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(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.
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.
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.
Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival
Held on the Village Green in the middle of Cashiers at peak color time, see the works of 100+ artists while enjoying live music and great food. The free festival is open 10 AM-5 PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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.
Children ages 4-10 can now enjoy zip lines at this first-of-a-kind park built for kids. Ride nine zips from 50 to 250 ft. long and explore four climbing elements. It's a self-guided tour with an adult escort for children 4-6. Kids ages 7-10 may zip alone or with an adult. Located just five minutes from downtown at the Adventure Center of Asheville.
Fishing in the Smokies, Bryson City
Discover one of the most diverse fishing habitats in the world with four rivers and dozens of mountain streams throughout the Great Smoky Mountains, and the deep, cold waters of Fontana Lake. You can even fish the Tuck in downtown Bryson City. Greatly enhance your chances of catching trophy fish by hiring a professional fishing guide. Find 26 best fishing spots and guide services.
Signal Ridge Marina, Lake Glenville
Explore gorgeous Lake Glenville high in the mountains near Cashiers on an easy-to-operate pontoon and tritoon boat, perfect for both novice and experienced boaters. They are open April-October and also rent tubes, paddleboards, skis, wakeboards and kneeboards.
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.
Mingus Mill & Smokemont Church
See two historic structures within a few miles of each other in the Great Smoky Mountains, both located near the North Carolina entrance on Newfound Gap Road / US 441 near Cherokee.
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.
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.
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.
This beautiful lake town near the Great Smoky Mountains is home to trails, boat tours, golf, gardens and a big variety of lodging options, including lakefront hotels and cabin rentals for a Methodist church retreat.
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.
Newfound Gap Road
Drive the very popular U.S. Highway 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Cherokee. First stop should be the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum. Then drive 18 miles and climb 3,000 ft. to Newfound Gap on the Tennessee border. Many turn around here or drive up to Clingmans Dome. Another option is a hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Early Girl Eatery
A local's favorite in Asheville since 2001, featuring area farmers from day one. Southern dishes are served in a friendly diner vibe. Breakfast all day. Meat & two dishes with plenty of veggies. Made from scratch cakes & pies too! 8 Wall Street downtown (They have 2 other locations in West Asheville and Arden)
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.
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.
Located about 60 miles east of Asheville, Morganton's charming downtown centers around the stately historic courthouse. Shop, eat and taste local brews at three breweries. Just outside of town is Lake James, Catawba Valley wineries and Linville Gorge. In September, don't miss the big Morganton Festival.
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.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Take the exhilarating ride on the only Alpine coaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Banner Elk.
Love Shine Play Yoga Festival
Formally the Yoga Festival, this event features 40 presenters and 90+ offerings downtown, including yoga, music, outdoor activities, and health & wellness experts (fees). Mountain Air Market at Pack Square Park on Friday-Sunday is free with slackline park, music, art, body care, and organic food.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Black Mountain Rag to Chimney Rock
Take exit 64 off Interstate 40 at Black Mountain to follow N.C. Highway 9 South, named for an old fiddle tune and musical term. A "rag" is a tune with multiple twists and curves up and down the scales. In 16 miles, arrive in Bat Cave and turn left on U.S. 64 to Chimney Rock with spectacular views of Hickory Nut Gorge as you drive. Continue to Lake Lure to walk across the Flowering Bridge and along the beach before you return.
Nantahala Outdoor Center
NOC's big Nantahala River campus offers rafting, zip lines, treetop adventures, paddleboards, kayaking, hiking, biking, and more for the entire family. It's like Disneyland for lovers of the outdoors! Dine riverside at two restaurants. Near Bryson City.
NC Veterans Cemetery & Memorial
Pay respects at the Western North Carolina Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain, open every day with a special service on Memorial Day. Also see the Veterans Memorial in downtown Asheville in Pack Square Park.
