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Ride the Train
All aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train excursion for a ride through quaint mountain towns, past sparkling rivers and through deep mountain forests. Ride in an open air car or in climate-controlled first class with lunch service. And don't forget the Polar Express train!
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.
Great Smoky Mountains Rivers, Lakes & Watersports, NC
Explore and play in these 9 pristine lakes and rivers in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina - with a variety of water sports including boating, fishing, whitewater rafting, paddleboarding and more.
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.
Banner Elk Wineries & Breweries
Visit three wineries in the Banner Elk area (Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard and Linville Falls Winery). Also visit two breweries (Kettell Beerworks and Beech Mountain Brewing). Along the way, enjoy a scenic drive high in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
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.
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.
Asheville is one of the top USA cities for vegan living. Outdoor festival features vegan food, beer, lifestyle vendors and educational speakers in Pack Square Park 11 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
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.
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.
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.
Craft Your Adventure: Mitchell County
Get plenty of trip ideas and find places to stay in Mitchell County, home of Roan Mountain, Spruce Pine, Little Switzerland, Bakersville, Penland School of Craft, rivers, gem mining, festivals, scenic drives and more.
Flat Rock Ciderworks
(305 North Main St, Hendersonville) Visit this tasting room in downtown to try their Wicked Peel and Blackberry Gold hard ciders made from local apples and blackberries from their nearby orchard. Open Wed-Sun afternoons.
Waynesville & Maggie Valley Visitors Guide
Order the 56-page free "Visit NC Smokies" guide to Haywood County, home to small towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde - in the Great Smokies, Pisgah National Forest and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
WNC Bigfoot Festival
A quirky festival that celebrates the legendary Sasquatch, held in downtown Marion 36 miles east of Asheville. In addition to Bigfoot-themed items and local crafts, talk with sighters from across the country with evidence that it exists. Calling contest too!
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!
Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Take a tour of this working farm between Asheville and Chimney Rock with animals, store, deli, barn dances and butchery. It's a great picnic spot. Many events throughout the year.
Bechtler House & Gold Mint Site
In 1832, Christopher Bechtler minted the America's first one-dollar gold coin in Rutherfordton, 17 years before the U.S. Mint. During the mid-1800s, the Bechtlers minted more than $2.24 million in one dollar gold coins. Two sites in town tell the story in Rutherford County.
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.
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.
NOC French Broad River Rafting
Take a guided whitewater rafting trip near Asheville on the scenic French Broad River with its splashy Class II and III rapids! Ideal for families and groups. The full-day trip finishes with Frank Bell's Rapid, a thrilling Class IV drop.
Experience the best of Latin American on Main Street in downtown Hendersonville. Journey through more than 20 countries with their people, music, art, food and culture. Free admission. 12-6 PM.
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.
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.
Mt. Mitchell Scenic Byway
This favorite downtown Italian restaurant is filled with the aromas of house baked artisan bread and mouth watering cuisine. Focuses on fresh ingredients, biodynamic and organically-produced wine selections. Offers traditional recipes from Italy, featuring hand-tossed pizzas, savory pastas, housemade desserts, gluten-free and vegetarian options. 27 Broadway.
Adventure Center of Asheville for Small Kids
Kids love this giant outdoor playground, just five minutes from downtown Asheville, with three areas for ages 4-10: KidZip with nine ziplines, Treetops Adventure Park with 70 safe climbing, jumping, swinging and rappelling challenges, and TreeQuest tree climbing with safety of a harness. Canopy tours and mountain biking for older kids too.
Christmas Wonderland Lights @ Tryon
Drive through an extravangant, 2-mile Christmas light show, synchronized to music at the Tryon International Equestrian Center - open every night of the week.
Great Smoky Mountains Hotels & Resorts
Book a vacation in one of these top hotels and resorts by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side.
Downtown Rutherfordton's Main Street is filled with crafts, vendors, food, live music, demonstrations, and plenty of kids activities - including a Pinewood Derby Race. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
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.
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.
Newman's Restaurant, Saluda
Located inside the historic Orchard Inn, their farm-to-table prix-fixe menu changes weekly, with much of the produce from their organic garden. Enjoy views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and extensive wine list. Make reservations in advance for this special dining experience. 35 miles south of Asheville
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.
Gustoso Ristorante, Spruce Pine
This restaurant, located in the quaint town of Spruce Pine, offers an old-world ambiance with small-town charm. Their continental menu features French, German, and Italian cuisines with housemade salad dressings, desserts, and more.
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) See panoramic views of Pisgah National Forest from atop the historic fire tower near Mt Pisgah. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 409.6.
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.
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.
