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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.
Carson House Museum, Marion
Tour one of the most interesting house museums in the state, dating back to 1793, with a big collection covering 200+ years on three floors.
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.
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.
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.
Labor Day Weekend Events & Things to Do
See our special list of top events, festivals and things to do during Labor Day Weekend in Asheville and the surrounding towns and mountains.
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.
Experience traditional Appalachian crafts, food, games, music and storytelling (10-4) at the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort with historic log cabins. Free admission.
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
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.
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.
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.
50 Late Fall & Holiday Events
November & December: Find many events during our long holiday season, including Christmas at Biltmore, giant light displays and the Gingerbread House competition.
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.
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.
Home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee, NC offers a variety of ways to experience the cultural heritage and long history of the tribe. Tour the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Watch "Unto These Hills." Shop for local crafts, see their painted bears, attend a pow wow or try your luck at the huge Harrah's Casino. It's also a major gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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.
Sample wines in the Tasting Room, included in admission to Biltmore Estate. Enjoy specialty tastings and a variety of tours. Shop for all the Biltmore wines and plenty of gift items. Located in Antler Hill Village, it's open late every day.
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.
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
Get Pampered at a Spa
Be it a simple weekend of relaxation, a romantic couple’s getaway in the mountains or a chance to improve your health, Asheville is the ultimate destination for those seeking spas and wellness. Take some time for yourself for relaxation and rejuvenation. See our Top 15 spots.
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.
Wild Food Foraging Tours
Take a "forage to table" tour with No Taste Like Home and play with your food. Our area is a Garden of Eden with over 300 wild edibles. During a guided tour, gather wild mushrooms, plants, and other “extreme cuisine.” Then a chef transforms your finds into a delicious meal.
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.
Roan Mountain Scenic Drive
Drive Highway 261 to Carver's Gap at Roan Mountain for spectacular views, hikes on the Appalachian Trail, winter snow along the mile high ridge and summer rhododendron blooms. The 12-mile drive starts in Bakersville.
Biltmore Industries Tour
Take a guided tour of historic Biltmore Industries at Grovewood Village and time-warp back to closing day in 1981 as you see untouched rooms with looms loaded with wool. April-November. Also, visit their Homespun Museum and Car Museum.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Waterfalls & Wine Tour
Find six waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, with short, guided hikes "off the beaten path" with the Pisgah Field School, and end with a wine tasting. Mostly Thursdays & Fridays, May-October. Small groups, book in advance.
Wayah Bald Fire Tower
From Wayah Bald at 5,342 ft. in the Nantahala National Forest near Franklin, see panoramic views to the Great Smoky Mountains. A short walk from the summit parking area takes you to the 1937 stone fire tower.
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 artsy village of Dillsboro welcomes 40 demonstrating artists along Front Street with their colorful creations. Browse many nearby galleries too. Free admission. 10 AM-5 PM.
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.
The Market Place
A world-class favorite located on charming Wall Street. Chef William Dissen's inventive menu features seasonal and organic ingredients from area farms, plus an extensive wine list. Recommended by The Food Network, USA Today, The New York Times, Southern Living and more. Live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the bar and lounge. Reservations recommended. 20 Wall Street.
Escape to the Great Smokies
The Great Smoky Mountains is one of America's most visited national parks. This International Biosphere Reserve is home to rugged mountains (many peaks in excess of 6,000 ft.), historic homesteads and 100,000 different types of plants and animals. Four entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are within 50 miles of downtown Asheville. Free admission!
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.
Fishing in Cherokee
Find an abundantly trout-filled stream system in Cherokee with 30 miles of freestone streams that include secluded forest settings, suburban roadside areas, and even the Cherokee town center.
Old-Time Plowing and Folkways
Take a time-warp at the Cradle of Forestry to the days of the Biltmore Forest School. Meet homesteaders and watch their draft horses plow the heritage garden. Then take a turn at it yourself. Living history guides bring traditional Blue Ridge culture to life. 9 AM-5 PM.
Christmas at Biltmore
See the final week of the elaborate holiday decorations inside Biltmore House. Open New Year's Day.
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 Lunch from 11 AM - 3 PM and for dinner from 5 PM on. Great patio! To make a reservation, click on their website or call 828-274-2439. 3 Boston Way.
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.
This historic town in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and French Broad River. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 889 residents has a Main Street with artists’ studios, galleries, music venues, restaurants, Zuma Coffee and shops. Walk across the river to Blannahassett Island and the Marshall High Studios with many events.
Enjoy brunch on Pack Square in the heart of downtown. You choose how you want to eat and drink. It might be “breakfast-ish” with a cup of locally roasted coffee and a brown sugar cruffin or an inventive brunch cocktail and duck confit hash topped with a poached egg. Want lunch? Go “all in” with a local craft beer and a Rhu Burger. Saturday & Sunday 10:30 AM-3 PM. 7 Pack Square.
Tryon International Equestrian Center
World-class complex for horse sport competitions has a variety of restaurants open to the public, including Roger's 50s Diner, Legends Grille above the arena, Blue Ginger Sushi, Campagna Italian and more! Visit Wed-Sun in April-November to watch horses. Top Sunday brunch spot. See our TIEC Guide.
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.
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.
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.
Compassionate Expressions Mountain Inn & Healing Sanctuary
A 40-acre private Certified Wildlife Retreat near Asheville where a world of magic, serenity, natural beauty, and unlimited healing possibilities await you. Renew your body and spirit with exceptional spa services: Energy Healing, Massage, Sound Healing, Cranio-sacral, Past Life Regression, hot tubs by the creek, and infrared sauna. Choose a "Day" or "Stay Over" spa experience.
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.
Have lunch at the soda fountain, see an amazing collection of vintage cars and catch a baseball game in small town American. Every winter, the Forest City’s Hometown Holidays celebration lights up Main Street with more than one million lights.
Legends on the Lake, Lake Lure
Dine lakeside at Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure by their private beach. Arrive by boat or car. Casual dining includes their favorites, hand-made pizzas and house-ground burgers. At the bar, sip craft beers while watching the game or playing billiards. Come early to enjoy the patio views. 40 miles east of Asheville.
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.