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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.
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.
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.
Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend
Visit the Hendersonville area for 50+ events celebrating food and drink! Wineries and cideries partner with other outdoor venues for a signature three-day event featuring tours, tastings, food trucks, live music, wine releases, and more. Set amidst the backdrop of apple blossom season in this Blue Ridge Mountain town.
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.
Land Rover Experience Driving School
Explore back roads and forests on Biltmore Estate while learning to drive the latest Range Rover loaded with technology. Develop off-road skills on extreme terrain with your guide, departing from Antler Hill Village.
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.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Take the exhilarating ride on the only Alpine coaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Banner Elk.
The Nantahala Byway
This North Carolina Scenic Byway travels 45 miles along U.S. Highway 19/74 from Bryson City to Marble, taking you through the beautiful Nantahala Gorge with whitewater rafting, zip line canopy tours and a beautiful riverside drive. Stop at Nantahala Outdoor Center to watch the river fun or enjoy a riverside lunch.
Top Hotels & Resorts
Find the best hotels in Asheville and western North Carolina, including luxury resorts, limited service hotels and full-service country inns. Stay downtown, near Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Parkway, or in one of the cool small towns throughout the mountains.
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.
Cowee Valley Pottery Festival
Held at the historic Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center near Franklin, this juried pottery show and pottery sale includes demonstrations, food trucks, talks and more. 10 AM-4 PM
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).
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.
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.
Asheville is one of the top USA cities for vegan living. Outdoor festival features vegan food, beer, lifestyle vendors and educational speakers in Pack Square Park 11 AM-6 PM. Free admission.
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
NC Stage Company
Enjoy professional theatre in the heart of downtown Asheville with world-class productions in a very intimate setting (only 127 seats!). They also host concerts and other events, so there's something happening almost every weekend.
Located about 60 miles east of Asheville, Morganton's charming downtown centers around the stately historic courthouse. Shop, eat and taste local brews at three breweries. Just outside of town is Lake James, Catawba Valley wineries and Linville Gorge. In September, don't miss the big Morganton Festival.
Children ages 4-10 can now enjoy zip lines at this first-of-a-kind park built for kids. Ride nine zips from 50 to 250 ft. long and explore four climbing elements. It's a self-guided tour with an adult escort for children 4-6. Kids ages 7-10 may zip alone or with an adult. Located just five minutes from downtown at the Adventure Center of Asheville.
The artsy village of Dillsboro welcomes 40 demonstrating artists along Front Street with their colorful creations. Browse many nearby galleries too. Free admission. 10 AM-5 PM.
Addison Farms Vineyard
This family-owned vineyard and winery is 17 miles northwest of Asheville. Sample wines from their six grape varieties at their Tasting Room with mountain views: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng. Open Friday-Sunday afternoon. Also open Thursdays May-Oct. 4005 New Leicester Hwy, Leicester.
Silver Fork Winery
Located near Morganton (just a few miles from I-40), a beautiful tasting room and rural setting provide a breathtaking view overlooking vineyards and the South Mountains. Sample Silver Fork's refined and distinctive Bordeaux-style wines in their Tasting Room or on their terrace: Chardonnay, Rosé, Chambourcin, Four Dog Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. 5000 Patton Rd, Morganton.
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.
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.
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.
Bold Rock Hard Cider
(72 School House Road, Mills River) The biggest craft cider maker in the Carolinas has its cidery and tasting room just south of Asheville near the Sierra Nevada Brewery. Food truck and big outdoor picnic area. Open Mon-Thurs 2-9 PM, Fri-Sat 12-10 PM, Sun 12-9 PM.
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.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. Dance the night away!
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.
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.
Old-Time Plowing and Folkways
Take a time-warp at the Cradle of Forestry to the days of the Biltmore Forest School. Meet homesteaders and watch their draft horses plow the heritage garden. Then take a turn at it yourself. Living history guides bring traditional Blue Ridge culture to life. 9 AM-5 PM.
Asheville Chow-Chow Culinary Festival
Savor Asheville's creative culinary scene with many events, chef demos, and hands-on experiences. Meet and connect with the makers and collaborators who nourish, nurture and create in our Appalachian Mountains.
(4.5 miles round-trip, strenuous) Located near Lake James, a beauty of a hike to the top of a plateau summit with spectacular views of Linville Gorge.
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
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.
Chimney Rock Park for Kids
Children of all ages love the spectacular views from the famous rock formation - plus the elevator ride up. In addition to several easy hiking trails, find discovery stations on the half-mile Great Woodland Adventure, visit live animals at Animal Discovery Den and climb a rock tower.
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.
