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Swain County Heritage Museum
Located on the second floor of the historic courthouse in Bryson City, see photos, exhibits and video about the early settlers in the Great Smoky Mountains, including a restored log cabin porch. Free admission.
Season's at Highland Lake
Located on the grounds of historic Highland Lake Inn & Resort, find inspired seasonal cuisine and impressive wine list in a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy a casual lunch, romantic dinner or big Sunday Brunch buffets, including holidays. Only five minutes from Hendersonville and 30 minutes from Asheville. 86 Lily Pad Lane, Flat Rock.
Picturesque Main Street has many local shops, restaurants, galleries, brewery, museums and favorite O.P. Taylor toy store. Big events include the White Squirrel Festival, 4th of July celebration, Brevard Music Festival and Halloweenfest. This is the Land of the Waterfalls with hiking, biking and famous Sliding Rock.
St. Jude's Chapel of Hope
Stop for a peek inside this tiny chapel in Madison County in the tiny town of Trust along a scenic drive.
The Esmeralda Restaurant
Enjoy lunch or dinner in the shadows of Chimney Rock. Carefully crafted dishes feature many local ingredients and the freshest seafood possible. For the ultimate romantic surprise, ask about reserving the chef's private table. Patio seating has cliff views. Exceptional wine list. Reservations recommended. Open Tuesday-Saturday.
Dill Falls and Upper Dill Falls
(1 mile round-trip, easy) Hike to two waterfalls, Upper and Lower Dill Falls, via easy walks from the end of a forest service road deep in Nantahala National Forest. 4.6 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Banner Elk Ski Town
The cool small town high in the Blue Ridge Mountains is basecamp for winter fun on the slopes, adjacent to two of the largest ski resorts in the South - Sugar & Beech Mountains. Near Hawksnest Tubing. Restaurants, breweries and places to stay.
Art on the Greene
Find a big variety of 40 artists working with metal, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry and more in downtown Banner Elk. Many restaurants, shops and things to do nearby. Benefits their historic school renovation. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
Pisgah Field School Hikes & Tours
Explore the natural and cultural wonders of Pisgah National Forest through guided hikes and small tours for waterfalls & wine, stargazing, sunsets and more in the Brevard area, presented by the nonprofit Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association. Custom private tours also.
Lazy Otter Outfitters
Located a little south of Asheville is one of the prettiest stretches of the French Broad River, away from the crowds and highways. Take a self-guided tubing, kayaking or canoeing trip ranging from two hours to all day, including the fun Sierra Nevada Express trip that makes a post-paddle visit to the brewery easy.
French Broad Falls & Mill Shoals
See three waterfalls with one stop on NC Highway 215 near Rosman / Brevard, about 7.5 miles north of Highway 64. See this twin waterfall, then walk a short distance riverside to see more cascades and a majestic cliff by Cathedral Falls. All of this is right off the road, but most visitors miss it since there are no signs.
Spa at Greystone Inn
Stay at this luxury inn on beautiful Lake Toxaway for a pampering weekend of spa treatments, outstanding cuisine, and relaxation by the water. Facials, manicures, pedicures, massages and herbal body wraps are a sampling of services. Spa can be enjoyed as a day visit in addition to overnight stays. The resort also has golf, boating, pool and many other amenities. Located in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard and Cashiers.
This Backcountry Area of Nantahala National Forest is home to many waterfalls. In addition to the popular Schoolhouse Falls, find hikes to Greenland Creek Falls (pic), Wilderness Falls and Frolictown Falls.
Shelton House, Waynesville
This grand, historic home built in 1875 is home to the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts, with every room packed with craft, art and furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Open May-October.
This favorite downtown Italian restaurant is filled with the aromas of house baked artisan bread and mouth watering cuisine. Focuses on fresh ingredients, biodynamic and organically-produced wine selections. Offers traditional recipes from Italy, featuring hand-tossed pizzas, savory pastas, housemade desserts, gluten-free and vegetarian options. 27 Broadway.
