Photo Spots Asheville
An exciting mix of mountain views and vibrant culture, Asheville in Western North Carolina (WNC) offers superb photoshoot locations. Nestled near the Appalachian Range, about a three-hour drive from Atlanta and two hours from Charlotte, the city’s privileged position makes it one of the top mountain towns in the United States. From scenic drives with stunning vistas to trails adorned with wildflowers and cascading waterfalls, Asheville beckons outdoorsy and adventurous types and anyone seeking a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. On top of that, historic Downtown Asheville boasts funky art galleries, world-class breweries, and vibrant street art, making the city an Instagrammer’s dream. With so many photo ops, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 best places to take photos in Asheville. 🇺🇸
Here at Flytographer, we easily connect people with trusted photographers for fun photo shoots and have captured over three million memories worldwide. Today, we asked our local photographers in Asheville to show us around all the very best spots for pictures.
- Asheville Botanical Gardens: a nature escape in town with endless picturesque trails across a scenery composed of over 600 Appalachian plants
- Biltmore Estate: America’s biggest home is like a fairy-tale castle in Renaissance style that overlooks wonderful natural backdrops.
- Triple Falls Trail: With a cinematic waterfall and trail, this spot is perfect for connecting with nature and forgetting about the world.
- Downtown Asheville: all the hustle and bustle of a trendy little town with historical architecture and wonderful street art
- Craggy Gardens: This pristine trail boasts breathtaking mountain views, and it’s the spot to admire a spectacular sunset.
- Lake Tomahawk: a serene spot to unwind, enjoy a picnic, and soak up the breathtaking mountain views, all near “America’s prettiest town”
- Looking glass falls: one of North Carolina’s most famous waterfalls, easily accessible by a roadside
- Asheville’s Breweries: Feeling a “beercation”? With more breweries per capita than anywhere in the country, Asheville is the place to go.
- Blue Ridge Mountains: a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains cut through by America’s favourite drive
- Beaver Lake: a serene blue lake with lush surroundings, ideal for boat rides and perfect for visiting year-round
1. Asheville Botanical Gardens
Asheville is a city where nature surrounds you, whether you’re at the summit of a mountain or in the heart of downtown. For those seeking a peaceful escape in town, the Asheville Botanical Gardens is the perfect spot for a relaxing stroll and a fantastic photo session. With over 600 Appalachian species of plants, the 10-acre garden features the Crayton Trail, which crosses over the tranquil Reed Creek, with breathtaking spots, including the quaint arched bridge that’s a favourite for taking pictures. Don’t miss the Sunshine Meadows, a pristine grassy area with a charming gazebo. Mid-April and mid-August are the ideal times to visit to see the wildflowers in full bloom, and autumn offers a stunning backdrop of vibrant colours. 🍂
Special mention: Make a short 15-minute drive to the North Carolina Arboretum, another well-manicured garden with scenic trails that will give you more beautiful backgrounds for perfect pictures.
2. Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate, the largest home in the United States and one of the best places to take pictures in Asheville, is something out of an American fairy tale, and it was the home to Richie Rich in the 1994 classic starring Macaulay Culkin. 💰 Some even call it an actual castle! The property was built in the 1890s by George W. Vanderbilt as a luxurious retreat near the North Carolina mountains. Over a century later, this magnificent 8,000-acre place is still owned by the same family. Luckily, it’s open to the public, and anyone can take gorgeous pictures on its grounds which makes it one of the best places to take photos in Asheville.
Biltmore Estate has several forested trails and gardens that will take your breath away. They were designed by the legendary American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who is well-known for having also designed New York’s Central Park and the U.S. Capitol grounds. A must-see is the Italian Garden, with its stunning reflecting ponds, and the Azalea Garden, one of the country’s largest collections of azaleas. Have we mentioned roses? 🌹The Walled Garden displays over 200 roses and is also unmissable. For tropical backgrounds, visit the Conservatory greenhouse with its exotic plants and lovely orchids.
The iconic facade in Renaissance style is a feast for the eyes and a popular photoshoot location, and the ideal visit is coupled with a tour of its dreamy interiors filled with original furnishings and artworks. The majestic Banquet Hall and the library, with a collection of over 10,000 books, are a hit. 📚
3. Triple Falls Trail
Within DuPont State Park, the Triple Falls Trail is among the most popular in Asheville. The trail leads to the cinematic Triple Falls, a series of three waterfalls cascading in succession from beautiful rock ledges and framed by lush trees. If you visit during the fall months, you’ll witness a spectacular show of colours. The trail starts at the Hooker Falls parking lot and is easy and kid-friendly if you want to enjoy nature with the whole family. It follows the Little River and is filled with centenary trees. Besides being highly instagrammable every step of the way, it’s just one of those places where you can connect with nature and forget about the world.
Movie buffs might remember the falls from the silver screen—they appeared in not one by two Hollywood productions, The Last of the Mohicans and The Hunger Games. 🎬
4. Downtown Asheville
Have we mentioned that Asheville is the perfect blend of pristine nature and bustling city life? For the latter, head to Downtown Asheville, an area with historic architecture, a vibrant art scene, and many cafes, shops, and restaurants, each with a different quirky and hip quality. 😎
The focal point of downtown is Pack Square, where most of the city’s festivals take place. The square features charming water fountains, a well-manicured grassy area, and several native trees. While exploring the area, be sure to keep an eye out for the lovely facades that make for great photo ops. The architectural styles vary from Spanish Renaissance to Art déco and Late Gothic Revival, with some notable examples being the impressive Basilica of St. Lawrence and the elegant Grove Arcade.
