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The Foundation Performing Arts
The "big city" 1,300-seat performing arts center is located on the Isothermal Community College Campus in tiny Spindale and features an impressive Mainstage Performing Arts Series featuring music, dance, comedy, theatre and more.
Upper Whitewater Falls
See the upper section of the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, plunging 411 ft.! The best part is that you can get a great view with a short walk. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot and is accessible to wheelchairs. A lower overlook is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps.
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!
Appalachian Medley Scenic Byway
The 45-mile North Carolina Scenic Byway is named for the rich history of local music. It follows NC 209 from Lake Junaluska to Hot Springs, through farmland and Pisgah National Forest. Stop at the Trust General Store and the tiny St. Jude's Chapel of Hope.
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.
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.
Experience an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration and street festival in Bryson City with a 5K, crafts, food, contests, live music, and the best fireworks show in the Smokies.
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.
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!
Smallest Post Office in USA
See the country's smallest post office, located roadside near Cashiers and open every day. Fun photo spot! Also see nearby Zachary-Tolbert House.
Early Girl Eatery Breakfast
Southern breakfast is served all day with made-from-scratch dishes with ingredients from local farms. Favorite include sausage and sweet potato scramble, create-your-own omelet, country ham, home fries and veggie breakfast bowl. Open Mon-Fri 7:30 AM & Sat-Sun 8 AM at 8 Wall Street downtown Asheville. Also in West Asheville at 444 Haywood Road, opens at 8 AM every day.
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.
Mountain Glory Festival
Celebrate fall beauty in the mountains with three blocks of festivities along Main Street in Marion, including 140 arts and crafts, food vendors, live entertainment, children’s activities, a 5K walk/run, quilt show, and so much more. Free admission. 9:30 AM-6 PM.
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.
Spa at Greystone Inn
Stay at this luxury inn on beautiful Lake Toxaway for a pampering weekend of spa treatments, outstanding cuisine, and relaxation by the water. Facials, manicures, pedicures, massages and herbal body wraps are a sampling of services. Spa can be enjoyed as a day visit in addition to overnight stays. The resort also has golf, boating, pool and many other amenities. Located in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard and Cashiers.
STORM Rhum Bar & Bistro
Find a warm, cozy atmosphere where the food and service will delight your senses. Enjoy handcrafted cocktails, ample wine offerings, a selection of local draft beer, an extensive rhum list, and of course, delicious food prepared by Chef Owen McGlynn. Free parking in their private lot downtown. 125 South Lexington Avenue.
Shoji Spa & Lodge
Take a break from wedding planning and bring some friends or enjoy some quality time with your new spouse at the only Japanese-style bath house and spa on the east coast. Soak in your own private outdoor hot tub and enjoy a variety of massage and spa services. It's an idyllic spot for getting away from it all with some well-deserved, therapeutic pampering. Located just 6 miles from downtown Asheville.
Elevated Mountain Moonshine Tours
Learn how moonshine is made legally in Maggie Valley at Elevated Mountain, makers of whiskey, vodka and white lightning. Guided tours on Monday-Saturday include a tasting! Free admission.
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.
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.
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.
Bryson City Outdoors
This well-equipped outdoor store in downtown Bryson City has everything for your adventure. Services include kayak, paddleboard and gear rentals, a hiker shuttle, and guided tours! Their craft beer taproom & bottle shop has 10 rotating brews on tap with an additional 200+ bottles and cans to go.
Tiger Bay Cafe, West Asheville
Located inside Battlecat Coffee shop in West Asheville, this female-owned, family-run cafe serves up breakfast and lunch including bagels, waffles, paninis, salads, and more inspired by Southern, East Indian and Latin culinary traditions. Try the breakfast bagel or the Cuban panini! Vegan and vegetarian friendly.
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.
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.
Beaverdam Studio Tour
Take a self-guided tour of 30 artists’ studios in North Asheville’s scenic Beaverdam Valley. Buy art from ceramists, painters, sculptors, jewelers, and glass and textile artists. 10 AM-5 PM
The Esmeralda Restaurant
Enjoy lunch or dinner in the shadows of Chimney Rock. Carefully crafted dishes feature many local ingredients and the freshest seafood possible. For the ultimate romantic surprise, ask about reserving the chef's private table. Patio seating has cliff views. Exceptional wine list. Reservations recommended. Open Tuesday-Saturday.
Bridal Veil Falls, DuPont State Forest
(4.4 miles roundtrip hike, moderate) This beautiful 120-foot waterfall is near High Falls and other DuPont Forest falls and lakes. Hike or bike to it. Many hike combinations due to a network of trails.