Fishing in the Smokies, Bryson City
Discover one of the most diverse fishing habitats in the world with four rivers and dozens of mountain streams throughout the Great Smoky Mountains, and the deep, cold waters of Fontana Lake. You can even fish the Tuck in downtown Bryson City. Greatly enhance your chances of catching trophy fish by hiring a professional fishing guide. Find 26 best fishing spots and guide services.
Explore Downtown Asheville
During the day, downtown Asheville bustles with shoppers browsing more than 200 galleries, antique shops and local boutiques. Each evening, enjoy street entertainers, restaurants, breweries, festivals and music. Walk the Urban Trail and tour historic sites. See our Top 25 things to do downtown.
Located near Highlands, this 50-ft. waterfall cascades into an idyllic pool perfect for wading and swimming. It's a short hike in Nantahala National Forest.
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) See panoramic views of Pisgah National Forest from atop the historic fire tower near Mt Pisgah. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 409.6.
Located in the River Arts District, GRIND offers a plush, sophisticated place for good coffee, co-working, community gathering, and hanging out. Enjoy local coffee and a wide variety of donuts, pastries, ready-made sandwiches, and hot-press Paninis. The creation of entrepreneur and nonprofit leader J Hackett and chef and Black business community leader Gene Ettison, GRIND is the first Black-owned coffee shop in Asheville. Open 7 AM-10 PM, daily.
Head to Maggie Valley to celebrate mountain country living with music, crafts, big car show, moonshine and TV celebrities.
Spruce Pine Gem Mining District
Find gems in what is touted as the “most important mining district in the world”. Find fun options for gem panning, rock hounding and mine tours. Also home to the NC Mineral & Gem Festival. See their "Mining For Treasure" guide.
Flat Rock Ciderworks
(305 North Main St, Hendersonville) Visit this tasting room in downtown to try their Wicked Peel and Blackberry Gold hard ciders made from local apples and blackberries from their nearby orchard. Open Wed-Sun afternoons.
Pigeon River Adventure Center
Zip over the Pigeon River and through the woods of the Great Smoky Mountains! This Canopy Tour takes you into the Smoky Mountain Creek Gorge exposing a lush forest of ferns, wildflowers, towering trees, rock cliffs, waterfalls and moss-covered boulder gardens. It includes 12 zip line sections between elevated platforms, treetops, decks and four sky bridges. The Express Zip Tour has seven zips including two zips across the Pigeon River. Combine your zip rides with whitewater rafting or Jeep tours!
Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair, Cashiers
See works from 90 of the finest artisans from the Southeast on the Village Green in Cashiers, 10 AM-5 PM. Find ironwork, woodcraft, textiles, cakes, jams, pottery and more. Free admission, but donations accepted.
Top Bed & Breakfasts
See our favorite and best Asheville bed and breakfast inns in the western North Carolina mountains near Biltmore Estate and the Blue Ridge Parkway. All have luxury accommodations with a long list of amenities. Innkeepers are delighted to help with special occasions and requests.
New Years Eve Golden Nugget Drop
Gather on Main Street in downtown Marion on New Year's Eve night to watch the giant golden nugget drop into a pot of gold. Many activities include a fun run, music, food, craft vendors, and more!
Table Rock Mountain
(2.2 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike to the top of one of the most recognized peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This trailhead is just five miles from Hawksbill, so you can double your fun.
Mill Vill Fest
First ever festival is this abandoned Henry River mill village near Morganton, film location for The Hunger Games. Fundraiser to save the village. Music, food trucks, beer/wine and behind the scenes tours. Free admission. 12-4 PM. GPS Address: 4255 Henry River Road, Hickory
Chimney Rock Village
The tiny village (population 109) has a busy downtown at the entrance to popular Chimney Rock Park. Behind the shops and restuarants, the Rocky Broad Riverwalk takes you along the cascading river with places for a picnic. Take a step back in time in this authentic tourist town that has kept the charm of the 60s and 70s.
Tuckasegee River Rafting & Tubing
Ride down the family-friendly rapids of the "Tuck" in a raft, inflatable kayak or tube in Jackson County - near Dillsboro and Sylva. Outfitters offer a variety of guided and self-guided river trips.
