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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.
Blue Ridge Parkway
One of the most scenics roads in America (and part of the National Park Service), the Blue Ridge Parkway offers unmatched, spectacular mountain scenery. Drive north or south on the Parkway from Asheville and quickly ascend in elevation. It's all about the journey, so go slow, stop frequently and enjoy. To return to your starting point, you can often exit the Parkway onto a highway that provides a faster trip back.
Forest City Hometown Holiday Lights
See the million lights that create a magical Main Street in our top Christmas Town Forest City with many events throughout, including carriage rides. Lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving Day.
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.
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. 10 AM-5 PM.
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.
It took 34 years to build North Carolina's most expensive highway, winding up and over 5,400-foot mountains for 15 miles, from Robbinsville through the Nantahala National Forest and descending another 21 miles into the Cherokee National Forest of Tennessee. This 36-mile National Scenic Byway shows little evidence of civilization. Stop at many overlooks.
(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.
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.
Maggie Valley Arts & Crafts Show
Meet 100 artisans and crafters from the Southeast on Labor Day Weekend 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.
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.
(2.5 miles roundtrip, easy) Located along the very scenic Cherohala Skyway, this 5,560-foot bald summit has 360-degree views of the Nantahala National Forest. Near Robbinsville.
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.
Holiday Carriage Rides
See our top spots to take a horse drawn carriage ride down Main Streets covered in lights and during specials events near Asheville in western North Carolina during the Christmas season.
Cleghorn Golf and Sports Club at Tryon Resort
Located near the Tryon International Equestrian Center, this 18-hole championship course tips out at 6762 yards with a course rating of 73.3 and slope of 136. The George Cobb design offers pristine conditions, named as one of the best courses in NC by the PGA. Also go to their Cleghorn Gun Club for a sporting clay course with 15 stations for every shooter level. 183 Golf Circle, Rutherfordton
Located in the heart of Downtown Asheville, Chestnut offers a unique take on hand-crafted food and cocktails. The palette is best described as Southern American with a variety of ethnic twists. The menu changes monthly and features a wide range of local and seasonal produce and proteins. Open 7 days a week for dinner only starting at 5 PM. To make a reservation, visit the website or call 828-575-2667. 48 Biltmore Avenue.
Great Smoky Mountains Small Towns in NC
Visit and vacation in these great small towns in the Great Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina side - basecamps for attractions and outdoor adventures.
The Big Crafty
Local's favorite art & craft show with 150 hand-selected local artists. Local food & beer too. Inside the Harrahs Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville (87 Haywood St). Sunday 12-7 PM.
Rutherford County B&Bs, Cabins & Hotels
Find plenty of unique inns, bed and breakfasts, local boutique hotels, cabins and campgrounds near all the things to do in Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Rutherfordton and Forest City.
DuPont Forest Festival
Celebrate DuPont State Recreational Forest with many special events on National Public Lands Day, such as guided tours, educational lectures, hands-on demonstrations and more. Free admission.
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.
Cabin & Vacation Rentals
Get away to a remote cozy cabin or cottage, a unique vacation rental downtown or with mountain views, or find a big house for a family or friends group getaway in and near Asheville and Biltmore.
Located in the River Arts District of Asheville, this popular outdoor music venue has become a local favorite for live music. The riverside venue hosts headliners in both their indoor and outdoor stages, as well as offers a fun place for local live music, games, and outdoor dining from their onsite restaurant Root Down Kitchen.
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.
Winter Getaways to Jackson County
Find the perfect winter romantic getaway in Jackson County in January-March, during the quieter winter months. This "Secret Season" is a great time to enjoy the clear and crisp mountain air with fewer crowds, affordable accommodations, and scenic trails all to yourself!
The artsy village of Dillsboro welcomes 40 demonstrating artists along Front Street with their colorful creations. Browse many nearby galleries too. Free admission. 10 AM-5 PM.
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.
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.
NC Travel Guide & Map
Order the printed, official North Carolina Travel Guide, a great state highway map for the car, Civil War Trails, winery guide or Access NC guide for travelers with disabilities - all are free!
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.
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.
First Peak Visitors Guide
Get your free guide to the "First Peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains," including the cool small towns of Tryon, Saluda and Columbus, as well as the Green River Gorge with tubing and zip lines.
AVL Cake Lady, West Asheville
This popular West Asheville bakery whips up unique cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other sweet treats for Asheville locals. They take custom orders for wedding cakes, birthday cakes, holiday desserts, and have a big variety of pastries to cure the occasional sweet tooth. A must-try is the banana pudding cupcake!
