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NOC French Broad River Rafting
Take a guided whitewater rafting trip near Asheville on the scenic French Broad River with its splashy Class II and III rapids! Ideal for families and groups. The full-day trip finishes with Frank Bell's Rapid, a thrilling Class IV drop.
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.
Town Mtn / Elk Mtn Loop
If you're in downtown Asheville and time is limited for a scenic drive, this is it. Drive up N.C. Highway 694 (Town Mountain Road) from College Street. Wind up the mountain and arrive at the Blue Ridge Parkway in 6.3 miles. Turn left on the Parkway (north) and take the first road on the left (sign for Weaverville). Go a short distance and turn left on Elk Mountain Scenic Highway. Drive down the mountain ridge for 7 miles. Take a right on Beaverdam Road and left on Merrimon Avenue to return. Allow one hour.
DuPont State Forest Hidden Lakes
(4 miles, moderate) Discover some hidden lakes on the quieter side of DuPont State Recreational Forest, as well as an airstrip with a great mountain view. Fawn Lake and Lake Julia are great swimming holes, too.
Top 40 Spring Events & Festivals
April & May: See our top picks for Spring events and festivals in the Asheville area of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. Many are free!
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)
The Market Place
A world-class favorite located on charming Wall Street. Chef William Dissen's inventive menu features seasonal and organic ingredients from area farms, plus an extensive wine list. Recommended by The Food Network, USA Today, The New York Times, Southern Living and more. Live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the bar and lounge. Reservations recommended. 20 Wall Street.
The Nantahala Byway
This North Carolina Scenic Byway travels 45 miles along U.S. Highway 19/74 from Bryson City to Marble, taking you through the beautiful Nantahala Gorge with whitewater rafting, zip line canopy tours and a beautiful riverside drive. Stop at Nantahala Outdoor Center to watch the river fun or enjoy a riverside lunch.
New Morning Gallery
This 13,000-sq. ft. gallery represents 500 American artists with hand-crafted furniture, home accessories, pottery, glass, jewelry, garden sculpture and other imaginative gifts. Located in Biltmore Village at 7 Boston Way.
Great Smoky Mountains Hotels & Resorts
Book a vacation in one of these top hotels and resorts by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side.
Asheville's public market features specialty shops, restaurants, and sidewalk vending with fresh food and crafts. This block-long historic building has an interior "mall" and shops around the entire exterior. A must stop!
Downtown on Battery Park and O. Henry Avenues.
Downtown on Battery Park and O. Henry Avenues.
Held at Emerald Village near Little Switzerland, enjoy many free events, including guided hikes, music, exhibits, talks and more. Also, pay for gem-mining, pan for gold and take a black light mine tour.
Take a Tour
Go on a guided tour or experience to add special memories to your visit. Tour the town on a purple bus or a beer cycle. Go on a hike, see waterfalls, watch elk or sample local foods. See our Top 25.
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.
(3.2-mile loop, moderate) Hike from downtown Hot Springs via the Appalachian Trail. You will climb to a rock outcropping for beautiful views of the river and town. It's a romantic spot, but don't leap!
Find Festivals Galore
Free festivals, art shows and quirky events abound in downtown Asheville and our great mountain small towns. See our favorites for each season.
This popular summer swimming hole in Banner Elk includes a white sandy beach, swimming pier and fishing dock. The adjacent Tufts Memorial Park has a bath house and picnic tables. Owned by the Grandfather Home for Children. No admission fee, but they appreciate donations.
Brevard Cycling Capital
The Cycling Capital of the South, Brevard attracts both road and mountain cyclists from across the country. In Pisgah National Forest & Dupont State Forest, find 300 miles of peerless single track, hundreds more miles of fire roads and an endless variety of road cycling options. Also find a cool bike culture in town.
Legends on the Lake, Lake Lure
Dine lakeside at Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure by their private beach. Arrive by boat or car. Casual dining includes their favorites, hand-made pizzas and house-ground burgers. At the bar, sip craft beers while watching the game or playing billiards. Come early to enjoy the patio views. 40 miles east of Asheville.
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.
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.
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.
Big Band Dance Weekend
Swing dance away the weekend at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra on Friday & Saturday nights.
Chimney Rock Village
The tiny village (population 109) has a busy downtown at the entrance to popular Chimney Rock Park. Behind the shops and restuarants, the Rocky Broad Riverwalk takes you along the cascading river with places for a picnic. Take a step back in time in this authentic tourist town that has kept the charm of the 60s and 70s.
