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This is the coolest town on our list for temperature (highest town in the eastern USA at 5,506 feet elevation). While it's very popular for skiing and snowboarding each winter, they have an impressive trail system for hiking and mountain biking in the summer. Summer golf and scenic chairlift rides too. Each fall, follow the yellow brick road at Autumn at Oz.
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.
Swain County Heritage Museum
Located on the second floor of the historic courthouse in Bryson City, see photos, exhibits and video about the early settlers in the Great Smoky Mountains, including a restored log cabin porch. Free admission.
Land Rover Experience Driving School
Explore back roads and forests on Biltmore Estate while learning to drive the latest Range Rover loaded with technology. Develop off-road skills on extreme terrain with your guide, departing from Antler Hill Village.
Wine & Jazz Fest
Live jazz music, a big variety of wine, food, educational seminars, games and more, 1-6 PM at Asheville Outlets village in south Asheville. VIP Hour begins at Noon. Limited tickets $25/advance and $30/gate include wine & food tastings.
Original Mast General Store
See the original location of the historic Mast General Store near Banner Elk in small picturesque community of Valle Crucis. Take a photo tour.
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.
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.
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!
Catawba Valley Wine Tour
Visit wineries in the foothills of the Catawba Valley located east of Asheville, between Marion and Morganton. Three of them (Silver Fork, South Creek and Lake James Cellars) are along a 15-mile drive near I-40, so very convenient!
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.
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
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.
Mother-Daughter Biltmore Getaway, Pinecrest B&B
Bring your mom, daughter or best buddie to see Biltmore’s new clothing exhibition “Vanderbilt House Party”. Package includes 2 nights in the historic inn near downtown, 2 Biltmore tickets for 2 days, breakfasts, afternoon dessert and more. Available through May 27, 2019.
Rate: From $482
Rate: From $482
Art on the Greene
Find a big variety of 40 artists working with metal, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry and more in downtown Banner Elk. Many restaurants, shops and things to do nearby. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
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.
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.
Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing Festival
Downtown Bryson City welcomes vendors to display and demonstrate all types of fly fishing equipment - rods, fly tying, apparel and accessories, kayaks and more. 9 AM-5 PM. Just a few blocks away is the Delayed Harvest stocked section of the Tuckasegee River.
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.
The Esmeralda Restaurant
Enjoy lunch or dinner in the shadows of Chimney Rock. Carefully crafted dishes feature many local ingredients and the freshest seafood possible. For the ultimate romantic surprise, ask about reserving the chef's private table. Patio seating has cliff views. Exceptional wine list. Reservations recommended. Open Tuesday-Saturday.
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.
NC Travel Guide & Map
Order the printed, official North Carolina Travel Guide, a great state highway map for the car, Civil War Trails, winery guide or Access NC guide for travelers with disabilities - all are free!
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.
Maggie Valley Summer Arts and Crafts Show
Meet 100 artisans and crafters from the Southeast with a big variety of art, outdoors at the Festival Grounds (3374 Soco Road) in Maggie Valley. 9 AM-4 PM each day. Free admission and parking.
Classic Rock-N-Roll Weekend @ Omni Grove Park Inn
Groove to classic pop rock with One More Night, The Phil Collins Experience, on Friday night. Saturday night is nonstop energy of the Elton John tribute band, Captain Fantastic. Overnight 2-night packages ($852/couple) or concert single tickets.
Vanderbilt House Party Clothing at Biltmore
See the fabulous clothing exhibition inside Biltmore House, “A Vanderbilt House Party: A Gilded Age” and imagine yourself as a cherished guest at one of George and Edith Vanderbilt's grand turn-of-the-century celebrations. Included in admission.
Since 1982, Asheville's largest high-energy dance club is renowned throughout as the epicenter for creativity, diversity and entertainment. Don't miss their midnight show, premiering the best drag anywhere. Dance the night away with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems.
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.
Labor Day Weekend Events
Find Labor Day Weekend things to do and events in the NC mountains in and near Asheville for a great holiday getaway.
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.
South Mountains State Park
(2-40 miles, easy, moderate, strenuous) This state park near Morganton has 40 miles of hiking trails. Our favorite is High Shoals Falls 2.7-mile loop trail to a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. Combine several trails for a much longer hike.
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.
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.
