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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.
Blue Ridge Travelers: Small Towns & Outdoors
Explore McDowell County east of Asheville, with the small towns of Marion, Little Switzerland, Old Fort and Linville Falls. Includes Pisgah Forest, with hiking, waterfalls, fishing, Lake James and many things to do. See their Blue Ridge Traveler's guide for details.
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 rare twin waterfall is located roadside near Maggie Valley and Cherokee. You can easily miss it since there are few signs! The observation deck is a short walk from a small parking area. You can also hike down to the base of both falls.
Stroll this picturesque historic "town" in the city of Asheville near the entrance to Biltmore Estate. Find tree lined streets with trendy, mostly local boutiques, galleries, breweries and restaurants in buildings and cottages built by the Vanderbilts.
Lake Lure Cabin Rentals
Find a big variety of cabins, condos and other vacation rentals at Lake Lure - as presented by Rutherford County Tourism.
Beach at Lake James
Our top mountain beach is found at Lake James State Park, with a wide sandy beach, bathhouse, concessions and kayak / paddleboard rentals. Nearby, camp, picnic, hike and mountain bike.
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.
The Foundation Performing Arts
The "big city" 1,300-seat performing arts center is located on the Isothermal Community College Campus in tiny Spindale and features an impressive Mainstage Performing Arts Series featuring music, dance, comedy, theatre and more.
Canton Labor Day Festival
Big celebration in Canton since 1906. Sunday features music festival, art, and food, 12-9:30 PM at Sorrells Park, and free gospel concert at Colonial Theatre. Monday features a big Labor Day Parade at 10 AM, plus a music festival and car show, 12 PM-9 PM. 20 minutes west of Asheville.
Cedar Rock Mountain, DuPont Forest
(4.5 miles loop, moderate) This hike provides wonderful views and dramatic scenery - and it's not difficult. Rising only a few hundred feet above the surrounding plateau, walk across areas of granite with great views.
Home to an impressive arts community, with galleries and an arts center downtown. Also boasts a big equestrian community, with many horse-related events, including a Steeplechase each spring. The amazing Tryon International Equestrian Center attracts horse lovers and riders from all over the world. Near Saluda.
Marshall Handmade Market, Marshall
This arts festival & holiday market is held indoors at Marshall High Studios on Blannahassatt Island in the French Broad River, 25 minutes north of Asheville. Classrooms-turned-studios open their doors for 60 artists to share process and art. Food trucks too. Free admission. 10 AM-5 PM
Waterfalls & Wine Tour
Find six waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, with short, guided hikes "off the beaten path" with the Pisgah Field School, and end with a wine tasting. Mostly Thursdays & Fridays, May-October. Small groups, book in advance.
Bridal Veil Falls, DuPont State Forest
(4.4 miles roundtrip hike, moderate) This beautiful 120-foot waterfall is near High Falls and other DuPont Forest falls and lakes. Hike or bike to it. Many hike combinations due to a network of trails.
Moore Cove Falls
(1.5 miles roundtrip, easy) Walk behind this 50-foot waterfall located near the popular Looking Glass Falls. Beautiful hike along the way. While the water flow is not impressive, it's a beautiful setting that is overlooked by many since there are no signs.
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.
Russian Chapel Hills Winery
This vineyard rests below the beautiful St. Anna Chapel, which is part of the Eastern Diocese of the Russian Church. They use all of their own grapes for seven varietals, including reds Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and whites Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Plus, they have a Muscadine dessert wine. 2662 Green Creek Drive, Columbus, NC.
North Carolina Ceramic Arts Festival
This one-day shopping and demonstration show features 40 ceramic artists with a diverse array of tilework, sculpture, jewelry and pottery. Watch raku demonstrations and enjoy live music. Food trucks too. Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville, 11 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
Lake Lure & Rutherford County Welcome Center
Stop by for free travel guides, brochures and advice for fun in Lake Lure, Chimney Rock and Rutherford County. See a display of movies filmed here, including Dirty Dancing and Last of the Mohicans. The “Map Room” includes a wall-sized timeline of local heritage with folklore, local culture, and topography map of Hickory Nut Gorge. Open daily! 2932 Memorial Highway (US-64/74), Lake Lure
This popular summer swimming hole in Banner Elk includes a white sandy beach, swimming pier and fishing dock. The adjacent Tufts Memorial Park has a bath house and picnic tables. Owned by the Grandfather Home for Children. No admission fee, but they appreciate donations.
French Broad Adventures
Asheville’s closest adventure experience, offering whitewater rafting, ziplines, and canyoneering expeditions just 30 minutes from Downtown Asheville. Experience a fun-filled rafting adventure with knowledgeable guides or choose a milder calmwater trip in the heart of the scenic valley near Hot Springs. Enjoy both indoor and outdoor experiences. Half and full-day trips.
