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Vance Birthplace State Historic Site
This pioneer farmstead about 12 miles north of downtown Asheville features the birthplace of Zebulon Baird Vance. Tour the five-room log house and its outbuildings are furnished to evoke the period from 1795-1840.
Malaprops Bookstore & Coffee Shop
Enjoy java in this wonderful independent bookstore that has been a fixture downtown for 20+ years. Browse their diverse collection, enjoy goodies in their coffee and pastry shop, or use their free wi-fi. Stop by for a reading and autograph on many evenings. Or enjoy open mic nights for local poets. Open until 10 PM on Friday & Saturday. 55 Haywood St.
Thomas Wolfe Memorial
This is the novelist's boyhood home and setting for "Look Homeward, Angel." Tour the fascinating, rambling house located in downtown Asheville. 52 N. Market Street.
Their small downtown area is filled with restaurants, galleries and interesting local shops. And it's only 10 minutes from both downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Twice a year, they host the big Weaverville Art Safari with dozens of artists opening their studios to visitors. Nearby is Vance Birthplace State Historic Site.
(2.8 miles roundtrip, moderate) Hike back in time as you discover the rock foundations of Rattlesnake Lodge, an early 1900s family retreat. The hike is only a 30-minute drive from downtown Asheville. You can extend the hike since it is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 375.
Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians
Through exhibits and videos, learn about past fly fishing legends, the evolution of rods and reels, basic knots, fly-tying, types of gear, types of gamefish, regional fishing waters and the history of fly fishing in the Southeast. Open Mon-Sat, 9 AM-6 PM. Free admission. 210 Main Street (Chamber of Commerce) in Bryson City.
Asheville Brewing Company
(77 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) In addition to their longtime favorites, their brewer series pushes the paradigm with amazing creations. Ask for a tour! In addition to great pizza, their downtown spot has a huge covered patio. Their original "mothership" location at 675 Merrimon Avenue has a movie theater.
NOC's Mountaintop Zip Line Tour
Zip two miles of lines high above the Nantahala Gorge at the NOC Main Campus on the Nantahala River. This three-hour guided tour offers panoramic views of both Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Nantahala National Forest. Ten zip lines (including a half-mile zip 350 ft. above the creek below!) and two observation towers offer excitement and awe-inspiring views.
Mountain Gateway Museum
The westernmost branch of the NC Museum of History. Tour historic buildings and learn about the lifestyle and history of the earliest inhabitants of the mountains to the those of the twentieth century. Located in Old Fort.
(32 Banks Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Catawba opened its big, seven-barrel specialty brewery and tasting room downtown in 2015. They also have a place in Biltmore Village. They have a dozen of their brews on tap. Open every day. Their main production facility is in Morganton.
Start your zip line adventure perched on the rim of the famous Green River Gorge, then soar from tree tops. Descend 1,100 ft. in elevation through 125 acres of old growth and protected forest. Overlook 14,000 acres of wilderness via 11 zip lines, a sky bridge and 3 huge rappels.
Best 75 Mountain Hikes
There are thousands of miles of hiking trails near Asheville, many of which are in pristine national forests or parks. We picked our favorites and created extensive guides for each with photos and details. Find hikes for all skill levels in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.
Oskar Blues Brewery
(342 Mountain Industrial Drive, Brevard) Oskar Blues' east coast brewery opened in 2012. The Tasty Weasel taproom is open daily with free tours of the brewery. Sample specialty draft ales, enjoy live music and gather with friends.
Beech Mountain Biking & Hiking
Hike, bike and golf in the highest town in eastern America, and enjoy cool temperatures all summer long. Their 20-mile trail system is open year-round.
(8 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap north four miles to this rocky ridge with spectacular views in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You climb about 1,600 ft. in elevation, but it's gradual.
North Carolina Arboretum Community Partner
This 434-acre public garden is an affiliate of the University of North Carolina to cultivate connections between people and plants with gardens, trails and many special events and exhibits.
Swim or float in a pool below the 12-foot waterfall in DuPont State Forest. Jump from a rope swing and walk behind the falls.
Western North Carolina Farmer's Market
Come and enjoy the atmosphere and bounty of the mountains. The retail area features displays of high-quality fruits and vegetables, mountain crafts, jams, jellies, preserves, sourwood honey and dozens of other farm-fresh items. The market is open year-round, seven days a week.
