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Mt. LeConte Picnic, Great Smoky Mountains
For a challenging-yet-amazing full-day hike with a "catered" picnic, hike to the 6,593-ft. summit of Mount LeConte (third highest peak in the Smokies). You'll climb 2,853 ft. in elevation in 5.5 miles on the spectacular Alum Cave Trail. LeConte Lodge sits atop the mountain with lunch and snacks for day hikers. Myrtle Point lookout on the summit is a fabulous perch.
Elevated Mountain Distilling, Maggie Valley
This craft distillery is located near The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Maggie Valley. Their top-shelf whiskey, moonshine, and vodka is inspired by the owner’s Smoky Mountain heritage and family traditions. Stop by the tasting room for a tour or a taste! Hours: Mon-Thurs 10 AM-7 PM, Fri/Sat 10 AM-10 PM.
Mexican and Latin Food
Find fresh, delicious, and creative Mexican and Latin food at these restaurants. While tacos and burritos are always crowd-pleasing, also discover molcajetes, stuffed fried plantains, and ceviche. And don’t forget the margaritas.
This family friendly pizza restaurant in West Asheville offers signature and build-you-own pizza pies, along with a great local beer selection and extensive wine list. Kids can enjoy the arcade! 285 Haywood Rd. Suite 10
Mountain Play Lodge
This large indoor play space for kids 10 and under offers two age-appropriate play floors with miniature village, toddler slides, large jungle gym, large slides and more. For parties, they offer themed party rooms with host and cleaning services included. You may bring your own food, drinks and cake, or use in-house beverage service. Room rentals start at $139 + admission for party guests.
A part of Asheville’s urban landscape for 30 years, this locally owned chocolate shop churns out small batch, artisan chocolates including truffles, sea salt caramels, chocolate covered fruits and even chocolate shoes! Take a tour watching chocolatiers craft award-winning chocolates and try a variety of samples. 36 Haywood St
This hidden waterfall flows beneath an historic stone arched bridge on NC Highway 215 over the West Fork of the Pigeon River, about four miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also see cascades above the bridge. A beautiful roadside setting.
Cathey's Creek Falls
This 80-foot waterfall in Pisgah National Forest is just six miles west of downtown Brevard near U.S. Highway 64. It's a short but steep hike to the cascade hidden away in a lush cove.
The Hop Ice Cream Cafe
This local ice cream cafe has served up hand-crafted cones since 1978. A local favorite, Hop offers free family entertainment and events at each of their 2 locations in Asheville. Parents can enjoy their coffee and espressso bar while kids enjoy the kid-friendly space with toys and things to do.
This Italian-inspired eatery in the center of downtown Asheville fuses the traditions and philosophies of Italian cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. The seasonal menu serves family-style, hearty traditionals, along with new Italian dishes. Fantastic wine selection. Reservations strongly recommended. 24 Wall St
Chai Pani literally means “tea and water.” It's slang in India for going out for a cup of tea, a tasty bite, a snack, or “a little something.” In Downtown Asheville it means innovative, fun, affordable and delicious Indian cuisine from four time James Beard nominated chef Meherwan Irani. 22 Battery Park Avenue
This authentic tearoom serves from over 100 varieties of fresh loose leaf tea and herbs, along with a vegan and vegetarian menu. They host classes, tea tastings, and also have locally made pottery for sale. They have two locations: 78 N Lexington Ave in downtown Asheville and 707 Haywood Rd in West Asheville.
With a large selection of classic and modern video games, pinball machines, air hockey, skeeball and more, this family-friendly business welcomes people of all ages.They offer a variety of party packages, that include 2-3 hours of play time, 25 passes, and table. You can even rent the entire arcade. Packages start at $200.
Mellow Mushroom, Asheville
Serving delicious stone baked pizza, this pizzeria is a popular place to enjoy a slice. In addition to pizza, they serve calzones, hoagies, salads and a great local beer selection. Vegan and gluten-free options available. Enjoy the large patio for downtown people watching! 50 Broadway St.
Picnic at Crabtree Falls
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 349: The Crabtree Falls area has a large picnic area. A little north of the picnic area, there is a campground with a 2.5-mile hiking trail to beautiful Crabtree Falls. The trail goes by the base of the Falls, and there are some rocks for small picnics there. The picnic area is open from mid-May through October.
Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center
Tucked away in small village near Fontana Lake and Nantahala River is an amazing gallery that showcases the work of 180+ area artists and hosts a great summer concert series. Many artist studios nearby.