Downtown also has a trendy side, with hip cafes, indie stores, bookshops, stellar Southern restaurants, groovy bars, and fabulous art galleries. Speaking of art, just a few steps from downtown is the River Arts District, Asheville’s creative hub that houses everything from fabulous art galleries to stylish web design studios and everything in between. 🎨 It’s not just a place where you can meet local creatives, take part in workshops, and buy local art, but it is also an excellent location for colourful backgrounds for photos, thanks to the street art that brightens the exterior of the buildings.
Pro tip: One of the best ways to discover Asheville’s history and architectural wonders is by following the Urban Trail.
5. Craggy Gardens
Craggy Gardens, located high on the Blue Ridge Parkway, features a magnificent trail that offers some of the most stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Along the way, stop at the viewpoint that overlooks the Black Mountain Range, and take in the scenic beauty of the wildflowers, May apples, violets, and twisted-root trees.
The Craggy Gardens Trail is an excellent option for experiencing nature’s grandeur. The trail is most famous for the Catawba Rhododendrons, also known as Mountain Rosebay or Purple Ivy. In mid-June, these lovely wildflowers bloom and provide a visual spectacle that turns the mountains into a massive pink-tinted floral bouquet. As you walk the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, you’ll pass through rhododendron tunnels, which make for an unbeatable Instagram spot and one of the best places to take photos in Asheville. The trail ultimately leads to the summit, which offers 360-degree views of the forested mountains and peaks. If you wait until dusk, you’ll get to witness a spectacular sunset. 🌅
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6. Lake Tomahawk
Less than a 30-minute drive from Asheville, more mountain beauty and scenic vistas await you at Lake Tomahawk. This picturesque lake is perfect for picnicking under shady trees or the pavilion with tables and small charcoal grills. A fun activity to check off your list is the trail around the glistening lake. Admire the ducks floating on the water, and soak up the dazzling views of Graybeard Mountain and the Seven Sisters peaks. There are plenty of benches around the area, and they offer picture-perfect backgrounds. Take a seat, do your thing, and don’t worry about the frame because nature puts on a show in every corner at Lake Tomahawk. 😉
After experiencing the tranquillity of the lake, take some time to explore the charming town of Black Mountain, dubbed the “Prettiest Small Town in America.” The downtown area is home to an array of vintage shops, hip bars, cafes, and restaurants, where you can unwind and indulge in some delightful treats while soaking in the quaintness of this small town.
7. Looking Glass Falls
North Carolina is the home of many beautiful waterfalls, and Looking Glass Falls is one of the most famous. About a 45-minute drive from Asheville, near the town of Brevard, this is one of the few accessible roadside waterfalls and a favourite spot for photo sessions. The almost 20-meter-tall cascade is framed by a towering cliff and drops into a deep and clear pool. Colourful wildflowers and vibrant green moss also surround everything, making the scenery even more idyllic. The views start as soon as you get to the parking area by the roadside, and they get better and better as you reach the viewing platform and keep walking towards the fall. The name “Looking Glass” comes from the Looking Glass Rock, and the site is spectacular to see during the winter months when the water and everything around it freezes which makes it one of the best places to take photos in Asheville. That’s what we call a “frozen paradise”—a truly serene setting perfect for cold snaps. ❄️
8. Asheville’s Breweries
Did you know Asheville has more breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S.? It’s said that the water from the Pisgah National Forest mountains is perfect for brewing, attracting brewers from all over the country.
And what do breweries have to do with photos? 🤷♀️Well, each one has a distinctive atmosphere that makes for great backgrounds if you want to capture the upbeat side of the city. The neighbourhood of South Slope, or the so-called Brewery District, and hip West Asheville are both hotspots for exploring the craft beer scene. One of the best breweries to visit is the celebrated New Belgium Brewery, with its North Carolina headquarters offering food trucks, lawn games, and a vast green area with stunning vistas of the French Broad River. Take a tour of the premises to see how they craft their beer, and sample some of their best brews.
What’s even more exciting is that Asheville breweries are dedicated to experimenting and pushing the limits of their craft, offering unique experiences and tastes for everyone, even those who don’t like beer. Believe it or not, in Asheville, there’s a pint for every taste. Cheers! 🍻
9. Blue Ridge Mountains
Considered as beautiful as the Great Smoky Mountains, this subrange of the larger Appalachian Mountains can be explored in many different ways. Several hiking trails will lead you to stunning waterfalls and majestic mountaintop views. The hike to the Black Balsam Knob summit is epic! You can also find bike rentals in Asheville and enjoy the scenery with a hint of adrenaline. 🚵♀️
A more comfortable way to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains is through the Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favourite Drive,” a road that weaves the southern Appalachian Mountains and allows you to stop here and there to observe the soul-soothing scenery. Fall is an extra beautiful time. The autumnal hues dominate the landscape—a true spectacle of colours and a photo-op heaven. 📸
Feeling fancy? Head to the Grove Park Inn. Masters in hospitality, this heritage resort dating back to 1913, is all about amazing spas and incredible restaurants with the best of what Southern cuisine can offer. Needless to say, you’ll also get a #roomwithaview. This is a positively luxurious way to experience the surroundings of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
10. Beaver Lake
This hidden lake of beautiful blue waters gets its name from the beavers that used to inhabit the area, and it feels like one of the best Asheville secrets known only to residents. You can enjoy the scenery from the water on a cozy boat ride or explore the area by leisurely strolling, running, or biking along the scenic trails. On your way, you’ll stumble upon a proper bird sanctuary, which, besides being an excellent spot for birdwatching, is also a place where you can take great pics. 😁
This place is fantastic any time of the year and perfect for sitting under a tree with a good book. Note that this is actually a private lake popular for photo sessions, but since you’re on private property, always be cautious and respectful when clicking away.
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