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We love exploring our cool, charming small towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. When you’re ready for a getaway, explore the picturesque historic Main Streets, friendly shops, general stores, farm-to-table restaurants, breweries, art galleries, antique shops, and other quirky finds. Each town has its own personality and many things to do surrounding the Asheville area. Meet some locals, hear some live music, and experience a leisurely day of exploration, just like Mayberry. Your first stop should be the mountain city's Visitor Center to get insider tips and travel guides to find places that match your interests. (Feature photo: Downtown Sylva)

Since many cities in the NC mountains are in close proximity, it's easy to visit several in a day trip (see the map at the bottom of the page). You’ll find many of the best mountain towns in NC near state parks and national parks, including Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and many more. Find a variety of nearby outdoor adventures in any season, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, ski resorts, the Blue Ridge Parkway, waterfalls, hiking trails, and more. 

Don’t miss the mile-high swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain, the sights and sounds of Linville Falls, and the beautiful mountain vistas you can stay at throughout the area. The natural beauty of Western North Carolina is at your fingertips!

Pack up your car for a road trip and explore 40 of the best NC mountain towns near you below. 

Best Small Towns Near Asheville

Lake Lure

There's a lot happening in this lake town! In addition to a beach to keep cool on hot summer's day, there's a wonderful Town Center Walkway that connects the beach to the beautiful Flowering Bridge. Take a boat tour of the lake or bring your mountain bike for their new trail system at Buffalo Creek Park.

Bryson City

Find much to do! Ride the train on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad before you explore their downtown shops and galleries, or paddleboard down the river. Nearby Deep Creek in the Smokies features camping, hiking, trout fishing and the ever-popular tubing. Raft the Nantahala River. And that's just the beginning!

Sylva

In Jackson County, Sylva is home to NC's most photographed courthouse perched on a hill overlooking the historic Main Street. Find fantastic restaurants, breweries, general stores, shops, and festivals in this city, home to the terminus of the WNC Fly Fishing Trail—the only fly fishing trail in the country.

Dillsboro

This artsy village is just a few miles from Sylva. On the banks of the Tuckasegee River. Dillsboro has been a tourist stop since the late 1800s. This artisan village is home to an impressive mix… read more

This artsy village is just a few miles from Sylva. On the banks of the Tuckasegee River. Dillsboro has been a tourist stop since the late 1800s. This artisan village is home to an impressive mix of specialty shops and galleries representing many local artists. Go to many art festivals. 

Waynesville, NC

Downtown's quaint old buildings, brick sidewalks, galleries, and general store take you back to a more leisurely time. Each summer, Folkmoot USA. attracts entertainers from all over the world. The… read more

Downtown's quaint old buildings, brick sidewalks, galleries, and general store take you back to a more leisurely time. Each summer, Folkmoot USA. attracts entertainers from all over the world. The Museum of NC Handicrafts is housed in the historic Shelton House. On summer Friday nights, come down for the Mountain Street Dances.

Little Switzerland

This tiny summer retreat along the Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its charming architecture, historic inns, gem mining, winding motorcycle drives and amazing book store. Near Spruce Pine.

This tiny summer retreat along the Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its charming architecture, historic inns, gem mining, winding motorcycle drives and amazing book store. Near Spruce Pine.

Maggie Valley

This longtime mountain resort town has kept much of its local charm with vintage motels and plenty of gift shops with arts and crafts. Tour Wheels Through Time collection of classic cars and… read more

This longtime mountain resort town has kept much of its local charm with vintage motels and plenty of gift shops with arts and crafts. Tour Wheels Through Time collection of classic cars and motorcycles. Ski at Cataloochee. Festivals include Hillbilly Jam and Elk Fest.

Marshall

This historic town in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and French Broad River. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 889 residents has a Main Street with artists’ studios,… read more

This historic town in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and French Broad River. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 889 residents has a Main Street with artists’ studios, galleries, music venues,  restaurants, Zuma Coffee and shops. Walk across the river to Blannahassett Island and the Marshall High Studios with many events.This historic town in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and French Broad River. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 889 residents has a Main Street with artists’ studios, galleries, music venues,  restaurants, Zuma Coffee and shops. Walk across the river to Blannahassett Island and the Marshall High Studios with many events.This historic town in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and French Broad River. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 889 residents has a Main Street with artists’ studios, galleries, music venues,  restaurants, Zuma Coffee and shops. Walk across the river to Blannahassett Island and the Marshall High Studios with many events.