This fine art gallery in the center of downtown Asheville specializes in contemporary figurative and abstract works of United States and international artists creating exceptional paintings and sculptures at all stages of their careers. The gallery focuses on a modern aesthetic in a sophisticated white cube format and enjoys a sterling reputation as the area’s top fine art gallery. 29 Biltmore Ave, downtown Asheville
French Broad Ziplines
Explore the great outdoors from the treetops near Hot Springs, just 30 minutes from downtown Asheville. The 10-line, 2-rappel zip line canopy tour traverses a mile of cable, with stunning, long-range mountain views. Create memories of a lifetime, led by expert guides with state-of-the-art gear.
Soak in Mountain Views
Where are the best places for spectacular views to celebrate being alive? Hike to a remote mountaintop or see sweeping views from your car. Watch the sunset or picnic on top of the world.
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.
There's a lot happening in this lake town! In addition to a beach to keep cool on hot summer's day, there's a wonderful Town Center Walkway that connects the beach to the beautiful Flowering Bridge. Take a boat tour of the lake or bring your mountain bike for their new trail system at Buffalo Creek Park.
National Get Outdoors Day
The Cradle of Forestry celebrates with free admission and plenty of outdoor activities in Pisgah National Forest near Sliding Rock, including hikes, demos, historic buildings, and kid's educational fun. 10 AM-4 PM.
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.
Veteran's History Museum of the Carolinas
A fascinating tour of US history through the eyes of Carolina veterans. The museum covers “modern” wars from World War I through Afghanistan, including the Cold War. Learn intriguing stories of those who served and see one-of-a-kind artifacts, uniforms, weaponry, original newspapers, and more. Open Wed-Sunday, March-December. Free admission.
Twisted Laurel Downtown
Award-winning Executive Chef Tom LaFauci specializes in handmade pasta and smoked meats putting his Italian-American touch on a wide range of crowd-pleasing entrees. The full bar includes regional beers on tap, craft cocktails, and wines. Their patio is dog-friendly and open year-round and includes a Doggie Menu so your pup can enjoy a meal out with you! (130 College Street)
Wild Food Foraging Tours
Take a "forage to table" tour with No Taste Like Home and play with your food. Our area is a Garden of Eden with over 300 wild edibles. During a guided tour, gather wild mushrooms, plants and other “extreme cuisine.” Then a chef transforms your finds into a delicious meal.
Elevated Mountain Moonshine Tours
Learn how moonshine is made legally in Maggie Valley at Elevated Mountain, makers of whiskey, vodka and white lightning. Guided tours on Monday-Saturday include a tasting! Free admission.
Asheville Parks & Greenway
Just a couple miles from downtown and Biltmore, find two parks along the river connected by the French Broad River Greenway: Carrier Park and French Broad River Park. Picnic, bike, hike and play.
This serene swimming spot in Pisgah National Forest is near popular Rainbow Falls and the natural water slide Turtleback Falls. It's family-friendy but a 2.5-mile roundtrip hike to reach.
It took 34 years to build North Carolina's most expensive highway, winding up and over 5,400-foot mountains for 15 miles, from Robbinsville through the Nantahala National Forest and descending another 21 miles into the Cherokee National Forest of Tennessee. This 36-mile National Scenic Byway shows little evidence of civilization. Stop at many overlooks.
Original Mast General Store
See the original location of the historic Mast General Store near Banner Elk in small picturesque community of Valle Crucis. Take a photo tour.
Smoky Mountain Host Featured Hotels
Find a variety of hotels and motels on the North Carolina side of the Smokies on VisitSmokies.org - ranging from luxury to budget.
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.
DuPont Forest Festival
Celebrate DuPont State Recreational Forest with many special events on National Public Lands Day, such as guided tours, educational lectures, hands-on demonstrations and more. Free admission.
Lake Junaluska Walking Trail
(2.3 or 3.8 miles, easy) Our top accessible, paved hiking trail near Asheville, with a walk around a beautiful lake at the Conference and Retreat Center, surrounded by mountains and historic buildings. They are open to the public and welcome everyone to walk the 2.3-mile loop with many natural sights along the way.
(4 miles round-trip, strenuous) One of the most popular hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains. With an elevation of 4,800 ft., the rocky summit is one of the park's most recognizable geological structures. It's all uphill with 1,700 ft. in elevation gain. On the Tennessee side of Newfound Gap Road.
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.
Asheville's public market features specialty shops, restaurants, and sidewalk vending with fresh food and crafts. This block-long historic building has an interior "mall" and shops around the entire exterior. A must stop!
Downtown on Battery Park and O. Henry Avenues.
Downtown on Battery Park and O. Henry Avenues.
High Falls at Lake Glenville
(1.5 miles round-trip, strenuous) Also known as Cullowhee Falls, this 150-ft. waterfall at Lake Glenville near Cashiers becomes the most powerful a few days of the year when extra water is released from the dam for kayakers. A new hiking trail takes you to the base for a great view.
