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Clingmans Dome Observation Tower
See the 360-degree scenic view from the tallest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via a half-mile walk or enjoy views from the parking area. Open April-November.
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.
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.
Experience the sights, sounds, music, pageantry, colorful costumes, food, art, and extraordinary talent of Latin America. Pack Square Park, Downtown Asheville. 12-8 PM. Free admission.
5 Must-Stop Breweries in Brevard, NC
See what's on tap at these top local breweries in Brevard that run the gamut in size, shape, and flavor profile, but all are must-stops for beer lovers!
Lees-McRae Summer Theatre
The college performing arts department combines with the community each summer to produce a top-notch series of theatrical productions on their campus in Banner Elk, ranging from classic Shakespeare to Broadway musicals. The series begins in late June and runs through early August.
Experience an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration and street festival in Bryson City with a 5K, crafts, food, contests, live music, and the best fireworks show in the Smokies.
Banner Elk Lodging
Stay high in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a variety of vacation rentals, log cabins, condos, mountaintop homes and hotels. Near ski resorts, Grandfather Mountain and endless outdoor adventures.
Have lunch at the soda fountain, see an amazing collection of vintage cars and catch a baseball game in small town American. Every winter, the Forest City’s Hometown Holidays celebration lights up Main Street with more than one million lights.
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.
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.
Adelaide Spa & Salon
Facials, body treatments, and massages, including cupping therapy are offered in their tranquil and meditative environment. The spa is conveniently located near downtown with free parking. Spa guests have use of the fitness room, multiple pools, sauna and steam room on the day of their visit, plus access to free childcare during their service. A perfect spa retreat for individuals, couples, and groups.
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.
First Peak Visitors Guide
Get your free guide to the "First Peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains," including the cool small towns of Tryon, Saluda and Columbus, as well as the Green River Gorge with tubing and zip lines.
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.
Biltmore Industries Tour
Take a guided tour of historic Biltmore Industries at Grovewood Village and time-warp back to closing day in 1981 as you see untouched rooms with looms loaded with wool. April-November. Also, visit their Homespun Museum and Car Museum.
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.
Organic Growers Conference
This annual Spring Conference at Mars Hill University includes 150+ practical, affordable, regionally-appropriate workshops on organic growing, homesteading, urban farming and rural living. Plus trade show, seed exchange, special guests and on-farm events.
Hilltop Fall Festival
Much fun in downtown Rutherfordton: Friday night Soapbox Derby for big kids, Saturday morning Overmountain 5K and Tour de Pumpkin 50K & 100K bike rides and festival 9-5 with crafts, music, scarecrow contest.
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.
Blue Spiral 1
A must-stop for art lovers with three floors of fantastic contemporary fine art and craft. An extensive exhibition schedule, presenting 15 shows annually, often featuring 4-5 simultaneously within various venues inside the gallery. 38 Biltmore Avenue
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.
Newman's Restaurant, Saluda
Located inside the historic Orchard Inn, their farm-to-table prix-fixe menu changes weekly, with much of the produce from their organic garden. Enjoy views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and extensive wine list. Make reservations in advance for this special dining experience. 35 miles south of Asheville
Escape to the Great Smokies
The Great Smoky Mountains is one of America's most visited national parks. This International Biosphere Reserve is home to rugged mountains (many peaks in excess of 6,000 ft.), historic homesteads and 100,000 different types of plants and animals. Four entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are within 50 miles of downtown Asheville. Free admission!
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
Yellow Creek Falls
Hike just a third of a mile to reach this 50-ft. waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest near Robbinsville and Lake Santeetlah. It's a great summer swimming hole, too!
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.
Biltmore Estate Hiking Trails
(Many options, easy to moderate) There are 23 miles of trails, for all fitness levels, to explore at Biltmore. You can walk several miles around the gardens near the house, including a half-mile stroll around the Bass Pond. Our favorite hike at Biltmore is the 1.3-mile Deer Park Trail, offering great views of the house.
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.
(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.
Graham County Places to Stay
Find great places to stay in Graham County, home to Robbinsville, Lake Santeetlah, Fontana Lake and Stecoah in the Nantahala National Forest. Stay in log cabins, friendly B&Bs, luxury lodges, lakeside campgrounds and small hotels.
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.
Sylva July 4th Concert & Fireworks
Enjoy concerts and fireworks in a picturesque all-American small town! Live music begins at 4 PM with dancing until 9:30 PM at the Bridge Park Pavilion. Stroll Main Street's shops, restaurants and breweries. Fireworks begin at dark. Free.
Take a Tour
Go on a guided tour or experience to add special memories to your visit. Tour the town on a purple bus or a beer cycle. Go on a hike, see waterfalls, watch elk or sample local foods. See our Top 25.
