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Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest
Join a festive evening at their big brewery south of Asheville, with music, glassblowing, stache competition, souvenir beer stein, special beers and a German-inspired feast. 5-10 PM. $25-$30/person. Limited tickets, buy online. Free shuttles from Asheville and Hendersonville.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mardi Gras Parade
Everyone is invited to participate in, or simply spectate this family-friendly spectacle. This fun parade in downtown Asheville is led by this year's King and Queen, with dancers, roller skaters, drummers and krewes of colorful characters. 3 PM
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.
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.
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
The closest ski resort to downtown Asheville with 15 runs, terrain park and 4 lifts. Lift ticket specials: Tuesdays are BOGO, on Wednesdays 1/2 off for women and on Thursday nights college students $15. Located in Madison County just 5 miles from I-26, 30 minutes north of Asheville
A innovative, fun outdoor festival in the South Slope near downtown Asheville showcasing the creative arts as a tool for positive change in our world. 12-10 PM. Free admission.
It took 34 years to build North Carolina's most expensive highway, winding up and over 5,400-foot mountains for 15 miles, from Robbinsville through the Nantahala National Forest and descending another 21 miles into the Cherokee National Forest of Tennessee. This 36-mile National Scenic Byway shows little evidence of civilization. Stop at many overlooks.
Saturday Night Lights
Watch horse jumping and riding with the best jockeys in the country at the impressive, new Tryon International Equestrian Center with an exciting atmosphere featuring music, food, kids' activities and Venetian carousel rides. Events vary each week. Free admission.
Nantahala National Forest
The largest national forest in North Carolina (531,286 acres) covers much of the western tip of the state. Find a wealth of outdoor activities, including whitewater on the Nantahala River, waterfalls and plenty of scenic views.
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.
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.
Cooking grounded in the traditions and ingredients of the Carolinas with modern southern seasonal farm-to-table menus, fresh catches from the coast of the Carolinas, as well as local microbrews, prestigious wines, and inventive cocktails. Weekend brunch starts at 9 AM. 47 Biltmore Avenue, downtown.
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
Sleep under the stars in our national parks, forests or a campground. Or stay in a hostel.
Order the free, 48-page Hendersonville Visitor Guide for plenty of detailed information about things to do in Henderson County, just south of Asheville. Home of DuPont State Forest & Sierra Nevada Brewing.
Hear and feel the beat at the weekly drum circle every Friday night in downtown in Pritchard Park. And dance the night away!
Holiday Sip & Shop, Grovewood Village
Shop at the big gallery and save 10% on all art and craft while enjoying free cider, cookies and wine. Also, watch artist demos, take a free factory tour and get free admission to Antique Car Museum. Asheville. 10 AM-5:30 PM
Perhaps the most famous motorcycle drive in the East, drive 318 curves in 11 miles. Located about 90 miles from Asheville, the Tail of the Dragon crosses Deals Gap at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line on U.S. 129.
Sample beers from 45 breweries at The Salvage Station near downtown Asheville, while listening to a bluegrass-infused live band. Buy food from local vendors. This 21 and older event is held 1-6 PM. $45/person. Buy tickets in advance, starting Aug 15.
Autumn in the Mountains Car Show
Go to the British Car Club of Western NC annual show to see 120+ British and European classic cars, race cars, racing motorcycles, rare-exotic sports cars and antique motorcycles. Held at Asheville Outlets. Free admission. 9 AM-4 PM
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!
A Swannanoa Solstice
A local's favorite holiday concert - 16th year! Appalachian music showcase with world influences. Many artists playing mandolins, harps, bagpipes, dulcimers and world percussion. 2 & 7 PM at Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville. $45/adult
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.
Asheville Art Studio Tours
Get a behind-the-scenes look inside artist studios in the River Arts District near downtown Asheville and Biltmore. These small, intimate, artist-led walking tours last about two hours. They also offer custom, hands-on and VIP art tours.
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.
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
Asheville Outdoor Center
Kayak, paddleboard, raft or tube down the French Broad River in Asheville and through the Biltmore Estate. You can also rent a bike or mine for gems. Just five miles from downtown.
Around Town Mobile Massage
Why travel to have your massage when you can be pampered exactly where you are? This network of licensed and insured massage therapists offer a wide variety of massages and specialty treatments for individuals, couples or groups such as girls getaways, wedding parties and reunions. Specializing in couples massage, therapists arrive with tables, linens, oil and music to create a nurturing, relaxing environment.