Carmel's Kitchen and Bar
With a prime corner location in the beautiful Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, find superior local and organic produce and meats for a bounty of fresh flavors with contemporary style. Lunch features soups, salads, hand-tossed pizzas and burgers. Dinner offerings range from mussels and calamari to locally sourced steaks and pork, along with signature cocktails and local brews. Prime outdoor dining patio. 1 Page Avenue.
Christmas Tree Farms
Pick the perfect Christmas tree for your home at a "choose and cut" Christmas Tree Farm near Asheville. After you find your tree, they cut it, bale it and tie it on your vehicle. See our favorite farms.
Pisgah National Forest Guide
Explore and play in 500,000+ acres surrounding Asheville with some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery, creating some of the best recreational opportunities in eastern North America. Pisgah National Forest covers much of the north and central western mountains of North Carolina - with rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails.
AVL Cake Lady, West Asheville
This popular West Asheville bakery whips up unique cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other sweet treats for Asheville locals. They take custom orders for wedding cakes, birthday cakes, holiday desserts, and have a big variety of pastries to cure the occasional sweet tooth. A must-try is the banana pudding cupcake!
Morganton Town & Trail Guide
Order a free guide to Morganton and Burke County, located east of Asheville and home to Linville Falls, Lake James & South Mountain State Parks, small towns, scenic drives and hikes to Table Rock and the Linville Gorge.
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.
Hook, Line and Drinker Festival
Celebrating the WNC Fly Fishing Trail and local breweries, with craft beer vendors, food trucks, fishing guides and vendors, and live music 3-7 PM at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva (76 Railroad Avenue).
Ride the Train
All aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train excursion for a ride through quaint mountain towns, past sparkling rivers and through deep mountain forests. Ride in an open air car or in climate-controlled first class with lunch service. And don't forget the Polar Express train!
Since 1982, Asheville's largest high-energy dance club is renowned throughout as the epicenter for creativity, diversity and entertainment. Don't miss their midnight show, premiering the best drag anywhere. Dance the night away with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems.
Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour
Enjoy a half-mile of airtime with three sky bridges and six transfer bridges, 13 zip line sections and 20 scenic and unspoiled acres of flying area, all within the heavily wooded setting of the Nantahala National Forest. Fly through multiple ecosystems in a deciduous forest packed with native flowering plants. Combine this with a whitewater rafting trip down the river.
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.
Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls and Juney Whank Falls
See three waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Deep Creek area with a two-mile hike. It is also a popular tubing and camping spot each summer. Near Bryson City.
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.
Marry or Renew Vows
What a beautiful and romantic setting to celebrate your love and commitment! Asheville is the hot spot for destination weddings and elopements. Our Wedding Guide has a long list of indoor and outdoor venues and resources to help plan the big day.
NC State Bluegrass Festival
This big outdoor concert weekend in Marion is on the grounds of Tom Johnson's Camping Center - complete with camping options, pavilion and dozens of performers. Single day and weekend tickets.
Escape to a Mountain Cabin
Snuggle up in a cozy cabin rental. Choose from a wide variety of sizes and types of cabins and cottages - some in the city of Asheville and others are way out in the country nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Many are secluded in our mountains, some by ponds, lakes or rivers.
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.
Located in Biltmore Park in South Asheville, this cupcakery and creamery offer freshly baked gourmet cupcakes, along with housemade ice cream. The cupcakes come in a variety of sizes and you can add ice cream to create a “SmallCake Smash.” Enjoy 12 signature flavors with regular rotating specialty flavors. Order by the dozen or create a custom cake for special occasions.
300 Things to Do
See our master list of places to see and things to do in the western North Carolina mountains, including Asheville and our many small towns.
Harvest Festival, Stecoah Valley
Experience quintessential traditional mountain life with Appalachian dance, music, food, arts and crafts in the beautiful Nantahala National Forest at Stecoah Valley, near Fontana Lake and Robbinsville.
Concerts on the Creek, Sylva
Unwind on Fridays with this free outside live music summer series in downtown Sylva. Shows are 7-9 PM at the Bridge Park, two blocks from Main Street with shops, restaurants and breweries (so come early!). Family-friendly with a big variety of music. Bring a chair or blanket.
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.
I-26 Scenic Highway
This is the only interstate section in the state to be selected as a scenic byway. Begins on I-26 at Exit 9 at Mars Hill. As you travel north, there is a scenic overlook offering views of the Blue Ridge Parkway. A second scenic overlook will be on the return route, where the NC Welcome Center is located. The highest point is Sam’s Gap (3,760 feet), where the Appalachian Trail crosses under the highway. Exit at Flag Pond in Tennessee and make a u-turn to return.