Downtown Asheville Restaurants
A food-lover’s paradise filled with some of the best restaurants in the region, downtown Asheville has a wealth of independent restaurants, serving up fresh, seasonal, scratch-made fare with top-notch hospitality.
Namaste in Nature Yoga Hikes
A unique Asheville experience that combines yoga, hiking & meditation with the best mountains, waterfalls, sunsets, full moons, and the vortex in Western North Carolina. Open to beginners, women, men, couples, families and small groups for 2 or 3-hour yoga hikes during weekdays and weekends, year-round. Mats & pictures included. Private groups and private yoga classes are also available.
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.
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.
Small Town Christmas, Banner Elk
Many events during this weekend in our top ski town of Banner Elk. Tree lighting and variety show on Friday evening. Saturday highlights include a 5k, Alpaca Farm tours, holiday market, and more. In the evening, Tate-Evans Park has train rides, luminaries, and light shows. Take home a Christmas Tree from a farm.
Mountain Heritage Day
Held on the campus of Western Carolina University, this long-running outdoor celebration features the sights, sounds, crafts, and flavors of yesteryear. Get a taste of southern Appalachian culture, art, and music. 10 AM-5 PM. Free.
Newfound Gap Road
Drive the very popular U.S. Highway 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Cherokee. First stop should be the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum. Then drive 18 miles and climb 3,000 ft. to Newfound Gap on the Tennessee border. Many turn around here or drive up to Clingmans Dome. Another option is a hike on the Appalachian Trail.
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.
Shelton House, Waynesville
This grand, historic home built in 1875 is home to the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts, with every room packed with craft, art and furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Open May-October.
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.
Stroll through this public garden in Hendersonville that includes an half-mile trail through the Native Woodland Garden, popular Fairy Garden, Dahlia Daze in September and much more. Free, but donations accepted. Near apple orchards & wineries. 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville
Downtown Rutherfordton's Main Street is filled with crafts, vendors, food, live music, demonstrations, and plenty of kids activities - including a Pinewood Derby Race. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
New Morning Gallery
This 13,000-sq. ft. gallery represents 500 American artists with hand-crafted furniture, home accessories, pottery, glass, jewelry, garden sculpture and other imaginative gifts. Located in Biltmore Village at 7 Boston Way.
This tiny summer retreat along the Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its charming architecture, historic inns, gem mining, winding motorcycle drives and amazing book store. Near Spruce Pine.
Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway
Another nationally-recognized scenic drive is this winding 79-mile route that crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway twice (milepost 412 at U.S. Highway 276 and milepost 423 at N.C. Highway 215). The Forest Heritage Scenic Byway is also named the Copperhead Loop by motorcyclists who love all the curves. Stop at waterfalls, hiking trails, Sliding Rock and the Cradle of Forestry. In the photo is Sunburst Falls.
Located in the River Arts District, GRIND offers a plush, sophisticated place for good coffee, co-working, community gathering, and hanging out. Enjoy local coffee and a wide variety of donuts, pastries, ready-made sandwiches, and hot-press Paninis. The creation of entrepreneur and nonprofit leader J Hackett and chef and Black business community leader Gene Ettison, GRIND is the first Black-owned coffee shop in Asheville. Open 7 AM-10 PM, daily.
18 Outdoor Adventures in Banner Elk
The resort town of Banner Elk is the center of outdoor adventure in the NC High Country. Feel the thrill of an alpine coaster, dangle in the air at an adventure course, hike the profile trail at Grandfather Mountain or enjoy mountain biking, UTV tours, whitewater rafting, and ziplining.
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.
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.
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.
Banner Elk Things to Do
See the latest on seasonal things to do and events in this High Country town with Grandfather Mountain, ski resorts, restaurants, Wildcat Lake, hiking, wineries, places to stay and more.
(5 miles loop, strenuous) Just a mile from the trailhead to Looking Glass Rock is a rewarding loop trail that takes you to the top of another rock face with panoramic views. From John Rock, you have a great view of Looking Glass Rock. And you'll find many fewer hikers here.
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.
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.
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!
Established as a go-to spot in downtown for good beer, delicious food and a great view overlooking Pack Square Park in a beautifully restored 1900s building. Offering multiple dining spaces: expansive North Bar with 32 taps and big TVs, South Bar with TVs and free live music every weekend, and a romantic outdoor patio. 20 South Spruce Street.
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).
(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.
Upper French Broad Riverfest
Celebrate the headwaters with outdoor fun for all ages, 10 AM-3:30 PM including canoe relay, outdoor gear flea market, hands-on activities, free tubing, music, food trucks and more. Champion River Park and Rosman Town Hall (6 Main Street, Rosman)