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Top 75+ Outdoors - Asheville & NC Mountains
Explore our mountains with hikes, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and many thousands of acres of national forest and park land. Get outside in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains with our 70 favorite things to do.
We are one stop shop for family fun in the sun.
Henderson County Heritage Museum, Hendersonville
Downtown Hendersonville’s most iconic building, the historic 1905 courthouse, is now home to the county museum. Learn how Hendersonville was founded and has evolved over the decades with interactive exhibits that depict what life was like for early residents. Open Wednesday-Saturday 10 AM-5 PM and Sunday 1-5 PM. (100 N Main St)
The Gorge Zipline, Saluda
The Gorge Zipline Canopy Adventure is one of the steepest and fastest canopy tours in the U.S. This adventure takes place in the rugged Green River Gorge area of southeastern Henderson County.
Earth Day Kid's Festival
This kid-centered festival celebrates Earth Day with a variety of fun, environmentally-focused activities for kids in grades K-12 including arts, crafts, music performances, hands-on learning, interactive booths, and more. 12 AM-4 PM at Rabbit Rabbit in Downtown Asheville.
Asheville Community Yoga
This nonprofit yoga center offers donation-based classes and workshops, focusing on yoga and healing arts. They offer all-levels yoga classes, including yoga for kids, meditation, private yoga therapy, and more. Yoga mats and props provided! Visit the onsite Karma Cafe for a nourishing post-yoga meal or shop at the onsite thrift shop Zen & Now for preloved yoga clothing.
Dread Life Kitchen, Hendersonville
Serving up soul food in Hendersonville, owner Raynard Walker offers comfort food favorites like wings, shrimp and grits, mac-n-cheese, smoked meats, collards, and more with a Caribbean twist. Dine-in or pick up a meal to bring home, along with home-made lemonade or sweet tea. They also offer catering for events! 3591 Chimney Rock Rd, Hendersonville
This team picks the perfect outdoor location for couples that love nature, including waterfalls and mountaintops. A variety of packages include professional photography session with gorgeous scenery, videography and custom ceremony with an officiant. Book weekdays (Mon-Thurs) for more private settings at some of the most iconic mountain locations.
Rate: From $1250
Rate: From $1250
Sachi Massage and Wellness
Serving Asheville and Hendersonville, this wellness center is dedicated to bringing you health and wellness at affordable prices. They offer everything from couples massage with the sounds of tranquil waterfalls and soothing music to a peaceful, healing Himalayan Salt room. Add aromatherapy to your massage for deep relaxation.
Things to Do in Cashiers
Located in beautiful Jackson County, find many things to do in Cashiers including hiking, fishing, skiing, unique shopping, art shows, festivals, concerts, and more!
The largest downtown in western North Carolina outside of Asheville is filled with historic buildings and updated streetscapes with flowers and art. Find many spots for outdoor dining and a big variety of quality shops and galleries along a six-block stretch of Main Street. Don't miss two street festivals, the Garden Jubilee and the huge NC Apple Festival.
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.
Find some of the most spectacular scenery with many hikes along the rim to peaks like Table Rock, Hawksbill and Shortoff. And don't forget Linville Falls!
Elk in Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains
Watch the elk in beautiful Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The best time is just before sunset. Take a picnic and tailgate. Also, tour historic buildings or hike.
Top Mediterranean Food in Asheville
Find the best places for Mediterranean food in Asheville offering Greek food, Israeli street food, Moroccon, Lebanese inspired dishes, and creative fusions. Enjoy gyros, tapas, falafel, spanakopita, paella, tabouleh and yogurt sauces like tzatziki to dip or spread, and savor!
Top Art Galleries
Visit a gallery to be amazed at a big variety of local art and craft, including glass, paintings, pottery and every other medium you can imagine. Asheville and the North Carolina mountains are home to hundreds of world-class artists. Here are our favorite galleries to see their creations.
