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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.
Glass & Metal Day at Folk Art Center
Artists showcase the elements of metal and glass inside the Folk Art Center on Blue Ridge Parkway. Includes blacksmithing, glass blowing, knife making, bezeling, repoussé, copper etching, stained glass, forging and more. 10 AM-4 PM. Free.
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.
Mountain Glory Festival
Celebrate fall beauty in the mountains with three blocks of festivities along Main Street in Marion, including 140 arts and crafts, food vendors, live entertainment, children’s activities, a 5K walk/run, quilt show, and so much more. Free admission. 9:30 AM-6 PM.
Craft Your Adventure: Mitchell County
Get plenty of trip ideas and find places to stay in Mitchell County, home of Roan Mountain, Spruce Pine, Little Switzerland, Bakersville, Penland School of Craft, rivers, gem mining, festivals, scenic drives and more.
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.
This longtime mountain resort town has kept much of its local charm with vintage motels and plenty of gift shops with arts and crafts. Tour Wheels Through Time collection of classic cars and motorcycles. Ski at Cataloochee. Festivals include Hillbilly Jam and Elk Fest.
Earl Scruggs Music Festival
Held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, enjoy 20+ artists on three stages, including Old Crow Medicine Show, Jerry Douglas, Jim Lauderdale, Alison Brown, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Earls of Leicester. Book early for camping spots, lodging, and after-hours festivities.
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!
Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours
See the city’s scenic beauty and historic landmarks atop some of Asheville’s highly acclaimed rooftop bars! This fun guided tour in the heart of the city offers fascinating stories and photos from the city’s past while you sample cocktails (or mocktails) at three rooftop bars. Rooftop sunset tours, too. Tours are rain or shine, with covered and heated areas including fire pits for year-round enjoyment. Van chauffeured transportation!
7-Mile Waterfalls Hike, DuPont State Forest
(7 miles roundtrip, strenuous) See three waterfalls on this hike in DuPont State Forest: High Falls, Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Or you can mountain bike most of it on old logging roads. Extend the hike about 1.5 miles to see Hooker Falls, too!
Fall Events & Festivals
Find our favorite autumn events and festivals during September and October in Asheville and the NC mountains.
A Mountain Christmas Trail of Lights
Enjoy 15 miles of twinkling lights and displays through the small towns of Spruce Pine and Bakersville, with many holiday happenings throughout the month. While you’re there, choose and cut your christmas tree at a local farm with fun activities like hayrides, hot cocoa, s’mores and pictures with Santa!
(2 miles roundtrip, moderate) A scenic hike takes you to this waterfall in the Highlands area, deep in the Nantahala National Forest. You'll see two separate cascades, so you get two waterfalls for one hike.
Ride the Rivers
Asheville is one of the best whitewater rafting towns in the U.S.! No experience is necessary. You just need a desire for thrills and getting a little wet. Ride down one of four rivers, including the Nantahala River. Or kayak, tube and paddleboard down the French Broad River through Biltmore Estate. Raft in the Great Smokies on the Pigeon River.
Located on a family-owned farm in the foothills, their tasting room is open year-round and features a variety of estate-grown wines, such as the estate premium Epic, a Petit Manseng white wine, and Patriot Red, a Bordeaux Blend. Also, hike a two-mile section of the Overmountain Victory National Trail. 2012 Sandy Plains Rd, Tryon, NC. Reservations required.
Jerusalem Garden Cafe
Enjoy authentic made-from-scratch Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes in downtown Asheville, transporting your senses to faraway lands. Weekend international brunch has a Southern twist with baharat biscuits and gravy, egg and lamb gyros, French toast and crepes stuffed with seasonal ingredients. Pair with a mango mimosa or hand-brewed Turkish coffee. 10 AM-3 PM on Saturday and Sunday. See pics & video. 78 Patton Ave.
This beautiful lake town near the Great Smoky Mountains is home to trails, boat tours, golf, gardens and a big variety of lodging options, including lakefront hotels and cabin rentals for a Methodist church retreat.
Get Pampered at a Spa
Be it a simple weekend of relaxation, a romantic couple’s getaway in the mountains or a chance to improve your health, Asheville is the ultimate destination for those seeking spas and wellness. Take some time for yourself for relaxation and rejuvenation. See our Top 15 spots.
Spruce Pine Potters Market
Longtime gathering with 30+ potters and clay artists selling their handmade pottery, figurative sculpture, stoneware, earthenware and more. Free admission. 10 AM-5 PM both days. 31 Cross Street, Spruce Pine. Near Penland School.
