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Great Smokies Bryson City Travel Guide
Order a free 96-page vacation travel guide (or download a digital version) for the Bryson City area with things to do, dining and lodging for the Great Smoky Mountains. Includes the "All Aboard" official publication for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
River Arts District Artists
This membership group supports and promotes the vast array of artists and working studios in 22 former industrial and historical buildings along French Broad River in Asheville.
This large, interactive space in Rutherfordton offers fun indoor and outdoor exhibits where kids can learn and stimulate imagination through hands-on playing. There are 14 different interactive exhibit areas geared for kids 10 and under. For kids 11 and up they offer a hands-on maker space called The Factory that offers workshops. The Factory is one block KidSenses.
The Pisgah Conservancy
This hard-working non-profit group raises money and coordinates projects to protect Pisgah National Forest (Ranger District) and help fund some much needed repairs. We are delighted to be a Founding Member!
Nantahala Gorge Picnics
Picnic by the Nantahala River while watching whitewater rafters and kayakers negotiate the rapids. At NOC, Big Wesser cafe has street tacos and riverside outdoor tables. A few miles down the road is the Ferebee Memorial on the Mountain Waters National Scenic Byway with a picnic area featuring tables, charcoal grills, flush toilets, and river access.
Zaniac Summer Camps, Asheville
Kids learn to code, build robots, design & print in 3D, fly drones, compose music, go to space in Minecraft & More! Beginner and Advanced Weekly Camps available. Full and half-day camps available. June-Aug, Grades K-8. $279-$449/week
Wine & Cocktails
Unwind after a busy day of sightseeing at one of the many wine and cocktail bars in downtown Asheville. Our favorite is the Battery Park Champagne Bar in Grove Arcade (pic). Social Lounge has a great rooftop!
This downtown Asheville venue in the Historic Broadway Arts Building offers an elegant setting for traditional to modern decor. Chef Kim Lloyd and the exceptional staff personally guide, from the... read more
(1 mile round-trip, easy) A quick walk to the summit has a big payoff with spectacular views from several rock platforms to explore safely. Take a picnic! Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305.
12 Bones Smokehouse
The lines may be long, but it’s worth the wait for this locally loved BBQ joint. Enjoy the Southern style, slow-smoked barbecue and scratch-made sides while they last- when they sell out, they close up! Opened only for lunch Mon-Fri, 11 AM-4 PM. 5 Foundy St
This hip, globally inspired West Asheville eatery features a gluten-free menu with superfood ingredients to create “real feelgood food” for anyone from vegans to omnivores. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with coffee and espresso drinks. Cocktails too! In a hurry? Grab a healthy bite to go from their pre-made offerings and full gluten-free bakery. Mon-Thurs 8 AM-8:30 PM, Fri/Sat 8 AM-9 PM, Sunday 8 AM- 2 PM. 697 Haywood Rd
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Savor hand-crafted, artisanal, organic chocolates and pastries in this extremely popular emporium, served with wine, beer, coffee or tea. Or sip liquid truffle chocolates. Next door, Chocolate + Milk features the best ice cream in town. Skip the long lines at the Lounge and pick up truffles there! 10 South Pack Square, downtown Asheville.
(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.
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!
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.
Ben's Tune Up
Another local’s favorite, this sake brewery is located in a converted auto shop with an Asian fusion restaurant and beer garden. They serve food until 2 am and have live music a few nights a week. 195 Hilliard Ave
Asheville Treetops Adventure Park
Open all year, ages 4+ can play in the trees with 77 challenge elements on 7 aerial trails including climbing, jumping, swinging and rappelling. 5 minutes from downtown at
the Adventure Center of Asheville including night climbs.
the Adventure Center of Asheville including night climbs.
