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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.
Hot Springs Mineral Soak
Soak in the natural hot mineral springs by the river, used by visitors for centuries seeking the legendary healing powers. Located about an hour's drive north of Asheville on the Appalachian Trail.
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.
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.
The Swag Dining
Enjoy an elegant dinner or Sunday brunch at this secluded mountaintop, luxury lodge at 5,000 feet elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains. Sunday brunch buffet has two carving stations and home-made desserts. Lunch picnics too! Reservations required. Open late April through early November. 2300 Swag Road, Waynesville
Roan Mountain Picnics
Picnic with the rhododendron each June. Or picnic along the Appalachian Trail atop one of the balds with panoramic views.
Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours
See the city’s scenic beauty and historic landmarks atop some of Asheville’s highly acclaimed rooftop bars! This fun guided tour in the heart of the city offers fascinating stories and photos from the city’s past while you sample cocktails (or mocktails) at three rooftop bars. Rooftop sunset tours, too. Tours are rain or shine, with covered and heated areas including fire pits for year-round enjoyment. Van chauffeured transportation!
Smoky Mountain Elk Fest
Go to Maggie Valley to celebrate the elk and our great outdoors with a big festival on Saturday and other special tours and events.
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.
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.
French Broad Falls & Mill Shoals
See three waterfalls with one stop on NC Highway 215 near Rosman / Brevard, about 7.5 miles north of Highway 64. See this twin waterfall, then walk a short distance riverside to see more cascades and a majestic cliff by Cathedral Falls. All of this is right off the road, but most visitors miss it since there are no signs.
Go to Chimney Rock Park to see if Pumpkin the groundhog sees his shadow to predict an early spring or a long winter. Other activities for kids of all ages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Soak in Mountain Views
Where are the best places for spectacular views to celebrate being alive? Hike to a remote mountaintop or see sweeping views from your car. Watch the sunset or picnic on top of the world.
Wild Food Foraging Tours
Take a "forage to table" tour with No Taste Like Home and play with your food. Our area is a Garden of Eden with over 300 wild edibles. During a guided tour, gather wild mushrooms, plants, and other “extreme cuisine.” Then a chef transforms your finds into a delicious meal.
Graveyard Fields Waterfalls
This popular hiking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway has two waterfalls. Second Falls (in pic) is just 1/3-mile walk from the Parkway. Upper Falls is on a four-mile loop trail in the mile-high meadow.
Mingus Mill & Smokemont Church
See two historic structures within a few miles of each other in the Great Smoky Mountains, both located near the North Carolina entrance on Newfound Gap Road / US 441 near Cherokee.
Take a Hike
To really appreciate the natural splendor of our mountains, explore by foot. There are hiking trails for all fitness levels, from a short woodland walk to strenuous hikes to mountain peaks, including both the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Many of the hikes are along the Blue Ridge Parkway and are easy to find. Easy in-town hiking too. See our Top 75.
Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival
Held on the Village Green in the middle of Cashiers at peak color time, see the works of 100+ artists while enjoying live music and great food. The free festival is open 10 AM-5 PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway
Drive one of America's most scenic roads. Enjoy a leisurely excursion filled with nature's beauty through dense forests and atop mountain ridges. You'll find breathtaking overlooks, numerous hiking trails and great spots for picnics. Drive north for panoramic views at Craggy Gardens and Mt. Mitchell. A drive south takes you through a dozen tunnels and the highest section of the Parkway. See our favorite 50 stops.
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.
Take in the grandeur of our country's largest home, the "Downton Abbey" of America. Explore the many rooms inside the house, walk through breathtaking landscapes and gardens, taste vintages at the winery and enjoy fine dining. See many things to do with our detailed insider's guide!
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!
Creekside Taphouse, Asheville
Located in the Haw Creek neighborhood of East Asheville, this taphouse specializes in burgers, wings and brews. Well behaved dogs are welcome in their large outdoor space with patio, volleyball court, playground area and flowing creek. 8 Beverly Rd
Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria, Asheville
Enjoy fresh New York style pizza, along with lasagna and sandwiches at this long-time local's favorite with 40+ beers on tap. Kitchen features late night hours for locals and tourists alike. Live music, billiards, and darts. 42 Biltmore Ave
Voted #1 Romantic Restaurant by Travel & Leisure, this Western Mediterranean tapas restaurant in downtown Asheville sets the mood for love. Enjoy the warm ambiance while indulging in farm-to-table tapas and exotic fine wine. Be sure to make reservations, they book up on weekends. 85 W Walnut St
WNC Cheese Trail
The WNC Cheese Trail includes several small cheesemakers and farms near Asheville. Sample cheeses and buy some to take home. Looking Glass Creamery is an easy drive from downtown Asheville.
Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre
SART is a professional theatre company in residence at the historic Owen Theatre at Mars Hill University, just 18 miles north of Asheville. Presents 4-5 shows a year, including plays, musicals and original works about Southern Appalachia.
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.
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.
Waynesville Recreation Center Indoor Pool
This indoor pool and water park is open daily throughout the year, making it a great way for kids to be active on rainy day or snow day. They also do pool parties! A family day pass is $20, and good for up to 6 people. Other pool pass options available.
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
This casual cantina in downtown Asheville offers Mexican soul food in a friendly atmosphere. Taco menu includes shrimp, fish, steak, pork belly and avocado. In addition to your tacos, try the elote- grilled corn on the cob with lime aioli, chili seasoning, cilantro and queso cotija. 89 Patton Ave
A little further into the RAD, Fresh West offers woodfired pizza in a casual environment, with a great menu of local brews, fresh salads, soups and specials. Open Mon/Wed/Thurs 11 AM-9 PM, Fri/Sat 11 AM-10 PM, Sun 12-9 PM, Closed Tuesday. 342 Depot 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.
Since 1999, they bake a wide variety of artisan tradition French breads daily. Choose from an array of house-made croissants, danishes, eclairs, cheddar-scallion biscuits, sticky buns, bagels and other pastries. And pair it up with locally-roasted organic coffee or espresso. Opens at 7 AM for early risers. Two locations in downtown Asheville: 60 Biltmore Avenue & 88 Charlotte Street.
This chef-driven, locally owned restaurant elevates vegan dining in Asheville with their picture-worthy dishes of delicious, scratch-made vegan food. Enjoy foods like smoked portobello, curries, ravioli, and even “queso!” Enjoy the patio in warmer months. Dinner only. 165 Merrimon Ave
This family friendly pizza restaurant in West Asheville offers signature and build-you-own pizza pies, along with a great local beer selection and extensive wine list. Kids can enjoy the arcade! 285 Haywood Rd. Suite 10
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.
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.
Wedge Brewing Co
(37 Paynes Way, West Asheville) Located in a warehouse turned art studios in the River Arts District, this local's favorite neighborhood brewery serves classic styles paired with a big variety of food trucks. Open every day.
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
The Hop Ice Cream Cafe
This local ice cream cafe has served up hand-crafted cones since 1978. A local favorite, Hop offers free family entertainment and events at each of their 2 locations in Asheville. Parents can enjoy their coffee and espressso bar while kids enjoy the kid-friendly space with toys and things to do.
Specializing in high quality, natural products, this West Asheville coffee shop serves freshly roasted coffee, loose-leaf teas, locally baked goods, bagels and tasty desserts with gluten-free and vegan options. 800 Haywood Rd, Ste. A-110
Picnic in Cataloochee Valley
Tailgate and watch elk graze nearby in meadows just after sunrise or just before sunset in this beautiful valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Don't feed the wildlife.
Smoky Park Supper Club
This unique restaurant along the French Broad River in the River Arts District is a great date night spot with rustic ambiance and charm. Enjoy seasonal wood-fired dishes in the dimly lit indoor space with large windows facing the river. Or enjoy cocktails on the patio or riverside with plenty of cozy seating for two. They have a great selection of craft beer, cocktails, and music. 350 Riverside Dr
Nantahala Gorge Canopy Zip Line Tour
Take an exciting zipline tour in the Great Smoky Mountains. The 3-hour zip line flight is powered by gravity and a gradual 3 percent elevation change. The 1/2 mile air time canopy tour takes you through multiple ecosystems.
Vegan and Vegetarian
Asheville is certainly a mecca for Vegans and Vegetarians. See our top restaurants for plant-based cuisine with plenty of organic and vegan options on the menu.