A Mountain Christmas Trail of Lights
Enjoy 15 miles of twinkling lights and displays through the small towns of Spruce Pine and Bakersville, with many holiday happenings throughout the month. While you’re there, choose and cut your christmas tree at a local farm with fun activities like hayrides, hot cocoa, s’mores and pictures with Santa!
Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway
Another nationally-recognized scenic drive is this winding 79-mile route that crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway twice (milepost 412 at U.S. Highway 276 and milepost 423 at N.C. Highway 215). The Forest Heritage Scenic Byway is also named the Copperhead Loop by motorcyclists who love all the curves. Stop at waterfalls, hiking trails, Sliding Rock and the Cradle of Forestry. In the photo is Sunburst Falls.
Flat Rock Ciderworks
(305 North Main St, Hendersonville) Visit this tasting room in downtown to try their Wicked Peel and Blackberry Gold hard ciders made from local apples and blackberries from their nearby orchard. Open Wed-Sun afternoons.
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.
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.
Great Smoky Mountains Cabin Rentals in NC
Find vacation cabin rentals on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park - ranging from rustic log cabins to luxury mountain top homes.
This tiny summer retreat along the Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its charming architecture, historic inns, gem mining, winding motorcycle drives and amazing book store. Near Spruce Pine.
Tour a state-of-the-art wine production facility in Hendersonville. Their impressive Tasting Room features wines from 100% estate-grown fruit. The high altitude, long, sunny days and cool nights in the Blue Ridge Province of the Appalachian Mountains allow them to grow some European varietals like Grüner Veltliner. 2695 Sugarloaf Road, Hendersonville.
Brevard Adventure Guide
Order your free 48-page Adventure Guide for Brevard and Transylvania County, Land of the Waterfalls, with scenic drives, hikes, waterfall map, festivals, art, museums and picturesque Main Street.
Banner Elk Wineries & Breweries
Visit three wineries in the Banner Elk area (Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard and Linville Falls Winery). Also visit two breweries (Kettell Beerworks and Beech Mountain Brewing). Along the way, enjoy a scenic drive high in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Downtown Asheville Restaurants
A food-lover’s paradise filled with some of the best restaurants in the region, downtown Asheville has a wealth of independent restaurants, serving up fresh, seasonal, scratch-made fare with top-notch hospitality.
Showcasing a variety of artists, both studio and tattoo, whose work manifests a range of concepts, styles, media, and diversity. They also host art workshops, monthly maker markets, and daily still life activities. Live music and comedy shows are also offered, on occasion. Their grand hall is available for weddings, gatherings, and meetings. 147c 1st Ave E, Hendersonville.
Concerts on the Creek
Unwind on Fridays Memorial Day through Labor Day with live music outdoors in downtown Sylva. Shows are 7-9 PM at the Bridge Park. It's just two blocks from Main Street with shops, restaurants and breweries (come early!). Family friendly with a big variety of music. Bring a chair or blanket. Free.
WNC Summer Camps: Half & Full Day
See our top summer day camps for both little kids and teens in Asheville and the western North Carolina mountains with learning and exploring in a variety of topics including sports, STEAM, outdoors adventures and more.
Mother's Day Weekend
Find ideas for events and things to do with mom or grandma in Asheville and the mountains, including flowers, shopping, art, spas and more.
Blue Spiral 1
A must-stop for art lovers with three floors of fantastic contemporary fine art and craft. An extensive exhibition schedule, presenting 15 shows annually, often featuring 4-5 simultaneously within various venues inside the gallery. 38 Biltmore Avenue
Grove Arcade, Downtown Asheville
This historic building houses 30 local shops, restaurants, and lifestyle services. Their Makers Market, an open air market featuring local artisans, is open daily. Grove Arcade is pet-friendly and offers free public WiFi. 1 Page Avenue
Pisgah Field School Hikes & Tours
Explore the natural and cultural wonders of Pisgah National Forest through guided hikes and small tours for waterfalls & wine, stargazing, sunsets and more in the Brevard area, presented by the nonprofit Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association. Custom private tours also.
This fine art gallery in the center of downtown Asheville specializes in contemporary figurative and abstract works of United States and international artists creating exceptional paintings and sculptures at all stages of their careers. The gallery focuses on a modern aesthetic in a sophisticated white cube format and enjoys a sterling reputation as the area’s top fine art gallery. 29 Biltmore Ave, downtown Asheville
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.
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.
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.
Gustoso Ristorante, Spruce Pine
This restaurant, located in the quaint town of Spruce Pine, offers an old-world ambiance with small-town charm. Their continental menu features French, German, and Italian cuisines with housemade salad dressings, desserts, and more.
