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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.
Perhaps the most famous motorcycle drive in the East, drive 318 curves in 11 miles. Located about 90 miles from Asheville, the Tail of the Dragon crosses Deals Gap at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line on U.S. 129.
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.
Go to Chimney Rock Park to see if Pumpkin the groundhog sees his shadow to predict an early spring or a long winter. Other activities for kids of all ages.
(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.
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.
Snow Tubing at Beech Mountain
The new state-of-the-art snow tubing park at the Beech Mountain Ski Resort adds to the fun there. Enjoy long runs, then take the magic carpet back to the top. It's adjacent to the ice skating rink.
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
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.
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.
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.
Waterfall Byway: US Highway 64
Drive 98 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains, through charming towns and by plenty of beautiful waterfalls. Begin in Chimney Rock and travel west on U.S. Highway 64 by Lake Toxaway and through Cashiers and Highlands. Stop at roadside waterfalls Dry Falls and Bridal Veil as you enter the Cullasaja River Gorge. The last section is also called Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.
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.
Create romantic memories of your big day on a mountain peak, at a waterfall, in a garden setting, or come to our venue. Elopement and small wedding packages suit your personal style with custom... read more
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.
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).
Rock & Roll Weekend, Omni Grove Park Inn
Swing dance away the weekend at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra on Friday & Saturday nights.
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.
Thermal City Gold & Gem Mine
Visit this authentic gold mine and travel back to the 1800s gold rush. Pan for gold and gems, talk to a real prospector and explore the "Old West" buildings with plenty of interesting things to see. Open mid March-October. South of Marion.
Long known for being a dog-friendly city, Asheville has plenty of dog-friendly places to eat. Many downtown restaurants welcome dogs on their outdoor patio - offering water bowls, dog biscuits and even a dog menu.
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.
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.
Christmas Wonderland Lights @ Tryon
Drive through an extravangant, 2-mile Christmas light show, synchronized to music at the Tryon International Equestrian Center - open every night of the week.
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
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.
Smoky Mountains Area Campgrounds
Find a big variety of campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina just outside the park with many amenities on VisitSmokies.org - members of Smoky Mountain Host.
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.
This premiere craft cocktail bar is a great place eat, drink and be social. Find original cocktails, fine wines, local brews and creative food with local ingredients in a contemporary space that is stylish and intimate. The rooftop patio is just the spot to unwind and elevate your spirit. 29 Broadway.
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!
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.
Toast with Local Brews
Cheers to the beer mecca of the southeast! Taste the extraordinary local brews, but it may take you a few days. With dozens of craft breweries and 100+ local brews and ciders in western North Carolina, you will need to pace yourself! Walk to many breweries in the South Slope downtown. If wine is more your style, see our Top 10 Wineries for tours and tastings.
Arts & Crafts Conference @ Grove Park Inn
Perfect for the passionate collector or those just interested in the Arts and Crafts design. The long-running weekend at Grove Park Inn includes lectures, small group discussions, exhibitions, books, a contemporary crafts show and the finest of the antiques shows.
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.
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
This tiny town of 600 residents is big on things to do in Graham County, home to Fontana Lake, Lake Santeetlah, Stecoah Arts Center, Cherohala Skyway and hikes and waterfalls in Nantahala National Forest.
National Get Outdoors Day
The Cradle of Forestry celebrates with free admission and plenty of outdoor activities in Pisgah National Forest near Sliding Rock, including hikes, demos, historic buildings, and kid's educational fun. 10 AM-4 PM.
(4.5 miles round-trip, strenuous) Located near Lake James, a beauty of a hike to the top of a plateau summit with spectacular views of Linville Gorge.
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.
Season's at Highland Lake
Located on the grounds of historic Highland Lake Inn & Resort, find inspired seasonal cuisine and impressive wine list in a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy a casual lunch, romantic dinner or big Sunday Brunch buffets, including holidays. Only five minutes from Hendersonville and 30 minutes from Asheville. 86 Lily Pad Lane, Flat Rock.
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.
