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It took 34 years to build North Carolina's most expensive highway, winding up and over 5,400-foot mountains for 15 miles, from Robbinsville through the Nantahala National Forest and descending another 21 miles into the Cherokee National Forest of Tennessee. This 36-mile National Scenic Byway shows little evidence of civilization. Stop at many overlooks.
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.
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.
Concerts on the Creek, Sylva
Unwind on Fridays with this free outside live music summer series in downtown Sylva. Shows are 7-9 PM at the Bridge Park, two blocks from Main Street with shops, restaurants and breweries (so come early!). Family-friendly with a big variety of music. Bring a chair or blanket.
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.
Winter Wonderland, Grove Arcade
The Grove Arcade is extra festive during the holiday season! Have a safe and jolly visit, shopping from local artisans and retailers for one-of-a-kind gifts, enjoying holiday-themed beverages, dining specials, and more.
The Omni Grove Park Inn Golf
Discover the course that Golfweek magazine included in its “America’s Best” listings and Golf Digest named as “one of the ten best courses in the United States that is 100 years old or more.” Designed by the legendary Donald Ross, this is a shot-maker’s course, emphasizing accuracy over power in its 6,720 yard, par 70 layout. The ascent from the somewhat flat, yet undulating front nine to the gentle slopes and sometime steep inclines and descents of the back nine brings with it spectacular views of the Blue Ridge 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.
Located near Highlands, this 50-ft. waterfall cascades into an idyllic pool perfect for wading and swimming. It's a short hike in Nantahala National Forest.
Chimney Rock Park for Kids
Children of all ages love the spectacular views from the famous rock formation - plus the elevator ride up. In addition to several easy hiking trails, find discovery stations on the half-mile Great Woodland Adventure, visit live animals at Animal Discovery Den and climb a rock tower.
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.
Sapphire Valley Ski Resort
Located near Cashiers, this small ski area is great for beginners and families, with a 1,600-ft. main run and a beginner slope. It's home to the Outhouse Races in February. Also, find a tube park, restaurant and zip lines. It's part of a larger resort with condo rentals and other amenities.
Lake Lure Cruises
Take a scenic lake cruise from Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure. Choose from their daily scenic cruise, lunch stop cruise or late afternoon wine cruise. All tours depart from their North Shore Beach Cabana. Before or after, walk the beach or dine in one of their restaurants.
Asheville Community Theatre
For 70 years, our Community Theatre has been presenting outstanding musicals, comedies and dramas in downtown. Watch the "Mainstage" shows in the 400-seat theatre or a big variety of more adventurous productions in their 50-seat black box theatre called 35below.
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.
Tuckasegee River Rafting & Tubing
Ride down the family-friendly rapids of the "Tuck" in a raft, inflatable kayak or tube in Jackson County - near Dillsboro and Sylva. Outfitters offer a variety of guided and self-guided river trips.
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.
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.
Pizza Places in Asheville
See our list of locally loved pizza restaurants, ranging from high-end to off the beaten path. Find myriad of variations and styles with plenty of creative takes on pizza pies, ranging from old-school, New York-style to wood fired and gluten-free.
Hooker Falls, DuPont State Forest
Located near Triple Falls, it is an easy 1/2-mile roundtrip stroll from the parking area. While it's only 12 ft. tall, it's wide and cascades into a beautiful pool that is a popular swimming spot.
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.
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.
Picnics by The Rhu
Take in the sights and mountain views with a picnic basket from The Rhu in downtown. Picnics include house-baked breads and pastries, local cheese and meats, and salads made from fresh, local produce. Many choices! Order in advance for quick pick-up. 10 South Lexington.
Capella on 9
This large rooftop bar offers views of Asheville’s cityscape and surrounding mountains, an ideal setting to unwind and take it in. Order drinks and enjoy small plates from the tapas-style menu. Enter through the hotel lobby on Broadway and take the elevator to the 9th. 10 Broadway
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.
YMCA Summer Day Camps
Choose from a variety of summer day camps throughout the region with focuses on science, sports, arts, and adventure. Campers will grow in self-confidence and experience activities including archery, high and low ropes, gardening, wilderness adventure, forestry, field trips, and more. Weekly sessions run June-Aug, 7 AM-6 PM, Ages 4-14. Cost varies with the program.
Brunch & Breakfast
See our list of top places to begin your day of mountain adventures with a hearty breakfast or a leisurely weekend brunch.
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.