Tuckasegee River Rafting & Tubing
Ride down the family-friendly rapids of the "Tuck" in a raft, inflatable kayak or tub in Jackson County - near Dillsboro and Sylva. Outfitters offer a variety of guided and self-guided river trips.
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.
Acu-Na Wellness Center
Indulge your senses and experience serene relaxation, convenient to South Asheville and Hendersonville. This comprehensive wellness center boasts an extensive array of services including signature spa treatments, vast array of massage modalities, organic facials, acupuncture, lymphatic drainage, detoxification treatment and holistic health consulting.
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.
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.
Gran Fondo Bike Race
Join the fun of this cycling event for various levels of experience for a 30, 60 or 100-mile scenic course, starting and ending in the River Arts District in Asheville. It's a fundraiser for Friends of the Smokies.
(3.2-mile loop, moderate) Hike from downtown Hot Springs via the Appalachian Trail. You will climb to a rock outcropping for beautiful views of the river and town. It's a romantic spot, but don't leap!
Dog City USA
See our top spots to visit in downtown Asheville on the Dog City USA trail, which includes the Doggie Welcome Center, a restaurant with a dog menu, a bakery and a hotel with rescue pooches.
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.
Discount Biltmore Package, Comfort Suites Outlet Center
Choose one or two nights in a suite, with a hot breakfast for two and Biltmore tickets good for two days. Hotel is adjacent to Asheville Outlets.
Rate: $170-$400 (varies by season)
Rate: $170-$400 (varies by season)
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.
Shelton House, Waynesville
This grand, historic home built in 1875 is home to the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts, with every room packed with craft, art and furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Open May-October.
Grove Arcade Winter Wonderland
Shop and dine in the beautifully restored and decorated historic arcade in downtown Asheville. Find a big variety of local shops and galleries and see gingerbread house creations in one of the first enclosed malls in America. Open 7 days.
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.
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.
Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls and Juney Whank Falls
See three waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Deep Creek area with a two-mile hike. It is also a popular tubing and camping spot each summer. Near Bryson City.
Meet Artists in River Arts District
Our top pick for art lovers is exploring the River Arts District to watch artists at work, ask them about the process and buy art as a souvenir of your visit! More than 200 artists work in 25 buildings, including old warehouses and factories along the river near downtown and Biltmore.
Sierra Nevada Brewery
(100 Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River) See their impressive east coast brewery in south Asheville - complete with a taproom, big restaurant, free tours, events and live music.
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.
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.
Cataloochee Valley Tours
Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains is a special place. Take a guided eco-tour with a naturalist to see the elk on one of their tours: Morning & Evening Elk Eco-Tours, Spring Wildflower Hike or Synchronous Firefly Night Walks. Reservations required.
Pioneer Day & Mountain Thunder Car Show
Two events in Old Fort: See traditional Appalachian crafts, food, games and storytelling (10-5) at the Mountain Gateway Museum. Then stroll by a big variety of classic cars and trucks on Commerce Street (9-2). Free admission.
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.
Tupelo Honey Cafe Brunch
This landmark in downtown Asheville serves up Southern cooking, sourcing ingredients from nearby farms and earning national accolades. Try their fried chicken and biscuits, shrimp and grits, sweet potato pancakes, pecan pie French toast or omelet stuffed with pimento cheese. Don't miss the Queen Bloody Mary. Often a long wait on weekends. Open daily at 9 AM. 12 College Street.
Virtu Skin & Body
Experience the best facials in Asheville. Founder/Owner of Houston's first Day Spa, Brea Gratia has relocated to Asheville. For 38 years she's provided fabulous facials to a loyal clientele. Come be surprised by the masterful techniques and results. Unique in every way – from the aromatics used to the protocols and ambiance.
(3 miles roundtrip, easy) This waterfall in the Pisgah National Forest is just three miles from I-40 in Old Fort. Hike by the river to the lower falls, a 100-foot cascade. Experienced hikers and rock climbers can continue on to a challenging hike to the stunning Upper Catawba Falls.
Pack Square Park
Downtown Asheville's historic public square has been a central focal point since the city's creation in 1797. Spanning from the Vance Monument to the Roger McGuire Green in front of City Hall and the County Building, it's home to many festivals and free events.
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.
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
Oskar Blues's Burning CAN Beer Festival
The weekend-long lawn jam on their scenic REEB Ranch by DuPont State Forest includes a beer fest with 50+ craft-canning breweries, internationally touring bands, camping, food trucks, and plenty of mountain sports.