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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.
Henry River Village
Take a tour of this ghost town near Morganton that is coming back to life with tours, events, paranormal experiences and more. Film location for The Hunger Games, District 12.
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.
Linville Falls Hikes
(1 to 4 miles roundtrip, moderate) This is probably the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina. Hike to one or all five viewpoints via two trails that leave the Visitors Center. Only one of the trails is strenuous, and you can hike to all five spots with a four mile hike. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 316.
Flat Rock Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway
(6/10 mile, easy) Hike a loop trail to a flat rock summit with expansive views and great picnic spots. Hidden away at Milepost 308.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway - near Linville Falls.
Cherry Bounce Festival
Go to Forest City to celebrate a famous moonshiner with music, crafts, food trucks and cherry-inspired dishes and drinks. Kicks off Friday evening with a big, free outdoor concert.
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.
Carmel's Kitchen and Bar
With a prime corner location in the beautiful Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, find superior local and organic produce and meats for a bounty of fresh flavors with contemporary style. Lunch features soups, salads, hand-tossed pizzas and burgers. Dinner offerings range from mussels and calamari to locally sourced steaks and pork, along with signature cocktails and local brews. Prime outdoor dining patio. 1 Page Avenue.
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.
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.
6 Waterfalls, Great Smoky Mountains NC
Find several easy-to-find waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina side of the national park near Cherokee and Bryson City.
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
Since 1974, they have conserved over 70,000 acres of unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland and scenic beauty of the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.
St. Jude's Chapel of Hope
Stop for a peek inside this tiny chapel in Madison County in the tiny town of Trust along a scenic drive.
Spruce Pine Gem Mining District
Find gems in what is touted as the “most important mining district in the world”. Find fun options for gem panning, rock hounding and mine tours. Also home to the NC Mineral & Gem Festival. See their "Mining For Treasure" guide.
Since 1982, Asheville's largest high-energy dance club is renowned throughout as the epicenter for creativity, diversity and entertainment. Don't miss their midnight show, premiering the best drag anywhere. Dance the night away with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems.
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.
Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls and Juney Whank Falls
See three waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Deep Creek area with a two-mile hike. It is also a popular tubing and camping spot each summer. Near Bryson City.
(3 miles round-trip, strenuous) Mt. Pisgah can be seen from downtown Asheville on a clear day. Hike up to the top of the 5,721-ft. summit on this popular hiking trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 407.6.
Lake Junaluska Walking Trail
(2.3 or 3.8 miles, easy) Our top accessible, paved hiking trail near Asheville, with a walk around a beautiful lake at the Conference and Retreat Center, surrounded by mountains and historic buildings. They are open to the public and welcome everyone to walk the 2.3-mile loop with many natural sights along the way.
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.
Tom's Creek Falls
This 80-ft., two-tier waterfall is accessed via an easy hike in Pisgah National Forest (near US Highway 221) north of Marion. It's a great hike for families. One of the few waterfalls with an accessible trail and observation deck for those with walking challenges.
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.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Take the exhilarating ride on the only Alpine coaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Banner Elk.
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.
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.
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.
BREW-ed Brewery & History Walking Tours
Take the only brewery tour in Asheville led by a certified beer expert! Learn how beer is made and how to taste it. Get special access to Asheville's breweries and learn the stories behind the pints. On the short walks between breweries, your guide will share stories of the early days of Asheville.
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!
Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair
The streets around Burnsville’s town square are filled with 200 juried crafters displaying nearly every kind of handmade craft imaginable. Located 35 miles northeast of Asheville.
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.
Addison Farms Vineyard
This family-owned vineyard and winery is 17 miles northwest of Asheville. Sample wines from their six grape varieties at their Tasting Room with mountain views: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng. Open Friday-Sunday afternoon. Also open Thursdays May-Oct. 4005 New Leicester Hwy, Leicester.
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.
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 brunch Brunch from 9 AM - 2 PM and for dinner from 5 PM on. To make a reservation, click on their website or call 828-274-2439. 3 Boston Way.
History Museum of Burke County
A must-stop in downtown Morganton! Take a free one-hour guided tour through a maze of rooms on two floors, packed with many thousands of fascinating items. Each room has a theme (especially love the vintage beauty parlor and music rooms) that makes your journey through time lots of fun. Open Tues-Fri 10 AM-4 PM and Sat 10 AM-2 PM. 201 West Meeting Street.
Hook, Line and Drinker Festival
Celebrating the WNC Fly Fishing Trail and local breweries, with craft beer vendors, food trucks, fishing guides and vendors, and live music 3-7 PM at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva (76 Railroad Avenue).
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.
See the spectacular panoramic view of Linville Gorge at Wiseman's View in Pisgah National Forest, overlooking Hawksbill and Table Rock Mountains. Near Linville Falls.
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.
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.
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.
Banner Elk Things to Do
See the latest on seasonal things to do and events in this High Country town with Grandfather Mountain, ski resorts, restaurants, Wildcat Lake, hiking, wineries, places to stay 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. 10 AM-5 PM.
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.
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.
WNC Fly Fishing Trail®️
Welcome to the first and only fly fishing trail in the United States with the best 15 spots for catching brook, brown, and rainbow trout. With 92,800 fish stocked in its waters annually, Jackson County was named NC Trout Capital ®️. See detailed maps and fishing reports.
Namaste in Nature Yoga Hikes
A unique Asheville experience that combines yoga, hiking & meditation with the best mountains, waterfalls, sunsets, full moons, and the vortex in Western North Carolina. Open to beginners, women, men, couples, families and small groups for 2 or 3-hour yoga hikes during weekdays and weekends, year-round. Mats & pictures included. Private groups and private yoga classes are also available.
Barns of Madison County
Drive the country roads of Madison County to see many historic barns preserved by the Appalachian Barn Alliance - five scenic routes take you by farms and mountain views.
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.
Restaurants By Category
See our list of Asheville restaurants by category including a variety cuisines like southern comfort food, BBQ, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Ramen, global fusions and more. Also find food trucks, best burgers, pizza, vegan, coffee houses, gluten-free and top places to eat by location!
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.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in downtown in Pritchard Park. And dance the night away!
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.
This Backcountry Area of Nantahala National Forest is home to many waterfalls. In addition to the popular Schoolhouse Falls, find hikes to Greenland Creek Falls (pic), Wilderness Falls and Frolictown Falls.
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.
Triple Falls, DuPont State Forest
This unique three-tier waterfall offers a chance to safely get a close-up view in the middle of three cascades. It's only a one-mile roundtrip hike - and a half mile from High Falls and Hooker Falls.
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!
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.
Asheville Beer Week
Experience the largest annual celebration of craft beer in Asheville and western NC with a big variety of beer-related events including releases and tastings paired with music, food and great settings.
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.
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.
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.
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!
New Years Eve Golden Nugget Drop
Gather on Main Street in downtown Marion on New Year's Eve night to watch the giant golden nugget drop into a pot of gold. Many activities include a fun run, music, food, craft vendors, and more!
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
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.
(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.
There's a lot happening in this lake town! In addition to a beach to keep cool on hot summer's day, there's a wonderful Town Center Walkway that connects the beach to the beautiful Flowering Bridge. Take a boat tour of the lake or bring your mountain bike for their new trail system at Buffalo Creek Park.
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.
Craggy Gardens Trail
(1 mile, easy) Walk across a mile-high bald filled with rhododendron, wildflowers and mountain views. Access the trail from the Craggy Picnic Grounds or Visitor Center (Milepost 364.4) on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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.