White Labs Kitchen & Taproom
This brewpub showcases craft cocktails, wine and 32 rotating taps of local beer. They serve wood-fired pizzas, farm-fresh salads and beer-infused dishes and desserts. Their winning cheeseburger features a grain-fed beef patty with smoked gouda, tomato jam, fried shallots, house pickles and special sauce. 172 S Charlotte St
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.
Jackson County Green Energy Park
Tour this fascinating arts facility that is powered by methane gas captured from the old town landfill, providing heat for blacksmith forges, metal foundry, glassblowing, greenhouses and heating. Their gallery features art made on-site.
For the most upscale shopping in the mountains, head to downtown Highlands. It's a popular area for affluent travelers, many with a summer home in the area. This is one of the highest towns east of the Mississippi River, with an elevation at 4,118 feet. Nearby are many beautiful waterfalls, including the roadside Dry Falls.
828 Family Pizzeria, Asheville
Formerly known as Marco’s Pizza, this 4th generation family pizzeria fires up New York style pizza that is crispy and full of flavor. They serve other Italian favorites like salads, pastas, sandwiches, calzones, and strombolis. 946 Merrimon Avenue
Smoky Park Supper Club
This unique restaurant along the French Broad River in the River Arts District is a great date night spot with rustic ambiance and charm. Enjoy seasonal wood-fired dishes in the dimly lit indoor space with large windows facing the river. Or enjoy cocktails on the patio or riverside with plenty of cozy seating for two. They have a great selection of craft beer, cocktails, and music. 350 Riverside Dr
Alexander's Ford Overmountain Trail
(1.5 miles, easy) Hike a section of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail that was used for by local militia heading to an important battle in the Revolutionary War.
Kidventure Camp, Asheville Parks & Recreation
This four-day camp focuses on outdoor activities including hiking, geocaching, shelter and fire building, raft making, fishing, swimming, archery, climbing wall, and an inflatable kayak trip. July 2022. 9 AM-5 PM, ages 9-11. $105/session.
Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking
There are many hikes hidden along the Blue Ridge Parkway that takes you through lush forests, by waterfalls and to mountaintops with sweeping views. See our Top 15 Parkway Quick Hikes with big rewards.
WNC Nature Center
Children can share their birthday with wolves, cougars, otters, and other native animals at the Nature Center. Party includes a 2 hour room rental, 20 guests, table/chairs, fridge/freezer use, self guided tour of the Nature Center. Parties are $225.
Julian Price Park
(2.7 miles and 2.3 miles, easy) Hike around a beautiful lake or to the top of Green Knob. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 297.
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
This hot spot is well-known for their cat-head biscuits and house-made jam and butter bar. Oh my! Add to that their gravy flights (usually seven to pick from), smoked chevre grits, coconut-stewed collards, and local sausage, bacon and fried chicken. Monday-Friday at 7 AM-2 PM and Saturday/Sunday 8 AM-3 PM. 733 Haywood Road (West Asheville) & 417 Biltmore Avenue.
This cozy eatery serves up delicious Nepalese, Indian, and Tibetan dishes, with old-world ambiance. Dishes are created from fresh, local ingredients, including high altitude herbs, rice, lentils, potatoes, and green leafy vegetables most common in Nepal. Ask about their lunch special platter. 90 Patton Avenue
Camp Kanuga, Hendersonville
This inclusive Christian camp by Kanuga Lake offers adventure activities, sports, horseback riding, crafts, talent shows, overnight campouts, and more. 4-21 Day sessions, June-August 2022. Ages 7-17. Cost: $995-$2,375.
North Carolina Arboretum Community Partner
This 434-acre public garden is an affiliate of the University of North Carolina to cultivate connections between people and plants with gardens, trails and many special events and exhibits.
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.
RAD Skatepark, Asheville
This large, indoor skate park in the River Arts District offers a safe, supervised environment for skaters and riders of all ages. Kids may bring skateboards, bikes, or scooters to ride. Parents may drop off and pick up kids or stay and observe in the lounge. RAD also offers lessons and skate camps. Admission starts at $10.
Asheville Brewing Company
(77 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) In addition to their longtime favorites, their brewer series pushes the paradigm with amazing creations. Ask for a tour! In addition to great pizza, their downtown spot has a huge covered patio. Their original "mothership" location at 675 Merrimon Avenue has a movie theater.
Farm Visits & Tours
Visit farms and learn about their local food. See buffalo and alpacas, sample local cheeses, watch bees make honey, visit wineries, pick apples and more. Plus, tour historic farms at Biltmore and in the Great Smoky Mountains.
