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Nantahala National Forest
The largest national forest in North Carolina (531,286 acres) covers much of the western tip of the state. Find a wealth of outdoor activities, including whitewater on the Nantahala River, waterfalls and plenty of scenic views.
Snow Tubing at Beech Mountain
The new state-of-the-art snow tubing park at the Beech Mountain Ski Resort adds to the fun there. Enjoy long runs, then take the magic carpet back to the top. It's adjacent to the ice skating rink.
South Slope Brewing District
On the southside of downtown, explore the fast-growing "Brewery Distrtict" with eight breweries and a growing number of restaurants and shops, transitioning from sleepy industrial warehouses to a hip neighborhood.
6 Mountain Beaches near Asheville
Hit the beach on pristine, cool mountain lakes in the NC mountains near Asheville, complete with sandy shores, lifeguards and plenty of summer fun in the water.
300 Things to Do
See our master list of places to see and things to do in the western North Carolina mountains, including Asheville and our many small towns.
Upper Whitewater Falls
See the upper section of the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, plunging 411 ft.! The best part is that you can get a great view with a short walk. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot and is accessible to wheelchairs. A lower overlook is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps.
Silent Sky @ NC Stage
Professional theatre in downtown Asheville: True story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt exploring a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed. Wed-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2 PM, March 30 & Apr 6 2 PM. Tickets from $18/adult.
Grove Arcade Winter Wonderland
Shop and dine in the beautifully restored and decorated historic arcade in downtown Asheville. Find a big variety of local shops and galleries and see gingerbread house creations in one of the first enclosed malls in America. Open 7 days.
Midweek Special, Cottages at Springhouse Farm
Stay two nights, Sunday-Thursday, in a secluded log cabin or cottage with a hot tub on a 92-acre natural preserve near Lake Lure and Lake James, and save up to 18% over weekend rates.
Visit 20 farms in the Asheville area that are not normally open to the public and see what happens behind the scenes. Presented by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), farms are located in many counties. 12-5 PM. Passes $30/car in advance, $40/car day of.
See the spectacular panoramic view of Linville Gorge at Wiseman's View in Pisgah National Forest, overlooking Hawksbill and Table Rock Mountains. Near Linville Falls.
New Years Eve Golden Nugget Drop
Gather on Main Street in downtown Marion on New Year's Eve night to watch the giant golden nugget drop into the 10-foot wide eatable donut that you get to sample after midnight. Many activities.
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.
Bryson City Great Smoky Campgrounds
Find campgrounds for tents, camper and RVs near several entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Cherokee, Fontana Lake and Bryson City areas.
Just a mile from downtown Asheville is a new riverfront complex on the French Broad with restaurant and concert/event venue with great indoor and outdoor spaces. The menu includes sandwiches and some hearty meat-and-three selections. Full bar. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday, plus lunch Friday-Sunday. Live music and concerts many nights. 468 Riverside Drive.
Fine Art and Mastercraft Festival
This outdoor show in Banner Elk is strictly fine art and master crafts by an invitation-only. Held on the lawn of the historic Elementary School (185 Azalea Cir SE). Mixed media, jewelry, sculpture, glass, pottery, painting, photography, wood & more. Friday 1-5 PM, Saturday 10 AM-5 PM, Sunday 10 AM-4 PM.
7th Night Free, Yellow Rose Rentals
Stay 6 nights and get the 7th free in a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains, including Bryson City, Cherokee, Nantahala River and Fontana Lake. Choose 1-5 bedrooms, variety of amenities. Pet-friendly options too.
Rates: From $125/night
Rates: From $125/night
Biltmore Estate Hiking Trails
(Many options, easy to moderate) There are 23 miles of trails, for all fitness levels, to explore at Biltmore. You can walk several miles around the gardens near the house, including a half-mile stroll around the Bass Pond. Our favorite hike at Biltmore is the 1.3-mile Deer Park Trail, offering great views of the house.
Ride the Rivers
Asheville is one of the best whitewater rafting towns in the U.S.! No experience is necessary. You just need a desire for thrills and getting a little wet. Ride down one of four rivers, including the Nantahala River. Or kayak, tube and paddleboard down the French Broad River through Biltmore Estate. Raft in the Great Smokies on the Pigeon River.