This well-known downtown concert venue has state-of-the-art sound and lighting with a capacity of 1,100 standing. It's a great setting for enjoying the premier musicians who perform here. The dance floor is several hundred square feet of springy wooden slats, and the stage is in perfect view from any angle on the floor. 101 Biltmore Avenue.
Arts & Crafts Conference @ Grove Park Inn
Perfect for the passionate collector or those just interested in the Arts and Crafts design. The long-running weekend at Grove Park Inn includes lectures, small group discussions, exhibitions, books, a contemporary crafts show and the finest of the antiques shows.
The Flying Bike - Electric Bike Tours & Rentals
See Asheville the best way possible - by electric bike! Get up close to the must-see spots, meander down beautiful greenways and catch stunning views. Electric-assist bikes make Asheville’s hills easy and fun. Tours daily, departing from their downtown location. Electric bike rentals also.
Banner Elk Wineries & Breweries
Visit three wineries in the Banner Elk area (Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard and Linville Falls Winery). Also visit two breweries (Kettell Beerworks and Beech Mountain Brewing). Along the way, enjoy a scenic drive high in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Blue Heron Whitewater, Hot Springs
Enjoy rafting trips (or inflatable kayaks) and calm water float trips on the French Broad River with a fantastic combination of whitewater rapids, swimming holes, beautiful scenery, history and wildlife near Asheville. Excellent, fun-loving guides and all the appropriate river equipment ensure a great time.
Bare Dark Sky Observatory, Burnsville
Located at the Mayland Earth to Sky Park in Yancey County, this nationally recognized observatory is open to the public for 360-degree views of the moon, planets, and stars through custom-built telescopes. Each 2-hour stargazing session offers a chance for visitors to learn more about the night sky. Adult tickets at $20.
Smoky Mountain Host Featured Cabins
Find many secluded cabin and cottage rentals on the North Carolina side of the Smokies on VisitSmokies.org - for a romantic getaway, friends trip or a family vacation.
Modern southern seasonal farm-to-table menus blend well with their prestigious wine collection of over 100 bottles of wine, 40 of which are served by the glass. Also enjoy local microbrews and inventive cocktails. 47 Biltmore Avenue, downtown.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. Dance the night away!
This 90-ft. waterfall is privately-owned by a garden club and requires a small admission fee. Located between Saluda and Tryon, it's a must if you are driving on I-26 to/from South Carolina. Ten miles away is the roadside Shunkawauken Falls.
Biltmore Horseback Trail Rides
Take a guided expedition through the Biltmore Estate to match your skill level. The western-style, one-hour guided ride is perfect for beginner to intermediate-level riders. A private three-hour trail ride with picnic lunch is designed for someone with riding experience. Offered daily. Two-day advance reservations are required. Available for 2-4 people ages 8 and up. If you’re bringing your own horse to explore 80 miles of Estate trails, please visit Biltmore’s Equestrian Center.
Hot Nights, Cool Rides Auto Show
One of the largest car shows in the South lines Main Street in Forest City, with a big variety of 400 vehicles including hot rods, motorcycles, model T's and classic Mustangs. Food and live music. Free admission. Cruise-in Friday night starting at 6 PM. Show is Saturday 9 AM-8 PM.
Hard Apple Cider Tour
Head to Hendersonville for a self-guided tour of cideries that create a big variety of hard ciders from local apples and blackberries - about 20 minutes south of Asheville. Near several wineries too!
Tryon International Equestrian Center
World-class complex for horse sport competitions has a variety of restaurants open to the public, including Roger's 50s Diner, Legends Grille above the arena, Blue Ginger Sushi, Campagna Italian and more! Visit Wed-Sun in April-November to watch horses. Top Sunday brunch spot. See our TIEC Guide.
BREW-ed Brewery & History Walking Tours
Take the only brewery tour in Asheville led by a certified beer expert! Learn how beer is made and how to taste it. Get special access to Asheville's breweries and learn the stories behind the pints. On the short walks between breweries, your guide will share stories of the early days of Asheville.
