The charming village of Dillsboro (population 237) is our top small town for local art and craft. Within its few blocks, find works from hundreds of artists. A longtime artisan community, it's located in Jackson County on the banks of the Tuckasegee River. Dillsboro has been a tourist destination since the late 1800s. Then many visitors arrived by train, and they still do today on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad via an excursion from Bryson City. It's just 1.5 miles from downtown Sylva.
Dogwood Crafters (90 Webster Street) should be your first stop! This craft cooperative features 100+ mountain artists with an amazing array of items packed into their log store. Friendly volunteers will help you navigate the many rooms. It's been here since 1976! At end end of Webster Street ear the river is Oaks Gallery (29 Craft Circle) with fine art and craft from 125 regional artists.
Innovation Station (40 Depot St, Dillsboro) opened in 2018 with a wrap-around covered patio and creek-side seating. The brewery has 32 taps that include non-alcoholic Ginger Ale, three local ciders, three wines and 25 hand-crafted beers. Top restaurants include Haywood Smokehouse (403 Haywood Road) voted top BBQ join in NC, Boots Steakhouse (64 Front St) and Foragers Canteen (42 Depot Street). Don't miss the Chocolate Factory (28 Church Street).
Just a mile from shops in the village is the fascinating Jackson County Green Energy Park that uses renewable energy resources to create art. The glass studio, kiln and blacksmithing metals shop are one of few in the world utilizing landfill methane gas as a fuel. Watch artists at work or take a class. Read more.
The American Museum of the House Cat, about four miles south of Dillsboro, opened in 2017 with 10,000+ cat curiosities, including many rare and fascinating antiques. Check out this quirky roadside gem. Read more.
Raft, kayak or tube down the scenic Tuckasegee River from town at the Dillsboro River Company. Read about river trips on the Tuck.
Even their street festivals are art focused! See dates below. During the Front Street Arts & Crafts Show (June 15, 2019), interact with more than 40 of the region's best artisans. Entertainment and festival food too. Free admission. Pets welcomed. 10 AM-4 PM.
Dillsboro is one of our Top 12 Christmas Towns in the mountains. With festive decorations, the Festival of Lights during the first two weekends in December and plenty of one-of-a-kind gifts, you'll definitely get in the holiday spirit!
Directions from Asheville: Take I-40 West to exit 27 and follow US Highway 74 towards Waynesville. Go 26 miles to exit 81 (US Highway 23/441) to Dillsboro. 52 miles from Asheville, 1-hour drive.