(545 Mill Street, Sylva) German-born brewermaster Dieter Kuhn and his wife Sheryl Rudd are creating light and refreshing German beer made with wholesome grains, fresh hops & no preservatives. This microbrewery is about 45 miles west of Asheville.
Adventure Camp, Adventure Center of Asheville
Campers will experience a variety of outdoor adventures at this camp, including ziplines, rafting, treetop course, tree climbing, bike park, and daily swimming. Campers will participate in daily team-building games, fun activities, creative learning, and age-appropriate outdoor education immersive learning. Weekly sessions run June-August 2022. 8:30 AM-4 PM. Ages 8-15.
Penland School of Craft
Take a tour or sign up for a class at this internationally-known school for art and craft, tucked away in the mountains near Spruce Pine. Their multiple galleries are free to visit with amazing works created by students and teachers.
Sylva’s Pinnacle Park
(7 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the top of The Pinnacle for views looking down into Sylva and the surrounding valley. Climb over 3,000 ft. in elevation with a steady grade.
If you’re looking for good authentic Mexian food, you’re in for a treat! Enjoy tacos, nachos, burritos and more. Find them at Wedge Brewing on Tuesdays for Dinner. For a full weekly schedule, see their Facebook page.
House of Flags Museum
A very unqiue museum that displays 300+ flags with detailed stories for each. From military to international, it's an impressive collection. See all 27 official U.S. flags, from 13 to 50 stars, and the accompanying state and territory flags. Open Tuesday & Thursday 10 AM-1 PM and Saturdays 10 AM-4 PM. Donations accepted. (33 Gibson Street, Columbus)
Blue Dream Curry
Located in downtown Asheville next to Pritchard Park, this casual eatery serves up global curries, small plates, soups and more. Enjoy local beer from rotating taps, kambucha, coffee and tea. Plenty of vegan options. 81 Patton Ave
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!
White Duck Taco, Asheville
This popular riverfront taco shop located in the River Art’s District of Asheville is a casual, kid & dog-friendly restaurant. Large outdoor space has picnic tables and room for kids to run around. 388 Riverside Dr, Asheville
Fork Lore, Biltmore Park
Located inside the Hilton in Biltmore Park Town Square, they fuse southern comfort with modern sophistication, inspired by the chef’s grandmother’s kitchen. How about bananas foster French toast, eggs benedict many ways, and a variety of egg dishes from a nearby organic farm? Don't forget a mimosa or Bloody Mary. Serves breakfast 7:30-10 AM Monday-Friday and 7:30 AM-2 PM on Saturday/Sunday. 43 Town Square Blvd.
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.
With two locations in North and West Asheville, this eatery serves up southern fare using locally sourced ingredients. Comfort items include fried chicken biscuit, cheesy grits, catfish po’boy and more. Also find plenty of vegan options available. 371 Merrimon Ave and 219 Amboy Rd
All Souls Cathedral
Tour this beautiful church in Biltmore Village, built by Biltmore House owner George Vanderbilt in 1896. The sanctuary is open Monday-Friday, 9 AM-4 PM. From April-December, volunteer docents answer questions and provide historical information from 1-4 PM. Free, but donations appreciated.
Discovery Camp, NC Arboretum
The North Carolina Arboretum offers a variety of camps for varying ages and interests including outdoor exploration, hiking, arts & crafts, local ecology, geocaching, disc golf, biking, and more. Weekly sessions run June-Aug, 9 AM-4 PM, Grades K-8. $350-$395/week
Buxton Hall Barbecue
This South Slope BBQ joint is the shared vision of James-Beard nominated chefs. They serve wood-smoked, whole-hog East Carolina BBQ and traditional Southern sides. Try a bourbon and Cheerwine slushie! 32 Banks Ave
Ideal for kids 6 and up, this hands-on program uses Legos to help kids develop problem solving and critical thinking skills as they build machines and other constructions, utilizing engineering, architecture and physics. Their mobile program can be found at local schools, events, camps, parties and more.
West Asheville Restaurants
With a reputation for being cool and hip, West Asheville has fantastic local restaurants and pubs - especially along the main drag of Haywood Road. See our favorites.
The Chemist, Asheville
Located in Asheville’s South Slope, this women-owned craft distillery produces vapor-infused, small batch gin by way of prohibition-era chemist techniques. They also feature unique brandy collaborations with local artisans. Book a public or private tour and/or enjoy craft cocktails in their 1920’s inspired bar, Antidote. Bar hours: Mon-Fri 4 PM-12 AM, Sat/Sun 2 PM-12 AM.