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Gem Mining Top Spots
Gem mining has been a favorite activity for visitors to the mountains of North Carolina for many years. Most gem mines in the Asheville and Franklin areas are open from spring through autumn. Also tour several gem and mineral museums.
This cascade in Pisgah National Forest is about a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike from a campsite along NC Highway 215, and less than a mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's along the Flat Laurel Creek Trail that follows an old logging road and railroad grade.
(92 Patton Avenue, downtown Asheville) Recognized as one of the best beer bars in the world, they tap 1,000+ different beers a year. The upstairs bar features American Craft Beers with 20 rotating tap lines. Take the stairs down to the basement level to the Belgian Bar (50 Commerce St.) with 16 Belgian, European and rare beers on draught. An extensive bottle list will impress beer-snobs and novices alike.
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.
(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.
Fine Arts Theatre
Downtown's only cinema is dedicated to first-run and independent films. See fine films not necessarily shown in the larger commercial theaters in the wonderfully-renovated, older movie house. Located in downtown Asheville at 36 Biltmore.
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!
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.
(197 Hilliard, Asheville, South Slope) Hi-Wire is open every afternoon with four-year round beers: Prime Time Pale Ale, Hi-Pitch IPA, Bed of Nails Brown Ale and a pilsner lager, Hi-Wire Lager. They also offer seasonals. Visit their second brewery with a tasting room and beer garden in Biltmore Village, 2 Huntsman Place.
This natural water slide on the Horsepasture River drops into a deep, refreshing pool. It's near the beautiful Rainbow Falls, accessed from Gorges State Park with a 3.5-mile roundtrip hike.
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
(2 miles loop, easy) See an old growth cove hardwood forest with 400-year old towering poplar trees. Near Lake Santeetlah in the Nantahala National Forest, it is about 100 miles west of Asheville.
Pisgah Inn Restaurant
Open April-October, Pisgah Inn is the only restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. Located near Mt. Pisgah at 5,000 feet elevation, enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days per week. Windows frame a panoramic mountain view. You can also pick up a picnic-to-go. 24 miles from downtown Asheville. From NC 191 at Arboretum, take Parkway south for 14 miles to Milepost 408. Super scenic drive.
Outdoors at Biltmore Estate
Daytime admission to Biltmore not only gets you access to America’s largest home, but also the opportunity to explore the estate’s 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountain beauty. Discover Biltmore’s rustic side with an array of outdoor adventures like biking, hiking, Segway tours, horseback riding, fly fishing, sporting clays and more.
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.
Wellness Weekend, Sharon Spring Cabin
Get pampered during a two-night stay in a mountain cabin near Asheville. Includes a mini spa and outdoor hot tub, two massages, free private yoga class or a sauna treatment.
(1.5-mile loop, easy) Hike the top of the highest summit along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the cool forest. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 431.
Asheville Art Museum
Explore world-class special exhibitions and the museum's outstanding collection, showcasing the very best of 20th-century American art.
Cataloochee Valley Hiking
There are many hiking trails in beautiful Cataloochee Valley, home to the elk. A quick favorite is the one-mile Rough Fork Trail along the cascading stream.
Green River Tubing
Rent a tube and set sail for a lazy day on the beautiful Green River near Saluda. Choose from three- to six-mile float trips. It's great for beginner kayakers, too. Tubing companies provide transportation. Stop at the jump-off rock to rope dive!
Emerald Village & Mining Museum
A fascinating collection of gem, mining and historical exhibits, including an underground mine tour. Pan for gold and minerals. Located near Little Switzerland, a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Green Man Brewery
(27 Buxton Avenue, Asheville, South Slope) Sample iconic ales loyal to traditional English-styles at one of the oldest breweries in NC. Their 3-story "Greenmansion" has multiple tasting rooms and 18 taps (mountain views from the top floor). Open seven days a week with tours Thursday through Saturday. Pet-friendly.
Theater Package, Banner Elk
Enjoy professional theatre with Ensemble Stage in a cool mountain town with a choice of overnight lodging that includes breakfast, dinner discount and two tickets. Plus, find many things to do including wineries, breweries, galleries, hiking and scenic drives. Show dates through December 16.
Rate: From $119/couple
Rate: From $119/couple
French Broad Brewing Co.