Whistle Hop Brewing Company
(1288 Charlotte Hwy, Fairview) Located 15 minutes from downtown Asheville, this dog friendly taproom is housed in two retired train cars surrounded by a deck with mountain views and outdoor activities. Their flavorful brews with local ingredients include the Honey Fig Saison, Banana Wheat, Chimperial DIPA and SOB (South Of the Border) Porter. Open daily.
Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria, Asheville
Enjoy fresh New York style pizza, along with lasagna and sandwiches at this long-time local's favorite with 40+ beers on tap. Kitchen features late night hours for locals and tourists alike. Live music, billiards, and darts. 42 Biltmore Ave
(1 mile round-trip, easy) A quick walk to the summit has a big payoff with spectacular views from several rock platforms to explore safely. Take a picnic! Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305.
Great Smokies Bryson City Travel Guide
Order a free 96-page vacation travel guide (or download a digital version) for the Bryson City area with things to do, dining and lodging for the Great Smoky Mountains. Includes the "All Aboard" official publication for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
These homemade ice cream sandwiches will take you back to childhood, along with other “afterschool favorites” like SUNNY tarts, donut holes, biscuit rolls, whoopie pies, unicorn cakes, and more. Pair coffee or espresso with a fresh baked cookie or go all in with a scoop of icecream and a cookie flight. Vegan options available. 99 S Lexington Ave
An Asheville staple since 1999, this bakery specializes in European-Style breads and pastries, as well as pies, muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, and sweet breads like their Chocolate Cherry Sourdough. Stop in for coffee, sandwiches, soup and salads too. 60 Biltmore Avenue.
Green Knob Tower
(1 mile roundtrip, moderate) Get a close up view of the historic fire lookout tower visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway - with views Mt. Mitchell from its staircase. Parkway Milepost 350.
Brunch & Breakfast
See our list of top places to begin your day of mountain adventures with a hearty breakfast or a leisurely weekend brunch.
This old school, greasy spoon diner in West Asheville is a local favorite for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their menu offers a long list of specialty burgers, all under $8, making this a budget-savvy burger option. They also have a Brunch Burger with a fried egg on top.
Astronomy Club of Asheville
Stargaze with members of one of the top astronomy clubs in the country with monthly stargazing events at observatories, on mountaintops or along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
See multiple cascades at the roadside Waterfalls Park in Newland, complete with picnic tables. Three falls total about 50 ft., with a short trail to get a closer look at the different tiers.
Ramen and Noodle Bowls
Enjoy a bowl of happiness with delicious ramen and noodles at these top restaurants. Asheville chefs spice things up with an Appalachian twist by using local, seasonal and fresh ingredients.
This 150-ft. waterfall cascades down a mountainside beside the road, so you enjoy it from your car as you drive by! It's located near Columbus, about 10 miles from Pearson's Falls.
Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective
This hard-working, non-profit group works with performance artists and groups to present works which confront issues of social diversity in a provocative way by providing opportunities for audiences to explore visions of our diverse world. Shows are at the 65-seat black box BeBe Theatre at 20 Commerce Street in downtown Asheville.
All About Aerospace, Asheville Parks & Recreation
Campers will learn about the forces of flight, how rockets blast off, and the design of aircrafts through hands-on STEM activities. July. 8:30 AM-5:30 PM, ages 8-12. $50/session
Smoky Mountain Sk8way
Parties include admission, skate rental, inflatables, prize tokens for each guest and roller skating games. Tables, paper goods, balloons, and drinks are also included with pizza purchased separately. No outside food, cake and ice cream welcome. Packages start at $119.
(2.8 miles roundtrip, moderate) Hike back in time as you discover the rock foundations of Rattlesnake Lodge, an early 1900s family retreat. The hike is only a 30-minute drive from downtown Asheville. You can extend the hike since it is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 375.
Eda Rhyne Distillery, Asheville
This Asheville distillery is located in historic Biltmore Village, near Biltmore. They specialize in small batch whiskeys, sourcing heirloom corn and grains, as well as local botanicals to create aromatic and earthy flavors. Their cocktail bar is open Wed/Thurs 3-9 PM, Fri/Sat 1-9 PM.