Scandals Nightclub Legendary Drag Shows
Since 1982, Asheville's largest high-energy dance club has premiered the best drag shows anywhere around. Their late night showcast of Kings & Queens will make your night truly entertaining and unforgettable!
Up Country Brewing Co
(1042 Haywood Rd, Asheville) They specialize in making beers that perfectly accompany any outdoor activity. Open every day. Live music many nights. West Asheville.
Enjoy scenic horseback trail rides in the Asheville area with miles of trails, experienced guides and gentle horses. For the more experience riders, there are hundreds of miles to explore.
Setrock Creek & Roaring Fork Falls
(2 miles roundtrip, easy) Take two one-mile roundtrip waterfall hikes, just a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway (exit onto NC 80) near Mt. Mitchell.
Top 12 Christmas Small Towns
Take a photo tour of our Top 12 Christmas Towns & Villages near Asheville, each decorated with plenty of festive things to do in the North Carolina mountains.
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.
Located inside the Hilton in Biltmore Park Town Square, they fuse southern comfort with modern sophistication, inspired by the chef’s grandmother’s kitchen. How about bananas foster French toast, eggs benedict many ways and a variety of egg dishes from a nearby organic farm? Don't forget a mimosa or Bloody Mary. Serves breakfast 6:30-10 AM Monday-Friday and 6:30 AM-2 PM on Saturday/Sunday. 43 Town Square Blvd.
Annual Membership, NC Arboretum
Receive many wonderful benefits and save with an annual membership to the North Carolina Arboretum Society. Attend special events and educational programs and receive benefits such as free parking, discounts, special mailings, e-newsletter and reciprocal privileges with 200 American Horticultural Society gardens nationwide.
Rate: From $70/couple
Rate: From $70/couple
Located in Madison County, this college town has a quaint downtown of historic buildings and homes. Enjoy many educational and cultural opportunities at the university, including stage plays, art exhibits, the national clogging champions.
(1 mile round-trip, moderate) At 6,643 ft., this is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. An uphill, paved trail takes you to the top for panoramic views from the observation tower.
(212 South Green Street, Morganton) This family owned, 15-year old craft beer maker with a great location for live music while sampling brews. They opened a downtown Asheville brewery in 2015.
Nantahala Gorge Canopy Zip Line Tour
Take an exciting zipline tour in the Great Smoky Mountains. The 3-hour zip line flight is powered by gravity and a gradual 3 percent elevation change. The 1/2 mile air time canopy tour takes you through multiple ecosystems.
Coffee, Tea & Sweets
Downtown Asheville has some great hangouts for java, tea and yummy sweets. Find coffee shops, tea houses and bakeries to unwind while you read or visit with a friend.
The Pisgah Conservancy
This hard-working non-profit group raises money and coordinates projects to protect Pisgah National Forest (Ranger District) and help fund some much needed repairs. We are delighted to be a Founding Member!
Specializing in European-Style breads and pastries, they bake over twenty varieties of artisan breads and rolls using centuries-old hand-shaping and baking techniques. Also, their master baker is constantly conjuring up new ideas for breads that stand out in flavor, texture and overall quality. Stop in for coffee, sandwiches, soup and salads too. 60 Biltmore Avenue.
(20 South Spruce St, downtown Asheville) A lively, fun spot thanks to an extensive renovation of an historic building by Pack Square Park, in front of City Hall. They carefully pair beer styles with food and rotate 30+ local, national and international craft beers to offer the best selection available. Park-side outdoor dining area too!
This small waterfall but definitely a beauty with a series of cascades below it. It's hidden along an unpaved road near DuPont State Forest, so no hiking required.
We are lucky to have so many chocolatiers in the Asheville area. The hottest stop is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in downtown and their nearby chocolate factory. And don't miss longtime favorite, The Chocolate Fetish. Check out the stops on our Chocolate Lover's Tour.
Great Smokies Bryson City Travel Guide
Order a free 96-page vacation travel guide (or download a digital version) for the Bryson City area with things to do, dining and lodging for the Great Smoky Mountains. Includes the "All Aboard" official publication for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
Oconaluftee Indian Village
This living history outdoor village portrays eighteenth-century Cherokee life on the mountainside above the town. Interact with villagers as they hull canoes, make pottery and masks, weave baskets and beadwork, dance and participate in their daily activities. Open late April through early November.
