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Town Mtn / Elk Mtn Loop
If you're in downtown Asheville and time is limited for a scenic drive, this is it. Drive up N.C. Highway 694 (Town Mountain Road) from College Street. Wind up the mountain and arrive at the Blue Ridge Parkway in 6.3 miles. Turn left on the Parkway (north) and take the first road on the left (sign for Weaverville). Go a short distance and turn left on Elk Mountain Scenic Highway. Drive down the mountain ridge for 7 miles. Take a right on Beaverdam Road and left on Merrimon Avenue to return. Allow one hour.
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.
Blue Ridge Music Trails of NC
Listen and dance to Blue Ridge Mountain live music including bluegrass at many weekly jam sessions, festivals and concerts in Asheville and western NC small towns. Search the calendar of events.
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.
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.
Get married in an adorable tiny church in Maggie Valley, surrounded by the Smoky Mountains. Package includes a ceremony, recorded music and photographs. Extras include flowers or... read more
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maggie Valley Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Meet 100 artisans and crafters from throughout the Southeast with a big variety of art. Outdoors at the Festival Grounds (3374 Soco Road) in the valley. 9 AM-4 PM each day. Free admission and parking.
In the heart of Asheville in Pack Square is this comfortable place for friends, families and strangers to simply lean in and enjoy each other's company. A place where food and drink is at its uncomplicated best. 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. 7 Pack Square.
Rutherford County Campgrounds
See the Top 10 places to camp in the Lake Lure, Chimney Rock and Forest City areas in the foothills, including RV and motorcoach resorts. Find a big variety of campground amenities with many things to do in the Hickory Nut Gorge.
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.
Upper Creek Falls
This beautiful waterfall setting has multiple cascades and a swimming hole with a rope swing for diving! Located in Pisgah National Forest along NC Highway 181, about 13.5 miles north of Morganton. It's about a half mile hike from the parking area.
Lake Lure Cruises
Take a scenic lake cruise from Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure. Choose from their daily scenic cruise, lunch stop cruise or late afternoon wine cruise. All tours depart from their North Shore Beach Cabana. Before or after, walk the beach or dine in one of their restaurants.
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.
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.
Waterfalls for Kids
Find safe, kid-friendly waterfalls that are easy to access or only require a short hike to get to with perks like wading pools for splashing, areas for picnics and more.
The Chemist, Asheville
Located in Asheville’s South Slope, this women-owned craft distillery produces vapor-infused, small batch gin by way of prohibition-era chemist techniques. They also feature unique brandy collaborations with local artisans. Book a public or private tour and/or enjoy craft cocktails in their 1920’s inspired bar, Antidote. Bar hours: Mon-Fri 4 PM-12 AM, Sat/Sun 2 PM-12 AM.
Green River Tubing
Rent a tube and set sail for a lazy day on the beautiful Green River near Saluda. Choose from three- to six-mile float trips. It's great for beginner kayakers, too. Tubing companies provide transportation. Stop at the jump-off rock to rope dive!
Nantahala River Jump Off Rock
Enjoy riverside sunning and splashing at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Just a few miles up river is Jump Off Rock. There is a small parking area along U.S. Highway 74. If you are rafting, you can park your raft, climb and jump!
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.
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.
(212 South Green Street, Morganton) This family owned, 20-year old craft beer maker with a great location for live music while sampling brews. They opened a downtown Asheville brewery in 2015.
Located in Asheville’s South Slope, this brewpub showcases a rotating selection of small batch beers and late night menu for those nighttime munchies. Enjoy their great indoor & outdoor space. Open Sun-Thurs until 12 AM, Fri/Sat until 1 AM. 101 S Lexington Ave
Located at the base of Roan Mountain and the mile-high scenic drive, this town has several galleries and studios. Home to the Rhododendron Festival. Penland School of Crafts is nearby.
The Market Place
Asheville’s original farm-to-table restaurant, this downtown fixture since 1979 offers an seasonally-driven menu featuring organic ingredients from area farms and artisan producers. Enjoy extensive wine list, craft beer and cocktails too. Recommended by The Food Network, USA Today, The New York Times, Southern Living and more. 20 Wall St
Land of Oz
Take the yellow brick road to Emerald City at this abandoned theme park atop Beech Mountain that reopens a few times a year with characters from the Wizard of Oz.
Silver Run Falls
Near Cashiers in Nantahala National Forest is a beautiful 25-ft. waterfall that cascades into a family-friendly pool with a small, sandy beach. A short walk from roadside parking.