This American bar and restaurant features regional ingredients on their menu, along with specialty cocktails. Their Animal House Burger placed in the 2018 WNC Battle of the Burger, putting their winning patty on the map. Enjoy the seasonal patio or stay late for the DJ dance parties on the weekend. Open until 2 AM nightly. 68 North Lexington Ave
Nantahala Gorge Picnics
Picnic by the Nantahala River while watching whitewater rafters and kayakers negotiate the rapids. At NOC, Big Wesser cafe has street tacos and riverside outdoor tables. A few miles down the road is the Ferebee Memorial on the Mountain Waters National Scenic Byway with a picnic area featuring tables, charcoal grills, flush toilets, and river access.
Asheville Pinball Museum
This downtown Asheville treasure trove for pinball and classic video games is a great rainy day activity with over 80 games. Play a flat rate admission, no tokens or coins necessary. Admission for adults is $15, 10 and under are $12.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Indulge in dessert at this romantic chocolate lounge in the heart of downtown Asheville. Their decadent menu includes things like chocolate mousse, mocha stout cake and sipping chocolates. Buy some truffles to enjoy later! 10 South Pack Square.
This food truck serves healthy and fresh gourmet and folk dishes like salads, soups, empanadas and sweet crepes, with gluten-free options. Their brick & mortar serves brunch on Sundays from 11 AM- 3 PM. You can find them at New Belgium on Wednesdays. See their weekly schedule on their site.
Picnic at Beacon Heights
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305.2: Talk about a picnic with a view! Take a short 1/2-mile hike to a large rock summit with plenty of room for a picnic while taking in wonderful views from several vantage points. This hidden jewel on the Parkway is accessed from a small parking area, so most folks miss it.
(2.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the summit (6,292 ft.) of the 16th highest mountain in the eastern United States. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 451.
Nantahala River Jump Off Rock
Enjoy riverside sunning and splashing at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Just a few miles up river is Jump Off Rock. There is a small parking area along U.S. Highway 74. If you are rafting, you can park your raft, climb and jump!
A longtime French bistro with comfort food using local ingredients. A romantic, intimate and charming setting. Enjoy fresh mussels prepared multiple ways, Escargot, Burgundy’s signature stew Boeuf Bourguignon and their famous fries. Dine al fresco along bricked walkways. Pair hand-selected French wines. 62 Lexington Avenue.
River Arts District Artists
This membership group supports and promotes the vast array of artists and working studios in 22 former industrial and historical buildings along French Broad River in Asheville.
Log Hollow Falls
(1 mile round-trip, easy) Located near Looking Glass Falls, this 25-ft. waterfall is often missed since it's off the beaten path in Pisgah National Forest.
The Learning Center at PARI
This former NASA campus in Pisgah National Forest is now a fascinating space and science center open for camps, events and occasional tours. See exhibit galleries, a gem and meteorite collection, hands-on research and star gazing nights. Previously called Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.
Rich Mountain Lookout Fire Tower
Drive to or hike the Appalachian Trail to enjoy the panoramic mountain views from atop the historic lookout tower near Hot Springs.
Top 11 Christmas Small Towns
Take a photo tour of our Top 11 Christmas Towns & Villages near Asheville, each decorated with plenty of festive things to do in the North Carolina mountains.
(147 Coxe Avenue, Asheville) Wicked Weed opened their nearby barrel house and sour tap room in the South Slope in late 2014 to store 1,000+ wine and bourbon barrels. This tasting room has 16 taps for sour and wild beer. Open daily. Read more about the South Slope Brewing District.
Bear's Smokehouse Asheville
This smokehouse in Asheville’s South Slope offers award-winning K.C. Style BBQ with signature items like brisket burnt ends, smoked sausage, loaded baked potatoes, and more. They also offer vegan options like tempeh and Impossible Meatloaf and a variety of craft beer to enjoy! Open 7 days a week with online ordering and delivery available. 135 Coxe Ave
Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
They assist the National Park Service to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains by raising funds and public awareness, and by providing volunteers for needed projects. Total disbursements to the Park surpass $50 million.
Wake Foot Sanctuary
Located in the heart of Asheville’s shopping district, this unique communal space allows you to take a break from exploring the city, cozy up in a plush chair and enjoy a custom foot soak made from essential oils, dried herbs and botanicals. Sip on hot tea with treats while you soak. Add on massage by a licensed massage therapist and soak up the bliss!
Smoky Park Supper Club
Enjoy scenic views of the French Broad River in an elegant and airy space made from shipping containers on two acres of land. Grab a drink and watch the sun go down over the river on their sweeping deck (your dog is welcome outside, too!), and enjoy inventive seasonal, woodfired American plates. Open Tues-Thurs, 5-9 PM, Fri/Sat 4-10 PM, Sun 10:30 AM-9 PM. 350 Riverside Dr.
