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Forest City, Hometown Holidays
Our top pick for Christmas towns decks out Main Street with a million lights! The lighting ceremony is on Thanksgiving night (just like those Hallmark movies!). Ride horse-drawn carriages down the street on Friday and Saturday nights. Come for lunch and step back in time with hand-patted hamburgers, cherry Cokes, and milkshakes at the old-fashion soda fountain at Smith's Drugs. Plus, see an impressive classic car collection.
Bear's Smokehouse Asheville
This smokehouse in Asheville’s South Slope offers award-winning K.C. Style BBQ with signature items like brisket burnt ends, smoked sausage, loaded baked potatoes, and more. They also offer vegan options like tempeh and Impossible Meatloaf and a variety of craft beer to enjoy! Open 7 days a week with online ordering and delivery available. 135 Coxe Ave
The Spa At The Omni Grove Park Inn
Revitalize your body and rejuvenate your senses at The Spa at The Omni Grove Park Inn. Built into the side of the mountain, this award-winning subterranean Spa brings the outdoors in with breathtaking natural light and stunning rock formations. Whether enjoying a soak in the restorative mineral pools, a transformative full-body massage, or dining at Sunset Terrace, you’ll soon understand why The Spa at The Omni Grove Park Inn is consistently voted as one of the top resort spas in the world.
Home to NC's most photographed courthouse, perched on a hill overlooking the busy historic Main Street with fantastic restaurants, breweries, general stores, shops, and festivals. Film location for 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing. Home to Terminus of the WNC Fly Fishing Trail ®️, the only fly fishing trail in the Country.
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Nantahala Outdoor Center offers whitewater rafting trips on the French Broad River just outside of Asheville, or just a short drive is 500-acres of family-friendly adventure near Bryson City with over 100 itineraries of river and land-based activities like rafting, kayaking, zip lines, ropes courses, mountain biking, hiking and more. Enjoy riverside dining at two restaurants, shopping at the Outfitter’s Store, and live music all in the Nantahala Gorge.
Sauna House, Asheville
This community bathhouse is downtown Asheville is a wellness destination, focused on hot and cold contrast therapies. Amenities include traditional saunas, cold showers, cold plunges, and heated furniture. They offer private therapeutic experiences such as infrared sauna cabins and the brand new Hot Cold Relax rooms. Equipped with their own sauna, cold plunge, and red light therapy panels, these Hot Cold Relax rooms are perfect for a quiet introduction to sauna and cold therapy or to spend some quality time with your special people. While using the space, enjoy organic loose-leaf teas, sparkling waters, and kombuchas.
Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association
This group of top B&Bs offers unique stays ranging from historic inns near downtown Asheville to small-town getaways to country retreats with spectacular mountain views. All are inspected and meet the highest standards of health, safety, and hospitality. Innkeepers love to help you plan the perfect trip!
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Take a scenic train ride on excursions along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, over the mountains, across valleys, and through tunnels. Choose from a variety of train adventures departing from Bryson City. Many special event train rides including beer, wine, and Polar Express.
Bryson City, Christmas Spectacular
Not only is Bryson City the hometown of Polar Express, but it will also host its first drive-thru Christmas light show in 2022! As one of our Top Christmas Towns, you'll also find ice skating, fresh cut Christmas trees, and a main street decked out with garland and holiday lights, with a 50 ft Christmas tree in the town square. At the Visitor Center (255 Main St) kids can enjoy cookies and hot cocoa while they write letters to Santa.
Give the Gift of “Cook Now & Stay Later," Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association
The Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association (ABBA) invites you to stay home for the holidays with a "Cook Now & Stay Later" offer. Purchase the "Morning in the Mountains" cookbook for $25 now and receive a $50 gift certificate for a future stay. With over 100 delectable recipes, you can cook up the best breakfast in town. Later, come stay at one of the premier B&Bs located in Asheville.
Looking Glass Rock
(6.5 miles roundtrip, strenuous) For 180+ degree views from a rock face, hike to the top of this iconic summit in the Pisgah National Forest. You'll hike the "backside" of the mountain, gaining 1,700 feet in elevation and a gradual climb almost the entire way.