Oklawaha Brewing Company, Hendersonville
This brewery around the corner from Main Street takes pride in being kid-friendly with board games, coloring supplies, chalk, and nonalcoholic options. (147 1st Ave E)
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.
Glamping Near Asheville
Find our top glamping locations near Asheville. This combination of glamour and camping satisfies both the city slicker and nature lover. Arrive to a fully set up mountain campsite in our Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, no assembly or equipment required.
Jackson County Top 30
So many things to do - art, train excursions, heritage sites and more! Includes the towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire.
The Orchard Restaurant
From weddings and receptions, to birthday parties or family reunions, The Orchard Restaurant, events barn and guest cottage offers visitors a chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of their every day and relax while enjoying exceptional dishes prepared with fresh, locally-sourced mountain ingredients. Historical artifacts decorate the walls of the renovated 1900s farmhouse that serves as the main dining hall. In warmer seasons, guests are invited to enjoy The Orchard's famous venison carpaccio, Appalachian trout almondine or the 107 South bacon-wrapped filet outdoors on the patio while overlooking the bountiful apple orchard. Any menu item can be paired with a bottle of wine from the cellar, which features over 60 choices of fine wines with a focus on the New World and California wine regions.
Smoky Mountain River Adventures
Smoky Mountain River Adventures provides white water rafting for the whole family, including children as small as 40lbs. We rent inflatable kayaks for one or two people, as well as rafts. You may choose to have a river guide to help tame the rapids or have your own adventure!
Granny Burrell Falls
Following a steep, 12-foot slide from Panthertown Creek, the falls flows gently into the massive pool below. If the water’s too high, and you can’t get a good view by wading, head to Macs Gap Trail across the bridge for the perfect photo. If you want to stay the night, Macs Gap is also host to a campsite—but beware of coyotes, as it’s not out of the ordinary to spot one in the area.
AB's Fly FIshing Guide Service
AB’s Fly Fishing Guide Service by Alex Bell, is a premier guide service located in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. The area hosts the most picturesque trout waters east of the Mississippi River. With a large concentration of rainbow, brown and brook trout, the opportunity exists daily to achieve the Tuckasegee fly fishing grand slam – catching all three species of trout in the same day.
Chasteen Creek Falls
The cascade, fed by its namesake creek, has a drop of about 16 feet, and isn’t far from several backcountry campsites and the Cabin Flats Trail spur, for backpacking enthusiasts. If you’re fine with a little soreness the next day, use the falls as a starting point and follow the Falls Side Trail, Chasteen Creek Trail, Hughes Ridge Trail and Bradley Fork Trail, successively, for a 17.2-mile hike.
Greenland Creek Falls
At 45 feet high, the two-part cascade tumbles from Greenland Creek into a wide pool of moss- and lichen-blanketed boulders and often clear water.
Carolina Trout Guides
No experience or gear is necessary as Zack will furnish everything you need to catch trout. Zack’s passion is to teach everyone the art of fly fishing and has special patience with children. He will put the most accomplished angler on big fish.
Balsam Falls Brewing Company
Located in downtown Sylva, Balsam Falls Brewing features a rotating selection of IPAs, pale ales and sours, along with six staple beers regularly on tap. Husband and wife partners, Corey and Laurie Bryson, have a goal to have something different on tap every time a visitor comes in. Balsam Falls is the perfect place to stop in, grab a seat in the comfortable environment, pick from one of the many board games available to the public and enjoy a great brew after a long day of hiking, or exploring the area.
Located in an old restored 1920s drugstore and soda fountain shop, the creativity at this restaurant does not stop at its eclectic appearance. Rated by Gourmet magazine as one of America's Best Farm to Table Restaurants, Guadalupe is a fusion restaurant that will have diners traveling through a world of flavors with Spanish, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and even Southern influences. A must-try for foodies visiting NC, this menu is full of flavorful delights and features locally-grown and organic ingredients whenever possible. Mouth-watering menu items are endless and choices include: red curry shrimp, blackened plantains, peanut chicken and mango pork tacos. Guadalupe also serves a diverse selection of wines, from Spain and Latin-America, as well as brews from across the nation to right down the street.