Morganton Town & Trail Guide
Order a free guide to Morganton and Burke County, located east of Asheville and home to Linville Falls, Lake James & South Mountain State Parks, small towns, scenic drives and hikes to Table Rock and the Linville Gorge.
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.
Table Rock Mountain
(2.2 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike to the top of one of the most recognized peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This trailhead is just five miles from Hawksbill, so you can double your fun.
Toe River Arts Gallery, Burnsville
The TRAC (Toe River Arts Council) Gallery in downtown Burnsville showcases local artists with changing exhibits and a great gallery shop. See work from over 150 artists and craftspeople in a variety of media: clay, glass, jewelry, painting, photography, fiber, wood, sculpture, mixed media, and more. 102 West Main Street, Burnsville
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.
Pisgah Forest Pride Day
Join the fun and help with work projects in Pisgah National Forest in the Looking Glass area - including trail maintenance, repairs, plantings and more (sign up in advance), coordinated by The Pisgah Conservancy.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in downtown in Pritchard Park. And dance the night away!
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.
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.
Canton Labor Day Festival
Big celebration in Canton since 1906. Sunday features music festival, art, and food, 12-9:30 PM at Sorrells Park, and free gospel concert at Colonial Theatre. Monday features a big Labor Day Parade at 10 AM, plus a music festival and car show, 12 PM-9 PM. 20 minutes west of Asheville.
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.
Biltmore Horseback Trail Rides
Take a guided expedition through the Biltmore Estate to match your skill level. The western-style, one-hour guided ride is perfect for beginner to intermediate-level riders. A private three-hour trail ride with picnic lunch is designed for someone with riding experience. Offered daily. Two-day advance reservations are required. Available for 2-4 people ages 8 and up. If you’re bringing your own horse to explore 80 miles of Estate trails, please visit Biltmore’s Equestrian Center.
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) See panoramic views of Pisgah National Forest from atop the historic fire tower near Mt Pisgah. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 409.6.
Bare Dark Sky Observatory, Burnsville
Located at the Mayland Earth to Sky Park in Yancey County, this nationally recognized observatory is open to the public for 360-degree views of the moon, planets, and stars through custom-built telescopes. Each 2-hour stargazing session offers a chance for visitors to learn more about the night sky. Adult tickets at $20.
This modest waterfall is dwarfed by the towering cliffs above, creating a majestic setting. And it's an easy walk with other waterfalls nearby (French Broad Falls & Mill Shoals).
Organic Growers Conference
This annual Spring Conference at Mars Hill University includes 150+ practical, affordable, regionally-appropriate workshops on organic growing, homesteading, urban farming and rural living. Plus trade show, seed exchange, special guests and on-farm events.
Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, NC
See our comprehensive camping guide for the Great Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina side with many options, tips and places including backpacking sites and campgrounds.
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.
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.
NC Stage Company
Enjoy professional theatre in the heart of downtown Asheville with world-class productions in a very intimate setting (only 127 seats!). They also host concerts and other events, so there's something happening almost every weekend.
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.
Sapphire Valley Ski Resort
Located near Cashiers, this small ski area is great for beginners and families, with a 1,600-ft. main run and a beginner slope. It's home to the Outhouse Races in February. Also, find a tube park, restaurant and zip lines. It's part of a larger resort with condo rentals and other amenities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bee-to-Honey Farm Tours
This unique hands-on tour of Killer Bees Honey Farm above Pisgah National Forest includes putting on a bee suit, pouring your own honey and a delicious honey tasting and pairing. Located near Lake Toxaway and Brevard. Small groups, advance reservations only.
Nantahala National Forest
The largest national forest in North Carolina (531,286 acres) covers much of the western tip of the state. Find a wealth of outdoor activities, including whitewater on the Nantahala River, waterfalls and plenty of scenic views.
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.
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.
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.
Smoky Mountain Host Featured Hotels
Find a variety of hotels and motels on the North Carolina side of the Smokies on VisitSmokies.org - ranging from luxury to budget.
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.
(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.