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This town is known as the "Gem Capital of the World." Downtown is home to the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum in a 19th Century jailhouse. Attend one of the country’s best known gem shows, the Macon County Gemboree. Tour the Macon County Historical Museum and the Scottish Tartans Museum.
Picnic at Biltmore Estate
With thousands of acres to explore, there are plenty of options for picnics! While there is not an official "picnic" area, spread a blanket along one of the hiking trails, along the river, or in gardens (except the Walled Garden). For a more secluded picnic, take the Deer Park Trail that begins by the South Terrace. Other great spots include the Lagoon (pic), the Diana statue atop the hill facing the house, and the gazebo on Bass Lake. Bring your own or order a picnic at the Bake Shop, located adjacent to the Biltmore House.
Picnic at Beacon Heights
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305.2: Talk about a picnic with a view! Take a short 1/2-mile hike to a large rock summit with plenty of room for a picnic while taking in wonderful views from several vantage points. This hidden jewel on the Parkway is accessed from a small parking area, so most folks miss it.
Green Sage Cafe
This certified green restaurant nurtures the well-being of its customers through its fair-trade organic coffee and tea, organic beer and wine, natural and organic local food for breakfast and lunch. Look for the solar panels on the roof! 5 Broadway Avenue.
Grand Bohemian Hotel Spa
Stay at this Biltmore Village luxury hotel and nourish your mind and body at their Poseidon Spa. Whether enjoying a hot and cool stone massage or a luxurious pedicure, the stylish atmosphere and unparalleled service will pamper you.
Biltmore Ticket Specials
See the latest seasonal ticket specials and deals to tour Biltmore House, gardens and winery on our Biltmore Guide. Often, you can save $10/person or more if you buy tickets 7 days in advance! Senior & military discounts too.
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.
Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre
SART is a professional theatre company in residence at the historic Owen Theatre at Mars Hill University, just 18 miles north of Asheville. Presents 4-5 shows a year, including plays, musicals and original works about Southern Appalachia.
Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours
Asheville's only outfitter offering guided stand-up paddleboard tours (and self-guided) on the French Broad River through Biltmore and the city. All instructors are professionally certified. Their inflatable, 6-person paddleboard is a blast with friends! The company's founder is from Hawaii where the sport of paddleboarding was born.
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.
Looking Glass Rock
If you are a looking for a nice reward after a challenging hike, head to this well-known rock face summit in Pisgah National Forest. You will ascend about 1,700 feet in just over three miles. The views from the top are well worth the effort. There is plenty of space to relax on the rock face with your picnic! Then it's downhill all the way back to the car.
(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.
Located at the base of Roan Mountain and the mile-high scenic drive, this town has several galleries and studios. Home to the Rhododendron Festival. Penland School of Crafts is nearby.
(1 mile round-trip, easy) A quick walk to the summit has a big payoff with spectacular views from several rock platforms to explore safely. Take a picnic! Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305.
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.
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Designated by Congress 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. Explore with their Blue Ridge Heritage, Music and Craft Trails.
Founded on the traditions of 19th century Waldensian settlers from Italy. Stop by the Visitor Center in the historic Rock School for things to do including Waldensian Heritage Winery, Waldensian Museum, Trail of Faith, Old Rock School Art Galleries and model train museum.
Picnic at Crabtree Falls
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 349: The Crabtree Falls area has a large picnic area. A little north of the picnic area, there is a campground with a 2.5-mile hiking trail to beautiful Crabtree Falls. The trail goes by the base of the Falls, and there are some rocks for small picnics there. The picnic area is open from mid-May through October.
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.
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.
This tiny town in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains has a famous school, church fresco, historic buildings with gallery and weaving museum, plus much more. Near Spruce Pine and Banner Elk.
(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.
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!
(2.5 miles roundtrip, strenuous) Hike to Stairway Falls on the Horsepasture River from Gorges State Park via the trail to Rainbow Falls in Pisgah National Forest.
Honeymoon Package, Hot Springs Log Cabins
Arrive on Sunday to your romantic honeymoon cabin. Enjoy 5 nights of romantic seclusion, before checking out on Friday. A bottle Biltmore wine and chocolates truffles are included to help you celebrate. No wedding required! Outdoor hot tub on porch. (Sun-Thurs nights only.)
Rate: From $500
Rate: From $500
(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.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Take a scenic train ride on excursions along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, over the mountains, across valleys and through tunnels. Choose from a variety of train adventures departing from Bryson City. First-class passengers enjoy dining and souvenirs. Many special event train rides.
This hidden waterfall flows beneath an historic stone arched bridge on NC Highway 215 over the West Fork of the Pigeon River, about four miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also see cascades above the bridge. A beautiful roadside setting.
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
Traditional Artist Directory
Use this guide to find the finest traditional craft artisans, musicians, dancers, and storytellers in the North Carolina mountains. The directory contains listings for more than 400 artists and groups, many available for hire for entertainment at your wedding or reception.
Blue Ridge Parkway Association
The officially designated marketing partner of the Parkway, they are a membership organization that publishes the Blue Ridge Parkway Directory & Travel Planner each year.