Tuckasegee River Greenway Biking
The Tuckasegee River Greenway is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This one-mile there-and-back trail traverses along the Tuckasegee and is ideal for those who want a more relaxing and scenic biking experience. The paved trail maintains a flat elevation and is shaded along its entire course and offers coinvent amenities such as restrooms, ample parking, picnic benches, and a bike maintenance station.
Lucy in the Rye
Serving breakfast and lunch daily, with a full scratch-made bakery, Lucy in the Rye is located in the heart of Sylva. The menu features diner classics alongside chef-created original plates that utilize local and organic ingredients.
28 Escape Rooms are interactive scenario based games, where small groups of players use puzzles and elements of the room to escape within the 60-minute time limit.
South of Philly
Philly cheese steaks, chicken phillies, fries, onion rings, cold cut sandwiches
Slab Town Pizza
Enjoy artisan, hand-tossed pizzas at Slab Town Pizza. Cashiers' small pizzeria first opened its doors in 2014 and has maintained the same quaint, friendly and inviting environment since the beginning. The handmade desserts, dough and the option to create your own pizza masterpiece have kept Slab Town as a town favorite. Highly recommended is the Schrute Farms Beet Salad- inspired by The Office- while a crowd favorite is The Duke Pizza, which comes in the standard 8 slices topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, bacon, ricotta, grandé mozzarella and red sauce. The menu offers a wide range of pizzas, salads and specialty items. During the cooler months, grab a seat outside on the covered patio and enjoy the roaring fireplace with friends and family.
Let's Tie One On Fly Fishing
Derrell Brushaber, owner and guide of Let’s Tie One On Fly Fishing wants to help you get the most out of your fly fishing experience. Fishing the waters of North Carolina’s Trout Capital®, guide trips can include 1-3 guests for either half or full-day fishing trips. Catch all three species of trout – brook, brown, and rainbow and learn fly fishing techniques for any skill level from novice to expert.
Innovation Station is Innovation Brewing's second location, located in the heart of Dillsboro along the railroad tracks. It serves as a beer aging facility, pilot brewhouse and taproom. They have 32 taps that include ginger ale, 3 local ciders, 3 wines, and 25 of their own beers. Covered patio seating as well as outdoor creekside seating. Convenient to many Dillsboro-area restaurants.
Kosta's Express Restaurant
This family favorite has been serving Dillsboro and the surrounding communities high-quality Greek, Italian, Continental cuisine for over a decade. Visitors will enjoy the friendly atmosphere and service with a smile along with a delicious bite to eat.
Western Carolina University Trail System
The WCU Multi-Use Trail system is 6.8 miles of narrow single-track trail designed for foot traffic and mountain bike use. The trail is intermediate in difficulty with steep mountainside terrain. Riders enjoy a nice flow with multiple jumps, pumps, and berms. Although the elevation change from the trail’s highest to lowest point is just a few hundred feet, there are lots of ups and downs for bikers to enjoy.
Historic Jackson County Courthouse & Library
Climb 107 stairs to snap a photo overlooking downtown Sylva and the mountain backdrop at the most photographed courthouse in NC. Step inside to learn about the beauty and history behind the building.
Paper Mill Lounge
If you're the kind of person who likes the social clubs of New York and New Orleans, The Paper Mill Lounge and Theatre is where you should go. It's located on Main Street, in Sylva NC. Even though the décor is elegant, the vibe here is still relaxed, well, until the midnight hours when things might turn a little clubby. We like The Paper Mill's dimly lit, almost golden aura and some of its sleek design elements!
The Ugly Dog Pub
Featuring craft cocktails, regional brews, and elevated pub food, the Ugly Dog serves delicious food with a classic twist. Favorites include their wide selection of all-beef quarter-pound hotdogs, The Pimento Burger, and the Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. The Ugly Dog is known as Cashiers gathering place for friends to catch up and unwind; with a rotating selection of weekly entertainment it’s a Cashiers stop you won’t want to miss.
