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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.
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!
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.
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.
Just a mile from downtown Asheville is a new riverfront complex on the French Broad with restaurant and concert/event venue with great indoor and outdoor spaces. The menu includes sandwiches and some hearty meat-and-three selections. Full bar. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday, plus lunch Friday-Sunday. Live music and concerts many nights. 468 Riverside Drive.
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.
High Shoals Falls
This beauty in the South Mountains State Park near Morganton is a spectacular hike with numerous cascades and wildflowers. The 2.7-mile loop hike also takes you above the falls and back to a picnic area, mountain bike trails, camping and more hikes.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings, Inn on Biltmore Estate
Romance Package, Orchard Inn
This grand couples getaway at an historic inn in the cool small town of Saluda includes two weekend nights in a private cottage, couples massage, elegant dinner for two in their farm-to-table restaurant, bottle of French Champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, breakfast each morning.
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.
Asheville Wellness Tours
Specializing in crafting custom itineraries with a variety of experiences like yoga hikes, private group yoga, tarot readings, mobile massage, essential oil blending, downtown walking tour and more. Join one of their public experiences or let them hand craft an itinerary for your group.
Bee-to-Honey Farm Tours
This unique hands-on tour of Killer Bees Honey Farm above Pisgah National Forest includes putting on a bee suit, pouring your own honey and a delicious honey tasting and pairing. Located near Lake Toxaway and Brevard. Small groups, advance reservations only.
French Broad Falls & Mill Shoals
See three waterfalls with one stop on NC Highway 215 near Rosman / Brevard, about 7.5 miles north of Highway 64. See this twin waterfall, then walk a short distance riverside to see more cascades and a majestic cliff by Cathedral Falls. All of this is right off the road, but most visitors miss it since there are no signs.
Awasu Spa Package, Shoji Spa
Your escape begins with a one hour salt hydrotherapy soak with a locally crafted, artisan chocolates and a bottle of Champagne. Then, relax with a side-by-side 90 minute couples massage with Japanese Hinoki oil and your choice of body brushing or Thai foot massage.
Rates: $240/single, $470/couple
Rates: $240/single, $470/couple
Elk in Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains
Watch the elk in beautiful Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The best time is just before sunset. Take a picnic and tailgate. Also, tour historic buildings or hike.
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.
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.
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.
Waldensian Heritage Winery
Centuries ago in Italy, the Waldensians learned the craft of creating great wines and brought their traditions to the small town of Valdese (in Burke County) since the terrain, climate and soil composition here was similar to their homes in Italy. Built of local field rock and timbers, the Waldensian Heritage Winery opened in 1930. All production, distribution, marketing and tours are by volunteers. Address: 4940 Villar Ln NE, Valdese. Open Thursday-Sunday, 1-6 PM
This beautiful lake town near the Great Smoky Mountains is home to trails, boat tours, golf, gardens and a big variety of lodging options, including lakefront hotels and cabin rentals for a Methodist church retreat.
Head over to Sapphire Valley Ski Resort in Cashiers for cheer the drivers of the hilarious homemade outhouses down the slopes.
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition
This nationally touring exhibition at Biltmore that features set recreations, costumes and never-before-seen multimedia elements.
Rumbling Bald Resort Golf
Stay and play two championship golf courses at a waterfront resort on Lake Lure. Bald Mountain Golf Course has gorgeous mountain views and towering rock faced cliffs. It has four sets of tees and measures 6,283 yards with a course rating of 70.9 and a slope rating of 128. Apple Valley Golf Course is a 72 par, 18-hole course, designed by Dan Maples. It measures 6,756 yards from the tees, has a slope rating of 140 and a 73.2 USGA rating.
(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.
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.
This team picks the perfect outdoor location for couples that love nature, including waterfalls and mountaintops. A variety of packages include professional photography session with gorgeous scenery, videography and custom ceremony with officiant. Book weekdays (Mon-Thurs) for more private settings at some of the most iconic mountain locations.
Rate: From $1250
Rate: From $1250
Asheville Parks & Greenway
Just a couple miles from downtown and Biltmore, find two parks along the river connected by the French Broad River Greenway: Carrier Park and French Broad River Park. Picnic, bike, hike and play.
Housed in a 124+-year-old Victorian house in charming Historic Biltmore Village, the Corner Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Open 7 days a week. Cool, comfortable, with farm-to-table cuisine and cocktails. A favorite since 2004. Great patio! 3 Boston Way.
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.
Biltmore Horseback Trail Rides
Take a guided expedition through the Biltmore Estate to match your skill level. The western-style, one-hour guided ride is perfect for beginner to intermediate-level riders. A private three-hour trail ride with picnic lunch is designed for someone with riding experience. Offered daily. Two-day advance reservations are required. Available for 2-4 people ages 8 and up. If you’re bringing your own horse to explore 80 miles of Estate trails, please visit Biltmore’s Equestrian Center.
Marshall Handmade Market, Marshall
This arts festival & holiday market is held indoors at Marshall High Studios on Blannahassatt Island in the French Broad River, 25 minutes north of Asheville. Classrooms-turned-studios open their doors for 60 artists to share process and art. Food trucks too. Free admission. 10 AM-5 PM
Cherry Bounce Festival
Go to Forest City to celebrate a famous moonshiner with music, crafts, food trucks and cherry-inspired dishes and drinks. Kicks off Friday evening with a big, free outdoor concert.