Visit western North Carolina's top contemporary fine art gallery specializing in museum quality glass sculpture by US and international artists. They curate an ever changing collection of exquisite glass sculpture as well as select works in other media. 29 Biltmore Ave, downtown Asheville
Dog City USA
See our top spots to visit in downtown Asheville on the Dog City USA trail, which includes the Doggie Welcome Center, a restaurant with a dog menu, a bakery and a hotel with rescue pooches.
Blue Ridge Travelers: Small Towns & Outdoors
Explore McDowell County east of Asheville, with the small towns of Marion, Little Switzerland, Old Fort and Linville Falls. Includes Pisgah Forest, with hiking, waterfalls, fishing, Lake James and many things to do. See their Blue Ridge Traveler's guide for details.
Mountain Acoustics Luthier Invitational
This new festival in Burnsville celebrates hand-built stringed instruments with an emphasis on artists who craft them and musicians who play them. Luthiers showcase creations and lead workshops on songwriting, guitar and ukulele playing. Concerts and other events.
Fontana Lake & Dam
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, enjoy fishing, boating, camping and swimming in this beautiful lake. Or walk the Appalachian Trail across the highest dam east of the Rockies.
Tsali Mountain Biking
Find mountain biking heaven in the Nantahala National Forest with 40 miles of trails overlooking Fontana Lake. Located near Bryson City, where you can find bike rentals and supplies.
Elk River Falls
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
The closest ski resort to downtown Asheville with 15 runs, terrain park and 4 lifts. Lift ticket specials: Tuesdays are BOGO, on Wednesdays 1/2 off for women and on Thursday nights college students $15. Located in Madison County just 5 miles from I-26, 30 minutes north of Asheville
Waynesville Lighted Christmas Parade
Enjoy the illuminated evening Christmas Parades down the historic Main Street in downtown Wayneville starting at 6 PM with 120+ entries.
Wine & Jazz Fest
Live jazz music, a big variety of wine, food, educational seminars, games and more, 1-6 PM at Asheville Outlets village in south Asheville. VIP Hour begins at Noon. Limited tickets $25/advance and $30/gate include wine & food tastings.
Located inside a historic house in Biltmore Village is a popular spot with simple and flavorful American fare, such as corned beef hash, bagel and lox, johnny cakes, hash browns, fried grits and cream cheese scrambler with a griddled bagel. Breakfast served 7:30 -11 AM Monday-Friday. Weekend brunch is 9 AM-3 PM. 3 Boston Way.
French Broad River Tubing
Drift down the French Broad River through Asheville on a lazy summer day. Find rentals and shuttle just a few minutes from downtown, then begin your 4-mile river tube adventure in the River Arts District.
Wild Food Foraging Tours
Take a "forage to table" tour with No Taste Like Home and play with your food. Our area is a Garden of Eden with over 300 wild edibles. During a guided tour, gather wild mushrooms, plants and other “extreme cuisine.” Then a chef transforms your finds into a delicious meal.
Creative Mountain Food Tours
Take a 2-3 hour guided walking tour of Black Mountain. Enjoy food, beverage and dessert tastings at five or more local and unique eateries, with local history tidbits along the way. Most Saturday afternoons March-November. Also book private tours for 8+ on any day.
Waterfall Byway: US Highway 64
Drive 98 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains, through charming towns and by plenty of beautiful waterfalls. Begin in Chimney Rock and travel west on U.S. Highway 64 by Lake Toxaway and through Cashiers and Highlands. Stop at roadside waterfalls Dry Falls and Bridal Veil as you enter the Cullasaja River Gorge. The last section is also called Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.
Elopement Packages, Miss Caroline's Country Wedding Chapel
Get married in an adorable tiny church in Maggie Valley, surrounded by the Smoky Mountains. Package includes a ceremony, recorded music and photographs. Extras include flowers or overnight cabin stay.
Rates: From $449
Rates: From $449
This is the coolest town on our list for temperature (highest town in the eastern USA at 5,506 feet elevation). While it's very popular for skiing and snowboarding each winter, they have an impressive trail system for hiking and mountain biking in the summer. Summer golf and scenic chairlift rides too. Each fall, follow the yellow brick road at Autumn at Oz.