Sapphire National Golf Course
With its scenic mountain views and surrounding lush forests, Sapphire National Golf Course is truly breathtaking. And with available lodging nearby, it serves as an ideal retreat for the avid golfer. The golf professionals provide expert guidance and will have you out on the course in record time.
Whiteside Brewing Company
Cashiers is home to Whiteside Brewing Co., which offers six main-stay brews year-round with the seventh changing seasonally. The brewery is conveniently located near the Crossroads and has ample indoor and outdoor seating for gatherings.
Bridal Veil Falls
While its upper slide and 40-foot free fall may slow to a trickle during the summer, freezing winter temperatures transform it into a curtain of icicles each year, with a mountain of ice forming at the base. This makes for great cold-weather sightseeing, but be sure to proceed with caution along US 64.
Red Bird Golf Links
Red Bird Golf Links amenities include an executive 9-hole golf course, 15-tee driving range, putting and chipping greens, fully stocked pro shop, and resort facility. Expect great customer service and a great day of golf.
This skinny, 200-ft. waterfall is located near Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's a short hike up a long staircase.
Dillsboro River Company
Just outside of Dillsboro, Sylva, and Bryson City, North Carolina the Dillsboro River Company takes customers along the ideal relaxing rapids of the Tuckasegee River. The ‘Tuck’ is the ideal river for first-time rafters, families with young children (minimum age limit is 4), and those who want more of a relaxing river trip with warmer water and the milder Class I & II rapids.
Bear Lake Reserve Golf Club
The challenging Bear Lake Golf Club by Nicklaus Design Group has some of the best views in the community, offering a par-29, 1,932-yard course at lofty elevations ranging from 3,400 to 3,700 feet. You’re going to have to work hard to concentrate while teeing off on the 7th hole, since you’ll be looking at a breathtaking 80-mile panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and valley below.
The Wine Bar and Cellar
Offering the largest selection of top-shelf wine, the Wine Bar and Cellar offers a relaxed vibe true to the heart of downtown Sylva. With rotating events, tapas by ILDA, tastings, and an open-air feel, patrons can also take home wine by the bottle or by the case. Make sure to visit and take some time to wine a little.
Innovation Brewing has added a third location in Jackson County! Located on the campus of Western Carolina University, Innovation Cullowhee brings its laid-back vibes, iconic brews and a thriving nightlife to WCU. Grab an award-winning pint of Innovation's mainstays or try something funky and new!
Zookeeper Bistro offers traditional American cuisine along with a casual dining experience located in the heart of the Cashiers plateau. Menu favorites include the Zookeepers Benedict, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Salad and the California Burger. Zookeeper Bistro is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 7:30 a.m.-3p.m., and brunch Saturday from 7:30 a.m.-3p.m.; Sunday from 8 a.m.-2p.m.
Sequoyah National Golf Club
Measuring 6,600 yards, this Robert Trent Jones II design features immaculately groomed bent grass greens with bluegrass fairways, offering spectacular views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while providing unmatched playing conditions year-round.
Cashiers Valley Smokehouse
At the heart of the Crossroads sits Cashiers' newest BBQ joint. Cashiers Valley Smokehouse offers a welcoming atmosphere along with mouthwatering North Carolina BBQ, smoked to perfection. Make sure to complement your plate with one of their premium freshly made side dishes.
Panthertown Trail Mountain Biking
Panthertown Valley is often recognized as offering some of the best hiking and camping in the region. However, unknown to many is that these trails also offer over 20 miles of mountain bike trails for riders who enjoy a truly off-the-beaten-path cycling experience. These scenic trials traverse through many of the valley’s most popular destinations such as cliff-top views, along 8 major waterfalls and countless smaller ones, and along the area’s crystal-clear streams. A map is recommended before your visit and can be ordered online or picked up at the Highland Hiker.