Tryon

Home to an impressive arts community, with galleries and an arts center downtown. Also boasts a big equestrian community, with many horse-related events, including a Steeplechase each spring. The… read more

Home to an impressive arts community, with galleries and an arts center downtown. Also boasts a big equestrian community, with many horse-related events, including a Steeplechase each spring. The amazing Tryon International Equestrian Center attracts horse lovers and riders from all over the world. Near Saluda.

Cherokee

Home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee, NC offers a variety of ways to experience the cultural heritage and long history of the tribe. Tour the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and… read more

Home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee, NC offers a variety of ways to experience the cultural heritage and long history of the tribe. Tour the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Watch "Unto These Hills." Shop for local crafts, see their painted bears, attend a pow wow or try your luck at the huge Harrah's Casino. It's also a major gateway to the…

Chimney Rock Village

The tiny village (population 109) has a busy downtown at the entrance to popular Chimney Rock Park. Behind the shops and restuarants, the Rocky Broad Riverwalk takes you along the cascading river… read more

The tiny village (population 109) has a busy downtown at the entrance to popular Chimney Rock Park. Behind the shops and restuarants, the Rocky Broad Riverwalk takes you along the cascading river with places for a picnic. Take a step back in time in this authentic tourist town that has kept the charm of the 60s and 70s.

Forest City

Have lunch at the soda fountain, see an amazing collection of vintage cars and catch a baseball game in small town American. Every winter, the Forest City’s Hometown Holidays celebration lights up… read more

Have lunch at the soda fountain, see an amazing collection of vintage cars and catch a baseball game in small town American. Every winter, the Forest City’s Hometown Holidays celebration lights up Main Street with more than one million lights.

Cashiers

Shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants center around the Village Green with outdoor sculpture, walking paths and gardens. Find a sophisticated arts and music scene. Nearby are Silver Run… read more

Shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants center around the Village Green with outdoor sculpture, walking paths and gardens. Find a sophisticated arts and music scene. Nearby are Silver Run Falls and Lake Glenville.

Lake Junaluska

This beautiful lake town near the Great Smoky Mountains is home to trails, boat tours, golf, gardens and a big variety of lodging options, including lakefront hotels and cabin rentals for a… read more

This beautiful lake town near the Great Smoky Mountains is home to trails, boat tours, golf, gardens and a big variety of lodging options, including lakefront hotels and cabin rentals for a Methodist church retreat.

Brevard

Picturesque Main Street has many local shops, restaurants, galleries, brewery, museums and favorite O.P. Taylor toy store. Big events include the White Squirrel Festival, 4th of July celebration,… read more

Picturesque Main Street has many local shops, restaurants, galleries, brewery, museums and favorite O.P. Taylor toy store. Big events include the White Squirrel Festival, 4th of July celebration, Brevard Music Festival and Halloweenfest. This is the Land of the Waterfalls with hiking, biking and famous Sliding Rock.

Morganton

Located about 60 miles east of Asheville, Morganton's charming downtown centers around the stately historic courthouse. Shop, eat and taste local brews at three breweries. Just outside of town is… read more

Located about 60 miles east of Asheville, Morganton's charming downtown centers around the stately historic courthouse. Shop, eat and taste local brews at three breweries. Just outside of town is Lake James, Catawba Valley wineries and Linville Gorge. In September, don't miss the big Morganton Festival.

Old Fort

Located at the foot of the Black Mountains, this quaint village just off I-40 is home to the Mountain Gateway Museum, Catawba Falls, Andrews Geyser, Point Lookout Greenway, towering Arrowhead, and… read more

Located at the foot of the Black Mountains, this quaint village just off I-40 is home to the Mountain Gateway Museum, Catawba Falls, Andrews Geyser, Point Lookout Greenway, towering Arrowhead, and the Gold Festival.