Hickory Nut Falls
(1.5 miles roundtrip, easy) This 404-foot waterfall at Chimney Rock Park is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. The trail takes you to a platform at the bottom of the cascade featured in the movie, The Last of the Mohicans. Especially impressive after a good rain.
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.
(3 miles roundtrip, easy) This waterfall in the Pisgah National Forest is just three miles from I-40 in Old Fort. Hike by the river to the lower falls, a 100-foot cascade. Experienced hikers and rock climbers can continue on to a challenging hike to the stunning Upper Catawba Falls.
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.
Little Switzerland Places to Stay
Find hotels, cabins and B&B inns in charming Little Switzerland, located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, including favorite mountain retreats that have been there for generations.
Jack of the Wood
Since opening in 1996, this has been one of Asheville’s favorite places to relax, listen to music and enjoy fresh, locally sourced pub fare. The original home of Green Man Brewing, the pub specializes in hand-crafted English ales and weekly traditional jam sessions in a charming old world atmosphere. Open until 1 AM weekdays, 2 AM weekends. 95 Patton Avenue.
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)
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.
Christmas Wonderland Lights @ Tryon
Drive through an extravangant, 2-mile Christmas light show, synchronized to music at the Tryon International Equestrian Center - open every night of the week.
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
Since 1974, they have conserved over 70,000 acres of unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland and scenic beauty of the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.
Biltmore for Kids
The estate is a wonderland for all ages, bringing out the curious and excited child in all of us. See our 30 Tips & Things to Do with plenty of kid-focused fun including the farmyard, playground, river rides, biking, special house tours & more.
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!
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.
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
(3 miles round-trip, strenuous) Mt. Pisgah can be seen from downtown Asheville on a clear day. Hike up to the top of the 5,721-ft. summit on this popular hiking trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 407.6.
NOC French Broad River Rafting
Take a guided whitewater rafting trip near Asheville on the scenic French Broad River with its splashy Class II and III rapids! Ideal for families and groups. The full-day trip finishes with Frank Bell's Rapid, a thrilling Class IV drop.
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.
Head over to Sapphire Valley Ski Resort in Cashiers to cheer the drivers of the hilarious homemade outhouses down the slopes.
Arts & Crafts Drive-About Tour
Take a free self-guided driving tour of the galleries and working studios of Graham and Swain Counties and buy arts and crafts directly from the artist. Pick up a map at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center near Fontana Lake and Robbinsville. 10 AM-5 PM.
Grove Arcade, Downtown Asheville
This historic building houses 30 local shops, restaurants, and lifestyle services. Their Makers Market, an open air market featuring local artisans, is open daily. Grove Arcade is pet-friendly and offers free public WiFi. 1 Page Avenue
Chimneys Hike, Linville Gorge
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike across and through towering rock formations called the Chimneys atop the rim of the spectacular Linville Gorge, starting at the Table Rock trailhead parking area.
Concerts on the Creek
Unwind on Fridays Memorial Day through Labor Day with live music outdoors in downtown Sylva. Shows are 7-9 PM at the Bridge Park. It's just two blocks from Main Street with shops, restaurants and breweries (come early!). Family friendly with a big variety of music. Bring a chair or blanket. Free.
South Creek Winery
Visit this boutique winery on a farm near Marion. Taste wines in an Italian Renaissance Farmhouse or on an outdoor deck: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and signature-blend Maestro. Located 4.4 miles off I-40 at exit 90. 2240 S Creek Rd, Nebo, NC (6 miles to Silver Fork, 4 miles to Belle Nicho, 9 miles to Lake James Cellars).
Wildcat Rock Trail
(6 miles roundtrip, strenuous) This gorgeous new trail in the Hickory Nut Gorge area climbs 1,800 feet in elevation by cliffs, 100-foot Little Bearwallow Falls cascade and panoramic views from Wildcat Rock. Many spring wildflowers. Just 18 miles from downtown Asheville.
Craggy Gardens Trail
(1 mile, easy) Walk across a mile-high bald filled with rhododendron, wildflowers and mountain views. Access the trail from the Craggy Picnic Grounds or Visitor Center (Milepost 364.4) on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
(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.
Only a 30-minute scenic drive from Asheville, experience the renewing power of this nature and spa retreat and certified wildlife habitat. Located in the still largely secluded mountains of... read more
Tupelo Honey Cafe Brunch
This landmark in downtown Asheville serves up Southern cooking, sourcing ingredients from nearby farms and earning national accolades. Try their fried chicken and biscuits, shrimp and grits, sweet potato pancakes, pecan pie French toast or omelet stuffed with pimento cheese. Don't miss the Queen Bloody Mary. Often a long wait on weekends. Open daily at 9 AM. 12 College Street.
Elk in Cherokee
Watch majestic elk graze and interact in meadows at the Great Smoky Mountains Oconaluftee Visitor Center and other areas around Cherokee.