The Social Lounge
This cozy rooftop patio has been a longtime local favorite with a front row view of the bustling city below. It's owned by Chef Anthony Cerrato, who also owns Strada Italian next door.Enjoy an array of cocktails blended from fine liquors and house-made elixirs, international wines and local beers on tap. Their small plates are designed to share. 29 Broadway Street
This beloved West Asheville sweet shop makes hand-rolled doughnuts, made to order. Sip on coffee in the open kitchen and watch as your doughnut is fried, glazed and delivered to you piping hot! Enjoy locally roasted coffee, including nitro cold brews, as well as herbal and black teas. Find handmade mugs for sale, t-shirts, coffee beans and more. 168 Haywood Rd
COMPASS at Montreat College, Black Mountain
Choose among summer immersion programs in Cybersecurity, Exercise Science, Herpetology, Audio Production, Business Entrepreneurship, Creative Writing, Criminal Justice, Theatre, and Outdoor Education. 2 week-long sessions: June 19-24, 2022. Grades 9-12. Cost starts at $695/week.
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.
We are lucky to have so many chocolatiers in the Asheville area. The hottest stop is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in downtown and their nearby chocolate factory. And don't miss longtime favorite, The Chocolate Fetish. Check out the stops on our Chocolate Lover's Tour.
ABYSA Soccer Camps
This summer soccer camp offers three camp options for varying skill sets, from beginner to experienced players. Campers will learn foundational skills like dribbling, passing, receiving, shielding, and shooting. Full day campers will have afternoon pool time. Weekly sessions run June-Aug with full and half-day options, age 7-14. $135-$235/week
Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro
Located in Asheville’s South Slope, this unique bistro and bar offers an exceptional new-world approach to classic food and drink. Their bar also boasts one of the largest rum selections in North Carolina. Try their nightly specials and enjoy live music on their outdoor patio in the warmer months. Open Wed-Sun, 11 AM- 2 AM. Mon/Tues 4 PM-2 AM. 125 S. Lexington Ave
Bubbling Spring Branch Cascade
This modest 25-foot waterfall in Pisgah National Forest is a short walk from the road, located 1.8 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway on NC 215, between Wildcat Falls and Sunburst Falls.
See the top places to eat if you have celiac disease, are gluten-sensitive, or just prefer to eat gluten-free food. Even find certified gluten-free kitchens where you don’t have to worry about any cross-contamination.
Off the Wagon Dueling Piano Bar
Their musicians impress with their repertoire of thousands of popular songs from the last 50 years. It's an all request show. Rock-and-roll and sing-along while you enjoy cocktails, wine or a craft beer in their beautifully restored historic building on one of the last brick-paved streets in downtown Asheville. 22 North Market Street.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm
This working farm offers beautiful scenery and a naturally engaging space for active children. The Party Shack space on the farm has a covered area and picnic tables, with nearby treehouse, tunnel slides and creek for splashing. Add ons like horseback riding and birthday party catering are available. Packages start at $125.
Safari Edventure, Marshall
This non-profit organization is committed to providing hands-on quality encounters with wildlife, plants and the environment. Kids can interact with kangaroos, sloth, lemurs, porcupines, sugar gliders, chinchillas, hedgehogs, marmosets and more.
Astronomy Club of Asheville
Stargaze with members of one of the top astronomy clubs in the country with monthly stargazing events at observatories, on mountaintops or along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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.
Malaprops Bookstore & Coffee Shop
Enjoy java in this wonderful independent bookstore that has been a fixture downtown for 20+ years. Browse their diverse collection, enjoy goodies in their coffee and pastry shop, or use their free wi-fi. Stop by for a reading and autograph on many evenings. Or enjoy open mic nights for local poets. Open until 10 PM on Friday & Saturday. 55 Haywood St.
This food truck serves healthy and fresh gourmet and folk dishes like salads, soups, empanadas and sweet crepes, with gluten-free options. Their brick & mortar serves brunch on Sundays from 11 AM- 3 PM. You can find them at New Belgium on Wednesdays. See their weekly schedule on their site.
Gan Shan West
This relaxed neighborhood eatery serves a diverse array of noodle dishes, along with weekly, varying specials. Their seasonal menu features dumplings, ramen, fresh veggies, kimchi and more to be enjoyed indoors or on their back patio. Mon-Sat, 4-9 PM. 285 Haywood Rd
Western NC Nature Center
Learn about the area's natural resources, see 60+ animals in their native habitats including red pandas and red wolves. Explore many exhibits on this 42-acre wildlife park in the city of Asheville. Open daily.