Land of Oz
Take the yellow brick road to Emerald City at this abandoned theme park atop Beech Mountain that reopens a few times a year with characters from the Wizard of Oz.
Sky Lanes Bowling Alley
This West Asheville bowling alley offers a great place for kids to have fun, bowl and maybe even get a strike! (Bumpers available) Kids birthday packages are offered from 11 AM-4 PM and includes shoe rental, 1 hr of bowling, food and drink. $12/child.
Cooking grounded in the traditions and ingredients of the Carolinas with modern southern seasonal farm-to-table menus, fresh catches from the coast of the Carolinas, as well as local microbrews, prestigious wines, and inventive cocktails. 47 Biltmore Ave
River Arts District Restaurants
Tucked away from the downtown Asheville and across the river, the River Arts District is known for its graffiti-clad warehouse buildings full of artist studios and galleries. See our top picks in its flourishing restaurant scene.
Located in Asheville’s South Slope, this brewpub showcases a rotating selection of small batch beers and late night menu for those nighttime munchies. Enjoy their great indoor & outdoor space. Open Sun-Thurs until 12 AM, Fri/Sat until 1 AM. 101 S Lexington Ave
This skinny waterfall on Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 362 is visible from an overlook. Falling along a cliff across the valley, it's most visible after heavy rains and with leaves are off the trees.
Bryson City Restaurants
For a small town, you'll find a nice variety of restaurants, ranging from southern home cooking to a brewery and gourmet dining. A nice reward after a day of exploring the Great Smokies and Nantahala River.
See the best places for an Italian feast paired with good wine. Enjoy favorite dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, chicken parmesan, at these authentic Italian restaurants offering Old World cuisine.
Blue Ridge Parkway Association
The officially designated marketing partner of the Parkway, they are a membership organization that publishes the Blue Ridge Parkway Directory & Travel Planner each year.
Traditional Artist Directory
Use this guide to find the finest traditional craft artisans, musicians, dancers, and storytellers in the North Carolina mountains. The directory contains listings for more than 400 artists and groups, many available for hire for entertainment at your wedding or reception.
Twin Leaf Brewery
(144 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Twin Leaf has a dozen beers on tap, classic Belgian, English and American-style ales and a rotating line up of lagers and other adventurous styles. Open every day.
Hands On! Children's Museum, Hendersonville
This children's museum in historic Downtown Hendersonville has interactive exhibits with focus on science, nature, engineering, motor skills, and more. Exhibits include pet vet hospital, grocery store, lego raceway, puppet theatre, stage, and many more! (318 N Main St)
Preserve the natural and cultural heritage in eight counties by conserving scenic landscapes, farms, forests, watersheds, biodiversity and wildlife habitat in eight counties east of Asheville, along with three major river basins of the Broad, Catawba, and Yadkin.
This chef-driven, locally owned restaurant elevates vegan dining in Asheville with their picture-worthy dishes of delicious, scratch-made vegan food. Enjoy foods like smoked portobello, curries, ravioli, and even “queso!” Enjoy the patio in warmer months. Dinner only. 165 Merrimon Ave
(1 mile round-trip, moderate) This short-but-steep trail climbs a half-mile to the peak for spectacular views. The bare rock profile named Devil's Courthouse is sinister in appearance and legend. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 422.
Sunny Truth Farm, Mars Hill
This camp allows kids to learn and play in an outdoor setting where they interact with nature through games, art, science, and farm animals. It’s held on 150 acres of land comprised of meadows, forest, springs, and trails to explore. Themed weekly sessions run June-August, 2022. 8:30 AM-3 PM, ages 5-10. $100/week
Located in downtown’s South Slope, this doughnut and coffee shop is off the charts with fun flavors like orange creamsicle and chocolate glazed with pretzel crumbles. They offer a classic menu of espresso drinks, signature drinks, and pour over style coffees. Find a variety of vegan, cake, and yeast doughnut options. See their weekly menu on their Facebook page. 32 Banks Ave, Ste 106
(42 Biltmore Avenue, downtown Asheville) Enjoy fresh sourdough pizza, lasagna, and sandwiches at this long-time local's favorite with 40+ beers on tap. Their stage showcases live bluegrass, jazz, and Americana music with no cover charge. Upstairs is the Billiard Room with four regulation slate billiard tables and five regulation dart lanes.