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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.
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.
Traveling with your dog? See our Pet-Friendly Guide to Asheville and the North Carolina mountains that includes lodging, hiking, Biltmore, kennels, dog parks and more.
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.
Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway
Drive one of America's most scenic roads. Enjoy a leisurely excursion filled with nature's beauty through dense forests and atop mountain ridges. You'll find breathtaking overlooks, numerous hiking trails and great spots for picnics. Drive north for panoramic views at Craggy Gardens and Mt. Mitchell. A drive south takes you through a dozen tunnels and the highest section of the Parkway. See our favorite 50 stops.
Upper French Broad Riverfest
Celebrate the headwaters with outdoor fun for all ages, 10 AM- 3 PM including canoe relay, outdoor gear flea market, hands-on activities, free tubing, music, food trucks and more. Champion River Park and Rosman Town Hall (6 Main Street, Rosman)
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. Dance the night away!
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.
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.
Brew Horizons Beer Festival
Held in downtown Asheville inside the big US Cellular Center 2-6 PM, tickets include a souvenir tasting stein for sampling from 20+ regional craft breweries and cideries, food tastings, live music, artisan vendors. Fundraiser for our clean energy future. $41/person. Limited tickets, so buy in advance.
Saturday Night Lights
Watch horse jumping with the best riders in the country at the impressive Tryon International Equestrian Center with an exciting atmosphere featuring entertainment, food, kids' activities and Venetian carousel rides. Competitions vary each week. Free admission.
Biltmore Village Food & Spirits
Find a variety of great restaurants in this charming historic village outside the entrance of Biltmore - including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try local brews at several breweries. Located just two miles south of downtown.
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.
25 Guided Tours & Experiences
Take a guided tour for sightseeing, art, wildlife, history, food, beer, waterfalls, wellness and more in Asheville and western North Carolina. See our list of favorites.
Mountain Acoustics Luthier Invitational
This new festival in Burnsville celebrates hand-built stringed instruments with an emphasis on artists who craft them and musicians who play them. Luthiers showcase creations and lead workshops on songwriting, guitar and ukulele playing. Concerts and other events.
French Broad Ziplines
Explore the great outdoors from the treetops near Hot Springs, just 30 minutes from downtown Asheville. The 10-line, 2-rappel zip line canopy tour traverses a mile of cable, with stunning, long-range mountain views. Create memories of a lifetime, led by expert guides with state-of-the-art gear.
Fontana Lake & Dam
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, enjoy fishing, boating, camping and swimming in this beautiful lake. Or walk the Appalachian Trail across the highest dam east of the Rockies.
Sylva July 4th Concert & Fireworks
Enjoy concerts and fireworks in a picturesque all-American small town! Live music begins at 4 PM with dancing until 9:30 PM at the Bridge Park Pavilion. Stroll Main Street's shops, restaurants and breweries. Fireworks begin at dark. Free.
Mindfulness: Great Tree Zen Women's Temple
Come practice meditation in a beautiful natural setting. Nourish your happiness with mindfulness. Beginners welcome! Retreats and weekly meditation offerings allow you an opportunity to connect with yourself in a deep way.
Wildland Trekking Company
This award-winning adventure tour company specializes in guided hiking and backpacking tours of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A top-rated company on TripAdvisor with all-inclusive trips and expert guides, they are one of the Smokies' premier adventure options.
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!
DuPont State Forest Hidden Lakes
(4 miles, moderate) Discover some hidden lakes on the quieter side of DuPont State Recreational Forest, as well as an airstrip with a great mountain view. Fawn Lake and Lake Julia are great swimming holes, too.
Tsali Mountain Biking
Find mountain biking heaven in the Nantahala National Forest with 40 miles of trails overlooking Fontana Lake. Located near Bryson City, where you can find bike rentals and supplies.
DuPont State Recreational Forest
Hike, mountain bike or horseback ride a multitude of trails to see many waterfalls and lakes on 10,000 acres. Plus, picnic on mountaintops and swim at Hooker Falls. Visitor center, free admission.
