end your trolley tour.
Stop 2: The Grove Park Inn
This 101-year-old historic site located within the Blue Ridge Mountains is laden with history. The historic inn, which opened in 1913, is constructed mainly of granite boulders, some weighing upwards of 10,000 pounds, which were hauled by mules and wagons from Sunset Mountain. The Grove Park Inn was used as an internment center for Axis diplomats in World War II and later as a Navy rest and rehabilitation center for returning sailors before becoming a public resort in 1955. While here you can admire the spectacular lobby area, visit the world-renowned spa, stop by the Grovewood Gallery, have a bite to eat at the café, or check out the Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum. It’s also a lovely place to enjoy a leisurely stroll.
Stop 3: Thomas Wolfe District
The Thomas Wolfe District is home to the Asheville Community Theatre, Historic First Baptist Church and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site. Anyone who’s read the epic, autobiographical novel Look Homeward, Angel will enjoy an up-close and personal glimpse of Wolfe’s childhood home. The Historic First Baptist Church, with it’s lovely Renaissance-style construction, dates back to 1927 and is considered one of Asheville’s greatest architectural treasures.
Stop 4: Pack Square
At Pack Square you will find the Asheville Art Museum, Colburn Earth Science Museum, Diana Wortham Theatre — which is home to many wonderful performances — several shops and restaurants, and the Art Deco masterpiece also known as Asheville City Hall. While here we also enjoyed a wonderful meal at Pack’s Tavern and got to sample some of the area’s local brews. Delicious.
Stop 5: Haywood Park Hotel
This stop lets off right near Hayward Street, Wall Street and Battery Park. Here you will find the historic Basilica Of St. Lawrence, the Flatiron Building, a great place to capture some cool photos because of its one-of-a-kind triangular shape, and plenty of shops and restaurants. This is also a great place to witness some amazing street musicians as they love to congregate in the popular Wall Street area.
Stop 6: Grove Arcade
This is another cool stop where you can find a plethora of shopping and dining options. Here you can browse (or buy) the area’s most sophisticated art pieces, find all types of eclectic and quaint local souvenirs or simply nosh on some of Asheville’s finest cuisine. All of the shops and restaurants are located inside the historic 1929 public market so this is definitely a great place to visit if you need to avoid the outdoor elements.
Stop 7: River Arts District
The River Arts District may have been one of our favorite places to hop-off because we found a ton of fantastic local art housed here. At this stop you’ll find painters, jewelers, sculptors, furniture makers, print makers, photographers, glassblowers and more. This is a spectacular way to immerse yourself in one of Asheville’s most artsy and creative areas.
Stop 8: DoubleTree Asheville – Biltmore
This stop is basically as close as you can get to the historic Biltmore Estate on any of the Gray Line Trolley stops, just two blocks to the entrance. While I do recommend visiting the Biltmore Estate with your family, to walk all the way to the to the actual estate would be rather long, over two-mile journey from this trolley-stop location. For us this was considered a quick “drive-by” stop that was best suited for those staying at the DoubleTree Hotel Asheville – Biltomore.
Stop 9: Biltmore Village
Biltmore Village is one of the quaintest cottage communities in the southeastern United States. Originally created as a counterpart to the Biltmore Estate, it was a planned community for estate workers as well as an independent area all its own. Today Biltmore Village is an area that’s filled with contemporary shops, both national retail outlets and independent stores, and some of Asheville’s finest Farm-to-Fork restaurants. This is a perfect spot to stroll whether you consider yourself a foodie, a shopper, an architectural aficionado or just someone who enjoys people watching.
Stop 10: Grand Bohemian Hotel
While this stop is basically located on the edge of Biltmore Village, it does provide almost front-door delivery to the Grand Bohemian Hotel for those who need to rest their feet after all the walking that took place at Stop 9. In this area, you will find the very popular Red Stag Grill (located inside the Grand Bohemian), an establishment known for excellent Farm-to-Fork cuisine in a fully decorated rustic hunting-lodge style environment complete with mounted stag head’s and more. You can also grab a signature cocktail in the lounge/bar area while being entertained by local musicians. This stop also offers easy access to the Biltmore Gate House Gift Shop where you can purchase Biltmore wine, jewelry and souvenirs without having to pay the Biltmore Estate entrance fee.
Gray Line Trolley Tour Tickets
Tickets for the Gray Line Trolley Tour of Asheville can be purchased online or in person at the Asheville Visitors Center and at a few of the other tour stops. Because they still believe in the honor system, they will also let you hop on at any of their 10 trolley stop locations and purchase tickets when you arrive at the Asheville Visitor Center or any of the other ticketing locations.
Prices are $26 for adults ($24 if you have AAA or are 60+ years-old), $12 for kids ages 5 to 11 and free for children under 5. They also have a family special (2 adults + 2 children) for $54. As an added bonus, ALL tour tickets include a 50% discount on admission to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and allow passengers to use the Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley transportation as often as they’d like, for TWO (yes, two!) consecutive days. And that’s what I call a sweet deal!
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- See why Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park is The Perfect Family-Friendly Hotel in Asheville, NC
Mary Ellen received complimentary tickets for this Grey Line Trolley Tour so that she could share her family experiences in Asheville, but all options expressed are her own.
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Belonging to the rare breed known as native Floridian, Mary Ellen is a wife, mother and freelance writer, currently living in Sarasota, on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast….