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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pisgah Field School Tours
Explore the natural and cultural wonders of Pisgah National Forest through guided hikes and small tours for waterfalls, stargazing, sunsets and more in the Brevard area, presented by the nonprofit Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association. Custom private tours also.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventures
This mountain bike guide service specializes in professionally-guided trips in Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest, customized to individual tastes and ability levels. Half, full and multi-day trips include a snack and lunch. Experienced and trustworthy guides create rides focusing on downhills, single-track or climbing.
(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.
Whaleback Swimming Hole
This secluded swimming spot in Pisgah National Forest is just 5.5 miles from Sliding Rock, down river from Cove Creek Falls near Looking Glass Rock.
Picnic in Cataloochee Valley
Tailgate and watch elk graze nearby in meadows just after sunrise or just before sunset in this beautiful valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Don't feed the wildlife.
(5 miles roundtrip, strenuous) Adjacent to the Bearwallow Mountain trail is this woodland trail to the grassy summit of Blue Ridge Pastures in the Hickory Nut Gorge area, just 19 miles from downtown Asheville.
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.
(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.
So many options for mountain bike riders of all skill levels. Plus, bike the Blue Ridge Parkway or a greenway.
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.
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.
This regional non-profit spearheads the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a destination for everyone to live, learn, work and play.
(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.
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.
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
(1 mile round-trip, moderate) This short-but-steep trail climbs a half-mile to the peak for spectacular views. The bare rock profile named Devil's Courthouse is sinister in appearance and legend. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 422.
(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.
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)
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.
Parker-Binns Vineyard and Winery
This family-run vineyard is located in the foothills and has a very relaxed atmosphere. Try wines in their tasting room and on outdoor patios with mountain views. They use all their own grapes: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chambourcin, Petit Manseng and Muscat. Open Wednesday-Sunday afternoon. 382 Highway 108 East, Mill Spring, NC.
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.
Log Hollow Falls
(1 mile round-trip, easy) Located near Looking Glass Falls, this 25-ft. waterfall is often missed since it's off the beaten path in Pisgah National Forest.
Oyster House Brewing Company
(625 Haywood Road, West Asheville) Oyster House creates craft beer in various styles, including their award-winning "Moonstone Stout" brew with oysters (shell and all) as an ingredient to give hints of sea salt, calcium and other minerals. They have a full food menu.
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!
Mainspring Conservation Trust
Located in the heart of the Southern Blue Ridge, they protect the waters, forests, farms and heritage of the Upper Little Tennessee and Hiwassee River Valleys - conserving 25,600 acres.
Wine & Cocktail Bars
Unwind at one of our favorite downtown Asheville wine bars and great places for cocktails.
Daniel Ridge Falls
Located near Moore Cove Falls and Looking Glass Falls, this 150-foot cascade in Pisgah National Forest is also known as Tom's Spring Branch Falls. Accessed by an easy one-mile roundtrip hike. Or hike a four-mile loop.
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.
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.
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.
East Fork Falls
See a beautiful 18-foot cascade near the road in Headwaters State Forest, south of Brevard. It's a one-tenth of a mile trail with a short, steep section.
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.
While it's part of the city, West Asheville has its own vibe and busy Haywood Road lined with restored buildings filled a big variety of restaurants, bars, breweries, and funky shops.
Double Decker Coffee House
You may do a double-take walking along Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. Yes, it's a authentic double decker bus from London. Enjoy gourmet coffee and teas, along with some great hot chocolate! 41 Biltmore Avenue.
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.
Rich Mountain Lookout Fire Tower
Drive to or hike the Appalachian Trail to enjoy the panoramic mountain views from atop the historic lookout tower near Hot Springs - restored in 2018.
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.
(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.
Guided Walking Tours
History at Hand offers tours to Downtown history and architecture, Montford architecture, Riverside Cemetery and more. All walking tours are given by appointment. Tours must be booked in advance.
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.
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.
Discover nature on a different level on this rugged mountain, with endless vistas, great hiking and wildlife habitats. Walk across the famous swinging bridge. Located 75 miles north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
(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.
Museum of the Cherokee
Discover the story of the Cherokee people in this impressive museum that sets the scene for the Cherokee Heritage Trails. The Cherokee community presents its perspective on its own history and culture.
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.
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.
Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking
There are many hikes hidden along the Blue Ridge Parkway that takes you through lush forests, by waterfalls and to mountaintops with sweeping views. See our Top 15 Parkway Quick Hikes with big rewards.
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.
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.
Orchard at Altapass
This 101-year old apple orchard turned Appalachian Cultural Center celebrates the people, music, art and natural beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains. Shop for local mountain art, jams, jellies, sauces, sweets, gifts and more. Listen to music and pick up your apples!
(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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
River Arts District Artists
This membership group supports and promotes the vast array of artists and working studios in 22 former industrial and historical buildings along French Broad River in Asheville.
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.
Stone Mountain, DuPont State Forest
(2.4 miles roundtrip, moderate) A mostly wooded hike with a gradual climb takes you to the top of a rock face with great views across DuPont State Recreational Forest.
Wine & Cocktails
Unwind after a busy day of sightseeing at one of the many wine and cocktail bars in downtown Asheville. Our favorite is the Battery Park Champagne Bar in Grove Arcade (pic). Social Lounge has a great rooftop!
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.
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.
Downtown Asheville Top 25
Spend a day exploring downtown, with hundreds of locally-owned shops and galleries, museums, restaurants, breweries and pubs. Dance at the Drum Circle, go to a festival or enjoy street performers. See our favorite things to do!
Basilica of St. Lawrence
See one of Asheville's architectural treasures and spiritual anchors with the largest freestanding elliptical dome in the country.
Preserve the natural and cultural heritage in eight counties by conserving scenic landscapes, farms, forests, watersheds, biodiversity and wildlife habitat in eight counties east of Asheville, along with three major river basins of the Broad, Catawba, and Yadkin.
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.