Elk in Cherokee
Watch majestic elk graze and interact in meadows at the Great Smoky Mountains Oconaluftee Visitor Center and other areas around Cherokee.
This well-known downtown concert venue has state-of-the-art sound and lighting with a capacity of 1,100 standing. It's a great setting for enjoying the premier musicians who perform here. The dance floor is several hundred square feet of springy wooden slats, and the stage is in perfect view from any angle on the floor. 101 Biltmore Avenue.
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.
Tour a state-of-the-art wine production facility in Hendersonville. Their impressive Tasting Room features wines from 100% estate-grown fruit. The high altitude, long, sunny days and cool nights in the Blue Ridge Province of the Appalachian Mountains allow them to grow some European varietals like Grüner Veltliner. 2695 Sugarloaf Road, Hendersonville. Open Sunday-Thursday 12-6 PM & Friday-Saturday 12-7 PM, with tours at 2 PM every day.
Christmas Tree Farms
Pick the perfect Christmas tree for your home at a "choose and cut" Christmas Tree Farm near Asheville. After you find your tree, they cut it, bale it and tie it on your vehicle. See our favorite farms.
This rare twin waterfall is located roadside near Maggie Valley and Cherokee. You can easily miss it since there are few signs! The observation deck is a short walk from a small parking area. You can also hike down to the base of both falls.
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.
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.
Appalachian Medley Scenic Byway
The 45-mile North Carolina Scenic Byway is named for the rich history of local music. It follows NC 209 from Lake Junaluska to Hot Springs, through farmland and Pisgah National Forest. Stop at the Trust General Store and the tiny St. Jude's Chapel of Hope.
Bennett Classics Antique Auto Museum
Named “Best Museum in the Nation” by the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), see a big variety of 70 vehicles representing decades of history. Located in Forest City and Rutherford County.
This premiere craft cocktail bar is a great place eat, drink and be social. Find original cocktails, fine wines, local brews and creative food with local ingredients in a contemporary space that is stylish and intimate. The rooftop patio is just the spot to unwind and elevate your spirit. 29 Broadway.
Little Switzerland Places to Stay
Find hotels, cabins and B&B inns in charming Little Switzerland, located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, including favorite mountain retreats that have been there for generations.
Best 40 Museums & Historic Sites
Explore a big variety of very interesting museums and historic places in Asheville and the surrounding mountain small towns, filled with the fascinating history and culture of the Appalachian Mountains. Many are free to visit.
Banner Elk Ski Town
The cool small town high in the Blue Ridge Mountains is basecamp for winter fun on the slopes, adjacent to two of the largest ski resorts in the South - Sugar & Beech Mountains. Near Hawksnest Tubing. Restaurants, breweries and places to stay.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in downtown in Pritchard Park. And dance the night away!
Space Day at PARI
Explore this former NASA campus hidden in Pisgah National Forest that is now a research and educational center for space and science. Tours, star gazing, minerals, NASA artifacts, meteorites, hands-on exhibits and more for all ages. Free admission. 10 AM-11 PM.
3 days of music on a farm just west of Asheville, promoting local and regional bands and singers with rock & roll, hard rock, folk, Americana, bluegrass and funk genres. Day & weekend passes, with and without camping, $10-$125. Fundraiser for non-profit music school.
Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour
Enjoy a half-mile of airtime with three sky bridges and six transfer bridges, 13 zip line sections and 20 scenic and unspoiled acres of flying area, all within the heavily wooded setting of the Nantahala National Forest. Fly through multiple ecosystems in a deciduous forest packed with native flowering plants. Combine this with a whitewater rafting trip down the river.
Fall Events & Festivals
Find our favorite autumn events and festivals during September and October in Asheville and the NC mountains.
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.
Roan Mountain Picnics
Picnic with the rhododendron each June. Or picnic along the Appalachian Trail atop one of the balds with panoramic views.