Coffee, Tea & Sweets
Find a variety of coffee shops and tea houses in Asheville, including West Asheville and River Arts District brewing locally roasted and fair trade coffee beans. From pour-over coffee, espresso, and loose leaf tea to house-made pastries, baked goods, small bites and desserts, there are plenty of ways to fuel up!
Heintooga Road & Balsam Mtn, Great Smoky Mountains
The less-crowded Heintooga picnic area and campground at Balsam Mountain is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway. And go "car hiking" on the 14-mile Heintooga-Round Bottom Road that starts at an altitude of 5,535 ft. and descends through the lush forest to Cherokee.
Cabin & Cottage Rentals: Tryon, Saluda & Columbus
Find log cabin, condo or cottage vacation rentals by ponds or with mountain views in the First Peak of the Blue Ridge - many options near the Tryon International Equestrian Center.
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.
If you love to plunder for antiques and deals on collectibles, this is the place! This antique mall features furniture, architectural salvage, collectibles, and accessories from 75 independent antique dealers. It's part of the Biltmore Antiques District that includes 13 antique stores within a mile and a half of the Biltmore Estate.
Thomas Wolfe Memorial
This is the novelist's boyhood home and setting for "Look Homeward, Angel." Tour the fascinating, rambling house located in downtown Asheville. 52 N. Market Street.
This cascade in Pisgah National Forest is about a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike from a campsite along NC Highway 215, and less than a mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's along the Flat Laurel Creek Trail that follows an old logging road and railroad grade.
Blue Ridge Conservancy
They partner with landowners and communities to permanently protect natural resources with agricultural, cultural, recreational, ecological and scenic value - with more than 20,000 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties.
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
Julian Price Park
(2.7 miles and 2.3 miles, easy) Hike around a beautiful lake or to the top of Green Knob. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 297.
A popular taco spot in West Asheville, Taco Billy serves tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Build your own taco or choose from their creative menu with fun ingredients like plantain tortillas, chili-stewed pork and potatoes, goat cheese, pecan and black bean hummus and more. Many gluten-free and vegan options available. 201 Haywood Rd
Attic Salt Theatre Company
See high-quality productions of classical, contemporary and original works in venues all around Asheville. They create some of the best children's theater in the area.
The Usual Suspects Sandwiches
This woman-owned, locally operated food truck serves delicious, hot sandwiches and burgers made fresh. Choose from their lineup of signature sandwiches or create your own sandwich. Try a sweet sandwich like The Smooth Operator with Nutella, bananas, and marshmallows- grill to perfection! Vegan options are available. See their weekly schedule on their Facebook page.
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
Slick Rock Falls
This cascade near Cove Creek Falls flows across an overhanging cliff in Pisgah National Forest. It's a short walk from the road. You can walk behind it when water is not too high. Located near the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.
Find easy drinking, clean Belgian and American-inspired ales in a taproom with games, community tables, live music, and a range of food options nearby in hip West Asheville. On Sunday in the warmer months, check out their Sunday Sessions from 3-6 PM with live local music. (265 Haywood Road, Asheville)
Give the Gift of Craft Gear, Diamond Brand
Give the gift of craft gear made right here in Asheville. Diamond Brand Gear’s beautiful canvas wall tents, elegant bags and duffles, and camping tents are built to last. Discover a variety of durable products that are perfect for your outdoorsy loved ones.
Treetop Soaking Cabanas
Take in the Smoky Mountains while enjoying an open-air, private soaking cabana perched on the mountainside at Lakeview at Fontana! This unique wellness experience includes essential-oil infused soaking salts, Turkish towels, and robes.
Bearfootin’ Public Art Walk, Hendersonville
The Bearfootin’ Bears public art project unveils 20 new bears along Hendersonville’s Main Street May-October. The bears are decorated by local artists, and each one benefits a local charity when they’re auctioned off in the fall.
Fontana Lake & Dam
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, enjoy fishing, boating, camping and swimming in this beautiful lake. Drive or walk across the highest dam east of the Rockies and stop by the Visitor Center to learn more about it.
Intimate Wedding Packages, Simple I Do's of Asheville
Create romantic memories of your big day on a mountain peak, by a waterfall or even at a brewery. Elopement and small wedding packages suit your personal style with custom vows, a short video of the ceremony, beer or champagne, photography, commemorative gifts and more.
