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Graham County Places to Stay
Find great places to stay in Graham County, home to Robbinsville, Lake Santeetlah, Fontana Lake and Stecoah in the Nantahala National Forest. Stay in log cabins, friendly B&Bs, luxury lodges, lakeside campgrounds and small hotels.
Air Fair & Fly In
Go to the Western North Carolina Air Museum in Hendersonville for their big annual open house, airplane rides, children’s Ornithopter rides and antique cars and motorcycles. 10 AM-5 PM each day. Free parking and admission.
Great Smoky Mountains Small Towns in NC
Visit and vacation in these great small towns in the Great Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina side - basecamps for attractions and outdoor adventures.
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
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.
Bed & Breakfasts
Imagine waking up in a grand home and walking downstairs to the dining room, where you are served a gourmet feast! Feel like royalty and get pampered in one of the many B&Bs in our area. Enjoy a leisurely morning and relax after breakfast, rocking on a porch or by a roaring fire with your coffee. What a way to start the day!
Glass & Metal Day at Folk Art Center
Artists showcase the elements of metal and glass inside the Folk Art Center on Blue Ridge Parkway. Includes blacksmithing, glass blowing, knife making, bezeling, repoussé, copper etching, stained glass, forging and more. 10 AM-4 PM. Free.
Concerts on the Creek
Unwind on Fridays Memorial Day through Labor Day with live music outdoors in downtown Sylva. Shows are 7-9 PM at the Bridge Park. It's just two blocks from Main Street with shops, restaurants and breweries (come early!). Family friendly with a big variety of music. Bring a chair or blanket. Free.
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.
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.
Fall Events & Festivals
Find our favorite autumn events and festivals during September and October in Asheville and the NC mountains.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Indian Lakes Scenic Byway
This 60-mile drive takes you by Fontana and Santeetlah Lakes in far western North Carolina, through the historic communities of Stecoah and Robbinsville, in rural Graham and Swain counties.
Earl Scruggs Music Festival
Held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, enjoy 20+ artists on three stages, including Old Crow Medicine Show, Jerry Douglas, Jim Lauderdale, Alison Brown, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Earls of Leicester. Book early for camping spots, lodging, and after-hours festivities.
Hot Nights, Cool Rides Auto Show
One of the largest car shows in the South lines Main Street in Forest City, with a big variety of 400 vehicles including hot rods, motorcycles, model T's and classic Mustangs. Food and live music. Free admission. Cruise-in Friday night starting at 6 PM. Show is Saturday 9 AM-8 PM.
Forest City Hometown Holiday Lights
See the million lights that create a magical Main Street in our top Christmas Town Forest City with many events throughout, including carriage rides. Lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving Day.
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.
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.
Lazy Otter Outfitters
Located a little south of Asheville is one of the prettiest stretches of the French Broad River, away from the crowds and highways. Take a self-guided tubing, kayaking or canoeing trip ranging from two hours to all day, including the fun Sierra Nevada Express trip that makes a post-paddle visit to the brewery easy.
Picturesque Main Street has many local shops, restaurants, galleries, brewery, museums and favorite O.P. Taylor toy store. Big events include the White Squirrel Festival, 4th of July celebration, Brevard Music Festival and Halloweenfest. This is the Land of the Waterfalls with hiking, biking and famous Sliding Rock.
NC Arboretum Hikes
(Many options, easy to moderate) Located just 10 miles south of downtown, the Arboretum has 10 miles of easy to moderate walking and biking trails. Our pick is the Natural Garden Trail, a one-mile loop starting from the Plants of Promise Garden to the Core Area Gardens.
Blue Ridge Parkway
One of the most scenics roads in America (and part of the National Park Service), the Blue Ridge Parkway offers unmatched, spectacular mountain scenery. Drive north or south on the Parkway from Asheville and quickly ascend in elevation. It's all about the journey, so go slow, stop frequently and enjoy. To return to your starting point, you can often exit the Parkway onto a highway that provides a faster trip back.