Arts & Crafts Conference
Perfect for the passionate collector or those just interested in the Arts and Crafts period. The three-day agenda includes lectures, small group discussions, special exhibitions, book exhibits, a contemporary crafts show and the finest of the antiques shows devoted to the Arts and Crafts period. Get advance tickets!
French Broad Adventures
Asheville’s closest whitewater experience. Experience a fun-filled rafting adventure with knowledgeable guides or choose a milder Calm Water Float Trip in the heart of the scenic valley near Hot Springs. And the French Broad River is warmer and less crowded than other area rivers. Half and full day trips.
Cleghorn Golf and Sports Club at Tryon Resort
Located near the Tryon International Equestrian Center, this 18-hole championship course tips out at 6762 yards with a course rating of 73.3 and slope of 136. The George Cobb design offers pristine conditions, named as one of the best courses in NC by the PGA. Also go to their Cleghorn Gun Club for a sporting clay course with 15 stations for every shooter level. 183 Golf Circle, Rutherfordton
Apple Harvest Festival
Find all things apple in downtown Waynesville, including cider, fried pies and other apple delicacies. Also find live mountain music, dance, craft and demo booths along scenic Main Street for the iconic small town fall festival. 10 AM-5 PM. Free.
Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway
Drive one of America's most scenic roads. Enjoy a leisurely excursion filled with nature's beauty through dense forests and atop mountain ridges. You'll find breathtaking overlooks, numerous hiking trails and great spots for picnics. Drive north for panoramic views at Craggy Gardens and Mt. Mitchell. A drive south takes you through a dozen tunnels and the highest section of the Parkway. See our favorite 50 stops.
Elevated Mountain Distilling
Learn how moonshine is made legally in Maggie Valley at Elevated Mountain, makers of whiskey, vodka and white lightning. Guided tours on Monday-Saturday include a tasting! Free admission.
DuPont State Recreational Forest
Hike, mountain bike or horseback ride a multitude of trails to see many waterfalls and lakes on 10,000 acres. Plus, picnic on mountaintops and swim at Hooker Falls. Visitor center, free admission.
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp
Epic adult day camp at Sierra Nevada Brewery includes obstacle course, keg bowling, hammerschlogan, silent disco, costume contest and more. Pair those with their iconic and special collaboration beers, along with great food. 12-6 PM. $25/person includes entertainment, games and shuttle.
Only 30 minutes from Asheville, experience the renewing power of this magical mountain retreat and certified wildlife habitat. Enjoy clean and thoughtfully designed cabin-like retreat houses or... read more
Hot Nights, Cool Rides Auto Show
One of the largest car shows in the South lines Main Street in Forest City, with a big variety of 400 vehicles including hot rods, motorcycles, model T's and classic Mustangs. Food and live music. Free admission. Cruise-in Friday night starting at 6 PM. Show is Saturday 9 AM-8 PM.
Art on the Greene
Buy art and support the restoration of the historic school in Banner Elk. Find a big variety of artists working with metal, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry and more. Many other things to do nearby. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
Veteran's History Museum of the Carolinas
Appreciate and honor the men and women who served so bravely in our Armed Forces during wars since World War I. Many personal stories connected to one-of-a kind artifacts, uniforms, weaponry, original newspapers, personal letters, and more. Open Wed-Sunday. Free admission. 21 East Main St, Brevard.
Waldensian Heritage Winery
Centuries ago in Italy, the Waldensians learned the craft of creating great wines and brought their traditions to the small town of Valdese (in Burke County) since the terrain, climate and soil composition here was similar to their homes in Italy. Built of local field rock and timbers, the Waldensian Heritage Winery opened in 1930. All production, distribution, marketing and tours are by volunteers. Address: 4940 Villar Ln NE, Valdese. Open Thursday-Sunday, 1-6 PM
Linville Falls Hikes
(1 to 4 miles roundtrip, moderate) This is probably the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina. Hike to one or all five viewpoints via two trails that leave the Visitors Center. Only one of the trails is strenuous, and you can hike to all five spots with a four mile hike. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 316.