Roan Mountain Appalachian Trail
(1 to 7 miles, moderate hike) Famous for its spectacular natural gardens of Catawba rhododendrons, Roan Mountain shelters a rich diversity of life, from spruce-fir forests to vast grassy balds. It is not one mountain, but a high ridge about five miles long, the highest point being 6,286 ft. Hike the ridge on the Appalachian Trail for sweeping views all along the way.
Bed & Breakfasts
Awake to a grand breakfast at one of the many B&Bs in Asheville and the North Carolina mountains. What a way to start your day of touring the area! There's a big variety and we feature the best of the best.
Near the Grove Arcade, atop Cambria Downtown Asheville, this rooftop bar has a large outdoor terrace complete with outdoor firepits and cozy couches to soak in the Blue Ridge views. Enjoy a variety of craft cocktails, local brews and wine. The traditional Cuban menu has a great selection of small plates, entrees and desserts to choose from. 15 Page Avenue
Nationally recognized for its dedication to fine American art and craft, Grovewood Gallery is noted for its charming, old-world setting and rich craft heritage. Located in historic Grovewood Village, the gallery offers two expansive floors of finely crafted furniture, ceramics, jewelry and more, contributed by over 400 artists and craftspeople from across the United States. Free parking on-site. 111 Grovewood Rd.
Huli Sue's BBQ
Located in Asheville’s historic Grove Arcade, this mouth-watering BBQ & Grill serves up a Hawaiian spin on Texas BBQ. Dine on island time enjoying Hawaiian flavors, fresh fish, Texas BBQ, signature island cocktails, and big country cakes.
Mt. Mitchell Deep Gap Trail to Mt. Craig
(Up to 9 miles round-trip, moderate) Our favorite quick hike at Mount Mitchell is the Deep Gap Trail to Mt. Craig, a two-mile round-trip hike. Continue on the Deep Gap Trail for another 3.5 miles. For a more challenging hike, take the 5.5-mile Mt. Mitchell Trail from the Black Mountain Campground.
A longtime French bistro with comfort food using local ingredients. A romantic, intimate and charming setting. Enjoy fresh mussels prepared multiple ways, Escargot, Burgundy’s signature stew Boeuf Bourguignon and their famous fries. Dine al fresco along bricked walkways. Pair hand-selected French wines. 62 Lexington Avenue.
The Moogseum celebrates the life, work, and legacy of synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog, who lived in Asheville for over 25 years. Find a variety of experiential exhibits, interactive touch screens, play a synthesizer, and more. Closed for construction January 11-31, 2022.
(3 miles round-trip, moderate) This gorgeous 70-ft. waterfall along the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 339), near Linville Falls, is accessed by a very scenic, loop woodland hiking trail.
Downtown's quaint old buildings, brick sidewalks, galleries and general store take you back to a more leisurely time. Each summer, Folkmoot U.S.A. attracts entertainers from all over the world. The Museum of NC Handicrafts is housed in the historic Shelton House. On summer Friday nights, come down for the Mountain Street Dances.
(3 miles round-trip, moderate) This majestic 150-ft. waterfall in the Pisgah National Forest can be reached via a hiking trail from Gorges State Park. Enjoy the falls safely on a boulder at its base or at the top. A little upstream is Turtleback Falls, a cool summer swimming hole.
Lake Junaluska Golf
Play by a beautiful lake in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains. The 18-hole course is 5,034 yards and par 68. Green fees start at only $18. Stay a few days with a variety of lodging options, from hotels to cabins. Located near Waynesville and Maggie Valley, a 30-minute drive west of Asheville.
Skyterra Wellness Retreat
A beautiful mountain retreat in the Land of the Waterfalls where you set aside life’s obligations to focus on your own health and well-being. Stress management, fitness, and culinary experts helps you break old cycles, jump start new habits, and embrace the healthy, revitalized lifestyle. Spa treatments are customized. Stay for a week, or as long as you'd like. Rates include daily yoga, fitness, meditation, and education classes, private room, and chef-prepared meals.
Stroll through this beautiful historic "mall" in downtown Asheville with high quality specialty shops and local restaurants. See local art and craft at the outdoor market.
Jack of the Wood
This lively British Isles-style pub features Irish food items such as bangers and mash, Irish stew, fish and chips along with 18 rotating taps and one cask tap. Sample brews while local musicians fiddle away on Irish reels or picking olde-time mountain music. 95 Patton Avenue, downtown Asheville
Wai Mauna SUP Tours
Enjoy a variety of private guided paddleboard tours on the French Broad River in Asheville and Brevard! They also offer paddleboard rentals, river shuttles, and paddleboard delivery to any lake home in Western North Carolina. The season runs from April- October 31.