(near Biltmore Village, 101 Fairview Rd, Asheville) Sample their year-round European-style beers: the Wee-Heavy-Er Scotch Ale, 13 Rebels ESB, IPA, Ryehopper, Gateway Kolsch and Anvil Porter. Tasting Room also has an assortment of seasonal specialties, and frequently a beer on cask. Open 1-8 PM every day. Pints dollar-off on Mondays, and growler refills are a dollar-off on Wednesdays.
(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.
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.
Beer & Local Craft Brews Top 40
Taste your way through Beer City USA at craft breweries and pubs in and near Asheville. Many are located downtown, so you can create your own walking tour. See our top spots for local brews.
Max Patch Picnics
You may want to run across the meadow and sing the "Sound of Music" atop this grassy summit along the Appalachian Trail. Find plenty of spaces to spread the blanket for a picnic with 360-degree mountain views. The summit is a short uphill walk from the parking area. Roan Mountain and Black Balsam Knob are two more great bald mountains for picnics.
Learn about Cherokee Indian heritage at several museums, including the Museum of the Cherokee and Oconaluftee Indian Village. Each summer, see Unto These Hills. Learn about and buy crafts at Qualla Arts.
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.
Nantahala National Forest
The largest national forest in North Carolina (531,286 acres), Nantahala covers much of the western tip of the state. Find a wealth of outdoor activities and plenty of scenic views, hiking trails and waterfalls.
Asheville Travel Guide
Order a free printed copy of the official Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau travel guide or relocation information from the Chamber of Commerce.
Combo Pass, Adventure Center of Asheville
Enjoy a full day of fun that includes multiple outdoor activities near downtown. Explore the Asheville Treetops Adventure Park and Asheville Zipline Canopy Adventures (11 zips!) in the same day, saving up to 30% off with their combo pass.
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.
This skinny waterfall on Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 362 is visible from an overlook. Falling along a cliff across the valley, it's most visible after heavy rains and with leaves are off the trees.
Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
They assist the National Park Service to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains by raising funds and public awareness, and by providing volunteers for needed projects. Total disbursements to the Park surpass $50 million.
Chef Duane Fernandes has created a brunch menu crafted by the flavors of the Carolinas, featuring dishes from the coastal plains and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy specialties like Coastal Blue Crab Eggs Benedict, Ashley Farms Fried Chicken with Biscuits and Duane’s Double Burger. Great outdoor dining location. Serving Sunday Brunch 11 AM-3 PM. Downtown at One Battery Park Avenue.
Cathey's Creek Falls
This 80-foot waterfall in Pisgah National Forest is just six miles west of downtown Brevard near U.S. Highway 64. It's a short but steep hike to the cascade hidden away in a lush cove.
Located in Brevard, this is the oldest frame house in western NC (dating back to 1815). Tour the home and beautiful grounds mid-May through mid-October on Saturdays 10 AM-4 PM and Sundays 1-4 PM. Operated by the Transylvania County Historical Society. 2753 Asheville Highway, Pisgah Forest, NC.
Nestled in a valley surrounded by the highest peaks in eastern America, including Mt. Mitchell, Burnsville's small downtown is dominated by the Town Square with towering trees. The Mount Mitchell Crafts Fair transforms the streets into a festival for craft and art lovers.
The Western North Carolina Cheese Trail includes several small cheesemakers and farms near Asheville. Sample cheeses and buy some to take home. Looking Glass Creamery is an easy drive from downtown Asheville.
Blue Ridge Parkway Top 50
Drive the Parkway north or south from Asheville and quickly climb the Blue Ridge Mountain ridge. You can reach elevations of 5,000+ ft. Our mile-by-mile guide of the Parkway covers the 193-mile section near Asheville. So many things to do along one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
Montford Park Players Shakespeare Festival
North Carolina's longest-running Shakespeare Festival presents free theatre under the stars all summer long at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater in Montford. Located in a park near downtown Asheville.
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.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Top 20
Explore the most visited national park in the country! With 520,976 acres to traverse, where do you begin? See our top places and hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains near Asheville. Four entrances to the Park are within 60 miles of downtown Asheville.
Mt. Mitchell Balsam Trail
(3/4 mile loop, easy) Take a loop hike through the dense, aromatic fir forest high atop on the summit of Mt. Mitchell. Great place for a cool walk on a hot summer day.