Smoky Mountain Elk Fest
Go to Maggie Valley to celebrate the elk and our great outdoors with a big festival on Saturday and other special tours and events.
Long known for being a dog-friendly city, Asheville has plenty of dog-friendly places to eat. Many downtown restaurants welcome dogs on their outdoor patio - offering water bowls, dog biscuits and even a dog menu.
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.
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.
Explore one of the oldest towns in Western North Carolina, with historic antebellum homes and a downtown filled with shops, restaurants and one of the best children's museums in the state. And it's the site of the first minted gold coins in the USA!
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
See art exhibits at this downtown Asheville gallery and learn about the fascinating history of Black Mountain College. 56 Broadway
Kids can explore the universe and beyond at this 200-acre historic campus in Pisgah Forest. Offering campers an out-of-the-world experience, the camp will focus on astronomy and planetary subjects like astrobiology. See a radio telescope and have fun with activities like building and launching model rockets. 6th-12th graders. 2-3 week sessions June-August 2022.
Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack
Feast on some “Tennessee style” hot chicken and southern soul food. They prepare their unique fried chicken to order, so it’s not spicy unless you want it that way! Ingredients are sourced locally and classic American recipes are made from scratch daily. Two locations in Asheville: West at 1455 Patton Avenue, and South at 3749 Sweeten Creek Road, Arden.
Sky Lanes Bowling Alley
This West Asheville bowling alley offers a great place for kids to have fun, bowl and maybe even get a strike! (Bumpers available) Kids birthday packages are offered from 11 AM-4 PM and includes shoe rental, 1 hr of bowling, food and drink. $12/child.
The Hop Creamery & Cafe
Kids scream for ice cream at this local creamery and cafe, offering two locations for birthday parties! Packages include rental space for 2 hours, host, and decoration with options to add balloon artist, face painting, ice cream bar, games and more. Packages start at $50.
Founded in 2002, this gear company creates high performing products for wilderness athletes, focusing on building them in the least toxic, lowest impact way. They create durable, high-quality footwear, life jackets, apparel and dog beds in the cleanest, most sustainable way.
Heintooga Road & Balsam Mtn, Great Smoky Mountains
The less-crowded Heintooga picnic area and campground at Balsam Mountain is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway. And go "car hiking" on the 14-mile Heintooga-Round Bottom Road that starts at an altitude of 5,535 ft. and descends through the lush forest to Cherokee.
Brevard Places to Stay
Find cabins of all sizes, hotels, B&Bs and luxury inns in the Brevard area from their official visitor center. It's the Land of Waterfalls. Includes Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest.
Morganton & Burke County
Stroll through downtown shops and galleries, visit craft breweries and enjoy great restaurants. Take the Catawba Valley Wine Trail. It's also home to the Waldensian Heritage Museum and movie locations for The Hunger Games.
Tryon International Equestrian Center
Watch horse jumping competitions with the best riders in the country at this amazing new world-class equestrian resort south of Asheville. Free admission to many events.
Art Loeb Trail
This challenging, 30-mile hiking trail with spectacular views includes popular Black Balsam Knob. This trail is located in Pisgah National Forest and is a great option for multi-day backpacking since there are many campsites along the high ridges and balds.
This hidden waterfall flows beneath an historic stone arched bridge on NC Highway 215 over the West Fork of the Pigeon River, about four miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also see cascades above the bridge. A beautiful roadside setting.
Great Smokies Bryson City Travel Guide
Order a free 96-page vacation travel guide (or download a digital version) for the Bryson City area with things to do, dining and lodging for the Great Smoky Mountains. Includes the "All Aboard" official publication for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
Farm Visits & Tours
Visit farms and learn about their local food. See buffalo and alpacas, sample local cheeses, watch bees make honey, visit wineries, pick apples and more. Plus, tour historic farms at Biltmore and in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Billy Graham Museum at The Cove
Take a free one-hour guided tour at the Billy Graham Conference Center, The Cove, located in Asheville. Tour includes the Chapel and exhibit on Graham's life.
Tamarind Thai Cuisine
Owned and operated by Bangkok native, Gai Wilson, this South Asheville restaurant offers a classic menu of fresh ingredients and authentic Thai cuisine. Traditional dishes include the Red Curry, Crispy Basil Duck, and Tom Yum. Try the steamed dumplings! 330 Rockwood Rd #112
The Pisgah Conservancy
This hard-working non-profit group raises money and coordinates projects to protect Pisgah National Forest (Ranger District) and help fund some much needed repairs. We are delighted to be a Founding Member!