(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.
Bryson City Lodging: Cabins, B&Bs & Hotels
Find a wide variety of lodging accommodations in Bryson City and the Great Smoky Mountains, including log cabin rentals, hotels, bed and breakfast inns and campgrounds.
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.
Experience 190 steep, climbing curves in just 12 miles, climbing 1,900 feet in elevation. Take N.C. Highway 226A from U.S. 221 north of Marion to Little Switzerland at the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Diamondback is loaded with switchbacks looping almost 360-degrees, making it extra fun for motorcyclists.
Blue Ridge Parkway Top 15 Short Hikes
Find our favorite short hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs. Also see ranger-led guided hikes held weekly in summer and fall.
Art on the Greene
Buy art and support the restoration of the historic school in Banner Elk. Find a big variety of artists working with metal, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry and more. Many other things to do nearby. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
National Get Outdoors Day
The Cradle of Forestry celebrates with free admission and plenty of outdoor activities in Pisgah National Forest near Sliding Rock, including hikes, demos, historic buildings, and kid's educational fun. 10 AM-4 PM.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(3 miles round-trip, strenuous) Mt. Pisgah can be seen from downtown Asheville on a clear day. Hike up to the top of the 5,721-ft. summit on this popular hiking trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 407.6.
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.
Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway
Another nationally-recognized scenic drive is this winding 79-mile route that crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway twice (milepost 412 at U.S. Highway 276 and milepost 423 at N.C. Highway 215). The Forest Heritage Scenic Byway is also named the Copperhead Loop by motorcyclists who love all the curves. Stop at waterfalls, hiking trails, Sliding Rock and the Cradle of Forestry. In the photo is Sunburst Falls.
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.
Balsam Range Art of Music Festival
A two-day festival at Lake Junaluska featuring top bluegrass and acoustic musicians, with Balsam Range and more. Workshops throughout the day. Single concert tickets and weekend packages.
Hook, Line and Drinker Festival
Celebrating the WNC Fly Fishing Trail and local breweries, with craft beer vendors, food trucks, fishing guides and vendors, and live music 3-7 PM at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva (76 Railroad Avenue).
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.
Lake Lure Cabin Rentals
Find a big variety of cabins, condos and other vacation rentals at Lake Lure - as presented by Rutherford County Tourism.
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards
Located in the heart of Hendersonville apple country, the tasting room includes a walnut bar, a spacious area for indoor seating and a patio. They have five acres of grape vines at 2,300 ft. elevation, including several different French varietals, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Address: 588 Chestnut Gap Rd, Hendersonville, NC 28792. Open Monday-Thursday 11 AM-6 PM, Friday & Saturday 11 AM-7 PM, Sunday 12-6 PM.
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.
Benne on Eagle, Downtown Asheville
Located in downtown Asheville, this eatery serves modern soul food inspired by Appalachian ingredients. Open daily for breakfast & dinner. Brunch on Sundays.
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.
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.
Lake Lure Boat and Car Show
See antique and classic boats along with classic cars and 1917 Lake Lure Speedwagon at this lakeside show, free admission. Food, beer and wine on the beach. Saturday 10 AM-4 PM. Kicks off with boat parade on Friday at 3 PM.
Spruce Pine Alien Conference & Expo
Join alien and UFO enthusiasts the first annual street festival in downtown Spruce Pine to celebrate aliens and UFOs. Hear national speakers discuss stories of encounters and sightings. Buy out of this world souvenirs. Dress up for the costume contest.
Smallest Post Office in USA
See the country's smallest post office, located roadside near Cashiers and open every day. Fun photo spot! Also see nearby Zachary-Tolbert House.
Located inside a 120+-year-old Victorian house in Historic Biltmore Village. It's a popular spot with hand-crafted and flavorful food, such as corned beef hash, bagel and lox, breakfast salad, johnny cakes, biscuits & gravy, or a healthy granola bowl. Breakfast served 7:30 -10:30 AM Monday-Friday. Weekend brunch is 9 AM-3 PM. 3 Boston Way.
Namaste in Nature Yoga Hikes
Connect with nature during a 3-hour guided yoga hike on weekends in March-November. Includes easy-moderate hike, yoga, meditation, yoga mats and pictures. Enjoy forests, waterfalls and mountain views including the Blue Ridge Parkway & Appalachian Trail. Beginners, men, women, couples and groups welcome.
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.
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.
This quaint and very historic village is located three miles south of Hendersonville. A longtime summer retreat, it's home to the Playhouse state theatre, Carl Sandburg National Historic Site, Hubba Hubba Smokehouse, Sky Top Orchard, galleries and shops.
Chimneys Hike, Linville Gorge
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike across and through towering rock formations called the Chimneys atop the rim of the spectacular Linville Gorge, starting at the Table Rock trailhead parking area.
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.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in downtown in Pritchard Park. And dance the night away!
Bryson City Outdoors
This well-equipped outdoor store in downtown Bryson City has everything for your adventure. Services include kayak, paddleboard and gear rentals, a hiker shuttle, and guided tours! Their craft beer taproom & bottle shop has 10 rotating brews on tap with an additional 200+ bottles and cans to go.