Find one of the biggest varieties of wildflowers in the country. The Great Smoky Mountains alone is a world-renowned preserve of wildflower diversity with more than 1,660 kinds of flowering plants. Take a hike deep into Pisgah National Forest or enjoy wildflowers from your car as you drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Harrah's Cherokee Casino
Play a huge variety of games and 3,800+ slots, along with live action tables for Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and more. Find a big variety of great restaurants, hotel, spa, shopping and more. Benefits Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Reems Creek Golf Club, Weaverville
Designed by Hawtree & Son of Oxford, England, the course offers a Scottish Highland look with its rolling terrain, deep and large knolls which bisect the beautifully manicured tees, fairways and greens. This secluded setting which captures the splendor and rustic beauty of the North Carolina mountains "Places to Play" rating of 4 stars. 10 miles north of downtown Asheville.
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.
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Designated by Congress and the President in recognition of our region's unique character, culture, and natural beauty, they protect, preserve, interpret, and develop the unique natural, historical, and cultural resources of Western North Carolina. See our 2017 Waterfalls Calendar with 100% of proceeds going to BRNHA.
Ski & Snowboard
Hit the slopes for plenty of winter of fun. Since we have the highest mountains in eastern America, you will find plenty of snow, either natural or man-made, for sking and snowboarding.
Chimney Rock Park
See breathtaking 75-mile views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The park also features a magnificent 404-foot waterfall and hiking trails. Shopping and dining located at the park entrance.
Great Smoky Mountains Hiking
See our favorite hikes on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Brevard Places to Stay
Find cabins of all sizes, hotels, B&Bs and luxury inns in the Brevard area from their official visitor center. It's the Land of Waterfalls. Includes Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest.
One World Brewing
(10 Patton Avenue, Asheville) Small-batch, hand-crafting nano-brewery and ale house located underneath the Farm Burger in downtown, near Pack Square. With a 1.5-barrel system with 10 fermenters in constant rotation, 10 taps feature 1 local cider and 9 rotating OWB taps. Mon-Thurs 4-12, Fri 1-12, Sat 12-12, Sun 12-10.
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.
Art Loeb Trail
This challenging, 30-mile hiking trail with spectacular views includes popular Black Balsam Knob. This trail is located in Pisgah National Forest and is a great option for multi-day backpacking since there are many campsites along the high ridges and balds.
Botanical Gardens at Asheville
This 10-acre garden near the University of North Carolina in Asheville features Southern Appalachian plants, and includes peaceful hiking trails in the middle of the city.
Enjoy an impressive season of masterworks concerts, including classical, pops and choral, in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium downtown. Each concert features their 100-member orchestra and a guest artist.
Ride down the scenic, pristine Toe River in the Spruce Pine area on an inflatible kayak or tube. Also, learn to rock climb or rapel down a waterfall. Located in Little Switzerland along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Newfound Road Picnics, Great Smoky Mountains
Along Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) through the middle of the Park, there are two large picnic areas in addition to overlooks. The Chimneys picnic area is on the Tennessee side (near the Chimney Tops hike). The Collins Creek picnic area is on the North Carolina side, about six miles from Cherokee. They both have tables, grills, restrooms and a nature trail.
Bryson City Restaurants
For a small town, you'll find a nice variety of restaurants, ranging from southern home cooking to a brewery and gourmet dining. A nice reward after a day of exploring the Great Smokies and Nantahala River.
(7 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the top of The Pinnacle for views looking down into Sylva and the surrounding valley. Climb 1,800 ft. in elevation with a steady grade.
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
This fascinating National Park Service site honors the accomplishments of Carl Sandburg and wife Lilian. Tour their home with all original furnishings, visit the goat farm and hike trails at Connemara. Many programs. Located in Flat Rock, just south of Hendersonville.
Billy Graham Museum at The Cove
Take a free one-hour guided tour at the Billy Graham Conference Center, The Cove, located in Asheville. Tour includes the Chapel and exhibit on Graham's life.
Laurel River Trail
(7 miles roundtrip, easy) This scenic creekside trail follows Big Laurel Creek as it flows to the French Broad River in Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs.
There are dozens of farmer's markets throughout the mountains. The biggest by far is the Western North Carolina Farmers Market that is open every day in Asheville. In downtown, the City Market on Market Street is every Saturday 8 AM-1 PM and the French Broad Co-op Market is Wednesdays 2-6 PM. Find more markets and pick up the Local Food Guide by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.
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.
Downtown Asheville Picnics
The best place in downtown Asheville for a picnic is Pack Square Park. Get takeout from many nearby restaurants or pick up a gourmet picnic.