14 Asheville Experiences Better Than Any Gift You Can Wrap

In a city like Asheville, a place that pulsates with color and culture, enveloped in mountains, rivers and trails, there is no better gift to give than that of access: a lift ticket, a map, the skills to navigate down rapids, a backstage pass. Experience fosters connection, vitality, health, curiosity, and all the things that make us truly alive. (And, let's just be honest, most of us already own everything we need.) This holiday season, treat your loved ones to the type of gift that sparks real and lasting joy. Here are 14 Asheville experiences to provide great gift ideas for outdoor lovers in Western North Carolina.

1. Guided Mountain Biking

A guided tour will help you find some epic rides.
A guided tour will help you find some epic rides. Pisgah Mountain Adventures

Didn’t your brother say he wanted to try new things? Gift him a day of guided mountain biking with Pisgah Mountain Adventures. These custom-built excursions will introduce a newbie to the epic realm of off-road riding, or introduce a shredder to little-known trails and the expert technique needed to style them.

2. Cataloochee Lift Ticket

Treat your ski bunny to a lift ticket (or, if they’ve been extra good this year, a season pass) to Cataloochee Mountain in beautiful Maggie Valley. Beat the post-holiday doldrums by cruising groomers in the Great Smoky Mountains, underneath Carolina Blue skies.

3. Outdoor Photography Tutorial

The gift that will change the way they see the world.
The gift that will change the way they see the world. Jon Bunting

Vagabond Vistas is an Asheville-based company that offers photo tours and tutorials in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Book a private session for the budding adventure photographer, your climbing partner who is hoping to go pro, or your little cousin who wants to up her game on Instagram.

4. Climbing Gym Punch Card

A punch card to one of Asheville's indoor climbing gyms— Iron Palm Bouldering Gym , Climbmax Downtown and the brand-new Climbmax at Smoky Mountain Adventure Center—is the gift that keeps on giving all winter long. Time spent pulling on plastic leads to taught forearms and finger strength, not to mention all the new climbing partners you'll meet.

5. Hiking Guide Books

A world of adventure awaits in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A world of adventure awaits in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ernest Duffoo

Is your sweetheart sweet on mountains? Purchase a guide book such as Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge or Five Star Trails Asheville, then highlight the trails you want to tackle together in the next year. Pair it with a gift card to a local brewery to create the ultimate Asheville day.

6. Membership to Asheville On Bikes

Give your favorite cyclist the gift of community involvement with a one-year membership to Asheville’s premier bike advocacy group, Asheville On Bikes . Membership supports a fantastic cause, grants access to special members-only events throughout the year, and includes all sorts of spoke cards and stickers so you can proudly broadcast your status as an AOB supporter.

7. Chocolate Tasting Tour

Luscious truffles from the French Broad Chocolate Company.
Luscious truffles from the French Broad Chocolate Company. Sarajane Case

Even the most hardcore climber or dirtbag kayaker needs an indulgence every now and again. After all, dark chocolate has been proven to boost athletic performance. Present your backcountry buddy with tickets to a tour at French Broad Chocolate Company’s factory and tasting room in the South Slope. Then treat them to a hand-picked selection of Asheville's most tantalizing truffles.

8. Zip-Lining Adventure

The zip lines near Asheville are serious fun: you can reach speeds of 60 mph on certain courses. Give the adrenaline-junky in your life the gift of flight with a day pass to Zipline Canopy Tours at Asheville Adventure Center.

9. Brewery Gift Card

Nothing says "festive" like a flight!
Nothing says "festive" like a flight! Rod

A gift card to one of Asheville’s many craft breweries is more than just a couple of beers: it’s a promise of an evening out on the town, recounting adventures and planning excursions over a pint of Highland's Oatmeal Stout or a Hi-Wire Lager. For a post-holiday pub crawl, load up a card with a pitcher’s worth from every brewery in the South Slope.

10. A Year’s Pass to Biltmore

The Biltmore Estate feature more than 8,000 acres of grounds to explore.
The Biltmore Estate feature more than 8,000 acres of grounds to explore. Blake Lewis

Minutes away from downtown Asheville, the Biltmore Estate features 8,000 acres of ornate gardens and grounds. Pass holders can enjoy access to miles of secluded biking and hiking trails, plus free wine tasting and entry to events throughout the year such as Biltmore in Bloom and Christmas at Biltmore.

11. Pisgah SORBA Membership

SORBA keeps trails like Slate Rock in the Pisgah National Forest open to the public.
SORBA keeps trails like Slate Rock in the Pisgah National Forest open to the public. gamu25

A meaningful gift for any Blue Ridge mountain biker. A membership to the Pisgah chapter of the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) includes discounts on biking gear and subscriptions to SORBA's Fat Tire Times and the International Mountain Biking Association's Trail News. Most importantly, SORBA helps to keep trails well-maintained and open to the public. What more could a shredder want?

12. Outdoor Hot Tub and Spa Gift Certificate

Give the gift of rejuvenation to the wound-up climber, trail-battered biker, or your best friend who is halfway through nursing school. The Japanese style outdoor soaking pools at Shoji Spa & Lodge are peaceful and nourishing to body, mind, and spirit. You can design your own Shoji gift certificate and make it redeemable for a soak, spa treatment, or wellness retreat.

13. Asheville Yoga Center Voucher

The holiday warrior.
The holiday warrior. Tomas Sobek

It would be difficult to overstate the benefits of yoga for outdoor enthusiasts, whether you prefer bombing down rapids or climbing mountain ridges. The Asheville Yoga Center offers more than 100 classes per week, from gentle restorative yoga to hot power flow. Treat the athlete in your life to a voucher for the practice of her choice.

14. Whitewater Kayaking Instruction

Make it a white (water) Christmas! Green River Adventures offers roll classes, creeking clinics, customized beginning instruction and more. Register your thrill-seeking friends (and yourself!) for a private course in the spring, and have something to look forward to all winter long. Learning to paddle will open up a whole new world of adventure here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Written by Melina Coogan for RootsRated.

1 comment

  • Kevin Yount

    Don’t forget riverboarding with Appalachian Riverboard Company. Imagine ocean bodyboarding meets whitewater, but on a thicker,more buoyant board. Get in the water instead of sitting above it.

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