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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.
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.
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.
Welcome to the Land of the Waterfalls! There are so many waterfalls in nearby state and federal parks (with no admission fee) to discover. While many require a walk or hike to reach, several are roadside. Take one of our waterfall drives to enjoy several. See our favorite 60!
Lees-McRae Summer Theatre
The college performing arts department combines with the community each summer to produce a top-notch series of theatrical productions on their campus in Banner Elk, ranging from classic Shakespeare to Broadway musicals. The series begins in late June and runs through early August.
Best of the Blue Ridge Scenic Loop Drive
See the best mountain views, waterfalls and gardens, along with shopping and sampling of local beers, with this 60-mile loop drive that starts and ends in Asheville. Includes Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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.
Tupelo Honey Cafe Brunch
This landmark in downtown Asheville serves up Southern cooking, sourcing ingredients from nearby farms and earning national accolades. Try their fried chicken and biscuits, shrimp and grits, sweet potato pancakes, pecan pie French toast or omelet stuffed with pimento cheese. Don't miss the Queen Bloody Mary. Often a long wait on weekends. Open daily at 9 AM. 12 College Street.
Cedar Rock Mountain, DuPont Forest
(4.5 miles loop, moderate) This hike provides wonderful views and dramatic scenery - and it's not difficult. Rising only a few hundred feet above the surrounding plateau, walk across areas of granite with great views.
Packages & Specials for Asheville & Mountains
Pick a package or special perfect for your vacation, with discounts and travel deals for hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, country inns and cabin rentals in the North Carolina mountains.
Hard Apple Cider Tour
Head to Hendersonville for a self-guided tour of cideries that create a big variety of hard ciders from local apples and blackberries - about 20 minutes south of Asheville. Near several wineries too!
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.
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.
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.
Jerusalem Garden Cafe
Enjoy authentic made-from-scratch Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes in downtown Asheville, transporting your senses to faraway lands. Weekend international brunch has a Southern twist with baharat biscuits and gravy, egg and lamb gyros, French toast and crepes stuffed with seasonal ingredients. Pair with a mango mimosa or hand-brewed Turkish coffee. 10 AM-3 PM on Saturday and Sunday. See pics & video. 78 Patton Ave.
Spruce Pine Potters Market
Longtime gathering with 30+ potters and clay artists selling their handmade pottery, figurative sculpture, stoneware, earthenware and more. Free admission. 10 AM-5 PM both days. 31 Cross Street, Spruce Pine. Near Penland School.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Take the exhilarating ride on the only Alpine coaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Banner Elk.
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.
Benne on Eagle, Downtown Asheville
Located in downtown Asheville, this eatery serves modern soul food inspired by Appalachian ingredients. Open daily for breakfast & dinner. Brunch on Sundays.
Asheville Parks & Greenway
Just a couple miles from downtown and Biltmore, find two parks along the river connected by the French Broad River Greenway: Carrier Park and French Broad River Park. Picnic, bike, hike and play.
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
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.
(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.
This 90-ft. waterfall is privately-owned by a garden club and requires a small admission fee. Located between Saluda and Tryon, it's a must if you are driving on I-26 to/from South Carolina. Ten miles away is the roadside Shunkawauken Falls.
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.
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.
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.
Upper Creek Falls
This beautiful waterfall setting has multiple cascades and a swimming hole with a rope swing for diving! Located in Pisgah National Forest along NC Highway 181, about 13.5 miles north of Morganton. It's about a half mile hike from the parking area.
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
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.
Create romantic memories of your big day on a mountain peak, by a waterfall or even at a brewery. Elopement and small wedding packages suit your personal style with custom vows, a short video... read more
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.
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.
Bechtler House & Gold Mint Site
In 1832, Christopher Bechtler minted the America's first one-dollar gold coin in Rutherfordton, 17 years before the U.S. Mint. During the mid-1800s, the Bechtlers minted more than $2.24 million in one dollar gold coins. Two sites in town tell the story in Rutherford County.
Dill Falls and Upper Dill Falls
(1 mile round-trip, easy) Hike to two waterfalls, Upper and Lower Dill Falls, via easy walks from the end of a forest service road deep in Nantahala National Forest. 4.6 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Yellow Creek Falls
Hike just a third of a mile to reach this 50-ft. waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest near Robbinsville and Lake Santeetlah. It's a great summer swimming hole, too!
5 Scenic Drives, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Blue Ridge Parkway is not the only scenic drive in the Smokies! Drive these top scenic roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side, including Newfound Gap Road, for the best views and places to stop along the way.
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.
Wesser Bald Lookout Tower
Hike to this 30-foot tall tower atop Wesser Bald on the Appalachian Trail for 360-degree mountain views of the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains. Located near the Nantahala River rafting area.
Chimney Rock Park for Kids
Children of all ages love the spectacular views from the famous rock formation - plus the elevator ride up. In addition to several easy hiking trails, find discovery stations on the half-mile Great Woodland Adventure, visit live animals at Animal Discovery Den and climb a rock tower.
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).
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
Moore Cove Falls
(1.5 miles roundtrip, easy) Walk behind this 50-foot waterfall located near the popular Looking Glass Falls. Beautiful hike along the way. While the water flow is not impressive, it's a beautiful setting that is overlooked by many since there are no signs.
Swain County Heritage Museum
Located on the second floor of the historic courthouse in Bryson City, see photos, exhibits and video about the early settlers in the Great Smoky Mountains, including a restored log cabin porch. Free admission.
Asheville Fringe Arts Festival
Local and national artists explore the edges of their work, collaborate across genres and bring innovative performances to culturally adventurous audiences. Includes dancers, installation artists, theatre companies, Butoh dance, puppetry, modern dance, and performance art.
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.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. Dance the night away!
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.
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.
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.
Big Butt Trail
(4.5 miles round-trip, strenuous) This lofty hike keeps you above 5,000 ft. elevation as you hike to Point Misery and Little Butt, so it's perfect for a hot summer's day. On the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 358.9 near Mt. Mitchell.
Head over to Sapphire Valley Ski Resort in Cashiers to cheer the drivers of the hilarious homemade outhouses down the slopes.
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!
This rare twin waterfall is located roadside near Maggie Valley and Cherokee. You can easily miss it since there are few signs! The observation deck is a short walk from a small parking area. You can also hike down to the base of both falls.
Mark Bettis Studio & Gallery
Located in the heart of the River Arts District in Asheville, meet five professional artists at this working studio featuring contemporary art including abstract paintings, glass sculptures, wildlife paintings, and more. Mark Bettis works with oils and cold wax, building up multiple thick layers on wood to create fields of texture. Workshops also! (123 Roberts Street) See their second gallery downtown (15 Broadway Street)
Christmas Tree Farms
Pick the perfect Christmas tree for your home at a "choose and cut" Christmas Tree Farm near Asheville. After you find your tree, they cut it, bale it and tie it on your vehicle. See our favorite farms.
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.
Blue Heron Whitewater, Hot Springs
Enjoy rafting trips (or inflatable kayaks) and calm water float trips on the French Broad River with a fantastic combination of whitewater rapids, swimming holes, beautiful scenery, history and wildlife near Asheville. Excellent, fun-loving guides and all the appropriate river equipment ensure a great time.
Cool Off in Mountain Swimming Holes
Refresh yourself and have fun in our cool mountain waters in our lakes, rivers and waterfalls. See our favorite swimming spots (including popular Sliding Rock), tubing spots, pools and beaches.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Lake Lure & Rutherford County Guide
Order a free copy of the award-winning travel guide to the Rutherford County foothills that includes Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Rutherfordton, Forest City and much more!