Pie Times Pizza Company
Pie Times Pizza Company is a pizzeria loaded with flavor. Serving traditional Neapolitan style pizza, Pie Times uses an Italian brick oven to cook all of their pizzas. Using only the highest quality ingredients, Pie Times techniques and use of sourdough crust tend to be a more healthy dining option to quench your pizza craving. Pie Times menu has options for both vegan and vegetarian diets as well.
Nantahala Brewing Company Sylva Outpost
Nantahala Brewing Company is bringing its love of beer to Sylva with the completion of its latest taproom: The Outpost. This taproom brings a family- and pet-friendly, live music setting along with artfully brewed, award-winning craft beers. Nantahala Brewing Company is known for customer favorites such as Dirty Girl Blond, Bryson City Brown Ale, and Noon Day IPA.
Sapphire Valley Resort
Just above 3,400 feet elevation, Sapphire Valley offers a 1,600-foot main run with a vertical drop of 200 feet and a 500-foot snow tubing run. And now, Sapphire Valley Ski Area offers a moving carpet to quickly transport you back to the top of the slopes for multiple runs throughout each 1.75 hour session.
Ilda is the artisan passion project of husband & wife team, Michelin-trained Chef Santiago Guzzetti and Sommelier Crystal Pace. Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina, the pair felt called to build a home that is rich in culture, craft and community. Santiago’s heritage in Italian cuisine and Crystal’s ties to her hometown of Appalachia create a cuisine that is unique, but also honors and respects history. This union of Italian and Southern Appalachian cuisine is the foundation where they will recreate the comfort you found at your grandmother’s kitchen table.
Voted #1 BBQ in NC by Yelp and #5 in the USA by Travel+Leisure. Haywood's smoking process is long and tedious, but the time and effort put into their melt-in-your-mouth meats sets them apart from the rest. On Saturdays come for the Baby Back Ribs served with a honey-chipotle sauce, or every other day of the week for the St. Louis-style ribs. Their Southern sides and homemade pies will definitely give you something to write home about. Diners can even take a bottle of one of Haywood's nine uniquely-flavored homemade sauces back with them to savor the flavors of the fall-off-the-bone ribs a little longer. A crowd favorite is the classic sweet ketchup sauce, and for those feeling adventurous, try the strawberry chipotle. Many of Haywood's recipes are greatly influenced by traditional Southern flavors while a few items on the menu allude to Cajun, Tex-Mex and other regional cuisine flavors.
Lazy Hiker Brewing Company Sylva Taproom
The Lazy Hiker Brewing Company is bringing its love of community, the mountains, and beer to Sylva with its latest taproom addition. This taproom offers a wide variety of brews including their flagship mainstays such as Trail Mate Golden Ale and Slack Pack IPA. This new location shares a space with Mad Batter Food and Film where the two businesses collaborate, offering excellent brews and food. Indoor and outdoor patio seating and pet-friendly.
Lulu's On Main
Lulu's on Main has an edgy, retro atmosphere tied together with paintings from many local artists displayed on the wall. Chef Devin McCardle, who once served as honorary chef for Julia Child's foundation, The American Institute of Wine & Food, takes his expertise and French culinary training to the kitchen to create a menu which features a range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free items to suit special diets. In addition, all menu items are certified hormone-free and humanely-raised, including fresh North Carolina seafood. The salmon, Szechuan salad and peanut butter pie are local favorites. Lulu's menu features a wide variety of choices and the service is said to be unmatched! A martini bar inside the restaurant offers mixed drinks, as well as beer and wine. If you have a chance, say hi to the owner Mick McCradle for some good stories and history on the restaurant.
A fusion of world cuisine featuring sustainably-raised, locally sourced, farm-to-table ingredients offered in a fast casual dining experience for lunch and dinner, with craft beers, wine and cocktails.
Considered a local favorite, Cornucopia is consistently named as one of the best porches in Cashiers. A casual spot for lunch, dinner or the popular Sunday brunch, Cornucopia, like the name suggests, features a variety of dishes tempting to any palate. Locals can't get enough of the Arabian club, black bean burger, or their most famous and oldest dish, Wade Hampton's Downfall. At dinner, try an entrée that incorporates local flair, like smoked trout from Sunburst Farms or Southern-Fried Farms chicken.