This locally owned downtown taqueria serves a variety of taco favorites like California-style fish tacos, pulled pork, steak, and adobe chicken. Enjoy fresh taco toppings like pico de gallo, avocados, pickled onions, pineapple salsa, baja sauce and more. Corn tortillas ground onsite daily. Weekly specials include Margarita Mondays and Taco Tuesdays. 77 Biltmore Ave
India Garden Restaurant
Curries, tandoori items, and other classic Indian fare are featured in a clean and comfy environment in East Asheville. Locals love their bountiful lunch buffet offered from 11 AM-3 PM daily. Enjoy a nice selection of imported Indian beer. 80 S. Tunnel Rd
Sunset Terrace at The Omni Grove Park Inn
The Omni Grove Park Inn’s Sunset Terrace restaurant scores big on romance! The outdoor veranda sets the mood with a perfect view of the sunset over Asheville. Indulge in the finest prime beef and seafood, along with cocktails and wine. 290 Macon Ave.
Serving authentic Thai food, along with Vietnamese pho, this friendly eatery is a hidden gem for many locals looking for a causal, go-to Thai restaurant. Popular dishes include Drunken Noodles, Green Curry and Pineapple Fried Rice. Try the Thai iced coffee and enjoy weekday lunch specials. 18 Sardis Rd
Ben's Tune Up
Another local’s favorite, this sake brewery is located in a converted auto shop with an Asian fusion restaurant and beer garden. They serve food until 2 am and have live music a few nights a week. 195 Hilliard Ave
Located in the heart of Downtown Asheville, Chestnut offers a unique take on hand-crafted food and cocktails. The palette is best described as Southern American with a variety of ethnic twists. The menu changes monthly and features a wide range of local and seasonal produce and proteins. Open 7 days a week for dinner only starting at 5 PM. To make a reservation, visit the website or call 828-575-2667. 48 Biltmore Avenue.
Top 11 Christmas Small Towns
Take a photo tour of our Top 11 Christmas Towns & Villages near Asheville, each decorated with plenty of festive things to do in the North Carolina mountains.
Since 1999, they bake a wide variety of artisan tradition French breads daily. Choose from an array of house-made croissants, danishes, eclairs, cheddar-scallion biscuits, sticky buns, bagels and other pastries. And pair it up with locally-roasted organic coffee or espresso. Opens at 7 AM for early risers. Two locations in downtown Asheville: 60 Biltmore Avenue & 88 Charlotte Street.
Located in Asheville’s River Arts District in a renovated warehouse, this popular coffee house serves pour over coffee, espresso drinks, seasonal beverages, bagels, pastries baked in-house as well as craft beer and wine. 4 Foundy St
Tropical Gardens Mini Golf
This popular, adventure-filled miniature golf course offers a great setting for a birthday party. They also have batting cages, gameroom, sno-cones and more. Parties can be reserved for 1 hour and include decorated gazebo,1 round mini golf, drinks, and paper products. See website for prices.
(2.8 miles roundtrip, moderate) Hike back in time as you discover the rock foundations of Rattlesnake Lodge, an early 1900s family retreat. The hike is only a 30-minute drive from downtown Asheville. You can extend the hike since it is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 375.
Cooking grounded in the traditions and ingredients of the Carolinas with modern southern seasonal farm-to-table menus, fresh catches from the coast of the Carolinas, as well as local microbrews, prestigious wines, and inventive cocktails. 47 Biltmore Ave
Located in Pack Square, this restaurant with an award-winning James Beard chef, serves farm-to-table New American fare. The menu is inspired by seasonal ingredients and pays homage to the bounty of regional and American cooking. A wood-fired oven and grill complement the rustic creations. Check out Sunday Suppers, offered weekly at 6:30 PM. 7 Pack Square.
Hike the Appalachian Trail at Max Patch or Lover's Leap, soak in natural hot springs, go horseback riding, raft down whitewater rapids, ski, bike, fish, camp and explore the unspoiled mountains just north of Asheville.
Bryson City Restaurants
For a small town, you'll find a nice variety of restaurants, ranging from southern home cooking to a brewery and gourmet dining. A nice reward after a day of exploring the Great Smokies and Nantahala River.
In the heart of downtown Asheville, this farm-to-table restaurant welcomes pooches with a dog menu including house-made dog biscuits, entrees and even serves a bacon-soy ice cream dessert! 1 Biltmore Ave.
ACT: Tanglewood, Asheville
This program offers two sessions for kids and teens interested in acting, music, movement, film, and design. The camp, held at Asheville Community Theatre, is open to beginners through advanced performing arts campers. Each session ends with a showcase for family and friends! Sessions offered June-July. Ages 7-15. $400/week.