Soak in Mountain Views
Where are the best places for spectacular views to celebrate being alive? Hike to a remote mountaintop or see sweeping views from your car. Watch the sunset or picnic on top of the world.
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.
Western NC Fly Fishing Trail
Welcome to the first 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 North Carolina 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.
Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours
Explore downtown Asheville's best restaurants on a walking food tour. Daytime tasting tours visit six restaurants and food shops for savory and sweet tastings. Learn about downtown along the way. Evening tasting tours feature bites from the city's best chefs, all paired with craft cocktails, wine and beer in some secret, speakeasy spaces.
50 Late Fall & Holiday Events
November & December: Find many events during our long holiday season, including Christmas at Biltmore, giant light displays and the Gingerbread House competition.
Biltmore Lamp & Shade Gallery
Located in the heart of Biltmore Village, find elegant antiques, accessories, seasonal decorations and, yes, lamps and lampshades too! They are also the exclusive Asheville area retailer of Starfire Designs Jewelry by Charlie Wharton. 30 All Souls Crescent.
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.
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.
Blue Ridge Travelers: Small Towns & Outdoors
Explore McDowell County east of Asheville, with the small towns of Marion, Little Switzerland, Old Fort and Linville Falls. Includes Pisgah Forest, with hiking, waterfalls, fishing, Lake James and many things to do. See their Blue Ridge Traveler's guide for details.
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.
Yellow Creek Falls
Hike just a third of a mile to reach this 50-ft. waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest near Robbinsville and Lake Santeetlah. It's a great summer swimming hole, too!
First Peak Visitors Guide
Get your free guide to the "First Peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains," including the cool small towns of Tryon, Saluda and Columbus, as well as the Green River Gorge with tubing and zip lines.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Signal Ridge Marina, Lake Glenville
Explore gorgeous Lake Glenville high in the mountains near Cashiers on an easy-to-operate pontoon and tritoon boat, perfect for both novice and experienced boaters. They are open April-October and also rent tubes, paddleboards, skis, wakeboards and kneeboards.
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.
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).
Bryson City Great Smoky Campgrounds
Find campgrounds for tents, camper and RVs near several entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Cherokee, Fontana Lake and Bryson City areas.
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.
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.
Round Mountain Creamery Farm
Meet the goats and learn all about the goat-to-cheese process at this dairy farm south of Black Mountain. Tours by appointment, any day of the week. Featured on the Food Network.
Spruce Pine Potters Market
Longtime gathering with 30+ potters and clay artists selling their handmade pottery, figurative sculpture, stoneware, earthenware and more. Free admission. 10 AM-5 PM both days. 31 Cross Street, Spruce Pine. Near Penland School.
Located in the foothills in wine and horse country, this tiny town (population 999) has a quaint historic downtown with a park and mountain views, scenic drive, wineries and Tryon 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
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.
Top 90 Art Festivals 2019
See our favorite art festivals, events and shows this year in Asheville and surrounding towns in the western North Carolina mountains.
This tiny summer retreat along the Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its charming architecture, historic inns, gem mining, winding motorcycle drives and amazing book store. Near Spruce Pine.
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.
Vagabond Vistas Photo Tours
Will you be visiting Asheville and the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains this year? Not sure where to go for the best photos, or how to best capture them? Make reservations for private photo tours and personal instruction.
House of Flags Museum
A very unqiue museum that displays 300+ flags with detailed stories for each. From military to international, it's an impressive collection. See all 27 official U.S. flags, from 13 to 50 stars, and the accompanying state and territory flags. Open Tuesday & Thursday 10 AM-1 PM and Saturdays 10 AM-4 PM. Donations accepted. (33 Gibson Street, Columbus)
Cove Creek Falls
Located near Daniel Ridge Falls is a waterfall on a beautiful two-mile hike that includes a second, smaller cascade. It's also located near the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.
Land of Oz
Take the yellow brick road to Emerald City at this abandoned theme park atop Beech Mountain that reopens a few times a year with characters from the Wizard of Oz.
Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway Picnics
There are plenty of roadside stops (many by a cascading river) on this Byway through the Pisgah National Forest. The section on U.S. Highway 276 between Brevard and the Blue Ridge Parkway passes by Looking Glass Rock, Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock and the Forest Discovery Center. Home to many waterfalls. Just four miles south of the Parkway is the Pink Beds Picnic area with an easy four-mile loop hike.