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
Hot Works Asheville Fine Art Show
See juried art and buy directly from the artist in Pack Square Park in the middle of downtown Asheville. Find paintings, sculptures, clay, glass, fiber, jewelry, wood, and more. 10 AM-5 PM each day. Free admission
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.
Elk River Falls
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.
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.
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.
This picturesque venue sits on 135 acres of protected farmland, offering scenic mountain views and rolling fields with a varied selection of indoor and outdoor facilities and amenities. The 150... read more
Hendersonville Cheers Trail
Visit and taste at 23 different wineries, cideries, breweries and even a meadery in Hendersonville’s downtown and nearby scenic countryside. See all the stops on this self-guided tasting experience. Download a map.
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.
Tryon International Equestrian Center
World-class complex for horse sport competitions has a variety of restaurants open to the public, including Roger's 50s Diner, Legends Grille above the arena, Blue Ginger Sushi, Campagna Italian and more! Visit Wed-Sun in April-November to watch horses. Top Sunday brunch spot. See our TIEC Guide.
Arts & Crafts Drive-About Tour
Take a free self-guided driving tour of the galleries and working studios of Graham and Swain Counties and buy arts and crafts directly from the artist. Pick up a map at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center near Fontana Lake and Robbinsville. 10 AM-5 PM.
Winter Events & Outings
January, February, March: These months are the most serene time of the year in Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains, so it's the perfect time for a romantic North Carolina mountain getaway - maybe a Valentine's escape. See our Top 12 Asheville winter things to do and the best events.
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.
This favorite downtown Italian restaurant is filled with the aromas of house baked artisan bread and mouth watering cuisine. Focuses on fresh ingredients, biodynamic and organically-produced wine selections. Offers traditional recipes from Italy, featuring hand-tossed pizzas, savory pastas, housemade desserts, gluten-free and vegetarian options. 27 Broadway.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in downtown in Pritchard Park. And dance the night away!
Lake Lure & Rutherford County Welcome Center
Stop by for free travel guides, brochures and advice for fun in Lake Lure, Chimney Rock and Rutherford County. See a display of movies filmed here, including Dirty Dancing and Last of the Mohicans. The “Map Room” includes a wall-sized timeline of local heritage with folklore, local culture, and topography map of Hickory Nut Gorge. Open daily! 2932 Memorial Highway (US-64/74), Lake Lure
History Museum of Burke County
A must-stop in downtown Morganton! Take a free one-hour guided tour through a maze of rooms on two floors, packed with many thousands of fascinating items. Each room has a theme (especially love the vintage beauty parlor and music rooms) that makes your journey through time lots of fun. Open Tues-Fri 10 AM-4 PM and Sat 10 AM-2 PM. 201 West Meeting Street.
Smoky Mountain Host Blueways
Find plenty of watersports and adventures in the most visited outdoor recreation area in the Southeast with five major rivers and four lakes with pristine waters for fishing, boating, whitewater rafting and more - in the Great Smoky Mountains, Nantahala Forest & Pisgah Forest.
Waterfall Byway: US Highway 64
Drive 98 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains, through charming towns and by plenty of beautiful waterfalls. Begin in Chimney Rock and travel west on U.S. Highway 64 by Lake Toxaway and through Cashiers and Highlands. Stop at roadside waterfalls Dry Falls and Bridal Veil as you enter the Cullasaja River Gorge. The last section is also called Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.
Bridal Veil Falls, Highlands
Located on the Waterfall Byway, stop to walk behind this roadside cascade. It's located near Highlands. Just a mile away, walk behind a much bigger Dry Falls, along US Highway 64.
Lazy Otter Outfitters
Located a little south of Asheville is one of the prettiest stretches of the French Broad River, away from the crowds and highways. Take a self-guided tubing, kayaking or canoeing trip ranging from two hours to all day, including the fun Sierra Nevada Express trip that makes a post-paddle visit to the brewery easy.
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.
Upper French Broad Riverfest
Celebrate the headwaters with outdoor fun for all ages, 10 AM-3:30 PM including canoe relay, outdoor gear flea market, hands-on activities, free tubing, music, food trucks and more. Champion River Park and Rosman Town Hall (6 Main Street, Rosman)
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.
Holmes Educational State Forest
(.5-3.5 miles, easy to strenuous) Hike a variety of trails and learn about the forest in this largely unknown gem near busy DuPont State Forest. Open mid March-mid November, find a tranquil and diverse forest along with picnic tables and exhibits. 10 miles from downtown Hendersonville.