Saluda

Since the late 1890s, tourists have flocked to this tiny railroad town of 700 residents. Main Street has many longtime businesses, including fantastic galleries and restaurants. A must stop is the… read more

Since the late 1890s, tourists have flocked to this tiny railroad town of 700 residents. Main Street has many longtime businesses, including fantastic galleries and restaurants. A must stop is the 1899 Pace's "old time" General Store that is part museum. Since 1892 is Thompson's Store and Ward's Grill. Learn about the Saluda Grade at the Depot. Raft and tube on the Green River.

Lake Toxaway

This pristine, scenic mountain lake is surrounded by a community with many things to do - located near Brevard. Take a lake cruise at Greystone Inn, be a beekeeper for a day, stay at a wellness… read more

This pristine, scenic mountain lake is surrounded by a community with many things to do - located near Brevard. Take a lake cruise at Greystone Inn, be a beekeeper for a day, stay at a wellness retreat and see Toxaway Falls.

Burnsville

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… read more

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.

Columbus

Located in the foothills in wine and horse country, this tiny town (population 999) has a quaint historic downtown with a park and mountain views, scenic drive, wineries and Tryon Equestrian… read more

Located in the foothills in wine and horse country, this tiny town (population 999) has a quaint historic downtown with a park and mountain views, scenic drive, wineries and Tryon Equestrian Center. 

River Arts District

Some 185 working artists have set up shop in the River Arts District. Drive a little, walk a little to visit studios and galleries. Find an amazing variety of art and see how the artists create it… read more

Some 185 working artists have set up shop in the River Arts District. Drive a little, walk a little to visit studios and galleries. Find an amazing variety of art and see how the artists create it. It's just a few miles from downtown Asheville and Biltmore Estate.

Cedar Mountain

Cedar Mountain is a must-stop while visiting Brevard! Read all about this secret gem and one of Transylvania County’s liveliest and most rewarding communities. 

Cedar Mountain is a must-stop while visiting Brevard! Read all about this secret gem and one of Transylvania County’s liveliest and most rewarding communities. 

Mars Hill

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… read more

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.

West Asheville

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.

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.

Spruce Pine

This small town offers not one but two main streets, Upper Street (Oak Avenue) and Lower Street (Locust Avenue). A must-stop is the Toe River Arts Council Gallery. Visit for many festivals and gem… read more

This small town offers not one but two main streets, Upper Street (Oak Avenue) and Lower Street (Locust Avenue). A must-stop is the Toe River Arts Council Gallery. Visit for many festivals and gem mining.

Rutherfordton

Explore one of the oldest towns in Western North Carolina, with historic antebellum homes and a downtown filled with shops, restaurants and one of the best children's museums in the state. And it'… read more

Explore one of the oldest towns in Western North Carolina, with historic antebellum homes and a downtown filled with shops, restaurants and one of the best children's museums in the state. And it's the site of the first minted gold coins in the USA!

Bakersville

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.

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.

Black Mountain

This quaint town is just a mile from the busy I-40. We especially love exploring the shops along Cherry Street. And don't forget the Swannanoa Valley Museum. Find an impressive selection of… read more

This quaint town is just a mile from the busy I-40. We especially love exploring the shops along Cherry Street. And don't forget the Swannanoa Valley Museum. Find an impressive selection of restaurants for a tiny town. Nearby Montreat is worth a quick sidetrip.

Hot Springs

This tiny town of 567 residents is perhaps best known for its hot mineral springs. Located north of Asheville at the junction of the Appalachian Trail (which goes right through downtown) and the… read more

This tiny town of 567 residents is perhaps best known for its hot mineral springs. Located north of Asheville at the junction of the Appalachian Trail (which goes right through downtown) and the French Broad River. Hike from town up to Lover's Leap for a great town view.

Crossnore

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.

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.

Marion

Stroll down Marion's Main Street lined with historic buildings, churches and the courthouse. It sits at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains near popular attractions like Mt. Mitchell and Linville… read more

Stroll down Marion's Main Street lined with historic buildings, churches and the courthouse. It sits at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains near popular attractions like Mt. Mitchell and Linville Falls. Don't miss the Livermush & Bigfoot Festivals!

Beech Mountain

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… read more

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.