Parker-Binns Vineyard and Winery
This family-run vineyard is located in the foothills and has a very relaxed atmosphere. Try wines in their tasting room and on outdoor patios with mountain views. They use all their own grapes: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chambourcin, Petit Manseng, and Muscat. 2275 Whiteside Rd, Mill Spring, NC 28756.
Green Sage Cafe
This certified green restaurant nurtures the well-being of its customers through its fair-trade organic coffee and tea, organic beer and wine, natural and organic local food for breakfast and lunch. Look for the solar panels on the roof! 5 Broadway Avenue.
Creekside Taphouse, Asheville
Located in the Haw Creek neighborhood of East Asheville, this taphouse specializes in burgers, wings and features over 20 craft brews. Great for watching the big game with 9 TVs- 7 inside, 2 outside. Enjoy their large outdoor space with patio, volleyball court, playground and flowing creek. 8 Beverly Road.
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
Green Sage Cafe
A local favorite, this certified green restaurant nurtures the well-being of its customers through its fair-trade organic coffee and tea, organic beer and wine, natural and organic local food for breakfast and lunch. Enjoy fresh juices, sandwiches, salads, soups, coffee drinks and more. Look for the solar panels on the roof! 5 Broadway Avenue.
Asheville Picnic Company
Asheville Picnic Company caters to your adventurous spirit! Order one of their specialty picnics while out enjoying the area’s beautiful offerings and they’ll deliver right to you. The souvenir food baskets are curated with you in mind and filled with local favorites, allowing you to truly experience the taste of Asheville while on the go! Explore more with Asheville Picnic in hand!
Tupelo Honey Cafe
Longtime favorite for both locals and visitors! This is where Tupelo began in 2000 as a destination for scratch-made Southern food rooted in the Carolina Mountains. Breakfast, lunch and dinner served every day. Enjoy craft cocktails, specialty beers and famous honey dusted fried chicken at their new lounge, adjacent to original space. 12 College Street.
(5 miles loop, easy) This woodland hiking trail is wide and mostly level, located adjacent to the Cradle of Forestry near Looking Glass Rock. Great spot for wildflowers.
Old Europe Pastries
This old world coffee shop has been serving European-style pastries and locally roasted coffee for 25 years in Asheville! Find an array of sweet offerings like tiramisu, cheesecake, pies, cupcakes and more to pair with coffee or one of their specialty espresso drinks. Their downtown location is convenient and great for people watching! 13 Broadway St
Modern Muse Gallery
Browse and see the artist at work in this 3,000 sq ft studio and art gallery in Asheville’s River Arts District. The gallery showcases the works of founders, Sandra Bottinelli and Pearl Renken alongside local and regional artists of varying disciplines. Open year-rough to shoppers and collectors. 191 Lyman Street, 110
This American bar and restaurant features regional ingredients on their menu, along with specialty cocktails. Their Animal House Burger placed in the 2018 WNC Battle of the Burger, putting their winning patty on the map. Enjoy the seasonal patio or stay late for the DJ dance parties on the weekend. Open until 2 AM nightly. 68 North Lexington Ave
828 Family Pizzeria, Asheville
Formerly known as Marco’s Pizza, this 4th generation family pizzeria fires up New York style pizza that is crispy and full of flavor. They serve other Italian favorites like salads, pastas, sandwiches, calzones, and strombolis. 946 Merrimon Avenue
Cradle of Forestry
(2 miles loop, easy) Walk paved, accessible trails to see restored buildings from the early 1900s and learn about how forestry began in the United States. Perfect for strollers, wheelchairs and scooters.
See multiple cascades at the roadside Waterfalls Park in Newland, complete with picnic tables. Three falls total about 50 ft., with a short trail to get a closer look at the different tiers.
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.
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.
WNC Nature Center
Children can share their birthday with wolves, cougars, otters, and other native animals at the Nature Center. Party includes a 2 hour room rental, 20 guests, table/chairs, fridge/freezer use, self guided tour of the Nature Center. Parties are $225.
Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center
Tucked away in small village near Fontana Lake and Nantahala River is an amazing gallery that showcases the work of 180+ area artists and hosts a great summer concert series. Many artist studios nearby.
(32 Banks Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Catawba opened its big, seven-barrel specialty brewery and tasting room downtown in 2015. They also have a place in Biltmore Village. They have a dozen of their brews on tap. Open every day. Their main production facility is in Morganton.
Global & Fusion Cuisine
Savor cuisine from these outstanding global and fusion restaurants with a focus on fresh, local ingredients - including Indian street food, authentic Mediterranean, global curries, traditional Ethiopian, Asian fusion or something from another corner of the world.