Cleghorn Golf and Sports Club at Tryon Resort
Located near the Tryon International Equestrian Center, this 18-hole championship course tips out at 6762 yards with a course rating of 73.3 and slope of 136. The George Cobb design offers pristine conditions, named as one of the best courses in NC by the PGA. Also go to their Cleghorn Gun Club for a sporting clay course with 15 stations for every shooter level. 183 Golf Circle, Rutherfordton
Winterfest Beer Festival
Sample 50 beers and ciders from North Carolina breweries indoors at the Beech Mountain ski resort Alpine Village, 4-8 PM. Live music and shuttle. Great way to end a day of play on the slopes.
Bridal Veil Falls, Highlands
Located on the Waterfall Byway, stop to walk behind this roadside cascade. It's located near Highlands. Just a mile away, walk behind a much bigger Dry Falls, along US Highway 64.
Rutherford County B&Bs, Cabins & Hotels
Find plenty of unique inns, bed and breakfasts, local boutique hotels, cabins and campgrounds near all the things to do in Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Rutherfordton and Forest City.
Overmountain Victory Celebration
Explore a living history 1780s militia encampment at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals on Blue Ridge Parkway, telling the story of the Overmountain Men battling British forces. Tour camp on Saturday 9-2. Re-enactment of Battle of King’s Mtn at Orchard at Altapass 2-4 PM.
6 Mountain Beaches near Asheville
Hit the beach on pristine, cool mountain lakes in the NC mountains near Asheville, complete with sandy shores, lifeguards and plenty of summer fun in the water.
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.
Triple Falls, DuPont State Forest
This unique three-tier waterfall offers a chance to safely get a close-up view in the middle of three cascades. It's only a one-mile roundtrip hike - and a half mile from High Falls and Hooker Falls.
There's a lot happening in this lake town! In addition to a beach to keep cool on hot summer's day, there's a wonderful Town Center Walkway that connects the beach to the beautiful Flowering Bridge. Take a boat tour of the lake or bring your mountain bike for their new trail system at Buffalo Creek Park.
Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair, Cashiers
See works from 90 of the finest 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.
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.
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.
Jack of the Wood
Since opening in 1996, this has been one of Asheville’s favorite places to relax, listen to music and enjoy fresh, locally sourced pub fare. The original home of Green Man Brewing, the pub specializes in hand-crafted English ales and weekly traditional jam sessions in a charming old world atmosphere. Open until 1 AM weekdays, 2 AM weekends. 95 Patton Avenue.
Smoke on the Mountain: Sanders Family Christmas
The Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre (SART) annual Christmas show, a southern gospel, blue grass and traditional carol family friendly musical. Thurs-Sat at 7:30 PM and Saturday / Sunday 2:30 PM.
Life Changing Week, Skyterra Wellness Retreat
Take a week to focus on your own health and well-being. Fitness and culinary experts help you create new habits. All-inclusive rate include daily yoga, fitness, meditation, classes, private room, and chef-prepared meals in the Land of the Waterfalls.
Rate: From $3,150/week
Rate: From $3,150/week
Elopement Packages, Miss Caroline's Country Wedding Chapel
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 overnight cabin stay.
Rates: From $449
Rates: From $449
This roadside waterfall can be viewed from the top on a walkway along US Highway 64 at Lake Toxaway, located between Brevard and Cashiers.
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.
Picnic at Mt. Mitchell
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 355: Picnic atop the highest summit in eastern North America. The large picnic area has 40 tables adjacent to the parking area at the summit. Two picnic shelters with fireplaces are perfect for groups of up to 16 people. The picnic area is open year-round, but is snow covered much of the winter. Even in the summer, take a sweater or jacket since it can be 10-20 degrees cooler than in the city of Asheville. Use of the shelters is free of charge unless reservations are requested.
(5-mile loop, moderate) Hike 30 miles in this wilderness area with waterfalls and dramatic cliffs. A great half day hike is a five-mile loop to Schoolhouse Falls, Greenland Creek Falls and Little Green Mountain. It's easy to extend the hike in the network of trails.