Franklin

This town is known as the "Gem Capital of the World." Downtown is home to the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum in a 19th Century jailhouse. Attend one of the country’s best known gem shows, the… read more

This town is known as the "Gem Capital of the World." Downtown is home to the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum in a 19th Century jailhouse. Attend one of the country’s best known gem shows, the Macon County Gemboree. Tour the Macon County Historical Museum and the Scottish Tartans Museum.

Valdese

Founded on the traditions of 19th century Waldensian settlers from Italy. Stop by the Visitor Center in the historic Rock School for things to do including Waldensian Museum, Trail of Faith, Old… read more

Founded on the traditions of 19th century Waldensian settlers from Italy. Stop by the Visitor Center in the historic Rock School for things to do including Waldensian Museum, Trail of Faith, Old Rock School Art Galleries, and model train museum.

Weaverville

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… read more

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.

Robbinsville

This tiny town of 600 residents is big on things to do in Graham County, home to Fontana Lake, Lake Santeetlah, Stecoah Arts Center, Cherohala Skyway and hikes and waterfalls in Nantahala National… read more

This tiny town of 600 residents is big on things to do in Graham County, home to Fontana Lake, Lake Santeetlah, Stecoah Arts Center, Cherohala Skyway and hikes and waterfalls in Nantahala National Forest. 

Banner Elk

This quaint mountain village at 3,700 feet elevation is located between the Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain ski areas, near Grandfather Mountain hiking, and has great restaurants, breweries, and… read more

This quaint mountain village at 3,700 feet elevation is located between the Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain ski areas, near Grandfather Mountain hiking, and has great restaurants, breweries, and shops. Enjoy Wildcat Lake Beach and many events, including the Woolly Worm Festival in October!

Highlands

For the most upscale shopping in the mountains, head to downtown Highlands. Nearby are many beautiful waterfalls, including the roadside Dry Falls. This is one of the highest towns east of the… read more

For the most upscale shopping in the mountains, head to downtown Highlands. Nearby are many beautiful waterfalls, including the roadside Dry Falls. This is one of the highest towns east of the Mississippi River, with an elevation of 4,118 feet. It's a popular area for affluent travelers, many with a summer home there.

Hendersonville

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… read 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.

Boone

Many are drawn to Boone, NC, for winter fun and a mix of ski resorts in the area, as well as for its fun college-town atmosphere, as its home to Appalachian State University. Explore hiking trails… read more

Many are drawn to Boone, NC, for winter fun and a mix of ski resorts in the area, as well as for its fun college-town atmosphere, as its home to Appalachian State University. Explore hiking trails, overlooks, scenic drives, picnic spots, and more, including Linn Cove Viaduct, Rough Ridge, and Grandfather Mountain.

Flat Rock

This quaint and very historic village is located three miles south of Hendersonville. A longtime summer retreat, it's home to the Playhouse state theatre, Carl Sandburg National Historic Site,… read more

This quaint and very historic village is located three miles south of Hendersonville. A longtime summer retreat, it's home to the Playhouse state theatre, Carl Sandburg National Historic Site, Hubba Hubba Smokehouse, Sky Top Orchard, galleries and shops.

Blowing Rock

Downtown Blowing Rock is about as charming as you would imagine a small mountain town could be! Main Street offers plenty to do, including restaurants, galleries, gift shops with local pottery,… read more

Downtown Blowing Rock is about as charming as you would imagine a small mountain town could be! Main Street offers plenty to do, including restaurants, galleries, gift shops with local pottery, and other shops with crafted art from local artisans, boutiques, and more. And don't miss the jutting rock formation the town gets its name for—The Blowing Rock. 

Biltmore Village

Stroll this picturesque historic "town" in the city of Asheville near the entrance to Biltmore Estate. Find tree lined streets with trendy, mostly local boutiques, galleries, breweries and… read more

Stroll this picturesque historic "town" in the city of Asheville near the entrance to Biltmore Estate. Find tree lined streets with trendy, mostly local boutiques, galleries, breweries and restaurants in buildings and cottages built by the Vanderbilts.

Free Printed Guides
Many of these NC mountain cities have free printed guides that they will mail to you (free postage, too!). Find 12 that you can order here, along with maps so you'll never be lost.

Western North Carolina Small Town Map

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