Newfound Road Picnics, Great Smoky Mountains
Along Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) through the middle of the Park, there are two large picnic areas in addition to overlooks. The Chimneys picnic area is on the Tennessee side (near the Chimney Tops hike). The Collins Creek picnic area is on the North Carolina side, about six miles from Cherokee. They both have tables, grills, restrooms and a nature trail.
(197 Hilliard, Asheville, South Slope) Hi-Wire is open every afternoon with four-year round beers: Prime Time Pale Ale, Hi-Pitch IPA, Bed of Nails Brown Ale and a pilsner lager, Hi-Wire Lager. They also offer seasonals. Visit their second brewery with a tasting room and beer garden in Biltmore Village, 2 Huntsman Place.
Lazoom Kids Comedy Tour, Asheville
All aboard the big purple bus for this kid-centric comedy tour featuring a blend of Asheville’s history and humor. Geared for kids 5–12, the tour includes magic, jokes, and more with outlandish tour guides leading the way. Tour is 1 hour, kids 3 and under are free. Kid tickets are $17.
Winery Visits & Tours
In addition to the nation's most visited winery at Biltmore, take a winery tour in the foothills area including around Hendersonville and Morganton. Sample the local wines while enjoying the mountain views. See our Top Wineries to see in western North Carolina.
All Souls Pizza
This wood-fired pizzeria located in the River Arts District of Asheville features pizza dough made with freshly milled grains and high quality, seasonal ingredients. They also offer an array of salads, polenta and pasta dishes. Family-friendly! 175 Clingman Ave
For the best view with your breakfast, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Pisgah Inn, located at 5,000 ft. elevation with panoramic mountains views. They are open seven days a week, serving hearty breakfast dishes 7:30-10:30 AM in April through October. Get there early to get a great table (no reservations), especially on weekends. Located at milepost 408.7 (about 15 miles south of Asheville - allow about 30 minutes driving time).
Whistle Hop Brewing Company
(1288 Charlotte Hwy, Fairview) Located 15 minutes from downtown Asheville, this dog friendly taproom is housed in two retired train cars surrounded by a deck with mountain views and outdoor activities. Their flavorful brews with local ingredients include the Honey Fig Saison, Banana Wheat, Chimperial DIPA and SOB (South Of the Border) Porter. Open daily.
See the best places for an Italian feast paired with good wine. Enjoy favorite dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, chicken parmesan, at these authentic Italian restaurants offering Old World cuisine.
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.
Find the best food trucks that are going fender to fender to bring you delicious, unique comfort food on wheels. They are inspired by a variety of global influences with plates like gourmet grilled cheese, tacos & burritos, Thai, BBQ, hot dogs, Lebanese, Korean street food and even brunch.
This hot spot is well-known for their cat-head biscuits and house-made jam and butter bar. Oh my! Add to that their gravy flights (usually seven to pick from), smoked chevre grits, coconut-stewed collards, and local sausage, bacon and fried chicken. Monday-Friday at 7 AM-2 PM and Saturday/Sunday 8 AM-3 PM. 733 Haywood Road (West Asheville) & 417 Biltmore Avenue.
Clingmans Dome Trail
(1 mile round-trip, moderate) At 6,643 ft., this is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. An uphill, paved trail takes you to the top for panoramic views from the observation tower.
Vegan and vegetarian comfort food are at the heart of this locally loved, downtown eatery serving plant-based fare that's affordable and delicious. They serve lunch, dinner, and late night food. 116 N. Lexington Ave
This small batch pottery studio and gallery is a must-stop to browse and shop unique, handmade pieces for your home. Collections include bowls, plates, vases, mugs, teapots, sugar bowls, and more!
Trade & Lore
Located in the heart of downtown Asheville, this coffee shop on Wall Street serves up hot coffee and specialty drinks made from freshly roasted beans from Mountain Air Roasting. Try a delicious baked good courtesy of The Rhu, a local bakery. They also host fun pop-up events and educational classes. 37 Wall St
WNC Overnight Summer Camps Guide
Discover the best residential camps for older kids and teens near Asheville in Western North Carolina, with sessions ranging from 3 days up to 8 weeks that include a wide variety of activities including whitewater rafting, zipline tours, creative writing, painting or science and technology workshops.
High Five Coffee Bar
Formerly called the Dripolator, this local's favorite is on the other side of I-240 with their own parking area. Their barista's are Counter Culture Coffee-trained to craft only the finest beverages. 190 Broadway Street.
French Broad RiverCamp
This day camp by RiverLink offers a week of river and watershed exploration for campers through hand-on environmental education, service learning projects, and river recreation like rafting, tubing and swimming. 5-Day sessions run June-July, 9 AM-4 PM. Grades 3-8. Cost: $300/week.