Holmes Educational State Forest
(.5-3.5 miles, easy to strenuous) Hike a variety of trails and learn about the forest in this largely unknown gem near busy DuPont State Forest. Open mid March-mid November, find a tranquil and diverse forest along with picnic tables and exhibits. 10 miles from downtown Hendersonville.
Winter Getaways to Jackson County
Find the perfect winter romantic getaway in Jackson County in January-March. Take your sweetie to the fun small towns of Sylva, Dillsboro and Cashiers for cabins, beer, chocolate, spa days and more.
Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour
Enjoy a half-mile of airtime with three sky bridges and six transfer bridges, 13 zip line sections and 20 scenic and unspoiled acres of flying area, all within the heavily wooded setting of the Nantahala National Forest. Fly through multiple ecosystems in a deciduous forest packed with native flowering plants. Combine this with a whitewater rafting trip down the river.
Top 70 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.
Tour a state-of-the-art wine production facility in Hendersonville. Their impressive Tasting Room features wines from 100% estate-grown fruit. The high altitude, long, sunny days and cool nights in the Blue Ridge Province of the Appalachian Mountains allow them to grow some European varietals like Grüner Veltliner. 2695 Sugarloaf Road, Hendersonville. Open Sunday-Thursday 12-6 PM & Friday-Saturday 12-7 PM, with tours at 2 PM every day.
Since 1982, Asheville's largest high-energy dance club is renowned throughout as the epicenter for creativity, diversity and entertainment. Don't miss their midnight show, premiering the best drag anywhere. Dance the night away with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems.
Tryon Foothills Wine Country
Visit five wineries in the prime isothermal wine growing area in the beautiful foothills near Columbus and Tryon: Parker-Binns Vineyard, Overmountain Vineyards, Russian Chapel Hills Winery, Mountain Brook Vineyard and Green Creek Winery. It's an easy 45-mile drive from Asheville via I-26 East (near SC line).
Maggie Gets Lit
Kick off the season at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds, 12-6 PM, for a Christmas Market, Santa Strut, clogging, music, ugly sweater contest, best dressed pet, kids zone and food. Gather at 6 PM for the tree lighting. Free. Donations of coats and non-perishable food welcomed.
Lake Lure & Rutherford County Welcome Center
Stop by for free travel guides, brochures and advice for fun in Lake Lure, Chimney Rock and Rutherford County. See a display of movies filmed here, including Dirty Dancing and Last of the Mohicans. The “Map Room” includes a wall-sized timeline of local heritage with folklore, local culture, and topography map of Hickory Nut Gorge. Open daily! 2932 Memorial Highway (US-64/74), Lake Lure
Fall Events & Festivals
Find our favorite autumn events and festivals during September and October in Asheville and the NC mountains.
An Angel Christmas @ Thomas Wolfe Home
A special open house at the fascinating 29-room Thomas Wolfe Home in downtown Asheville with period decorations, special tours, angel wreath auction, kids' activities, snacks and more. 9 AM-5 PM. $5/adult, children 17 & under free.
Upper French Broad Riverfest
Celebrate the headwaters with outdoor fun for all ages, 10 AM-3:30 PM including canoe relay, outdoor gear flea market, hands-on activities, free tubing, music, food trucks and more. Champion River Park and Rosman Town Hall (6 Main Street, Rosman)
The Market Place
An ingredient-driven menu sources from local farms and artisan producers. Breakfast and lunch items will suit your palate, along with craft beer, wine and cocktails. A favorite is the wood-grilled burger with tomato jam, pickled red onions and smoked cheddar. On Sundays, their Motown Brunch has live music 10:30 AM-2:30 PM. In April-December, brunch is also served on Saturdays. Reservations recommended. 20 Wall Street.
STORM Rhum Bar & Bistro
Find a warm, cozy atmosphere where the food and service will delight your senses. Enjoy handcrafted cocktails, ample wine offerings, a selection of local draft beer, an extensive rhum list, and of course, delicious food prepared by Chef Owen McGlynn. Free parking in their private lot downtown. 125 South Lexington Avenue.
Sapphire Valley Ski Resort
Located near Cashiers, this small ski area is great for beginners and families, with a 1,600-ft. main run and a beginner slope. It's home to the Outhouse Races in February. Also, find a tube park, restaurant and zip lines. It's part of a larger resort with condo rentals and other amenities.