Gift Local Honey, Killer Bees Honey
Sweeten the holidays with Killer Bees Honey. Their Western NC mountain-top apiaries are surrounded by 512,000 acres of National Forest, producing raw, organic honey of unmatched flavor, quality, and purity. The only honey that’s 100% toxin-free & unadulterated. Discover honey baskets, stocking stuffers & more.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Take a scenic train ride on excursions along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, over the mountains, across valleys and through tunnels. Choose from a variety of train adventures departing from Bryson City. Many special event train rides including beer, wine and Polar Express.
Hand-Blown Glass Rocks Set, Lexington Glassworks
Gift a hand-blown glass rocks glass set to anyone who appreciates art, functionality, and a good pour. Detailed with an elegant crackle finish, these gorgeous glasses have a nice weight to them and feel great in your hand. Makes a timeless addition to anyone’s barware collection.
The charming town of Valdese celebrates the "Glorious Return" of the Waldenses from exile in Switzerland to their native Italy in 1689. Find 170+ vendors' crafts, great food, and top-quality entertainment. Main Street. 9 AM-6 PM. Near Morganton.
Jettie Rae's Oyster House, Asheville
Inspired by a shared seafood heritage from Maine to New Orleans, this oyster house offers a wide range of dishes, with a focus on specialty oysters and the freshest seafood products from the Eastern Coast. Also enjoy cold beer, and cocktails! Plenty of space to spread out with dining area, bar, and fully covered patio. 143 Charlotte Street
Group Ski Packages, Lake Junaluska
Ski at Cataloochee Ski Area, lodging at Lake Junaluska, and daily breakfast. The package includes ski/snowboard rental, boot rental, and lift ticket. Lodging for groups is available. Click for details. December 2022-February 2023
Asheville Independent Restaurants, Up-To-Date Dining Choices
AIR is a group of 150+ locally owned, independent restaurants in Asheville (one of the largest organizations of its kind in the country). AIR is dedicated to keeping Asheville’s food scene eclectic, authentic, and flavorful. Find a list of current Takeout/Delivery and Dine-In options for Asheville’s Independent Restaurants, updated daily.
3-Mile Waterfall Hike, DuPont State Forest
(3 miles, moderate) Our most popular waterfall hike takes you to Hooker, Triple and High Falls in DuPont State Recreational Forest. Take a picnic! Since it's so beautiful, expect big crowds on nice weekends.
Highland Brewing Co.
(12 Old Charlotte Highway, Asheville) Visit the pioneers of craft beer in Asheville, brewing since 1994. Stop by their big Tasting Room to sample 15 brews every day of the week, along with live music and many outdoor concerts. Take a 45-minute guided tour of the fascinating brewing and packaging process. Easy parking.
Brevard Music Center Summer Festival
Choose from 80 public concerts, staged operas and musicals during a seven week period (mid June through early August) at their campus in Brevard, 32 miles from downtown.
Canopy Ridge Farm Outdoor Adventure Park, Lake Lure
Soar through Hickory Nut Gorge over a forest canopy, hillsides and more as you tour 60 acres of Blue Ridge foothills. Guided zipline tours are 1.5 hrs with 6 lines, featuring a 1000 ft long ZipZilla line. Ages 4 & up can zip. Rent a GoPro and capture your adventure! Convenient location to nearby Lake Lure.
The Gift of Adventure, Navitat
Navitat Holiday Adventure Packages make a thrilling gift. The Adventure Seeker ($100 + tax) includes a $99.95 Navitat Adventure gift certificate, $20 Gift Shop certificate, and Navitat sticker. The Dynamic Duo ($210 + tax) includes two $99.95 Navitat Adventure gift certificates, $30 Gift Shop certificate, and Navitat sticker.
Vinnie's Neighborhood Italian
This award-winning italian restaurant is known for their excellent service and authentic family atmosphere. The menu features “Old School” Italian classics like chicken parmesan, lasagna, penne bolognese, assorted seafood and more. Vegan and gluten-free options available.