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.
NC Arboretum Hikes
(Many options, easy to moderate) Located just 10 miles south of downtown, the Arboretum has 10 miles of easy to moderate walking and biking trails. Our pick is the Natural Garden Trail, a one-mile loop starting from the Plants of Promise Garden to the Core Area Gardens.
Jackson County Places to Stay
Choose from historic B&Bs, mountaintop log cabins, Airbnb rentals, lakeside resorts and camping in the great outdoors in the Sylva, Dillsboro and Cashiers areas. Find a mountain getaway for any budget.
Wehrloom Honey Bee Farm
Visit this farm for all-natural raw honey products and watch bees at work in their observatory, located in Robbinsville, NC. Self-guided and guided tours available.
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.
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.
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.
Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair, Cashiers
See works from 90 of the finest 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.
French Broad Adventures
Asheville’s closest adventure experience, offering whitewater rafting, ziplines, and canyoneering expeditions just 30 minutes from Downtown Asheville. Experience a fun-filled rafting adventure with knowledgeable guides or choose a milder calmwater trip in the heart of the scenic valley near Hot Springs. Enjoy both indoor and outdoor experiences. Half and full-day trips.
This serene swimming spot in Pisgah National Forest is near popular Rainbow Falls and the natural water slide Turtleback Falls. It's family-friendy but a 2.5-mile roundtrip hike to reach.
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
The closest ski resort to downtown Asheville with 15 runs, a terrain park, and 4 lifts. Opening Day is December 10, 2021. Located in Madison County just 5 miles from I-26, 30 minutes north of Asheville.
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.
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.
The Omni Grove Park Inn Golf
Discover the course that Golfweek magazine included in its “America’s Best” listings and Golf Digest named as “one of the ten best courses in the United States that is 100 years old or more.” Designed by the legendary Donald Ross, this is a shot-maker’s course, emphasizing accuracy over power in its 6,720 yard, par 70 layout. The ascent from the somewhat flat, yet undulating front nine to the gentle slopes and sometime steep inclines and descents of the back nine brings with it spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Small Town Christmas, Banner Elk
Many events during this weekend in our top ski town of Banner Elk. Tree lighting and variety show on Friday evening. Saturday highlights include a 5k, Alpaca Farm tours, holiday market, and more. In the evening, Tate-Evans Park has train rides, luminaries, and light shows. Take home a Christmas Tree from a farm.
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.
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.
Located in the River Arts District, GRIND offers a plush, sophisticated place for good coffee, co-working, community gathering, and hanging out. Enjoy local coffee and a wide variety of donuts, pastries, ready-made sandwiches, and hot-press Paninis. The creation of entrepreneur and nonprofit leader J Hackett and chef and Black business community leader Gene Ettison, GRIND is the first Black-owned coffee shop in Asheville. Open 7 AM-10 PM, daily.
Check out these kid-friendly restaurants in and around Asheville that offer extra “kid perks” like more casual settings with outdoor space, play areas, arcade games and more.
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.
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
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.
Top 100 Art Festivals & Events
See our favorite art festivals, events and shows this year in Asheville and surrounding towns in the western North Carolina mountains.
(2 miles roundtrip, moderate) A scenic hike takes you to this waterfall in the Highlands area, deep in the Nantahala National Forest. You'll see two separate cascades, so you get two waterfalls for one hike.
The Fire of Freedom @ NC Stage Company
Professional theatre in downtown Asheville: Story of Abraham Galloway deepens our insight into the Civil War and Reconstruction as experienced by African Americans in the South. Wed-Sun
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp
Epic adult day camp at Sierra Nevada Brewery includes obstacle course, keg bowling, hammerschlogan, silent disco, costume contest and more. Pair those with their iconic and special collaboration beers, along with great food. 12-6 PM. $25/person includes entertainment, games and shuttle.
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!
Explore Downtown Asheville
During the day, downtown Asheville bustles with shoppers browsing more than 200 galleries, antique shops and local boutiques. Each evening, enjoy street entertainers, restaurants, breweries, festivals and music. Walk the Urban Trail and tour historic sites. See our Top 25 things to do downtown.
Skinny Dip Falls
**Currently closed***Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway via a 3/4-mile hiking trail, Skinny Dip has beautiful waterfalls, a jumping off rock and several areas to soak and wade in very cool mountain waters.
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.