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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.
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.
The company founded by synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog, hand builds electronic musical instruments in their downtown Asheville factory. Visit The Moog Store to get hands on with the instruments or set up a factory tour for the full Moog Experience.
Nantahala River Jump Off Rock
Enjoy riverside sunning and splashing at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Just a few miles up river is Jump Off Rock. There is a small parking area along U.S. Highway 74. If you are rafting, you can park your raft, climb and jump!
(5.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) Atop Mt. Sterling (5,842 ft. elevation) is the historic, 60-ft. tall steel fire lookout tower with nice views. You will climb 2,000 ft. in elevation.
Wicked Weed Brewery
(91 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville) This 15-barrel downtown brewhouse has a Tasting Room in the basement and another bar and restaurant upstairs with 20 beers on tap. They specialize in west coast-style hoppy ales, open fermented belgian beers and barrel-aged sours. Open daily.
(2.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the summit (6,292 ft.) of the 16th highest mountain in the eastern United States. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 451.
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.
Friends of DuPont Forest
Volunteer service organization working to enhance the public use and enjoyment of the DuPont State Recreational Forest while protecting its natural resources. Funds help with trail building and maintenance, along with building projects.
Morganton & Burke County
Stroll through downtown shops and galleries, visit craft breweries and enjoy great restaurants. Take the Catawba Valley Wine Trail. It's also home to the Waldensian Heritage Museum and movie locations for The Hunger Games.
(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.
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.
Take the most fun city tour ever in a bright purple bus full of laughter! Through captivating stories, comedy skits and an enthralling musical soundscape, experience Asheville's history, current culture and counterculture with their 90-minute interactive bus tours that depart from downtown. Haunted and beer tours, too!
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.
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.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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!
Wintergreen Falls, DuPont State Forest
(3 miles roundtrip, easy) This 20-ft. waterfall is tucked away in the beautiful setting of DuPont Forest. The hiking trail is gentle - you can also mountain bike or horseback ride.
Enjoy plenty of fishing spots, whether novice or experienced. Full- and half-day guided trips, tying classes and classes geared toward women.
Pigeon River Adventure Center
Enjoy outdoors exploration with whitewater rafting, zip line canopy tours or Jeep tours in the Great Smoky Mountains. Or do all three without moving your car with their "Triple Adventure!"
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.
Asheville Beer & Brewery Guide
Downtown Asheville is the epicenter of the local craft beer explosion. See a complete list of the craft breweries, pubs, taverns, taprooms, brewery tours and more in our Asheville Beer Guide.
World Coffee Cafe
Sip certified organic, fair-trade, kosher and shade-grown coffees imported from around the world. The cafe features outdoor sidewalk seating and great views of downtown Asheville from the balconies of the historic Flatiron Building. Enjoy a huge variety of regional premium grade coffees and desserts along with signature breads, sandwiches and quality soups. 18 Battery Park Avenue.
Lake James State Park
(.5 to 3.5 miles, easy to moderate). This state park with a beautiful lake has seven hiking trails and a beach for relaxing afterwards.
Savor some of Carol's sweet creations while you sip your coffee. Located in the Grove Arcade, she features made from scratch soups, biscuits, cookies, cakes, pies and more. 1 Page Avenue.
Mountain Farm Museum & Oconaluftee Visitor Center
Located at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, see historic farm buildings in an open-air museum and get plenty of great information from rangers.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Swim and sun on a sandy beach in the mountains at Lake Lure, near Chimney Rock. Nestled in the Hickory Nut Gorge, the lake is surrounded by lush mountain tops and sheer granite cliffs. Rent a pontoon or electric boat, canoe or kayak at the marina.
15 Wineries Near Asheville
Find many fun, friendly wineries for sampling local wines, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery at their vineyards. Many are located near each other - perfect for visiting several in a day.
Fall Leaf Color Show
The Asheville area has one of longest lasting fall color shows in the country. Fall foliage begins to change in the highest elevations in early October and finishes in the lowest valleys in early November. See our week-by-week color prediction and plenty of photos.
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.
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.
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.
Picnic at Craggy Gardens
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 365: Located 24 miles from downtown Asheville is Craggy Gardens. Before you reach the visitor center, a road on the left takes you to a large picnic area with many picnic tables and some beautiful hiking trails. Pink and purple rhododendron bloom in June. The picnic area is open mid-May through the end of October. For a picnic with a 360-degree mountain view, continue north on the Parkway past the Craggy Visitors Center and hike to the top of Craggy Pinnacle. Take a jacket, it is always 15-20 degrees cooler atop the summit than down in the city. Great spot for sunrise and sunset.
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)
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.
18 Scenic Drives
See gorgeous countryside, mountain views and charming communities on a windshield tour via national and state scenic byways near Asheville. Lots of opportunities for stops along the way.
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.
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.
Relive the romantic Victorian era in Asheville's oldest house (circa 1840). Explore opulent period rooms, history exhibits and grounds designed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers. 1.5 miles from downtown Asheville.
Green Knob Tower
(1 mile roundtrip, moderate) Get a close up view of the historic fire lookout tower visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway - with views Mt. Mitchell from its staircase. Parkway Milepost 350.
Asheville Symphony Chorus
The fabulous 100-voice chorus provides a wide range of classical and contemporary music in concert with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, as well as via independent concerts.
(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.
Picnic Atop Table Rock
Have a picnic on one of the biggest tables in the country! The rocky summit of the elongated rock summit provides plenty of spots on the rim of the Linville Gorge, with a moderate 2.2-mile round-trip hike.
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!
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.
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.
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.
For a fascinating stroll through history, head to this sprawling cemetery near downtown Asheville, with 87 acres of rolling hills and flower gardens. The cemetery dates to 1885 and holds more than 13,000 burials and 9,000 monuments. It is the burial place of noted authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sidney Porter, better known as O. Henry.
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.
This pristine reservoir near Cashiers has the highest elevation of any lake east of the Mississippi. Signal Ridge Marina rents a variety of Bennington pontoons and tritoons, as well as tubes, paddleboards, skis, wakeboards and kneeboards. There's even a beach!
Asheville Distilling Company
(12 Old Charlotte Highway, Asheville) Located next to Highland Brewing, the custom-made 2,000-liter copper moonshine Kothe Still creates Troy & Sons whiskey and moonshine. Open 5-6 PM on Fridays and Saturdays with free tours.
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
See art exhibits at this downtown Asheville gallery and learn about the fascinating history of Black Mountain College. 56 Broadway
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most popular natural waterslide in North Carolina for generations is in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard. Slide down a 60-ft. smooth rock waterfall into a pool of chilly water. Bathrooms and showers are open and lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Adventure Center of Asheville
Tucked away a mile from downtown is an outdoor lover's playground. Fly on 11 ziplines through old growth trees with skyline and mountain views. Test your skills in a treetop playground. Climb trees or mountain bike. Plus, bring the kids for the first-ever Kid Zip course. See our feature.
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 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.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.