Asheville's public market features specialty shops, restaurants, and sidewalk vending with fresh food and crafts. This block-long historic building has an interior "mall" and shops around the entire exterior. A must stop!
Downtown on Battery Park and O. Henry Avenues.
Downtown on Battery Park and O. Henry Avenues.
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!
NC State Bluegrass Festival
This big outdoor concert weekend in Marion is on the grounds of Tom Johnson's Camping Center - complete with camping options, pavilion and dozens of performers. Single day and weekend tickets.
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.
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.
Bridal Veil Falls, DuPont State Forest
(4.4 miles roundtrip hike, moderate) This beautiful 120-foot waterfall is near High Falls and other DuPont Forest falls and lakes. Hike or bike to it. Many hike combinations due to a network of trails.
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.
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)
Experience the sights, sounds, music, pageantry, colorful costumes, food, art, and extraordinary talent of Latin America. Pack Square Park, Downtown Asheville. 12-8 PM. Free admission.
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!
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. Great patio! To make a reservation, click on their website or call 828-274-2439. 3 Boston Way.
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.
Autumn in the Mountains Car Show
Go to the British Car Club of Western NC annual show to see 120+ British and European classic cars, race cars, racing motorcycles, rare-exotic sports cars and antique motorcycles. Held at Mills River Brewing Company. Free admission. 9 AM-3 PM
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.
Cabin & Vacation Rentals
Get away to a remote cozy cabin or cottage, a unique vacation rental downtown or with mountain views, or find a big house for a family or friends group getaway in and near Asheville and Biltmore.
Wildcat Rock Trail
(6 miles roundtrip, strenuous) This gorgeous new trail in the Hickory Nut Gorge area climbs 1,800 feet in elevation by cliffs, 100-foot Little Bearwallow Falls cascade and panoramic views from Wildcat Rock. Many spring wildflowers. Just 18 miles from downtown Asheville.
Cowee Valley Pottery Festival
Held at the historic Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center near Franklin, this juried pottery show and pottery sale includes demonstrations, food trucks, talks and more. 10 AM-4 PM
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beech Mountain Hikes
(1 to 20 miles, easy to strenuous) The Town of Beech Mountain, the highest town in eastern America, has 20 miles of maintained trails atop their mountain. A great place to keep cool since their summer temperatures seldom go above 75 degrees!
Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair, Cashiers
See works of 90 fine artisans from the Southeast on the Village Green in Cashiers, 10 AM-5 PM. Find ironwork, woodcraft, textiles, cakes, jams, pottery, and more. Free admission, but donations accepted.
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.
First Peak Visitors Guide
Get your free guide to the "First Peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains," including the cool small towns of Tryon, Saluda and Columbus, as well as the Green River Gorge with tubing and zip lines.
This tiny summer retreat along the Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its charming architecture, historic inns, gem mining, winding motorcycle drives and amazing book store. Near Spruce Pine.
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
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.
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 Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Meet 100 artisans and crafters from throughout the Southeast with a big variety of art. Outdoors at the Festival Grounds (3374 Soco Road) in the valley. 9 AM-4 PM each day. Free admission and parking.
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.
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.
Asheville Chow-Chow Culinary Festival
Savor Asheville's creative culinary scene with many events, chef demos, and hands-on experiences. Meet and connect with the makers and collaborators who nourish, nurture and create in our Appalachian Mountains.
5 Must-Stop Breweries in Brevard, NC
See what's on tap at these top local breweries in Brevard that run the gamut in size, shape, and flavor profile, but all are must-stops for beer lovers!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Organic Growers Conference
This annual Spring Conference at Mars Hill University includes 150+ practical, affordable, regionally-appropriate workshops on organic growing, homesteading, urban farming and rural living. Plus trade show, seed exchange, special guests and on-farm events.
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.
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.