Rate: From $495
Rate: From $495
Thermal Belt Rail Trail
Bike, jog and walk the 13.5 paved rail-to-trail path that connects the towns of Ruth, Rutherfordton, Spindale and Forest City - with plenty to see along the way.
Family-Friendly Activities in and around Asheville
Looking for some family fun in or around Asheville, North Carolina? Check out our list of the top family-friendly outings for exploring Asheville with kids! Western North Carolina is a virtual outdoor playground with parks and gardens, kid-friendly hikes, whitewater rafting, ziplining, biking, and more.
Give Camping Comfort, SylvanSport
Give the gift of camping comfort with products that make outdoor adventure accessible. What started as an idea to create an innovative pop-up camper has evolved into a line of award-winning adventure trailers and camping accessories. Check out their innovative gear, designed to enrich multiple areas of your life.
Fishing Guide for Great Smoky Mountains NC
See our fishing tips and best creeks, rivers and lakes to fish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side and nearby towns including Cherokee, Sylva and Bryson City.
The Gorge Zipline, Saluda
The Gorge Zipline Canopy Adventure is one of the steepest and fastest canopy tours in the U.S. This adventure takes place in the rugged Green River Gorge area of southeastern Henderson County.
Don't miss this long running, one-of-a-kind music festival at Harrah's Cherokee Center which benefits Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. Performers include the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh & Friends, Tyler Childers, Gov’t Mule, Beth Hart, Brothers Osborne, and Dinosaur Jr.
Downtown After Five
Enjoy live music, food, and beer at this big outdoor concert in downtown Asheville. Free admission, 5-9 PM.
Traveling with your dog? See our Pet-Friendly Guide to Asheville and the North Carolina mountains that includes lodging, hiking, Biltmore, kennels, dog parks and more.
Top 50 Summer Events & Festivals
June, July, August: From street festivals to outdoor concerts, check out our top summer picks for Asheville and the surrounding NC mountain towns. Most are free.
Burnsville Vacation Rentals
Find places to stay around Burnsville including top cabins, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, and more!
Sachi Massage and Wellness
Serving Asheville and Hendersonville, this wellness center is dedicated to bringing you health and wellness at affordable prices. They offer everything from couples massage with the sounds of tranquil waterfalls and soothing music to a peaceful, healing Himalayan Salt room. Add aromatherapy to your massage for deep relaxation.
South Mountains State Park
(2-40 miles, easy, moderate, strenuous) This state park near Morganton has 40 miles of hiking trails. Our favorite is High Shoals Falls 2.7-mile loop trail to a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. Combine several trails for a much longer hike.
Find the top retirement communities in and around Asheville. Choose from the community that best meets your needs whether you're looking for independent living, service options, continuing care, assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing.
Elopement Packages, Miss Caroline's Country Wedding Chapel
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 overnight cabin stay.
Rates: From $449
Rates: From $449
Asheville Urban Trail
(1.7-mile loop, easy) This outdoors museum is a self-guided walking tour on the sidewalks of downtown Asheville, leading to 30 sculptures that depict local history.
Enjoy classical music by flickering candlelight at The Asheville Theatre. World-class orchestral musicians and vocalists will feature inspiring music from “The Greatest Showman." Tickets start at $45/person.
Buddah's Best Package, Shoji Spa
Your 3.5-hour escape begins with a one-hour private outdoor salt hydrotherapy tub soak, a 90-minute massage that includes a Thai Foot Massage, and a comforting conclusion in the Savasana Retreat with cushy tatami mats with heated infrared gemstone therapy and negative ions. Cost is $546/couple
River Arts District
Some 185 working artists have set up shop in the River Arts District. Drive a little, walk a little to visit studios and galleries. Find an amazing variety of art and see how the artists create it. It's just a few miles from downtown Asheville and Biltmore Estate.
Inspired Change Yoga
Inspired Change Yoga is a safe supportive community for all to practice, explore, and connect with self and others. Their goal is to make yoga accessible to everyone; and they offer classes for kids, teens, beginners, and advanced practitioners. Cost: They offer a visitor’s pass for $29, which includes unlimited yoga for seven days.