How to Spend an Afternoon at the North Carolina Arboretum

Though sometimes overlooked in favor of west coast destinations, the southeast region of the United States is home to plenty of pristine scenery. Whether it’s the Appalachian Mountains or the Outer Banks coastline, locals and tourists alike will find themselves in awe of this area’s beauty. The North Carolina Arboretum is no exception to its neighboring destinations, and if you’re in Asheville, NC, you owe it to yourself to visit! Here are some things you should know about this North Carolina gem.

Learn more about the North Carolina Arboretum when you download our free vacation guide! It’s full of information on great places to visit during your stay at The Esmeralda.

Explore the North Carolina Arboretum


The North Carolina Arboretum is a nature enthusiast’s paradise, especially for those specifically interested in botany. Located near both Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Arboretum boasts 434 acres of public garden. Exhibits like the Quilt Garden, Plants of Promise, and the National Native Azalea Collection can be found here. The Bonsai Garden Exhibit is one of the most unique displays and features multiple species of renowned Asian plants.


In addition to its exhibits, the North Carolina Arboretum offers 10 miles of trails that are suitable for hiking and mountain biking. Those who appreciate a challenge will love the Owl Ridge Trail, Rocky Cove Road, and Running Cedar Road. Or, if you don’t want to break a sweat, head to Bent Creek Road and the Azalea Collection trails. Both are great places to stroll and provide an up-close look at the native foliage.


One of the best ways to experience the Arboretum is to take a guided tour. A Garden Guide will lead you through the exhibits and trails, all while describing seasonal plants, the Arboretum’s history, and general gardening information. You can even visit the 7,200-square-foot production greenhouse and learn how plants are grown at the Arboretum. Each tour is just $5 per person.


Before you leave, be sure to stop by the Arboretum’s gift shop. It’s located on the second floor of the Baker Exhibit Center and is a must-see during your visit. The shop features vibrant paintings, prints, jewelry, and many other crafts made by local and regional artists. Whether you’re looking for clothing, gifts, or the perfect souvenir, you’ll find it all and then some!

The North Carolina Arboretum is open year-round, but its hours vary depending on the season. We suggest visiting between April and October when hours of operation are the longest and the Bonsai Garden Exhibit is open. Call (828) 665-2492 for more information.


When it’s time to start planning your spring or summer getaway to North Carolina, look no further than The Esmeralda. Our Chimney Rock bed and breakfast offers some of the best lodging in the area, and it’s just a short drive from the Arboretum! You can spend the day outdoors, then unwind in one of our beautiful guest rooms or cabins. Simply visit our accommodations page to see what’s available and contact us to book your stay. We look forward to having you!

Looking for more great places to explore?
Read our blog about the Botanical Gardens at Asheville!