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Graham County Places to Stay
Find great places to stay in Graham County, home to Robbinsville, Lake Santeetlah, Fontana Lake and Stecoah in the Nantahala National Forest. Stay in log cabins, friendly B&Bs, luxury lodges, lakeside campgrounds and small hotels.
Mt. Mitchell Scenic Byway
Blue Heron Whitewater, Hot Springs
Enjoy rafting trips (or inflatable kayaks) and calm water float trips on the French Broad River with a fantastic combination of whitewater rapids, swimming holes, beautiful scenery, history and wildlife near Asheville. Excellent, fun-loving guides and all the appropriate river equipment ensure a great time.
French Broad River Tubing
Drift down the French Broad River through Asheville on a lazy summer day. Find rentals and shuttle just a few minutes from downtown, then begin your 4-mile river tube adventure in the River Arts District.
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.
Ride the Train
All aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train excursion for a ride through quaint mountain towns, past sparkling rivers and through deep mountain forests. Ride in an open air car or in climate-controlled first class with lunch service. And don't forget the Polar Express train!
Carmel's Kitchen and Bar
With a prime corner location in the beautiful Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, find superior local and organic produce and meats for a bounty of fresh flavors with contemporary style. Lunch features soups, salads, hand-tossed pizzas and burgers. Dinner offerings range from mussels and calamari to locally sourced steaks and pork, along with signature cocktails and local brews. Prime outdoor dining patio. 1 Page Avenue.
Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
Walk across one of the most beautiful highway bridges that you'll ever find! It has been transformed into a gorgeous garden with impressive array of plants and flowers, whimsical planters, sculpture and plenty of butterflies.
This Backcountry Area of Nantahala National Forest is home to many waterfalls. In addition to the popular Schoolhouse Falls, find hikes to Greenland Creek Falls (pic), Wilderness Falls and Frolictown Falls.
The French Broad Overview
This 17-mile N.C. Scenic Byway just north of Asheville starts at I-26, Exit 19. Take U.S. 25/70 toward Marshall and turn left at the first stoplight onto Monticello Road. Go three miles to N.C. Highway 251. Turn right and drive along the French Broad River to Marshall. Stop at Ledges Whitewater River County Park and watch the kayakers while you picnic.
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.
Newman's Restaurant, Saluda
Located inside the historic Orchard Inn, their farm-to-table prix-fixe menu changes weekly, with much of the produce from their organic garden. Enjoy views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and extensive wine list. Make reservations in advance for this special dining experience. 35 miles south of Asheville
Sample wines in the Tasting Room, included in admission to Biltmore Estate. Enjoy specialty tastings and a variety of tours. Shop for all the Biltmore wines and plenty of gift items. Located in Antler Hill Village, it's open late every day.
This longtime mountain resort town has kept much of its local charm with vintage motels and plenty of gift shops with arts and crafts. Tour Wheels Through Time collection of classic cars and motorcycles. Ski at Cataloochee. Festivals include Hillbilly Jam and Elk Fest.
Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair, Cashiers
See works of 90 fine artisans from the Southeast on the Village Green in Cashiers, 10 AM-5 PM. Find ironwork, woodcraft, textiles, cakes, jams, pottery, and more. Free admission, but donations accepted.
Places to Stay: Linville Falls & Lake James
Find a big variety of cabin and cottage rentals, B&Bs and hotels near Morganton, including Linville Falls, Table Rock, Lake James and South Mountains - with lake and mountain views.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Take a tour of this working farm between Asheville and Chimney Rock with animals, store, deli, barn dances and butchery. It's a great picnic spot. Many events throughout the year.
Pisgah National Forest Guide
Explore and play in 500,000+ acres surrounding Asheville with some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery, creating some of the best recreational opportunities in eastern North America. Pisgah National Forest covers much of the north and central western mountains of North Carolina - with rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails.
Dessert, Donuts, and Ice Cream
If you have a sweet tooth and are looking to indulge, you’ll find quite the paradise for dessert-lovers in Asheville. Find our top picks for decadent, hand-crafted desserts including chocolates, ice cream, donuts and more.
(1.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) For our favorite 360-degree mountain view along the Blue Ridge Parkway, hike to the top of this 5,892-ft. peak at Craggy Gardens. Trailhead at Milepost 364.1.
Asheville Parks & Greenway
Just a couple miles from downtown and Biltmore, find two parks along the river connected by the French Broad River Greenway: Carrier Park and French Broad River Park. Picnic, bike, hike and play.
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.
Concerts on the Creek, Sylva
Unwind on Fridays with this free outside live music summer series in downtown Sylva. Shows are 7-9 PM at the Bridge Park, two blocks from Main Street with shops, restaurants and breweries (so come early!). Family-friendly with a big variety of music. Bring a chair or blanket.
Cherry Bounce Festival
Go to Forest City to celebrate a famous moonshiner with music, crafts, food trucks and cherry-inspired dishes and drinks. Kicks off Friday evening with a big, free outdoor concert.
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.
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.