Veteran's History Museum of the Carolinas
A fascinating tour of US history through the eyes of Carolina veterans. The museum covers “modern” wars from World War I through Afghanistan, including the Cold War. Learn intriguing stories of those who served and see one-of-a-kind artifacts, uniforms, weaponry, original newspapers, and more. Open Wed-Sunday, March-December. Free admission.
Bennett Classics Antique Auto Museum
Named “Best Museum in the Nation” by the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), see a big variety of 70 vehicles representing decades of history. Located in Forest City and Rutherford County.
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!
Hot Springs Mineral Soak
Soak in the natural hot mineral springs by the river, used by visitors for centuries seeking the legendary healing powers. Located about an hour's drive north of Asheville on the Appalachian Trail.
Banner Elk Restaurants
This small town high in the mountains has become a culinary hot spot. Whether you’re looking for an upscale meal for a special occasion, a hearty sandwich after a day outdoors or a casual steak dinner, check out their locally-owned and innovative restaurants.
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.
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.
Cataloochee Ski Area, Maggie Valley
Located at 5,400 ft. in the Great Smoky Mountains, their 18 slopes have 100% snowmaking with 5 lifts on 50 acres. Ski and snowboard rentals, packages, kids & adult school and nearby tubing park. Gentle slopes for novices while seasoned experts take on Upper Omigosh. Located 40 miles west of Asheville in scenic Maggie Valley.
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)
Places to Stay: Linville Falls & Lake James
Find a big variety of cabin and cottage rentals, B&Bs and hotels near Morganton, including Linville Falls, Table Rock, Lake James and South Mountains - with lake and mountain views.
High Falls at Lake Glenville
(1.5 miles round-trip, strenuous) Also known as Cullowhee Falls, this 150-ft. waterfall at Lake Glenville near Cashiers becomes the most powerful a few days of the year when extra water is released from the dam for kayakers. A new hiking trail takes you to the base for a great view.
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.
Visit 20 farms in the Asheville area that are not normally open to the public and see what happens behind the scenes. Presented by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), farms are located in many counties. 12-5 PM. Passes $35/car in advance, $45/car day of.
Folk Art Center
Art lovers should not miss the Folk Art Center. It showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary craft of the Southern Appalachians and includes rotating exhibits, live demonstrations and a large gallery shop. Free admission. 8 miles from downtown. Blue Ridge Parkway, at Milepost 382 near the US 70 intersection.
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.
Grove Arcade, Downtown Asheville
This historic building houses 30 local shops, restaurants, and lifestyle services. Their Makers Market, an open air market featuring local artisans, is open daily. Grove Arcade is pet-friendly and offers free public WiFi. 1 Page Avenue
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.
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.
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!
Rutherford County Campgrounds
See the Top 10 places to camp in the Lake Lure, Chimney Rock and Forest City areas in the foothills, including RV and motorcoach resorts. Find a big variety of campground amenities with many things to do in the Hickory Nut Gorge.
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.
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.
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.
Mardi Gras Parade
Everyone is invited to participate in, or simply spectate this family-friendly spectacle. This fun parade in downtown Asheville is led by this year's King and Queen, with dancers, roller skaters, drummers and krewes of colorful characters. 3 PM
(3.2-mile loop, moderate) Hike from downtown Hot Springs via the Appalachian Trail. You will climb to a rock outcropping for beautiful views of the river and town. It's a romantic spot, but don't leap!
Silver Run Falls
This 25-ft. waterfall cascades into a calm pool to create a picturesque setting for sure. It's located four miles south of Cashiers and accessed by a short trail in the Nantahala National Forest. A popular summer swimming hole.
Bryson City Great Smoky Campgrounds
Find campgrounds for tents, camper and RVs near several entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Cherokee, Fontana Lake and Bryson City areas.
Tryon Beer Fest
A festive time with outdoor oyster roast, games, live music, and a great selection of craft beers and ciders. Downtown Tryon. 1-6 PM. Tickets: $35/person through August. $75 after Sept 1. Tickets capped at 1,000.
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. Benefits their historic school renovation. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
Bridal Veil Falls, Highlands
Located on the Waterfall Byway, stop to walk behind this roadside cascade. It's located near Highlands. Just a mile away, walk behind a much bigger Dry Falls, along US Highway 64.
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.
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!