Mountain Heritage Day
Held on the campus of Western Carolina University, this long-running outdoor celebration features the sights, sounds, crafts, and flavors of yesteryear. Get a taste of southern Appalachian culture, art, and music. 10 AM-5 PM. Free.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Adventure Center of Asheville for Small Kids
Kids love this giant outdoor playground, just five minutes from downtown Asheville, with three areas for ages 4-10: KidZip with nine ziplines, Treetops Adventure Park with 70 safe climbing, jumping, swinging and rappelling challenges, and TreeQuest tree climbing with safety of a harness. Canopy tours and mountain biking for older kids too.
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.
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.
Little Switzerland Places to Stay
Find hotels, cabins and B&B inns in charming Little Switzerland, located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, including favorite mountain retreats that have been there for generations.
Sylva July 4th Concert & Fireworks
Enjoy concerts and fireworks in a picturesque all-American small town! Live music begins at 4 PM with dancing until 9:30 PM at the Bridge Park Pavilion. Stroll Main Street's shops, restaurants and breweries. Fireworks begin at dark. Free.
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.
I-26 Scenic Highway
This is the only interstate section in the state to be selected as a scenic byway. Begins on I-26 at Exit 9 at Mars Hill. As you travel north, there is a scenic overlook offering views of the Blue Ridge Parkway. A second scenic overlook will be on the return route, where the NC Welcome Center is located. The highest point is Sam’s Gap (3,760 feet), where the Appalachian Trail crosses under the highway. Exit at Flag Pond in Tennessee and make a u-turn to return.
This quaint and very historic village is located three miles south of Hendersonville. A longtime summer retreat, it's home to the Playhouse state theatre, Carl Sandburg National Historic Site, Hubba Hubba Smokehouse, Sky Top Orchard, galleries and shops.
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.
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.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. Dance the night away!
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.
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.
Mindfulness: Great Tree Zen Women's Temple
Come practice meditation in a beautiful natural setting. Nourish your happiness with mindfulness. Beginners welcome! Retreats and weekly meditation offerings allow you an opportunity to connect with yourself in a deep way.
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.
Beach at Lake James
Our top mountain beach is found at Lake James State Park, with a wide sandy beach, bathhouse, concessions and kayak / paddleboard rentals. Nearby, camp, picnic, hike and mountain bike.
Memorial Day Weekend
Find many events, festivals and our top things to do to kick off summer during the holiday weekend in Asheville and the NC mountains.
South Creek Winery
Visit this boutique winery on a farm near Marion. Taste wines in an Italian Renaissance Farmhouse or on an outdoor deck: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and signature-blend Maestro. Located 4.4 miles off I-40 at exit 90. 2240 S Creek Rd, Nebo, NC (6 miles to Silver Fork, 4 miles to Belle Nicho, 9 miles to Lake James Cellars).
This well-known downtown concert venue has state-of-the-art sound and lighting with a capacity of 1,100 standing. It's a great setting for enjoying the premier musicians who perform here. The dance floor is several hundred square feet of springy wooden slats, and the stage is in perfect view from any angle on the floor. 101 Biltmore Avenue.
Concerts on the Creek, Sylva
Kick off Memorial Day Weekend with free outside live music in downtown Sylva 7-9 PM at the Bridge Park, two blocks from Main Street with shops, restaurants and breweries. Family-friendly, bring a chair or blanket.
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.
Located in Biltmore Park in South Asheville, this cupcakery and creamery offer freshly baked gourmet cupcakes, along with housemade ice cream. The cupcakes come in a variety of sizes and you can add ice cream to create a “SmallCake Smash.” Enjoy 12 signature flavors with regular rotating specialty flavors. Order by the dozen or create a custom cake for special occasions.
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.
Land Rover Experience Driving School
Explore back roads and forests on Biltmore Estate while learning to drive the latest Range Rover loaded with technology. Develop off-road skills on extreme terrain with your guide, departing from Antler Hill Village.
Sierra Nevada Brewery
(100 Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River) See their impressive east coast brewery in south Asheville - complete with a taproom, big restaurant, free tours, events and live music.
Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours
See the city’s scenic beauty and historic landmarks atop some of Asheville’s highly acclaimed rooftop bars! This fun guided tour in the heart of the city offers fascinating stories and photos from the city’s past while you sample cocktails (or mocktails) at three rooftop bars. Rooftop sunset tours, too. Tours are rain or shine, with covered and heated areas including fire pits for year-round enjoyment. Van chauffeured transportation!
Indian Lakes Scenic Byway
This 60-mile drive takes you by Fontana and Santeetlah Lakes in far western North Carolina, through the historic communities of Stecoah and Robbinsville, in rural Graham and Swain counties.
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.
Get married in an adorable tiny church in Maggie Valley, surrounded by the Smoky Mountains. Package includes a ceremony, recorded music and photographs. Extras include flowers or... read more
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.
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.
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.
(4 miles round-trip, strenuous) One of the most popular hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains. With an elevation of 4,800 ft., the rocky summit is one of the park's most recognizable geological structures. It's all uphill with 1,700 ft. in elevation gain. On the Tennessee side of Newfound Gap Road.