The Admiral, West Asheville
One of West Asheville's original and favorite full service elevated neighborhood restaurants, The Admiral offers a daily changing global menu, known for innovative dishes. Hors d’oeuvres include duck liver mousse and bone marrow, along with dishes like the smoked mackerel and pork shank. Sip an after dinner cocktail, fireside on the patio. 400 Haywood Road
Eda Rhyne Distillery, Asheville
This Asheville distillery is located in historic Biltmore Village, near Biltmore. They specialize in small batch whiskeys, sourcing heirloom corn and grains, as well as local botanicals to create aromatic and earthy flavors. Their cocktail bar is open Wed/Thurs 3-9 PM, Fri/Sat 1-9 PM.
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
Urban Orchard Cidery
(210 Haywood Road, West Asheville) Visit one of the few “True Cider Bars” in the nation. Their taproom offers several varieties of their naturally gluten-free hard apple cider on tap.
WNC Nature Center, Asheville
This camp creates fun, educational experiences to show campers the wonders of the natural worlds with themes focusing on reptiles, amphibians, birds, bugs, butterflies, and more. All sessions include animal encounters, outdoor recreation, crafts, and group activities on the Nature Center grounds. Camp runs June-August 2022. 8:30 AM-3 PM (Aftercare available: 3 PM-5 PM), Grades K-4. $200/week
(8 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap north four miles to this rocky ridge with spectacular views in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You climb about 1,600 ft. in elevation, but it's gradual.
Asheville Brewing Company
(77 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) In addition to their longtime favorites, their brewer series pushes the paradigm with amazing creations. Ask for a tour! In addition to great pizza, their downtown spot has a huge covered patio. Their original "mothership" location at 675 Merrimon Avenue has a movie theater.
Kidventure Camp, Asheville Parks & Recreation
This four-day camp focuses on outdoor activities including hiking, geocaching, shelter and fire building, raft making, fishing, swimming, archery, climbing wall, and an inflatable kayak trip. July 2022. 9 AM-5 PM, ages 9-11. $105/session.
Since 2002, this downtown favorite has served healthy organic vegetarian and vegan comfort food for lunch, dinner, and late night. It’s the perfect spot for late night healthy comfort food, treats and even a Buchi Bar for kombucha lovers! Open Mon-Sat until 11 PM. Closed Sundays. 116 N. Lexington Ave.
Green Man Brewery
(27 Buxton Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Sample iconic ales loyal to traditional English-styles at one of the oldest breweries in NC. Their 3-story "Greenmansion" has multiple tasting rooms and 18 taps (mountain views from the top floor). Open seven days a week. Pet-friendly.
For the most upscale shopping in the mountains, head to downtown Highlands. It's a popular area for affluent travelers, many with a summer home in the area. This is one of the highest towns east of the Mississippi River, with an elevation at 4,118 feet. Nearby are many beautiful waterfalls, including the roadside Dry Falls.
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Designated by Congress in recognition of our region's unique character, culture and natural beauty, they protect, preserve, interpret and develop the unique natural, historical and cultural resources of Western North Carolina. Explore with their Blue Ridge Heritage, Music and Craft Trails.
It’s all about the bbq and scratch-made sides at this local joint that draws inspiration from family recipes. Feast on ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and chicken with sides like fried okra, collards, spicy vinegar coleslaw and more. They offer brunch on the weekends. 501 Merrimon Ave
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.
Asheville Art Museum
Designed for young visitors, the Art PLAYce is a creative space for everyone to play and learn together in a sensory-rich environment with free exploration of colors, shapes, textures, and patterns. Kids can try out a variety of one-of-a-kind interactive pieces created by regional artists, or make art of their own. See family programs like Tot Time, Artful Adventures, Baby & Me and more.
Rich Mountain Lookout Fire Tower
Drive to or hike the Appalachian Trail to enjoy the panoramic mountain views from atop the historic lookout tower near Hot Springs.
Jackson County Green Energy Park
Tour this fascinating arts facility that is powered by methane gas captured from the old town landfill, providing heat for blacksmith forges, metal foundry, glassblowing, greenhouses and heating. Their gallery features art made on-site.
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
Orchard at Altapass
This 101-year old apple orchard turned Appalachian Cultural Center celebrates the people, music, art and natural beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains. Shop for local mountain art, jams, jellies, sauces, sweets, gifts and more. Listen to music and pick up your apples!
Shadow of the Bear
See this unique fall natural phenomenon in Jackson County just for a few weeks each year, evenings along US 64 near Cashiers in Nantahala National Forest.