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Hooker Falls, DuPont State Forest
Located near Triple Falls, it is an easy 1/2-mile roundtrip stroll from the parking area. While it's only 12 ft. tall, it's wide and cascades into a beautiful pool that is a popular swimming spot.
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.
First Day Hikes
Go to a state park near Asheville for a free guided hike with a forest ranger - a great way to begin a resolution to get outdoors for exercise and education. Most are easy trails, perfect for all ages and fitness levels.
Lees-McRae Summer Theatre
The college performing arts department combines with the community each summer to produce a top-notch series of theatrical productions on their campus in Banner Elk, ranging from classic Shakespeare to Broadway musicals. The series begins in late June and runs through early August.
Living Alchemy Ayurveda
Find optimal wellness through ancient wisdom with Ayurvedic health consultations, clinical massage, yoga therapy, and cleanse and renewal programs. They specialize in women’s health, digestive health, and pain management.
Tuckasegee River Rafting & Tubing
Ride down the family-friendly rapids of the "Tuck" in a raft, inflatable kayak or tube in Jackson County - near Dillsboro and Sylva. Outfitters offer a variety of guided and self-guided river trips.
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.
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.
Original Mast General Store
See the original location of the historic Mast General Store near Banner Elk in small picturesque community of Valle Crucis. Take a photo tour.
Silver Run Falls
This 25-ft. waterfall cascades into a calm pool to create a picturesque setting for sure. It's located four miles south of Cashiers and accessed by a short trail in the Nantahala National Forest. A popular summer swimming hole.
Clingmans Dome Observation Tower
See the 360-degree scenic view from the tallest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via a half-mile walk or enjoy views from the parking area. Open April-November.
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
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.
Packages & Specials for Asheville & Mountains
Pick a package or special perfect for your vacation, with discounts and travel deals for hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, country inns and cabin rentals in the North Carolina mountains.
Arts & Crafts Conference @ Grove Park Inn
Perfect for the passionate collector or those just interested in the Arts and Crafts design. The long-running weekend at Grove Park Inn includes lectures, small group discussions, exhibitions, books, a contemporary crafts show and the finest of the antiques shows.
Mark Bettis Studio & Gallery
Located in the heart of the River Arts District in Asheville, meet five professional artists at this working studio featuring contemporary art including abstract paintings, glass sculptures, wildlife paintings, and more. Mark Bettis works with oils and cold wax, building up multiple thick layers on wood to create fields of texture. Workshops also! (123 Roberts Street) See their second gallery downtown (15 Broadway Street)
Great Smoky Mountains Top 20 Attractions
See our favorite attractions and things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains in the western North Carolina - inside the national park and just outside.
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.
Enjoy brunch on Pack Square in the heart of downtown. You choose how you want to eat and drink. It might be “breakfast-ish” with a cup of locally roasted coffee and a brown sugar cruffin or an inventive brunch cocktail and duck confit hash topped with a poached egg. Want lunch? Go “all in” with a local craft beer and a Rhu Burger. Saturday & Sunday 10:30 AM-3 PM. 7 Pack Square.
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.
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.
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.
Unto These Hills Outdoor Drama
America's most popular outdoor drama is the tragic and triumphant story of the Cherokee Indians. Set against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, the drama is presented under the stars at the beautiful Mountainside Theater nightly from June through mid-August.
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.
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.
Silver Leaf Herbal Pharmacy & Acupuncture
Evan Bussanich, L.Ac. Dipl.OM. is a natural medicine practitioner specializing in Chinese, Ayurvedic, Western herbal medicine, Homeopathy, and Classical Acupuncture. His general practice focuses on Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine for internal conditions, with an emphasis on gastroenterology, immunological disorders, and chronic infections. Near downtown Asheville.
Modern southern seasonal farm-to-table menus blend well with their prestigious wine collection of over 100 bottles of wine, 40 of which are served by the glass. Also enjoy local microbrews and inventive cocktails. 47 Biltmore Avenue, downtown.
(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.
Early Girl Eatery Breakfast
Southern breakfast is served all day with made-from-scratch dishes with ingredients from local farms. Favorite include sausage and sweet potato scramble, create-your-own omelet, country ham, home fries and veggie breakfast bowl. Open Mon-Fri 7:30 AM & Sat-Sun 8 AM at 8 Wall Street downtown Asheville. Also in West Asheville at 444 Haywood Road, opens at 8 AM every day.
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.
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.
Biltmore Industries Tour
Take a guided tour of historic Biltmore Industries at Grovewood Village and time-warp back to closing day in 1981 as you see untouched rooms with looms loaded with wool. April-November. Also, visit their Homespun Museum and Car Museum.
Get Pampered at a Spa
Be it a simple weekend of relaxation, a romantic couple’s getaway in the mountains or a chance to improve your health, Asheville is the ultimate destination for those seeking spas and wellness. Take some time for yourself for relaxation and rejuvenation. See our Top 15 spots.
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!
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.
Mardi Gras Parade
Everyone is invited to participate in, or simply spectate this family-friendly spectacle. This fun parade in downtown Asheville is led by this year's King and Queen, with dancers, roller skaters, drummers and krewes of colorful characters. 3 PM
Bryson City Lodging: Cabins, B&Bs & Hotels
Find a wide variety of lodging accommodations in Bryson City and the Great Smoky Mountains, including log cabin rentals, boutique hotels, bed and breakfast inns and campgrounds.
Maggie Valley Summer Arts and Crafts Show
Meet 100 artisans and crafters from the Southeast with a big variety of art, outdoors at the Festival Grounds (3374 Soco Road) in Maggie Valley. 9 AM-4 PM each day. Free admission and parking.