Waterfalls Top 60
Of hundreds of waterfalls near Asheville, we picked the most spectacular falls that are easy to find. Some can be enjoyed with a short walk or even roadside. Others require a scenic hike. See full descriptions for each, with plenty of photos! Also see Waterfall Drives & Maps.
Penland School of Craft
Take a tour or sign up for a class at this internationally-known school for art and craft, tucked away in the mountains near Spruce Pine. Their multiple galleries are free to visit with amazing works created by students and teachers.
An Evening of Romance, Bent Creek Lodge
Upon arrival your room will have romantic soft candlelight, gourmet truffles, soothing music and a dozen roses. They do the work and you'll get the credit!
This 150-ft. waterfall cascades down a mountainside beside the road, so you enjoy it from your car as you drive by! It's located near Columbus, about 10 miles from Pearson's Falls.
Live Music & Dancing, Downtown Asheville
Asheville offers a mulitude of places to go for live music and dancing any day of the week.
Asheville Treetops Adventure Park
Play in the trees with 50 elements from 12 to 45 feet above the forest floor, including climbing, zipping, walking, jumping, swinging and rappelling challenges -- all anchored to more than 30 trees. Near downtown Asheville, next to Asheville Canopy Tours.
Farm Visits & Tours
Visit farms and learn about their local food. See buffalo and alpacas, sample local cheeses, watch bees make honey, visit wineries, pick apples and more. Plus, tour historic farms at Biltmore and in the Great Smoky Mountains.
For the best view with your breakfast, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Pisgah Inn, located at 5,000 ft. elevation with panoramic mountains views. They are open seven days a week, serving hearty breakfast dishes 7:30-10:30 AM in April through October. Get there early to get a great table (no reservations), especially on weekends. Located at milepost 408.7 (about 15 miles south of Asheville - allow about 30 minutes driving time).
Purchase Knob & Cataloochee Divide
(4-6.5 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike the Cataloochee Divide Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains along the ridge to Gooseberry Knob and Hemphill Bald for great mountain views. End with a picnic at The Swag.
Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center
Tucked away in small village near Fontana Lake and Nantahala River is an amazing gallery that showcases the work of 180+ area artists and hosts a great summer concert series. Many artist studios nearby.
Touring America’s Largest Home is easily the number one indoor attraction in Western North Carolina. Experience the beauty of Biltmore House and century-old gardens. Explore their 8,000-acre Blue Ridge Mountain backyard, taste award-winning wines, dine and shop. See our extensive guide with many photos and tips.
Linn Cove Viaduct
(1 to 8 miles roundtrip, moderate) Hike under and above the Viaduct from the visitor center. Hike south to Beacon Heights or continue north on the Tanawha Trail to Rough Ridge. Blue Ridge Parkway Milespost 304.
(829 Riverside Drive, Asheville) A short drive north of downtown, this new brewery specializes in gluten-free alcoholic ginger beers as well as grain-based brews. All organic ingredients, including ginger direct from Hawaii. In RAMP Studios, open Wed-Sun afternoons.
Cradle of Forestry
Travel back in time with historic cabins, crafters, old logging equipment, guided tours, movies, food and shopping. Home of the first forestry school (opened in 1898) in America. In Pisgah National Forest. Open mid-April through October.
Mt. LeConte Picnic, Great Smoky Mountains
For a challenging-yet-amazing full-day hike with a "catered" picnic, hike to the 6,593-ft. summit of Mount LeConte (third highest peak in the Smokies). You'll climb 2,853 ft. in elevation in 5.5 miles on the spectacular Alum Cave Trail. LeConte Lodge sits atop the mountain with lunch and snacks for day hikers. Myrtle Point lookout on the summit is a fabulous perch.
Asheville Chamber Music Series
Hear some of the finest classical musicians in ensembles, presented by one of the oldest chamber music organizations in the country. Concerts are typically held at the Unitarian Universalist building near downtown Asheville.
Twin Leaf Brewery
(144 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Twin Leaf has a dozen beers on tap, classic Belgian, English and American-style ales and a rotating line up of lagers and other adventurous styles. Open every day.
The Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville
See musicals and plays from late spring through fall at the longest continually-operating seasonal theater in North Carolina. Ticket prices for adults range from only $18-$22 per show.