NC Stage Company
Enjoy professional theatre in the heart of downtown Asheville with world-class productions in a very intimate setting (only 127 seats!). They also host concerts and other events, so there's something happening almost every weekend.
Smoky Mountains Area Campgrounds
Find a big variety of campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina just outside the park with many amenities on VisitSmokies.org - members of Smoky Mountain Host.
Top Places for Kid's Birthday Parties in Asheville
See our top picks in the Asheville area to have the best child's birthday party - with plenty of unique party ideas along with traditional places like skating rinks, trampoline parks, hands-on outdoor activities, animal habitats, and even kid ziplines.
Visit 20 farms in the Asheville area that are not normally open to the public and see what happens behind the scenes. Presented by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), farms are located in many counties. 12-5 PM. Passes $35/car in advance, $45/car day of.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Take the exhilarating ride on the only Alpine coaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Banner Elk.
NC Arboretum Hikes
(Many options, easy to moderate) Located just 10 miles south of downtown, the Arboretum has 10 miles of easy to moderate walking and biking trails. Our pick is the Natural Garden Trail, a one-mile loop starting from the Plants of Promise Garden to the Core Area Gardens.
Stroll through this public garden in Hendersonville that includes an half-mile trail through the Native Woodland Garden, popular Fairy Garden, Dahlia Daze in September and much more. Free, but donations accepted. Near apple orchards & wineries. 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville
Experience traditional Appalachian crafts, food, games, music and storytelling (10-4) at the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort with historic log cabins. Free admission.
Banner Elk Restaurants
This small town high in the mountains has become a culinary hot spot. Whether you’re looking for an upscale meal for a special occasion, a hearty sandwich after a day outdoors or a casual steak dinner, check out their locally-owned and innovative restaurants.
Big Butt Trail
(4.5 miles round-trip, strenuous) This lofty hike keeps you above 5,000 ft. elevation as you hike to Point Misery and Little Butt, so it's perfect for a hot summer's day. On the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 358.9 near Mt. Mitchell.
Chimney Rock Park for Kids
Children of all ages love the spectacular views from the famous rock formation - plus the elevator ride up. In addition to several easy hiking trails, find discovery stations on the half-mile Great Woodland Adventure, visit live animals at Animal Discovery Den and climb a rock tower.
Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
Walk across one of the most beautiful highway bridges that you'll ever find! It has been transformed into a gorgeous garden with impressive array of plants and flowers, whimsical planters, sculpture and plenty of butterflies.
Mark Bettis Studio & Gallery
Located in the heart of the River Arts District in Asheville, meet five professional artists at this working studio featuring contemporary art including abstract paintings, glass sculptures, wildlife paintings, and more. Mark Bettis works with oils and cold wax, building up multiple thick layers on wood to create fields of texture. Workshops also! (123 Roberts Street) See their second gallery downtown (15 Broadway Street)
Cleghorn Golf and Sports Club at Tryon Resort
Located near the Tryon International Equestrian Center, this 18-hole championship course tips out at 6762 yards with a course rating of 73.3 and slope of 136. The George Cobb design offers pristine conditions, named as one of the best courses in NC by the PGA. Also go to their Cleghorn Gun Club for a sporting clay course with 15 stations for every shooter level. 183 Golf Circle, Rutherfordton
(2.5 miles roundtrip, easy) Located along the very scenic Cherohala Skyway, this 5,560-foot bald summit has 360-degree views of the Nantahala National Forest. Near Robbinsville.
Love Shine Play Yoga Festival
Formally the Yoga Festival, this event features 40 presenters and 90+ offerings downtown, including yoga, music, outdoor activities, and health & wellness experts (fees). Mountain Air Market at Pack Square Park on Friday-Sunday is free with slackline park, music, art, body care, and organic food.
Linville Falls Hikes
(1 to 4 miles roundtrip, moderate) This is probably the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina. Hike to one or all five viewpoints via two trails that leave the Visitors Center. Only one of the trails is strenuous, and you can hike to all five spots with a four mile hike. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 316.