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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.
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.
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.
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.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Savor hand-crafted, artisanal, organic chocolates and pastries in this extremely popular emporium, served with wine, beer, coffee or tea. Or sip liquid truffle chocolates. Next door, Chocolate + Milk features the best ice cream in town. Skip the long lines at the Lounge and pick up truffles there! 10 South Pack Square, downtown Asheville.
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.
Innovative, fun, affordable and delicious Indian "street food" features chaat - crunchy, spicy, sweet, tangy, brightly flavored Indian street snacks. Plus, enjoy thalis - traditional family meals highlighting India's amazing culinary diversity, sourcing from local farms. 22 Battery Park Ave, downtown.
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.
(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.
Great Smoky Mountains Hiking
See our favorite hikes on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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.
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!
Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center
Learn all about the Parkway with an I-Wall, a 22-ft. interactive map of the entire Parkway which provides multi-media information on places to visit on and near the Parkway. The Center’s exhibits highlight the natural and cultural diversity, and includes a 70-seat theater that shows a beautiful movie of the Parkway. Free.
Battery Park Champagne Bar
Sip a fine wine, Champagne or cocktail while you peruse thousands of used and rare books in this "Book Exchange" in the historic Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. Many nooks for great conversations. 1 Page Avenue
For the most upscale shopping in the mountains, head to downtown Highlands. It's a popular area for affluent travelers, many with a summer home in the area. This is one of the highest towns east of the Mississippi River, with an elevation at 4,118 feet. Nearby are many beautiful waterfalls, including the roadside Dry Falls.
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.
Attic Salt Theatre Company
See high-quality productions of classical, contemporary and original works in venues all around Asheville. They create some of the best children's theater in the area.
Downtown has seen an influx of great shops and restaurants. Find antique malls, galleries, and the legendary O.P. Taylor toy store. Big events include the White Squirrel Festival on Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July celebration and Halloweenfest. Stellar summer music series at Brevard Music Center. This is the Land of the Waterfalls.
Stroll through this beautiful historic landmark and browse the work of 80 regional artists and craftspeople, along with a wide selection of fine antiques and collectibles. A great place for unique gift ideas. 19 Patton Avenue.