Cedar Rock Falls
This 20-foot waterfall is along one of our favorite hikes up to the summit of John Rock. To reach the falls, hike about mile from the Fish Hatchery and Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.
Nantahala Gorge Picnics
Picnic by the Nantahala River while watching whitewater rafters and kayakers negotiate the rapids. At NOC, Big Wesser cafe has street tacos and riverside outdoor tables. A few miles down the road is the Ferebee Memorial on the Mountain Waters National Scenic Byway with a picnic area featuring tables, charcoal grills, flush toilets, and river access.
Deep Creek Tubing
Rent a tube and float down Deep Creek on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City. Float by one waterfall and hike to two others.
Silver Run Falls
Near Cashiers in Nantahala National Forest is a beautiful 25-ft. waterfall that cascades into a family-friendly pool with a small, sandy beach. A short walk from roadside parking.
Golf in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Scenic mountain beauty and a pleasant climate provide a magnificent setting for a day of golf in Asheville and nearby towns and resorts. Lush fairways, sprawling bent grass greens, cool breezes and a gently undulating terrain.
All Souls Cathedral
Tour this beautiful church in Biltmore Village, built by Biltmore House owner George Vanderbilt in 1896. The sanctuary is open Monday-Friday, 9 AM-4 PM. From April-December, volunteer docents answer questions and provide historical information from 1-4 PM. Free, but donations appreciated.
Fonta Flora Brewery
(317 North Green, Morganton) This microbrewery is striving to create a totally unique North Carolina/Appalachian style of beer. By utilizing local grains and foraging the countryside for wild flora, we are taking brewing back to its agricultural roots.
(6.5 mile loop, strenuous) This twin waterfall near Looking Glass Falls features two 100-foot cascades in view of each other, reached via a beautiful 4.5-mile roundtrip or 6.5-mile loop hike on the Buckhorn Gap Trail. It's near the Pisgah Forest Horse Stables, and they offer guided horseback rides to the falls.
(545 Mill Street, Sylva) German-born brewermaster Dieter Kuhn and his wife Sheryl Rudd are creating light and refreshing German beer made with wholesome grains, fresh hops & no preservatives. This microbrewery is about 45 miles west of Asheville.
With our great diversity of terrain, climates and plantlife, birds of many varieties love our mountains and many state and national parks with protected land. See our favorite birding locations near Asheville.
(147 Coxe Avenue, Asheville) Wicked Weed opened their nearby barrel house and sour tap room in the South Slope in late 2014 to store 1,000+ wine and bourbon barrels. This tasting room has 16 taps for sour and wild beer. Open daily. Read more about the South Slope Brewing District.
Top 20 Picnic Spots
Dine outdoors in nature! Plan a picnic at some amazing locations where you can enjoy sweet views.
Setrock Creek Falls
Located a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway (exit at Milepost 344) on NC Highway 80, a 1/2-mile hike takes you to this 75-ft. waterfall. Nearby is Roaring Fork Falls.
(66 Broadway Ave, downtown Asheville) Asheville’s retail store just for beer lovers with 600 Belgians, Belgian-style, high-gravity, craft brews, microbrews, and the best from around the globe.
Picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Picnic spots are limitless along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Spread your blanket on the grass or tailgate at any of the many overlooks and soak in the views. Plus, there are several picnic areas complete with grills. Be sure to get food before you get on the Parkway! Pic: Waterrock Knob
(5 miles, moderate) See sweeping views of the Great Smoky Mountains from atop the grassy summit at 5,600 feet elevation. Hike from Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley.
Grassy Creek Falls
(2 miles round-trip, easy) Located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland (near Milepost 334), a gentle hiking trail takes you to a beautiful collection of cascades. (There is also a Grassy Creek Falls in DuPont State Forest near Bridal Veil Falls.)
Western NC Nature Center
Learn about the area's natural resources, see 60+ animals in their native habitats including red pandas and red wolves. Explore many exhibits on this 42-acre wildlife park in the city of Asheville. Open daily.
Whistle Hop Brewing Company
(1288 Charlotte Hwy, Fairview) Located 15 minutes from downtown Asheville, this dog friendly taproom is housed in two retired train cars surrounded by a deck with mountain views and outdoor activities. Their flavorful brews with local ingredients include the Honey Fig Saison, Banana Wheat, Chimperial DIPA and SOB (South Of the Border) Porter. Open Thursday-Monday afternoons.