This local landmark has been an NC staple ever since opening its doors in 1926. Get a dose of nostalgia and mingle with locals, some who have dined here every morning since moving to town, while enjoying your morning cup of joe. The menu has had little reason to change since it was created more than 90 years ago, and no one is complaining. The entire menu is under $10. Not only does The Coffee Shop serve amazing home-cooked meals, but it also serves as a glimpse into the past with vintage signs, photos, and an old jukebox lining the walls. As the smell of bacon and butter permeate the air, you might find it difficult to choose a dish. Some suggestions? Try the gypsy omelet, or a good ole hamburger and save room for one of their famous homemade pies.
Dream Catchers Fishing Supply
Learn tips and techniques from professional anglers and guides Austin and Mike Neary while reeling in your DREAM CATCH! Dream Catcher’s Fishing Supply is also a shop for fisherman, by fisherman! A shop created by local Pro’s and guides. Free seminars every Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
While not a scene-stealer on its own, this 15-foot waterfall, a nearly vertical drop from Frolictown Creek, makes for a great stop on the Great Wall Trail, or the path leading to Granny Burrell Falls and Wilderness Falls. It’s just one point in the constellation of spectacular Panthertown Valley sights.
Mountain Heritage Center
Celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of the southern Appalachians through the center’s exhibits, educational programs and special events where guests will learn about deep mountain traditions.
The Library Kitchen + Bar
Farm-to-table upscale dining and cocktails in an iconic historical setting. Open kitchen chef’s bar plus outdoor service. Small plates/seasonal offerings. Reservations recommended.
Quality and creativity are two things that go hand-in-hand here. The team at Innovation is always working to come up with new and unique recipes and try to incorporate as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible. With almost three dozen brews on tap, there's something you're sure to enjoy. Taste a range of more traditional-style ales such as a blonde, porter, stout, brown, amber, a handful of Belgian beers, IPA’s, sours and some fun seasonal brews, such as the fall favorite Apple Butter Brown and the summer Peach Jalapaneo ale.
A towering 200-foot falls running parallel to what the Franklin Press once called likely “the greatest scenic highway in all the state,” the Cullajasa River takes a plunge here, making for gorgeous drive-by scenery. A few caveats, however: The falls are only photo-worthy when there’s a steady source of water, so be sure to avoid drier seasons. And the scenic US 64 may be picturesque, but near Cullajasa Falls, it can be a bit dangerous, with blind curves, narrow roads and steep drop-offs here and there.
Blue Chip Fly Fishing
Let me share my love for fly fishing with you. It’s been my passion since I was 10 years old. After buying a cabin in the mountains I decided I’d teach others, make friends, and continue to enjoy what I love the most. Contact us to book your trip today.
Pinnacle Park, home of little-known Gina Falls, is just five minutes from the nearest urban area, making it a perfect destination for those who aren’t inclined to go deep into the wilderness, or who simply want a peaceful lunch break. The park’s eponymous natural feature, about a mile and a quarter up from Gina Falls, is well known among frequent travelers of US 23 and US 74. Fed by West Fork Fisher Creek, it features a 35-foot upper drop with cascades below.
Canyon Kitchen is a must-visit as far as fine dining in North Carolina is concerned. True to its history and agrarian roots, Lonesome Valley's Canyon Kitchen offers a humble, yet extraordinary connection to food, where ingredients are sourced from local and regional farms. The new Executive Chef Ed Selle is at the helm of this award-winning restaurant. The diverse prix fixe menu at Canyon Kitchen changes weekly based on seasonal ingredients, but you can always expect a rich combination of garden goodness and innovative nouveau-southern tradition. Snag a reservation here from May through October and admire the incredible views of Cow Rock and Laurel Knob at Lonesome Valley, known as the largest box canyon east of the Rockies.