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Beach at Lake James
Our top mountain beach is found at Lake James State Park, with a wide sandy beach, bathhouse, concessions and kayak / paddleboard rentals. Nearby, camp, picnic, hike and mountain bike.
Located inside a historic house in Biltmore Village is a popular spot with simple and flavorful American fare, such as corned beef hash, bagel and lox, johnny cakes, hash browns, fried grits and cream cheese scrambler with a griddled bagel. Breakfast served 7:30 -11 AM Monday-Friday. Weekend brunch is 9 AM-3 PM. 3 Boston Way.
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.
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. Benefits their historic school renovation. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
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.
This quaint mountain village at 3,700 feet elevation has great restaurants, breweries, shops, Wildcat Lake beach, and many events including the Woolly Worm Festival in October. Near Beech Mountain skiing and Grandfather Mountain hiking.
NC Veterans Cemetery & Memorial
Pay respects at the Western North Carolina Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain, open every day with a special service on Memorial Day. Also see the Veterans Memorial in downtown Asheville in Pack Square Park.
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.
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.
Self-Directed Retreats, Lake Junaluska
Reflect and meditate at beautiful Lake Junaluska during your own personal spiritual retreat. Find plenty of inspirational places for walking and journaling. Receive a booklet with optional agendas, resources and ideas for structuring your retreat. Available Sunday-Thursday nights. Includes continental breakfast and many resort amenities.
Rate: From $97/night for one person. $121/night for two.
Rate: From $97/night for one person. $121/night for two.
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.
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.
Addison Farms Vineyard
This family-owned vineyard and winery is 17 miles northwest of Asheville. Sample wines from their six grape varieties at their Tasting Room with mountain views: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng. Open Friday-Sunday afternoon. Also open Thursdays May-Oct. 4005 New Leicester Hwy, Leicester.
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.
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.
Elk River Falls
Roan Mountain Picnics
Picnic with the rhododendron each June. Or picnic along the Appalachian Trail atop one of the balds with panoramic views.
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.
Cherokee Indian Fair
Experience a country fair with plenty of local Cherokee traditions, including Indian games, food, competitions, music and dance. Meet the locals and discover more about their culture. Big parade on opening day.
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!
Silver Leaf Herbal Pharmacy & Acupuncture
Evan Bussanich, L.Ac. Dipl.OM. is a natural medicine practitioner specializing in Chinese, Ayurvedic, Western herbal medicine, Homeopathy, and Classical Acupuncture. His general practice focuses on Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine for internal conditions, with an emphasis on gastroenterology, immunological disorders, and chronic infections. Near downtown Asheville.
Pisgah National Forest Guide
Explore and play in 500,000+ acres surrounding Asheville with some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery, creating some of the best recreational opportunities in eastern North America. Pisgah National Forest covers much of the north and central western mountains of North Carolina - with rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails.
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.
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.
This historic town in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and French Broad River. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 889 residents has a Main Street with artists’ studios, galleries, music venues, restaurants, Zuma Coffee and shops. Walk across the river to Blannahassett Island and the Marshall High Studios with many events.
Dill Falls and Upper Dill Falls
(1 mile round-trip, easy) Hike to two waterfalls, Upper and Lower Dill Falls, via easy walks from the end of a forest service road deep in Nantahala National Forest. 4.6 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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.
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.
Fall Events & Festivals
Find our favorite autumn events and festivals during September and October in Asheville and the NC mountains.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visit western North Carolina's top contemporary fine art gallery specializing in museum quality glass sculpture by US and international artists. They curate an ever changing collection of exquisite glass sculpture as well as select works in other media. 29 Biltmore Ave, downtown Asheville
Harvest Festival, Stecoah Valley
Experience quintessential traditional mountain life with Appalachian dance, music, food, arts and crafts in the beautiful Nantahala National Forest at Stecoah Valley, near Fontana Lake and Robbinsville.
This popular summer swimming hole in Banner Elk includes a white sandy beach, swimming pier and fishing dock. The adjacent Tufts Memorial Park has a bath house and picnic tables. Owned by the Grandfather Home for Children. No admission fee, but they appreciate donations.
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.
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.
Jackson County Top 30
So many things to do - art, train excursions, heritage sites and more! Includes the towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire.
