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Mermaid Parade & Festival, Marshall
The legend is that for one day each year, sea creatures and mermaids leave their ocean home and travel the French Broad River to Downtown Marshall. Parade at 5 PM with costumes and lots of water balloons and guns. Downtown festivities are happening until 10 PM so stick around town and enjoy eats, drinks, and live music at some of your favorite downtown businesses
Head to Maggie Valley to celebrate mountain country living with music, crafts, big car show, moonshine and TV celebrities.
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.
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.
Barns of Madison County
Drive the country roads of Madison County to see many historic barns preserved by the Appalachian Barn Alliance - five scenic routes take you by farms and mountain views.
Smoky Mountain Host Featured Cabins
Find many secluded cabin and cottage rentals on the North Carolina side of the Smokies on VisitSmokies.org - for a romantic getaway, friends trip or a family vacation.
Beech Mountain Lodging
Stay in the highest town in eastern America atop Beech Mountain. Ski, bike and hike from your luxury mountainside home, condo, inn or vacation rental. Seasonal packages provide great values.
Flat Rock Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway
(6/10 mile, easy) Hike a loop trail to a flat rock summit with expansive views and great picnic spots. Hidden away at Milepost 308.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway - near Linville Falls.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hilltop Fall Festival
Much fun in downtown Rutherfordton: Friday night Soapbox Derby for big kids, Saturday morning Overmountain 5K and Tour de Pumpkin 50K & 100K bike rides and festival 9-5 with crafts, music, scarecrow contest.
Chimneys Hike, Linville Gorge
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike across and through towering rock formations called the Chimneys atop the rim of the spectacular Linville Gorge, starting at the Table Rock trailhead parking area.
300 Things to Do
See our master list of places to see and things to do in the western North Carolina mountains, including Asheville and our many small towns.
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.
Blue Ridge Travelers Guide
Order this free, print guide for Marion, Little Switzerland, Linville Falls, Old Fort and Lake James areas of McDowell County - east of Asheville.
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.
St Claire Art
At this must-stop studio in River Arts District (344 Depot Street, #104), watch Stephen create brilliant paintings that come to life with intense color and contrast. His fascinating “Dialuminism” process allows light to pass through layers of paint, reflecting off metal. Open Mon-Sat 10 AM-5 PM, Sun 11 AM-3 PM.
Romantic Getaways to a Bed & Breakfast
For a special vacation that will create lifetime memories, get pampered at a bed and breakfast inn. Many are grand historic homes with big porches, gardens, inviting living areas and beautiful furnishings. All include a gourmet breakfast to start your day. Innkeepers love to help with special requests to create a very personalized stay.
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.
Bebettes Beignets & Coffee
This New Orleans style coffee shop with French Creole-inspired breakfast and lunch dishes like The King: 2 beignets with crispy bacon, peanut butter, banana slices, and chipotle honey sandwiched in the center. 1 Page Ave. Unit 111
Pulp + Sprout
This locally grown Asheville juice bar and eatery produces high quality, nutrient-dense, organic “real food.” Enjoy a healthy breakfast or lunch from a variety of delicious menu items like cold-pressed juices, smoothies, sandwiches, soups and desserts. 233 South Liberty St.
Traditional Artist Directory
Use this guide to find the finest traditional craft artisans, musicians, dancers, and storytellers in the North Carolina mountains. The directory contains listings for more than 400 artists and groups, many available for hire for entertainment at your wedding or reception.
Battery Park Champagne Bar and Book Exchange
Dogs are welcome in this unique book store in downtown Asheville serving wine, champagne, espresso drinks, snacks and dog treats upon request! Peruse the aisles or have a seat with your dog on an oversized chair to read. Be sure to say hello to Corky, the house bar dog. 1 Page Ave.
Find the most romantic places to eat in Asheville, a longtime romantic destination for couples getaway. Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary or planning the perfect first date, there are a variety of cozy spots for just the two of you.
The Grey Eagle Taqueria
This taqueria located in The Grey Eagle Music Hall & Pub, features Latin-American cuisine with gluten-free and vegan options. Enjoy local brews or a fresh-made margarita with tacos, burritos, rich soups, fresh guacamole and more. Open daily 11 AM-8 PM. 185 Clingman Ave.
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
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.
Waynesville Recreation Center Indoor Pool
Have a pool party anytime of year at this indoor water park and pool in Waynesville. All pool parties are available on Saturdays only and rentable for 2 hours at a time. Option to add a private room with a kitchen is available. Party reservations start at $55.
Here are our favorite spots for hamburgers and all fixings - ranging from traditional ground beef to local grass-fed beef, bison, lamb, turkey, and veggie burgers of all kinds.
