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American Museum of the House Cat
See a fascinating collection of 10,000+ cat-related curiosities, including many rare and fascinating antiques, collected by "CatMan2" for the past 20 years. One of the few museums in the country dedicated to felines. Near Dillsboro.
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!
Wayah Bald Fire Tower
From Wayah Bald at 5,342 ft. in the Nantahala National Forest near Franklin, see panoramic views to the Great Smoky Mountains. A short walk from the summit parking area takes you to the 1937 stone fire tower.
Hendersonville Wine Country
Visit six award-winning wineries on a 10-mile scenic drive just east of Hendersonville in apple country. Each has both indoor and outdoor spaces with beautiful views, live music, and more.
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.
Family-Friendly Places to Stay
Find family-friendly resorts, hotels, cabins and more places to stay in Asheville and the Blue Ridge, with special amenities, programs and itineraries for children.
Asheville Hiking Tours
Hike gorgeous mountaintops and visit 5-star waterfalls! TripAdvisor ranks Asheville Hiking Tours as one of Asheville's top tour companies! Your guides are expert naturalists and locals, showing you the hidden gems of Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tour Options: 2-hr, 1/2-day, Full Day, and Private Tours.
Welcome to the Land of the Waterfalls! There are so many waterfalls in nearby state and federal parks (with no admission fee) to discover. While many require a walk or hike to reach, several are roadside. Take one of our waterfall drives to enjoy several. See our favorite 60!
Shoji Spa & Lodge
Take a break from wedding planning and bring some friends or enjoy some quality time with your new spouse at the only Japanese-style bath house and spa on the east coast. Soak in your own private outdoor hot tub and enjoy a variety of massage and spa services. It's an idyllic spot for getting away from it all with some well-deserved, therapeutic pampering. Located just 6 miles from downtown Asheville.
Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, NC
See our comprehensive camping guide for the Great Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina side with many options, tips and places including backpacking sites and campgrounds.
Asheville Fringe Arts Festival
Local and national artists explore the edges of their work, collaborate across genres and bring innovative performances to culturally adventurous audiences. Includes dancers, installation artists, theatre companies, Butoh dance, puppetry, modern dance, and performance art.
Located in the River Arts District of Asheville, this popular outdoor music venue has become a local favorite for live music. The riverside venue hosts headliners in both their indoor and outdoor stages, as well as offers a fun place for local live music, games, and outdoor dining from their onsite restaurant Root Down Kitchen.
Adventure Center of Asheville for Small Kids
Kids love this giant outdoor playground, just five minutes from downtown Asheville, with three areas for ages 4-10: KidZip with nine ziplines, Treetops Adventure Park with 70 safe climbing, jumping, swinging and rappelling challenges, and TreeQuest tree climbing with safety of a harness. Canopy tours and mountain biking for older kids too.
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.
Bryson City Outdoors
This well-equipped outdoor store in downtown Bryson City has everything for your adventure. Services include kayak, paddleboard and gear rentals, a hiker shuttle, and guided tours! Their craft beer taproom & bottle shop has 10 rotating brews on tap with an additional 200+ bottles and cans to go.
Check out these kid-friendly restaurants in and around Asheville that offer extra “kid perks” like more casual settings with outdoor space, play areas, arcade games and more.
NC Veterans Cemetery & Memorial
Pay respects at the Western North Carolina Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain, open every day with a special service on Memorial Day. Also see the Veterans Memorial in downtown Asheville in Pack Square Park.
This quaint and very historic village is located three miles south of Hendersonville. A longtime summer retreat, it's home to the Playhouse state theatre, Carl Sandburg National Historic Site, Hubba Hubba Smokehouse, Sky Top Orchard, galleries and shops.
Apple Hill Alpaca Farm
Take a guided walking tour of this farm near Banner Elk with the alpacas, llamas, angora goats, guardian donkeys, dogs and other animals. Fiber from the angora goats is made into mohair and sold in the farm store, along with alpaca socks. Open year-round.
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.
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!
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)
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. 10 AM-5 PM.
Mermaid Parade & Festival, Marshall
The legend is that for one day each year, sea creatures and mermaids leave their ocean home and travel the French Broad River to Downtown Marshall. Parade at 5 PM with costumes and lots of water balloons and guns. Downtown festivities are happening until 10 PM so stick around town and enjoy eats, drinks, and live music at some of your favorite downtown businesses
Picnics by The Rhu
Take in the sights and mountain views with a picnic basket from The Rhu in downtown. Picnics include house-baked breads and pastries, local cheese and meats, and salads made from fresh, local produce. Many choices! Order in advance for quick pick-up. 10 South Lexington.
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.
Noble Cider Taproom
(356 New Leicester Highway, Asheville) Watch raw apples arriving for pressing, fresh apple juice being pumped into tanks ready for fermentation or the finished product being put into kegs or bottles. Their 20 taps feature their lineup of crisp and creative hard ciders. Open Wednesday-Sunday.c
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.