Upper French Broad Riverfest
Celebrate the headwaters with outdoor fun for all ages, 10 AM-3:30 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)
15% off, Quality Inn Biltmore
Use this link to get 15% off all rates at this affordable hotel with plenty of value-added amenities, including a complimentary, full, hot breakfast buffet. Five miles from downtown Asheville and Biltmore.
Rate: From $79/night
Rate: From $79/night
20 Winter Hikes Near Asheville
Hiking during the winter has many advantages - including better views thanks to leafless trees, few fellow hikers, no bugs, brilliant skies with more distant views and cool temps. See our top places for winter hikes in the Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountains.
Winter Getaways to Jackson County
Find the perfect winter romantic getaway in Jackson County in January-March. Take your sweetie to the fun small towns of Sylva, Dillsboro and Cashiers for cabins, beer, chocolate, spa days and more.
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.
Jingle Bell Trolley Train Ride
Ride the trolley on the Craggy Mountain railroad line, just five miles north of downtown Asheville. Saturdays, 10 AM-6 PM. After the 30-minute ride, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies along with visiting Santa and Mrs Claus. It's fun for all ages. $12/person
Only 30 minutes from Asheville, experience the renewing power of this magical mountain retreat and certified wildlife habitat. Enjoy clean and thoughtfully designed cabin-like retreat houses or... read more
Wonderful Life & 12 Dates @ NC Stage
Two shows alternate! The uplifting story Live From WVL Radio Theatre: It’s A Wonderful Life celebrates George Bailey and Bedford Falls. The second show The Twelve Dates of Christmas brings laughter and light heartedness with a one-woman show. Perfect for date night in downtown Asheville, Wed-Sun.
This longtime mountain resort town has kept much of its local charm with vintage motels and plenty of gift shops with arts and crafts. Tour Wheels Through Time collection of classic cars and motorcycles. Ski at Cataloochee. Festivals include Hillbilly Jam and Elk Fest.
Owned and operated by the artists, this downtown Asheville gallery is a premier showcase for handmade jewelry, ceramics, metalwork, fiber, glass, woodwork and furniture. Meet and purchase directly from local artists. 19 Biltmore Avenue.
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.
The artsy village of Dillsboro welcomes 40 demonstrating artists along Front Street with their colorful creations. Many galleries too. 10 AM-4 PM
Adelaide Spa & Salon
Their tranquil and meditative environment near downtown provides therapeutic massages, facials and body therapies in an elegant and tranquil environment, along with enhancing services for skin, nails and waxing delivered with boutique quality products by leading cosmetologists and estheticians. They can accommodate groups of all sizes with well-deserved pampering and relaxation therapies and customized packages.
This modest waterfall is dwarfed by the towering cliffs above, creating a majestic setting. And it's an easy walk with other waterfalls nearby (French Broad Falls & Mill Shoals).
Silver Run Falls
This 25-ft. waterfall cascades into a calm pool to create a picturesque setting for sure. It's located four miles south of Cashiers and accessed by a short trail in the Nantahala National Forest. A popular summer swimming hole.
Susan Marie Designs
Award-winning jewelry designer and goldsmith Susan Marie Phipps works with the finest natural color gemstones, diamonds and pearls. Enjoy seeing Susan’s collection of elegant creations at her gallery/studio. 19 Biltmore Avenue in the heart of downtown Asheville.
Enjoy brunch on Pack Square in the heart of downtown. You choose how you want to eat and drink. It might be “breakfast-ish” with a cup of locally roasted coffee and a brown sugar cruffin or an inventive brunch cocktail and duck confit hash topped with a poached egg. Want lunch? Go “all in” with a local craft beer and a Rhu Burger. Saturday & Sunday 10:30 AM-3 PM. 7 Pack Square.
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.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in downtown in Pritchard Park. And dance the night away!
Upper Whitewater Falls
See the upper section of the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, plunging 411 ft.! The best part is that you can get a great view with a short walk. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot and is accessible to wheelchairs. A lower overlook is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps.
Mermaid Parade & Festival, Marshall
The legend is that for one day each year, sea creatures and mermaids leave their ocean home and travel the French Broad River to Downtown Marshall. Arts, crafts and music 11-7 PM, seafood cook-off and parade at 6 PM with costumes and lots of water balloons and guns.
Get Pampered at a Spa
Be it a simple weekend of relaxation, a romantic couple’s getaway in the mountains or a chance to improve your health, Asheville is the ultimate destination for those seeking spas and wellness. Take some time for yourself for relaxation and rejuvenation. See our Top 15 spots.