The charming village of Dillsboro 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. Many visitors then arrived by train. And they still do today on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad via an excursion from Bryson City. It's just three 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. They celebrated 40 years in 2016!
Tree House Pottery (148 Front Street) is a working studio with a gorgeous gallery showcasing the work of Travis Berning (pic above) and Joe Frank McKee. Their work is featured in galleries throughout the country.
Riverwood Pottery (60 Craft Circle) opened in 1973 in Riverwood Shops at the end of Webster Street near the river. Watch potter Karen Barnes create a face jug or daughter Zan at work on a variety of contemporary pieces. Buy their popular glazed stoneware, wood fired salt ware and raku beads in their gallery adjacent to the studio.
Next door is Oaks Gallery (29 Craft Circle) with fine art and craft from 125 regional artists. Rabbit Creek Pottery (27 Church Street) is another great pottery studio and gallery.
Even their street festivals are art focused! The Summer Arts & Crafts Market (third Saturday in August) and ColorFest (first Saturday in October) feature 40 artists demonstrating and selling wares along Front Street, 10 AM-4 PM. The highly acclaimed Western NC Pottery Festival is held the first Saturday in November.
Although it's a tiny village, find an nice mix of specialty shops. Walk a loop around a five block area, stopping at landmarks like Bradley's General Store (since 1888) with an old time soda fountain and Jarrett House, with family style dining since 1884. And don't miss getting a sample at the Chocolate Factory!
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 April 2017 with 10,000+ cat curiosities, including many rare and fascinating antiques. Check out this quirky roadside gem. Read more.
Also near downtown is Monteith Farmstead park, soon to be home to the Appalachian Women's Museum in the 1908 farmhouse. The Tuckasegee River is known for its whitewater rafting, tubing and trout fishing.
Dillsboro is one of our Top 10 Christmas Towns in the mountains. With festive decorations, 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.