Cashiers Sliding Rock
Near Cashiers is another "Sliding Rock", created by the Chattooga River gliding over a 10-foot high rock face. It's a popular local spot during the summer because the water is quite cool. You can slide down the rock, cannonball into one of the potholes or just wade in the pool below the rock.
This neighborhood restaurant in West Asheville, called UJ by locals, offers classic pub food, local drafts, and a friendly environment. The Universal Fries are a house favorite and the ultimate comfort food! Dine indoors or enjoy the large, dog-friendly patio. Open: Mon-Thurs until 1 AM, Fri/Sat until 2 AM, Sunday until 12 AM. 784 Haywood Rd.
Adventure Camp, Adventure Center of Asheville
Campers will experience a variety of outdoor adventures at this camp, including ziplines, rafting, treetop course, tree climbing, bike park, and daily swimming. Campers will participate in daily team-building games, fun activities, creative learning, and age-appropriate outdoor education immersive learning. Weekly sessions run June-August 2023. 8:30 AM-4 PM. Ages 8-13.
Mela Indian Restaurant
This popular, award-winning Indian hub in downtown Asheville stands out for their authentic tandoori dishes, offered in an airy, modern setting. Locals love their lunch buffet and favorite dishes include their chicken masala and tandoori chicken with a mango lassi. 70 N. Lexington Avenue
Specializing in European-Style breads and pastries, they bake over twenty varieties of artisan breads and rolls using centuries-old hand-shaping and baking techniques. Also, their master baker is constantly conjuring up new ideas for breads that stand out in flavor, texture and overall quality. Stop in for coffee, sandwiches, soup and salads too. 60 Biltmore Avenue.
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
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 brunch Brunch from 9 AM - 2 PM and for dinner from 5 PM on. To make a reservation, click on their website or call 828-274-2439. 3 Boston Way.
Pisgah Brewing Company
(150 Eastside Drive, Black Mountain) is located in Black Mountain about 10 miles east of Asheville. They specialize in brewing hand crafted certified organic beer. Try the Pisgah Solstice, a Belgian-style ale, or the darkest ale, the rich and smooth Pisgah Porter.
Whaleback Swimming Hole
This secluded swimming spot in Pisgah National Forest is just 5.5 miles from Sliding Rock, down river from Cove Creek Falls near Looking Glass Rock.
Penland School of Craft
Take a tour or sign up for a class at this internationally-known school for art and craft, tucked away in the mountains near Spruce Pine. Their multiple galleries are free to visit with amazing works created by students and teachers.
(5 miles loop, easy) This woodland hiking trail is wide and mostly level, located adjacent to the Cradle of Forestry near Looking Glass Rock. Great spot for wildflowers.
Go to these spots for authentic Thai staples like pad Thai, tom yum, drunken noodles, red curry, and other creative Asian fusion dishes.
B&Bs & Inns: Tryon, Saluda & Columbus
Find a great vareity of historic B&Bs and inns in the towns of Tryon, Saluda and Columbus, the First Peak of the Blue Ridge. Includes award-winning Pine Crest Inn and Orchard Inn with exquisite dining.
WALK (West Asheville Lounge & Kitchen)
This causal local hang out serves everything from wings and burgers to salads, tacos and sandwiches, with regular vegan and vegetarian menu options available. Local craft beers on draft, cocktail specials and 2 billiard tables. Weekly specials include Taco Tuesday and Sunday Brunch. Open Mon-Thurs 11:30 AM-1 AM, Fri/Sat 11:30 AM-2 AM, Sunday 10:30 AM-12 AM. 401 Haywood Rd
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.
Asheville Picnic Company
Asheville Picnic Company caters to your adventurous spirit! Order one of their specialty picnics while out enjoying the area’s beautiful offerings and they’ll deliver right to you. The souvenir food baskets are curated with you in mind and filled with local favorites, allowing you to truly experience the taste of Asheville while on the go! Explore more with Asheville Picnic in hand!
WNC Air Museum, Hendersonville
Celebrating flight, this air museum has an impressive collection of historic airplanes, flight manuals, engines, historic photographs of airplanes and pilots, and more. See and touch airplanes from the 1910s to the1980s. Admission is free, and donations are appreciated!
We are lucky to have so many chocolatiers in the Asheville area. The hottest stop is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in downtown and their nearby chocolate factory. And don't miss longtime favorite, The Chocolate Fetish. Check out the stops on our Chocolate Lover's Tour.
Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria, Asheville
Enjoy fresh sourdough pizza, lasagna, and sandwiches at this long-time local's favorite with 40+ beers on tap. Their stage showcases live bluegrass, jazz, and Americana music with no cover charge. Upstairs is the Billiard Room with four regulation slate billiard tables and five regulation dart lanes. 42 Biltmore Avenue, downtown Asheville
Pisgah Inn Restaurant
Open April-October, Pisgah Inn is the only restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC. Located at 5,000 feet elevation, enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days per week. Windows frame a panoramic mountain view. Also pick up a picnic-to-go. 24 miles from downtown Asheville. Milepost 408.
Eco Explorer Camp, Asheville Parks & Recreation
A three-day camp focused on exploration and fun outdoors! Activities include hiking, stream investigation, animal visits, climbing wall and a mountain field trip. Two sessions in June. 9 AM-5 PM, ages 6-8. $105/session
River Arts District Artists
This membership group supports and promotes the vast array of artists and working studios in 22 former industrial and historical buildings along French Broad River in Asheville.
(2.8 miles roundtrip, moderate) Hike back in time as you discover the rock foundations of Rattlesnake Lodge, an early 1900s family retreat. The hike is only a 30-minute drive from downtown Asheville. You can extend the hike since it is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 375.
Picnic at Craggy Gardens
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 365: Located 24 miles from downtown Asheville is Craggy Gardens. Before you reach the visitor center, a road on the left takes you to a large picnic area with many picnic tables and some beautiful hiking trails. Pink and purple rhododendron bloom in June. The picnic area is open mid-May through the end of October. For a picnic with a 360-degree mountain view, continue north on the Parkway past the Craggy Visitors Center and hike to the top of Craggy Pinnacle. Take a jacket, it is always 15-20 degrees cooler atop the summit than down in the city. Great spot for sunrise and sunset.
Coffee, Tea & Sweets
Find a variety of coffee shops and tea houses in Asheville, including West Asheville and River Arts District brewing locally roasted and fair trade coffee beans. From pour-over coffee, espresso, and loose leaf tea to house-made pastries, baked goods, small bites and desserts, there are plenty of ways to fuel up!
(5.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) Atop Mt. Sterling (5,842 ft. elevation) is the historic, 60-ft. tall steel fire lookout tower with nice views. You will climb 2,000 ft. in elevation.
See this 250-ft. waterfall from along US 64 (Mountain Waters Scenic Byway) in the Cullasaja River Gorge, located between Highlands and Franklin. It's just 5.5 miles from Dry Falls.
Bull & Beggar
Savor high-end, European inspired Appalachian cuisine with a raw bar and craft cocktails at this popular restaurant next to the Wedge Brewery. Or go casual with the popular “Burger Mondays” for a half-priced double cheeseburger and fries. Be sure to make a reservation, they fill up! Open daily 5 PM-10PM, with brunch on Sundays 10:30 AM-2:30 PM. 37 Paynes Way
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
Learn pottery skills from this husband and wife team in their quaint, professional pottery studio! In 2 hour lessons, guests will make 4 pieces, including a turn on the wheel. Choose from 8 finishing colors and have your pieces shipped to you once completed. No experience necessary!
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Indulge in dessert at this romantic chocolate lounge in the heart of downtown Asheville. Their decadent menu includes things like chocolate mousse, mocha stout cake and sipping chocolates. Buy some truffles to enjoy later! 10 South Pack Square.
Pack's Tavern, Asheville
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.
French Broad RiverCamp
This day camp by RiverLink offers a week of river and watershed exploration for campers through hand-on environmental education, service learning projects, and river recreation like rafting, tubing and swimming. 5-Day sessions run June-July, 9 AM-4 PM. Grades 3-8. Cost: $300/week.
This town is known as the "Gem Capital of the World." Downtown is home to the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum in a 19th Century jailhouse. Attend one of the country’s best known gem shows, the Macon County Gemboree. Tour the Macon County Historical Museum and the Scottish Tartans Museum.
Pigeon River Adventure Center
Enjoy outdoors exploration with whitewater rafting, zip line canopy tours or Jeep tours in the Great Smoky Mountains. Or do all three without moving your car with their "Triple Adventure!"
Find easy drinking, clean Belgian and American-inspired ales in a taproom with games, community tables, live music, and a range of food options nearby in hip West Asheville. On Sunday in the warmer months, check out their Sunday Sessions from 3-6 PM with live local music. (265 Haywood Road, Asheville)
Blue Ridge Parkway Association
The officially designated marketing partner of the Parkway, they are a membership organization that publishes the Blue Ridge Parkway Directory & Travel Planner each year.
(829 Riverside Drive, Asheville) A short drive north of downtown, this new brewery specializes in gluten-free alcoholic ginger beers as well as grain-based brews. All organic ingredients, including ginger direct from Hawaii. In RAMP Studios, open Wed-Mon afternoons.