Shop 75 national and local outlets in this beautiful, new outdoor shopping village. It's located on I-26, just six miles from Biltmore and seven miles from downtown Asheville. It's pet-friendly, and there are many events and sales throughout the year.
Top 35 Coolest Mountain Small Towns
Explore our favorite cool small towns in the NC mountains near Asheville, each with its own personality, local shops and restaurants, friendly residents and relaxed atmosphere.
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.
North Carolina Arboretum
Stroll through a variety of gardens and on peaceful woodland trails, located in Asheville adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Don't miss their impressive bonsai garden exhibit and many special events during the year.
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.
(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.
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.
Picnic at Linville Falls
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 317: The riverside picnic area near the Visitors Center is open from April through October. An alternative choice is taking your picnic down to the base of the Falls on the large rocks (3/4-mile strenuous hike from Visitor's Center, via the Gorge Trail) any time of year. There are three other overlooks for the Falls via other trails; however, those overlooks are designed for viewing, not picnics.
(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.
Asheville Visitor Guide
Explore Asheville’s annual Visitor Guide offers 90 beautifully-designed pages of original, trip-planning content to help you get the most out of your visit to the city.
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.
New Belgium Brewing
(21 Craven Street, Asheville) Sample brews in the riverside Liquid Center Tasting Room, located just across the French Broad River from downtown Asheville. And take a free, 90-minute brewery tour.
Asheville Music Hall
This mid-size concert venue is in the middle of downtown with a 360-person capacity. They host many musical legends and have a full restaurant and bar downstairs. Its an all-genres venue that provides an intimate, live music experience for all music fans. 31 Patton Avenue.
(1 to 12 miles, easy to strenuous) More than 12 miles of hiking trails range in difficulty from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry challenges. Our favorite is taking the Grandfather Trail from the Swinging Bridge area and returning along Underwood Trail. The popular Profile Trail is a 7-mile roundtrip, strenuous trek up to the highest peak.
Slick Rock Falls
This cascade near Cove Creek Falls flows across an overhanging cliff in Pisgah National Forest. It's a short walk from the road. You can walk behind it when water is not too high. Located near the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.
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.
Great Smoky Mountains Hiking
See our favorite hikes on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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.
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.
Bust Your Butt Falls
Located along U.S. Highway 64 between Highlands and Franklin, these casades are also known as Quarry Falls or Bust-Yer-Butt Falls. For added excitement, there is a "jump off" rock for diving into the chilly waters.
This bird sanctuary is a wonderful wildlife oasis in the very busy north Asheville area. Walk a 3/8-mile boardwalk through a wetland area and by the lake, complete with sitting areas along the way to soak up the views and watch birds.
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.
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.
Wedge Brewing Co
(37 Paynes Way, West Asheville) Located in a warehouse turned art studios in the River Arts District, this local's favorite neighborhood brewery serves classic styles paired with a big variety of food trucks. Open every day, 12 Noon-10 PM.
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.
Navitat Canopy Adventures
Experience the zipline canopy tour USA Today called “one of the best in the nation!” Just 20 minutes from Asheville, Navitat has two very different courses with the longest zip line at 3,600 ft. long.
Mountain Brook Vineyard
This small boutique family winery uses 100% local grapes harvested by hand. They keep their vintages small to ensure the highest quality - including Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Rose, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Bordeaux blend. Open Wednesday-Monday afternoons. 731 Phillips Dairy Rd, Tryon, NC.
Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
We are lucky enough to have six rivers near Asheville that are good for rafting and kayaking. Find professional companies that provide rafting guides, so no experience is necessary. You can even learn how to kayak in the rapids or paddleboard on a lake.
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!
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.
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.
(4 miles round-trip, moderate) At an elevation of 5,920 ft., this is the highest grassy bald in the Great Smoky Mountains. The hike near Clingmans Dome is not overly strenuous but includes a good bit of uphill and rocky sections. And you won't see the crowds that you find on other hikes in the Smokies.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
Flat Rock Playhouse
See a fabulous professional show at the State Theatre of North Carolina, about 30 miles south of Asheville, with an eight-month season of plays including Broadway musicals, comedy and drama.
Asheville Museum of Science
Explore the rich treasures of the earth at this "mini-Smithsonian of gems" in downtown Asheville. Exhibits cover volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics and general geologic processes. 44 Patton Avenue.
Mast General Store
This favorite stop for tourists and locals is an old-fashioned general store with the latest products, including clothing, fun gifts, cooking accessories and a huge candy section. Downstairs is a great outdoors department with all the major brands. 15 Biltmore Avenue.
(2.2 miles, moderate) Located next to the Black Balsam hike, this 6,045-foot peak provides panoramic views from the top. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 420.
(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.
So many options for mountain bike riders of all skill levels. Plus, bike the Blue Ridge Parkway or a greenway.
Bust Your Butt Falls
This popular swimming hole is on the Cullasaja River along US Highway 64 between Highlands and Franklin. It's roadside, so it's easy for all to enjoy the natural slide and pool for swimming.
Winery Visits & Tours
In addition to the nation's most visited winery at Biltmore, take a winery tour in the foothills area including around Hendersonville and Morganton. Sample the local wines while enjoying the mountain views. See our Top Wineries to see in western North Carolina.