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Pigeon River Adventure Center
Zip over the Pigeon River and through the woods of the Great Smoky Mountains! This Canopy Tour takes you into the Smoky Mountain Creek Gorge exposing a lush forest of ferns, wildflowers, towering trees, rock cliffs, waterfalls and moss-covered boulder gardens. It includes 12 zip line sections between elevated platforms, treetops, decks and four sky bridges. The Express Zip Tour has seven zips including two zips across the Pigeon River. Combine your zip rides with whitewater rafting or Jeep tours!
This popular summer swimming hole in Banner Elk includes a white sandy beach, swimming pier and fishing dock. The adjacent Tufts Memorial Park has a bath house and picnic tables. Owned by the Grandfather Home for Children. No admission fee, but they appreciate donations.
Toast with Local Brews
Cheers to the beer mecca of the southeast! Taste the extraordinary local brews, but it may take you a few days. With dozens of craft breweries and 100+ local brews and ciders in western North Carolina, you will need to pace yourself! Walk to many breweries in the South Slope downtown. If wine is more your style, see our Top 10 Wineries for tours and tastings.
Rutherford County Campgrounds
See the Top 9 places to camp in the Lake Lure, Chimney Rock and Forest City areas in the foothills, including RV and motorcoach resorts. Find a big variety of amenities with many things to do in the Hickory Nut Gorge.
Mother's Day Weekend
Find ideas for events and things to do with mom or grandma in Asheville and the mountains, including flowers, shopping, art, spas and more.
Experience 190 steep, climbing curves in just 12 miles, climbing 1,900 feet in elevation. Take N.C. Highway 226A from U.S. 221 north of Marion to Little Switzerland at the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Diamondback is loaded with switchbacks looping almost 360-degrees, making it extra fun for motorcyclists.
Established as a go-to spot in downtown for good beer, delicious food and a great view overlooking Pack Square Park in a beautifully restored 1900s building. Offering multiple dining spaces: expansive North Bar with 32 taps and big TVs, South Bar with TVs and free live music every weekend, and a romantic outdoor patio. 20 South Spruce Street.
Unforgettable Dining at Mountain Magnolia Inn
While the setting is elegant and the food exceptional at this TripAdvisor 5-Star restaurant, the atmosphere is relaxed and the dress is casual. Cuisine features herbs grown in the Inn's garden and mostly organic ingredients. It makes a perfect evening after a soak at the nearby hot springs. Reservations recommended. 35 miles north of downtown Asheville at 204 Lawson Street, Hot Springs.
Graveyard Fields Waterfalls
This popular hiking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway has two waterfalls. Second Falls (in pic) is just 1/3-mile walk from the Parkway. Upper Falls is on a four-mile loop trail in the mile-high meadow.
South Creek Winery
Visit this boutique winery on a farm near Marion. Taste wines in an Italian Renaissance Farmhouse or on an outdoor deck: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and signature-blend Maestro. Located 4.4 miles off I-40 at exit 90. 2240 S Creek Rd, Nebo, NC (6 miles to Silver Fork, 4 miles to Belle Nicho, 9 miles to Lake James Cellars). Open Wednesday-Saturday 11 AM-5 PM & Sunday 1 PM-5 PM.
Connect: Beyond the Page Festival
3-day conference in Asheville bridges creative disciplines, bringing together musicians, writers, filmmakers, media personalities and activists. Includes an eclectic lineup of panels, speakers and performances: Bob Boilen, host of NPR’s All Songs Considered; playwright Lydia Diamond; cellist Ben Sollee; and many more.
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.
Best 40 Fall Festivals & Events
September & October: Enjoy the cooler days of autumn with the changing colors with a big variety of events and festivals. And see our fall color foliage forecast for the best places to see the changing leaves.
Unto These Hills Outdoor Drama
America's most popular outdoor drama is the tragic and triumphant story of the Cherokee Indians. Set against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, the drama is presented under the stars at the beautiful Mountainside Theater nightly from June through mid-August.
NC Arboretum Hikes
(Many options, easy to moderate) Located just 10 miles south of downtown, the Arboretum has 10 miles of easy to moderate walking and biking trails. Our pick is the Natural Garden Trail, a one-mile loop starting from the Plants of Promise Garden to the Core Area Gardens.
Hard Candy Christmas
Big arts and crafts show with 100+ area artists, demos and music inside the Western Carolina University Center in Cullowhee. 10 AM-5 PM both days. $5/adults
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.
Sleep under the stars in our national parks, forests or a campground. Or stay in a hostel.
Gran Fondo Bike Race
Join the fun of this cycling event for various levels of experience for a 30, 60 or 100-mile scenic course, starting and ending in the River Arts District in Asheville. It's a fundraiser for Friends of the Smokies.
Summer Arts and Crafts Market
More than 40 local artists display and demo their arts and crafts in artsy Dillsboro, 10 AM-4 PM. Plus, live music, food and hands-on activities.