Children ages 4-10 can now enjoy zip lines at this first-of-a-kind park built for kids. Ride nine zips from 50 to 250 ft. long and explore four climbing elements. It's a self-guided tour with an adult escort for children 4-6. Kids ages 7-10 may zip alone or with an adult. Located just five minutes from downtown at the Adventure Center of Asheville.
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.
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.
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.
Hilltop Fall Festival
Much fun in downtown Rutherfordton: Friday night Soapbox Derby for big kids, Saturday morning Overmountain 5K and Tour de Pumpkin 50K & 100K bike rides and festival 9-5 with crafts, music, scarecrow contest.
The Market Place
An ingredient-driven menu sources from local farms and artisan producers. Breakfast and lunch items will suit your palate, along with craft beer, wine and cocktails. A favorite is the wood-grilled burger with tomato jam, pickled red onions and smoked cheddar. On Sundays, their Motown Brunch has live music 10:30 AM-2:30 PM. In April-December, brunch is also served on Saturdays. Reservations recommended. 20 Wall Street.
Best 40 Fall Festivals & Events
September & October: Enjoy the cooler days of autumn with a big variety of events and outdoor festivals in Asheville and western NC towns. See our fall color foliage forecast for the best places to see the changing leaves.
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.
Table Rock Mountain
(2.2 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike to the top of one of the most recognized peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This trailhead is just five miles from Hawksbill, so you can double your fun.
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.
Brevard Cycling Capital
The Cycling Capital of the South, Brevard attracts both road and mountain cyclists from across the country. In Pisgah National Forest & Dupont State Forest, find 300 miles of peerless single track, hundreds more miles of fire roads and an endless variety of road cycling options. Also find a cool bike culture in town.
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!
Christmas at Biltmore
See the final week of the elaborate holiday decorations inside Biltmore House. Open New Year's Day.
First Day Hikes
Go to a state park near Asheville for a free guided hike with a forest ranger - a great way to begin a resolution to get outdoors for exercise and education. Most are easy trails, perfect for all ages and fitness levels.
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.
Newfound Gap Road
Drive the very popular U.S. Highway 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Cherokee. First stop should be the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum. Then drive 18 miles and climb 3,000 ft. to Newfound Gap on the Tennessee border. Many turn around here or drive up to Clingmans Dome. Another option is a hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Holmes Educational State Forest
(.5-3.5 miles, easy to strenuous) Hike a variety of trails and learn about the forest in this largely unknown gem near busy DuPont State Forest. Open mid March-mid November, find a tranquil and diverse forest along with picnic tables and exhibits. 10 miles from downtown Hendersonville.
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.
Take in the grandeur of our country's largest home, the "Downton Abbey" of America. Explore the many rooms inside the house, walk through breathtaking landscapes and gardens, taste vintages at the winery and enjoy fine dining. See many things to do with our detailed insider's guide!
Beaverdam Studio Tour
Take a self-guided tour of 30 artists’ studios in North Asheville’s scenic Beaverdam Valley. Buy art from ceramists, painters, sculptors, jewelers, and glass and textile artists. 10 AM-5 PM
Spa at Greystone Inn
Stay at this luxury inn on beautiful Lake Toxaway for a pampering weekend of spa treatments, outstanding cuisine, and relaxation by the water. Facials, manicures, pedicures, massages and herbal body wraps are a sampling of services. Spa can be enjoyed as a day visit in addition to overnight stays. The resort also has golf, boating, pool and many other amenities. Located in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard and Cashiers.
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
New Morning Gallery
This 13,000-sq. ft. gallery represents 500 American artists with hand-crafted furniture, home accessories, pottery, glass, jewelry, garden sculpture and other imaginative gifts. Located in Biltmore Village at 7 Boston Way.
Banner Elk Lodging
Stay high in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a variety of vacation rentals, log cabins, condos, mountaintop homes and hotels. Near ski resorts, Grandfather Mountain and endless outdoor adventures.
Lees-McRae Summer Theatre
The college performing arts department combines with the community each summer to produce a top-notch series of theatrical productions on their campus in Banner Elk, ranging from classic Shakespeare to Broadway musicals. The series begins in late June and runs through early August.
Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival
Held on the Village Green in the middle of Cashiers at peak color time, see the works of 100+ artists while enjoying live music and great food. The free festival is open 10 AM-5 PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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.
Cedar Rock Mountain, DuPont Forest
(4.5 miles loop, moderate) This hike provides wonderful views and dramatic scenery - and it's not difficult. Rising only a few hundred feet above the surrounding plateau, walk across areas of granite with great views.
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.
Great Smoky Mountains Cabin Rentals in NC
Find vacation cabin rentals on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park - ranging from rustic log cabins to luxury mountain top homes.