This Italian-inspired eatery in the center of downtown Asheville fuses the traditions and philosophies of Italian cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. The seasonal menu serves family-style, hearty traditionals, along with new Italian dishes. Fantastic wine selection. Reservations strongly recommended. 24 Wall St
(5-mile loop, moderate) Hike 30 miles in this wilderness area with waterfalls and dramatic cliffs. A great half day hike is a five-mile loop to Schoolhouse Falls, Greenland Creek Falls and Little Green Mountain. It's easy to extend the hike in the network of trails.
(1 to 12 miles, easy to strenuous) More than 12 miles of hiking trails range in difficulty from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry challenges. Our favorite is taking the Grandfather Trail from the Swinging Bridge area and returning along Underwood Trail. The popular Profile Trail is a 7-mile roundtrip, strenuous trek up to the highest peak.
Wheels Through Time Museum
See hundreds of classic motorcycles and automobiles in Maggie Valley in one of best transportation museums in the country. This massive collection includes more than 300 of America's rarest and most historic classic motorcycles.
Asheville Treetops Adventure Park
Open all year, ages 4+ can play in the trees with 77 challenge elements on 7 aerial trails including climbing, jumping, swinging and rappelling. 5 minutes from downtown at
the Adventure Center of Asheville including night climbs.
the Adventure Center of Asheville including night climbs.
Great Smoky Mountains NC Travel Guide
Order the free 115-page Great Smoky Mountains North Carolina Travel Guide that includes activities and adventures in 7 counties that surround the national park, published by Smoky Mountain Host.
Nantahala River Rafting Guide
The most popular river for whitewater rafting and kayaking is about 12 miles west of Bryson City in the beautiful Nantahala River Gorge. The site of the Freestyle Kayaking World Championships, find class II and III rapids, along with calm sections perfect for a dip. Fun for ages 7 and up, with no experience necessary. Choose from nine outfitters, all offering a variety of options.
Mast General Store
This favorite stop for tourists and locals is an old-fashioned general store with the latest products, including clothing, fun gifts, cooking accessories and a huge candy section. Downstairs is a great outdoors department with all the major brands. 15 Biltmore Avenue.
Picnic at Mt. Pisgah
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 407: A large picnic area includes grills, tables and restroom facilities. All are ADA compliant and handicapped accessible. It is located near the Pisgah Inn (one mile south) where you can order picnic food (April-October). You can take a strenuous hike to the top of Mt. Pisgah, but there are no great picnic spots at the summit.
Learn about Cherokee Indian heritage at several museums, including the Museum of the Cherokee and Oconaluftee Indian Village. Each summer, see Unto These Hills. Learn about and buy crafts at Qualla Arts.
Chai Pani literally means “tea and water.” It's slang in India for going out for a cup of tea, a tasty bite, a snack, or “a little something.” In Downtown Asheville it means innovative, fun, affordable and delicious Indian cuisine from four time James Beard nominated chef Meherwan Irani. 22 Battery Park Avenue
Oskar Blues Brewery
(342 Mountain Industrial Drive, Brevard) Oskar Blues' east coast brewery opened in 2012. The Tasty Weasel taproom is open daily with free tours of the brewery. Sample specialty draft ales, enjoy live music and gather with friends.
Mountain Play Lodge, Asheville
This large indoor play space, ideal for kids 10 and younger, offers two age-appropriate play floors with a variety of soft play equipment including a miniature village, toddler slides, and a large jungle gym with slides. Find a variety of food and beverage options for purchase, including snacks, coffee, and even beer and wine! Admission: $8-14. Don't forget to wear socks!
Cultivated Cocktails Distillery, Asheville
Located in downtown Asheville at the iconic Grove Arcade, this tasting bar offers samples of craft distilled spirits, along with a signature cocktail menu. While you sample, learn more on their process of distilling- from “Grain to Garnish.” Shop retail space for cocktail supplies, bar accessories, gifts and more. Open Tues/Wed 1-8 PM, Thurs-Sat 1-9 PM.
Ultimate Ice Cream
It’s all about flavor at this ice cream shop on historic Charlotte Street in the famous Grove Park Inn area. Small, local dairy farms provide the creamery necessary to create fun flavors like Goat Cheese Bing Cherry and boozy ice cream like Pumpkin Whiskey. Each flavor of the month benefits local nonprofits. 195 Charlotte Street
Western North Carolina Farmer's Market
Come and enjoy the atmosphere and bounty of the mountains. The retail area features displays of high-quality fruits and vegetables, mountain crafts, jams, jellies, preserves, sourwood honey and dozens of other farm-fresh items. The market is open year-round, seven days a week.