(3 miles round-trip, strenuous) Mt. Pisgah can be seen from downtown Asheville on a clear day. Hike up to the top of the 5,721-ft. summit on this popular hiking trail. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 407.6.
15% off, Quality Inn Biltmore
Use this link to get 15% off all rates at this affordable hotel with plenty of value-added amenities, including a complimentary, full, hot breakfast buffet. Five miles from downtown Asheville and Biltmore.
Rate: From $79/night
Rate: From $79/night
Field Day at Historic Joara Site
450th anniversary of the first European inland settlement in the USA at Fort San Juan (predates Jamestown by 40 years). Open for excavation tours, demos of primitive skills and Cherokee craft. Located at 1700 Henderson Mill Road, Morganton, 10 AM-2 PM, parking $5, admission free.
This tiny town of around 800 residents is perhaps best known for its hot mineral springs. Located north of Asheville at the junction of the Appalachian Trail (goes right through downtown) and the French Broad River. Hike from town up to Lover's Leap for a great view of the town.
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.
Head to Maggie Valley to celebrate mountain country living with music, crafts, big car show, moonshine and TV celebrities.
Take a Hike
To really appreciate the natural splendor of our mountains, explore by foot. There are hiking trails for all fitness levels, from a short woodland walk to strenuous hikes to mountain peaks, including both the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Many of the hikes are along the Blue Ridge Parkway and are easy to find. Easy in-town hiking too. See our Top 75.
Lees-McRae Summer Theatre
The college performing arts department combines with the community each summer to produce a top-notch series of theatrical productions on their campus in Banner Elk, ranging from classic Shakespeare to Broadway musicals. The series begins in late June and runs through early August.
Hot Springs Mineral Soak
Soak in the natural hot mineral springs by the river, used by visitors for centuries seeking the legendary healing powers. Located about an hour's drive north of Asheville on the Appalachian Trail.
Hooker Falls, DuPont State Forest
Located near Triple Falls, it is an easy 1/2-mile roundtrip stroll from the parking area. While it's only 12 ft. tall, it's wide and cascades into a beautiful pool that is a popular swimming spot.
Sylva July 4th Concert & Fireworks
Enjoy concerts and fireworks in a picturesque all-American small town! Live music begins at 4 PM with dancing until 9:30 PM at the Bridge Park Pavilion. Stroll Main Street's shops, restaurants and breweries. Fireworks begin at dark. Free.
This premiere craft cocktail bar is a great place eat, drink and be social. Find original cocktails, fine wines, local brews and creative food with local ingredients in a contemporary space that is stylish and intimate. The rooftop patio is just the spot to unwind and elevate your spirit. 29 Broadway.
Top 50 Summer Events & Festivals
June, July, August: From street festivals to outdoor concerts, check out our top summer picks for Asheville and the surrounding NC mountain towns. Most are free.
Rev. Victoria Hutchins, Non-Denominational Minister
Have a personal and unique wedding ceremony that reflect your ideas, beliefs and lifestyle. Ceremonies range from religious to non-religious, traditional to contemporary, simple to complex. Short and sweet ceremonies are perfect for elopements and couples who prefer a small private wedding.
Banner Elk Lodging
Stay high in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a variety of vacation rentals, log cabins, condos, mountaintop homes and hotels. Near ski resorts, Grandfather Mountain and endless outdoor adventures.
Since 2012, Chestnut has delighted with classics done right, with a touch of cutting edge. Unwind with carefully crafted cocktails made with in-house elixirs, shrubs and syrups. Open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. 48 Biltmore Avenue, downtown Asheville.
Saturday Night Lights
Watch horse jumping with the best riders in the country at the impressive Tryon International Equestrian Center with an exciting atmosphere featuring entertainment, food, kids' activities and Venetian carousel rides. Competitions vary each week. Free admission.
Winterfest Christmas Market
The impressive Tryon International Equestrian Center hosts a market with big variety of gift items and art - plus more activities, dining and carousel rides for kids. Fr 10-6, Sat 9-6, Sun 10-4. Free admission.
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.
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.
Little Bearwallow Trail
(6 miles roundtrip, strenuous) This new trail for 2017 in the Hickory Nut Gorge area climbs 1,800 feet in elevation by cliffs, 100-foot cascade and panoramic views from Wildcat Rock. Located between Asheville and Chimney Rock.
This gorgeous lake in Graham County is mostly surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. Swim, boat, camp and fish in the pristine waters, near Robbinsville.
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.
Small Town Christmas, Banner Elk
The charming town of Banner Elk has a big variety of events kick off with the tree lighting on Friday evening. 5k, ornament making, cookie decorating, storytelling, shopping and Parade of Lights on Saturday. Take home a Christmas Tree from one of the hundreds of cut and choose farms.
Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls and Juney Whank Falls
See three waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Deep Creek area with a two-mile hike. Deep Creek is also a popular tubing spot each summer.
25 Guided Tours & Experiences
Take a guided tour for sightseeing, art, wildlife, history, food, beer, waterfalls, wellness and more in Asheville and western North Carolina. See our list of favorites.