Chimney Rock Park Hikes
(1 to 4 miles, easy to strenuous) Hike a variety of trails with spectacular views of Hickory Nut Gorge or a 400-foot waterfall. Often overlooked, the challenging Four Seasons Trail begins near the Meadows and takes you through a beautiful deciduous forest and boulder fields.
Baba Nahm, Downtown Asheville
This Mediterranean eatery in downtown Asheville offers a Middle Eastern-inspired menu of Israeli street food with easy grab & go convenience. They offer gluten-free options and the entire menu is free of chemicals and preservatives. Try the chicken shawarma and bring home some Gozleme flatbread!
Blue Ridge at The Omni Grove Park Inn
Feast on a farm-to-table artisanal buffet at this historic resort with mountain views. The Art of Breakfast buffet features two big rooms filled with countless options. Open at 6:30 AM daily. Reservations recommended for the popular Champagne Sunday Brunch 12 Noon-2:30 PM (longer hours for holidays including Easter & Mother's Day). 290 Macon Avenue
Give the Best View, Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours
Grab a gift certificate to Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours for three hours, three bars, sample cocktails or mocktails, and a driver! Enjoy an all-access pass to what makes Asheville unique—stunning views, history, and amazing food and drinks. 2020 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winner.
Deep Creek Waterfall Hike
(2.5 miles, moderate) Hike to three waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on this loop trail at Deep Creek, near Bryson City.
Isis Restaurant & Music Hall, West Asheville
This iconic concert venue, bar, and eatery is located in the heart of West Asheville. The Art Deco style building retains its original name when this historic cinema was built in the 1930s. Today, with two indoor stages, multiple bars, and an outdoor stage and patio, Isis Restaurant and Music Hall is one of the hottest spots in the city for live music.
Estate Escape Package, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate
Escape to Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, a charming haven that puts you in the center of all that Biltmore has to offer including Antler Hill Village and Winery. The package includes breakfast, accommodations, and complimentary parking. Stay dates: Year Round.
Watch glassblowers at work and see their amazing creations on display in their working studio in downtown Asheville. Their taproom features local beer in hand-blown glasses! Open 7 days. 81 South Lexington Avenue.
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.
Tupelo Honey - South Asheville
Located near Biltmore Estate, they have become a neighborhood favorite Southern food restaurant in South Asheville - with responsibly sourced ingredients and craft cocktails. Lunch, dinner and weekend brunch will make you say, “Shoo Mercy, that was good!” 1829 Hendersonville Road.
Still Point Wellness, Asheville
Their unique combination of world-class services, including Salt Water Floatation (sensory deprivation), Esalen Massage®, Cranial Sacral Therapy and Somatic (body) Psychology, is designed to encourage effortless relaxation and an opportunity to reconnect to your body’s wisdom.
Black Balsam Knob
(1-10 miles, moderate) For sweeping 360-degree views, hike across these bald mountaintops. Almost entirely devoid of trees above 6,000 ft., the summit is more reminiscent of New England than North Carolina. Black Balsam Knob is part of the 30-mile Art Loeb Trail, so you can hike as far as you want. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 420.
Asheville Salt Cave & Spa
Experience a unique oasis in Asheville, a salt-enriched microclimate that allows the body and mind to gain relaxation and balance. The power of salt therapy has been known for centuries. Plus, get a hot salt stone massage and other spa treatments. Read more in our full-page feature on the Salt Cave.
Highland Brewing Company
Head to Asheville's original craft brewery for great live music venues inside and outside, along with their tasting room with 15 of their brews on tap. You can tour the brewery, too.
Shoji Hot Tub Retreat & Spa
Soak away your stress in a private hot tub under a canopy of trees, dip into an invigorating cold plunge and relax in the cedar sauna. After your soak, get a customized massage and a variety of treatments. Located just ten minutes from downtown Asheville.
This eclectic gift shop downtown on Wall Street features a variety of hand-crafted gifts, art, Asheville souvenirs and more by local makers, craftspeople and artists. Find t-shirts, magnets, stickers, buttons, shot glasses, plus a DIY photo booth!
High Falls, DuPont State Forest
This 150-ft. waterfall is in the middle of an amazing 10,000-acre nature sanctuary. One of the most impressive NC waterfalls, it is an easy hike from the parking area (1.2 miles roundtrip). Walk or bike to additional waterfalls nearby. Very popular, so expect crowds especially on weekends.