French Broad River Outfitters
Kayak, canoe, tube or paddleboard down the river through Asheville. Start your trip near downtown at the area's largest paddle shop - with shuttle service, rentals, camping gear, disc golf supplies and more. Three locations along the French Broad River.
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.
Road to Nowhere Hike
(3.2 miles, moderate) This loop hike in the Smokies includes a 1,200-ft. tunnel at the end of Bryson City's Lakeview Drive, known locally as the "Road to Nowhere." Lakeshore Trail starts here too, a 35-mile long trek to Fontana Lake Dam.
Bechtler House & Gold Mint Site
In 1832, Christopher Bechtler minted the America's first one-dollar gold coin in Rutherfordton, 17 years before the U.S. Mint. During the mid-1800s, the Bechtlers minted more than $2.24 million in one dollar gold coins. Two sites in town tell the story in Rutherford County.
Lake Junaluska Walking Trail
(2.3 or 3.8 miles, easy) Our top accessible, paved hiking trail near Asheville, with a walk around a beautiful lake at the Conference and Retreat Center, surrounded by mountains and historic buildings. They are open to the public and welcome everyone to walk the 2.3-mile loop with many natural sights along the way.
Christmas Wonderland Lights @ Tryon
Drive through an extravangant, 2-mile Christmas light show, synchronized to music at the Tryon International Equestrian Center - open every night of the week.
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
Biltmore Estate Hiking Trails
(Many options, easy to moderate) There are 23 miles of trails, for all fitness levels, to explore at Biltmore. You can walk several miles around the gardens near the house, including a half-mile stroll around the Bass Pond. Our favorite hike at Biltmore is the 1.3-mile Deer Park Trail, offering great views of the house.
Art on the Greene
Find a big variety of 40 artists working with metal, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry and more in downtown Banner Elk. Many restaurants, shops and things to do nearby. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
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.
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.
Located near Highlands, this 50-ft. waterfall cascades into an idyllic pool perfect for wading and swimming. It's a short hike in Nantahala National Forest.
Experience 190 steep, climbing curves in just 12 miles, climbing 1,900 feet in elevation. Take N.C. Highway 226A from U.S. 221 north of Marion to Little Switzerland at the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Diamondback is loaded with switchbacks looping almost 360-degrees, making it extra fun for motorcyclists.
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.
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.
(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.
Roan Mountain Scenic Drive
Drive Highway 261 to Carver's Gap at Roan Mountain for spectacular views, hikes on the Appalachian Trail, winter snow along the mile high ridge and summer rhododendron blooms. The 12-mile drive starts in Bakersville.
Art on the Greene
Find a big variety of 40 artists working with metal, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry and more in downtown Banner Elk. Many restaurants, shops and things to do nearby. Benefits their historic school renovation. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
Visit 20 farms in the Asheville area that are not normally open to the public and see what happens behind the scenes. Presented by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), farms are located in many counties. 12-5 PM. Passes $35/car in advance, $45/car day of.
Head to Maggie Valley to celebrate mountain country living with music, crafts, big car show, moonshine and TV celebrities.
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.
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.
Top Places for Kid's Birthday Parties in Asheville
See our top picks in the Asheville area to have the best child's birthday party - with plenty of unique party ideas along with traditional places like skating rinks, trampoline parks, hands-on outdoor activities, animal habitats, and even kid ziplines.
Fall Events & Festivals
Find our favorite autumn events and festivals during September and October in Asheville and the NC mountains.
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.
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.
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.
Blue Ridge Parkway Top 15 Short Hikes
Find our favorite short hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs. Also see ranger-led guided hikes held weekly in summer and fall.
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.
Just across the French Broad River from downtown, the hotel has a shuttle service to the River Arts District and Downtown Asheville so you don't have to hunt for parking. Take a dip... read more
Bennett Classics Antique Auto Museum
Named “Best Museum in the Nation” by the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), see a big variety of 70 vehicles representing decades of history. Located in Forest City and Rutherford County.
(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.
Ride the Rivers
Asheville is one of the best whitewater rafting towns in the U.S.! No experience is necessary. You just need a desire for thrills and getting a little wet. Ride down one of four rivers, including the Nantahala River. Or kayak, tube and paddleboard down the French Broad River through Biltmore Estate. Raft in the Great Smokies on the Pigeon River.
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.
Waterfalls & Wine Tour
Find six waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, with short, guided hikes "off the beaten path" with the Pisgah Field School, and end with a wine tasting. Mostly Thursdays & Fridays, May-October. Small groups, book in advance.
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.
(3 miles round-trip, strenuous) Mt. Pisgah can be seen from downtown Asheville on a clear day. Hike up to the top of the 5,721-ft. summit on this popular hiking trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 407.6.
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.
Chimney Rock Hikes for Kids
Great Woodland Adventure trail has 12 Wildlife Discovery Stations along a half mile winding hike. Meet live animals at the Discovery Den at the trailhead. Take the elevator to the Chimney top for amazing views. The Hickory Nut Falls Trail is easy for most.
Elk River Falls
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.
Carson House Museum, Marion
Tour one of the most interesting house museums in the state, dating back to 1793, with a big collection covering 200+ years on three floors.