Sample beers from 55 breweries in the infield of Memorial Stadium near downtown Asheville, while listening to a bluegrass-infused live band. Buy food from local vendors. This 21 and older event is held 1-6 PM. $55/person. Buy tickets in advance!
Top 8 Zip Line Canopy Tours
Fly above the trees and experience the mountains' natural beauty from a bird's perspective. See our favorite zip line canopy courses to enjoy in the Asheville area of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. No experience is needed. Canopy guides provide all instruction and assistance. It's fun for all fitness levels!
Bechtler House & Gold Mint Site
In 1832, Christopher Bechtler minted the America's first one-dollar gold coin in Rutherfordton, 17 years before the U.S. Mint. During the mid-1800s, the Bechtlers minted more than $2.24 million in one dollar gold coins. Two sites in town tell the story in Rutherford County.
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.
July 4th Festivals & Fireworks
Celebrate Independence Day with many events, festivals and fireworks displays in Asheville and the nearby NC mountain towns.
Extended Stay Discount, The Windover Inn B&B
Spend three nights or more at this historic inn in Waynesville and take advantage of $10 off/night for a room and $15 off/night for a suite.
Rate: From $110
Rate: From $110
Haunted Comedy Tour by LaZoom
Ride the purple bus to discover Asheville's strange and sordid past. Spooky guides uncover mysteries and classic monsters (new for Oct 2017). Laugh and scream. Adults only, ages 17 and up. 60-minute tour begins at 76 Biltmore Avenue (you can grab a beer there to take along). Tours book fast, so buy tickets in advance.
Tressa's Downtown Jazz & Blues
Tressa's is our top pick for date night live music and dancing. Enjoy live jazz and blues in old New Orleans elegance every night with an impressive selection of fine spirits, such as single malt scotches, small batch bourbons, estate rums and sipping Tequilas; as well as their famous martinis. 28 Broadway Street.
Asheville Restaurant Week
Try some new restaurants or revisit favorites and get the lowest prices of the year, with a prix fix menu at $15-$35/person. With many choices, there's something for all appetites! Presented by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce.
History Museum of Burke County
A must-stop in downtown Morganton! Take a free one-hour guided tour through a maze of rooms on two floors, packed with many thousands of fascinating items. Each room has a theme (especially love the vintage beauty parlor and music rooms) that makes your journey through time lots of fun. Open Tues-Fri 10 AM-4 PM and Sat 10 AM-2 PM. 201 West Meeting Street.
Cooking grounded in the traditions and ingredients of the Carolinas create an affordable and vibrant menu. Modern Southern with a “nod” to tradition, offers seasonal farm-to-table menus, fresh catches from the coast of the Carolinas, as well as local microbrews, prestigious wines, and inventive cocktails. 47 Biltmore Avenue, downtown.
French Broad Ziplines
Explore the great outdoors from the treetops near Hot Springs, just 30 minutes from downtown Asheville. The 10-line, 2-rappel zip line canopy tour traverses a mile of cable, with stunning, long-range mountain views. Create memories of a lifetime, led by expert guides with state-of-the-art gear.
Red, White & Bluegrass Festival
Go to one of the top bluegrass music festivals in the South, with 20+ bands including some national headliners. Camping, food, crafts and more in a beautiful park in Morganton. Fireworks on the 4th. Daily admission starts at $25/advance and $30/gate. Four day pass is $60/advance and $75/gate.
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.
Lazy Otter Outfitters
Located a little south of Asheville is one of the prettiest stretches of the French Broad River, away from the crowds and highways. Take a self-guided tubing, kayaking or canoeing trip ranging from two hours to all day, including the fun Sierra Nevada Express trip that makes a post-paddle visit to the brewery easy.
It took 34 years to build North Carolina's most expensive highway, winding up and over 5,400-foot mountains for 15 miles, from Robbinsville through the Nantahala National Forest and descending another 21 miles into the Cherokee National Forest of Tennessee. This 36-mile National Scenic Byway shows little evidence of civilization. Stop at many overlooks.
First Day Hikes
Go to a state park near Asheville for a free guided hike with a forest ranger - a great way to begin a resolution to get outdoors for exercise and education. Most are easy trails, perfect for all ages and fitness levels.
Blue Ridge at The Omni Grove Park Inn
Feast on a farm-to-table artisanal buffet while overlooking the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. The Art of Breakfast is made up of two massive rooms filled with amazing options, including yogurt bar, doughnut buffet and gluten-free options. They open at 6:30 AM daily for breakfast with weekend brunch 12-2:30 PM. Reservations recommended for the Champagne Sunday Brunch. 290 Macon Avenue.
Shop 'til you drop with a huge variety of stores, galleries and outlets in the Asheville area. Find plenty of local, unique shops with items you won't find anywhere else. See the best areas to hit.
Asheville Realty Group
If you are looking for homes for sale in Asheville and the western North Carolina mountains, check with these fun and hard working realtors. Find your perfect downtown condo, mountain cabin, charming bungalow or country house.