Apple Harvest Festival
Find all things apple in downtown Waynesville, including cider, fried pies and other apple delicacies. Also find live mountain music, dance, craft and demo booths along scenic Main Street for the iconic small town fall festival.
Bee-to-Honey Farm Tours
This unique hands-on tour of Killer Bees Honey Farm above Pisgah National Forest includes putting on a bee suit, pouring your own honey and a delicious honey tasting and pairing. Located near Lake Toxaway and Brevard. Small groups, advance reservations only.
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.
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!
Dessert, Donuts, and Ice Cream
If you have a sweet tooth and are looking to indulge, you’ll find quite the paradise for dessert-lovers in Asheville. Find our top picks for decadent, hand-crafted desserts including chocolates, ice cream, donuts and more.
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.
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!
(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.
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.
Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair
The streets around Burnsville’s town square are filled with 200 juried crafters displaying nearly every kind of handmade craft imaginable. Located 35 miles northeast of Asheville.
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.
The French Broad Overview
This 17-mile N.C. Scenic Byway just north of Asheville starts at I-26, Exit 19. Take U.S. 25/70 toward Marshall and turn left at the first stoplight onto Monticello Road. Go three miles to N.C. Highway 251. Turn right and drive along the French Broad River to Marshall. Stop at Ledges Whitewater River County Park and watch the kayakers while you picnic.
Bechtler House & Gold Mint Site
In 1832, Christopher Bechtler minted the America's first one-dollar gold coin in Rutherfordton, 17 years before the U.S. Mint. During the mid-1800s, the Bechtlers minted more than $2.24 million in one dollar gold coins. Two sites in town tell the story in Rutherford County.
Black Mountain Rag to Chimney Rock
Take exit 64 off Interstate 40 at Black Mountain to follow N.C. Highway 9 South, named for an old fiddle tune and musical term. A "rag" is a tune with multiple twists and curves up and down the scales. In 16 miles, arrive in Bat Cave and turn left on U.S. 64 to Chimney Rock with spectacular views of Hickory Nut Gorge as you drive. Continue to Lake Lure to walk across the Flowering Bridge and along the beach before you return.
This historic town in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and French Broad River. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 889 residents has a Main Street with artists’ studios, galleries, music venues, restaurants, Zuma Coffee and shops. Walk across the river to Blannahassett Island and the Marshall High Studios with many events.
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.
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.
Benne on Eagle, Downtown Asheville
Located in downtown Asheville, this eatery serves modern soul food inspired by Appalachian ingredients. Open daily for breakfast & dinner. Brunch on Sundays.
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).
Great Smoky Mountains Small Towns in NC
Visit and vacation in these great small towns in the Great Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina side - basecamps for attractions and outdoor adventures.
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.
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.
Tiger Bay Cafe, West Asheville
Located inside Battlecat Coffee shop in West Asheville, this female-owned, family-run cafe serves up breakfast and lunch including bagels, waffles, paninis, salads, and more inspired by Southern, East Indian and Latin culinary traditions. Try the breakfast bagel or the Cuban panini! Vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Find Festivals Galore
Free festivals, art shows and quirky events abound in downtown Asheville and our great mountain small towns. See our favorites for each season.
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.
Romantic Getaways to a Bed & Breakfast
For a special vacation that will create lifetime memories, get pampered at a bed and breakfast inn. Many are grand historic homes with big porches, gardens, inviting living areas and beautiful furnishings. All include a gourmet breakfast to start your day. Innkeepers love to help with special requests to create a very personalized stay.
Sensibilities Spa at the Hilton
Located in the Hilton Asheville at Biltmore Park, enjoy a full range of luxurious treatments including massages, facials, body wraps, manicures and pedicures performed in a beautiful and distinctive environment. Their Eminence organic treatments are customized according to your specific needs.
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!
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.
The Omni Grove Park Inn Golf
Discover the course that Golfweek magazine included in its “America’s Best” listings and Golf Digest named as “one of the ten best courses in the United States that is 100 years old or more.” Designed by the legendary Donald Ross, this is a shot-maker’s course, emphasizing accuracy over power in its 6,720 yard, par 70 layout. The ascent from the somewhat flat, yet undulating front nine to the gentle slopes and sometime steep inclines and descents of the back nine brings with it spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sample wines in the Tasting Room, included in admission to Biltmore Estate. Enjoy specialty tastings and a variety of tours. Shop for all the Biltmore wines and plenty of gift items. Located in Antler Hill Village, it's open late every day.
Sapphire Valley Ski Resort
Located near Cashiers, this small ski area is great for beginners and families, with a 1,600-ft. main run and a beginner slope. It's home to the Outhouse Races in February. Also, find a tube park, restaurant and zip lines. It's part of a larger resort with condo rentals and other amenities.
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.
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.
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