Glass & Metal Day at Folk Art Center
Artists showcase the elements of metal and glass inside the Folk Art Center on Blue Ridge Parkway. Includes blacksmithing, glass blowing, knife making, bezeling, repoussé, copper etching, stained glass, forging and more. 10 AM-4 PM. Free.
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.
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.
Fishing in Cherokee
Find an abundantly trout-filled stream system in Cherokee with 30 miles of freestone streams that include secluded forest settings, suburban roadside areas, and even the Cherokee town center.
Located in a 125+ year old Richard Sharpe Smith Victorian House, “Asheville’s most surprising restaurant” handcrafts food using as much local produce and proteins as possible. They touch on many of the cuisines found throughout this country. Open 7 days a week for Lunch from 11 AM - 3 PM and for dinner from 5 PM on. Great patio! To make a reservation, click on their website or call 828-274-2439. 3 Boston Way.
50 Late Fall & Holiday Events
November & December: Find many events during our long holiday season, including Christmas at Biltmore, giant light displays and the Gingerbread House competition.
The Flying Bike - Electric Bike Tours & Rentals
See Asheville the best way possible - by electric bike! Get up close to the must-see spots, meander down beautiful greenways and catch stunning views. Electric-assist bikes make Asheville’s hills easy and fun. Tours daily, departing from their downtown location. Electric bike rentals also.
Biltmore Lamp & Shade Gallery
Located in the heart of Biltmore Village, find elegant antiques, accessories, seasonal decorations and, yes, lamps and lampshades too! They are also the exclusive Asheville area retailer of Starfire Designs Jewelry by Charlie Wharton. 30 All Souls Crescent.
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)
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in downtown in Pritchard Park. And dance the night away!
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
The Center for Art & Inspiration, Hendersonville
This destination for theatre and the arts presents a big variety of professional shows and classes, including Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, international touring acts, concert series, repertory theatre and more. Check their calendar for upcoming events. 125 South Main Street, Downtown Hendersonville
Signal Ridge Marina, Lake Glenville
Explore gorgeous Lake Glenville high in the mountains near Cashiers on an easy-to-operate pontoon and tritoon boat, perfect for both novice and experienced boaters. They are open April-October and also rent tubes, paddleboards, skis, wakeboards and kneeboards.
Bryson City Great Smoky Campgrounds
Find campgrounds for tents, camper and RVs near several entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Cherokee, Fontana Lake and Bryson City areas.
Home to an impressive arts community, with galleries and an arts center downtown. Also boasts a big equestrian community, with many horse-related events, including a Steeplechase each spring. The amazing Tryon International Equestrian Center attracts horse lovers and riders from all over the world. Near Saluda.
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!
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.
Craft Your Adventure: Mitchell County
Get plenty of trip ideas and find places to stay in Mitchell County, home of Roan Mountain, Spruce Pine, Little Switzerland, Bakersville, Penland School of Craft, rivers, gem mining, festivals, scenic drives and more.
Jack of the Wood
Since opening in 1996, this has been one of Asheville’s favorite places to relax, listen to music and enjoy fresh, locally sourced pub fare. The original home of Green Man Brewing, the pub specializes in hand-crafted English ales and weekly traditional jam sessions in a charming old world atmosphere. Open until 1 AM weekdays, 2 AM weekends. 95 Patton Avenue.
Blaze Dance Studio
This South Asheville dance studio offers a fun and supportive environment for Aerial yoga (flying yoga), flexibility training, pole dancing, open studio sessions, and more. Private sessions and parties are also available. Try the fun Friday night workout for just $5.
Hickory Nut Falls
(1.5 miles roundtrip, easy) This 404-foot waterfall at Chimney Rock Park is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. The trail takes you to a platform at the bottom of the cascade featured in the movie, The Last of the Mohicans. Especially impressive after a good rain.
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
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.
Sierra Nevada Brewery
(100 Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River) See their impressive east coast brewery in south Asheville - complete with a taproom, big restaurant, free tours, events and live music.
Beach at Lake James
Our top mountain beach is found at Lake James State Park, with a wide sandy beach, bathhouse, concessions and kayak / paddleboard rentals. Nearby, camp, picnic, hike and mountain bike.
Home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee, NC offers a variety of ways to experience the cultural heritage and long history of the tribe. Tour the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Watch "Unto These Hills." Shop for local crafts, see their painted bears, attend a pow wow or try your luck at the huge Harrah's Casino. It's also a major gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Sylva July 4th Concert & Fireworks
Enjoy concerts and fireworks in a picturesque all-American small town! Live music begins at 4 PM with dancing until 9:30 PM at the Bridge Park Pavilion. Stroll Main Street's shops, restaurants and breweries. Fireworks begin at dark. Free.
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.
Hot Nights, Cool Rides Auto Show
One of the largest car shows in the South lines Main Street in Forest City, with a big variety of 400 vehicles including hot rods, motorcycles, model T's and classic Mustangs. Food and live music. Free admission. Cruise-in Friday night starting at 6 PM. Show is Saturday 9 AM-8 PM.
Meet Artists in River Arts District
Our top pick for art lovers is exploring the River Arts District to watch artists at work, ask them about the process and buy art as a souvenir of your visit! More than 200 artists work in 25 buildings, including old warehouses and factories along the river near downtown and Biltmore.
Mill Vill Fest
First ever festival is this abandoned Henry River mill village near Morganton, film location for The Hunger Games. Fundraiser to save the village. Music, food trucks, beer/wine and behind the scenes tours. Free admission. 12-4 PM. GPS Address: 4255 Henry River Road, Hickory