Sylva North Carolina Visitor Guide

Sylva, NC

Sylva is a very fun and picturesque small town (population 2,500) in Jackson County at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. Stroll its "all American" Main Street, packed with local restaurants, general store, galleries, bookshops and breweries. Visit for many events during the year, including the big Greening Up the Mountain street festival to welcome spring and Concerts on the Creek summer weekly concerts.

Sylva Christmas Courthouse

The historic Jackson County Courthouse on Main Street was built in 1914. Considered to be the "most photographed courthouse" in North Carolina. the Courthouse can be reached by climbing 107 steps from Main Street - look back for a nice view of downtown and the mountains (pic below). To get plenty of ideas of things to do, stop at the Visitor Center (773 West Main St). Sylva is one of our top Christmas Towns in western NC and a delightful spot for holiday shopping.

Sylva, NC

Our favorite stores for browsing are Jackson's General Store and Black Rock Outdoor Company. Top local restaurants include Lulu's (612 West Main) and next door Guadalupe Cafe (606 West Main). For downhome cooking, head to The Coffee Shop (385 West Main Street), a local's favorite since 1926. Did I mention their homemade pies? And for the sweet tooth, stop at Baxley's Chocolates (628 West Main Street).

Craft Breweries
Sylva’s Main Street is home to three breweries in an easily-walkable one-mile stretch called the Jackson County Ale Trail.

  • Innovation Brewing (414 West Main Street): With 32 brews on tap, a homemade ginger ale and three ciders, this seven-barrel brew house has a handful of mainstay traditional ales as well as several IPAs and experimental beers.
  • Balsam Falls Brewing (506 West Main St) has 16-20 beers on tap including a rotating selection of IPAs, pale ales and sours, along with six staple beers.
  • Sneak E Squirrel Brewery and Taproom (1315 West Main Street) is open every day with freshly made ales and kitchen menu specializing in game meat.

Three Billboards in Ebbing Sylva

The Sylva area has hosted filming of several movies lately, including transforming downtown for the 2017 big screen movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing (read more)!

Outdoor lovers will be overwhelmed with the options for hiking, waterfalls, fishing, biking and more in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains - including Nantahala National Forest. In fact, the town owns Pinnacle Park with a 7-mile round-trip trek to a 5,000-ft. peak with great views. The Blue Ridge Parkway is just 11 miles from downtown via US 23 North / US 74 East.

Sylva is home to the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail, attracting anglers from around the world. The Tuckasegee River is known for its whitewater and trout populations. 

Artsy Dillsboro is just a few miles west with studios, shops and galleries, along with some great art festivals. Read more about Jackson County things to do.

Sylva Featured

Holiday Inn Express Sylva
Conveniently located off of Highway 441/74, rediscover the beauty of nature as you relax in the indoor heated pool or spa and gaze out over the majestic Great Smoky Mountains. Minutes from Western Carolina University, Harrah's Cherokee Casino and the Blue Ridge Parkway. 67 rooms, $100-$280, king or queen beds, WiFi, free parking.... read more
Jackson County Ale Trail
Jackson County Ale Trail
For a more laid back, small town beer adventure, head to Sylva’s Main Street. Visit three breweries along a scenic one-mile walk, with plenty of places to shop and eat along the way. Sample brews at Sneak E Squirrel, Balsam Falls and Innovation Brewing.
Fly Fishing Trail NC
Western NC Fly Fishing Trail
Welcome to the first fly fishing trail in the United States with the best 15 spots for catching brook, brown and rainbow trout. With 92,800 fish stocked in its waters annually, Jackson County was named North Carolina Trout Capital. See detailed maps and fishing reports. 
Sylva July 4th
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. 
Sylva NC Concerts
Concerts on the Creek
Unwind on Fridays Memorial Day through Labor Day with live music outdoors in downtown Sylva. Shows are 7-9 PM at the Bridge Park. It's just two blocks from Main Street with shops, restaurants and breweries (come early!). Family friendly with a big variety of music. Bring a chair or blanket. Free. 
The Pinnacle, Sylva
The Pinnacle
(7 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the top of The Pinnacle for views looking down into Sylva and the surrounding valley. Climb 1,800 ft. in elevation with a steady grade.
Greening Up the Mountains Festival
Greening Up the Mountains Festival
April 22, 2017
Celebrate the arrival of spring with this downtown Sylva street festival, about an hour's drive west of Asheville.
Jackson County Places to Stay
Jackson County Places to Stay
Choose from historic B&Bs, mountaintop log cabins, lakeside resorts and camping in the great outdoors in the Sylva, Dillsboro and Cashiers areas. Find a mountain getaway for any budget. Pic: High Hampton Inn. 
Jackson County Guide
Jackson County Mountains Guide
Order a free visitors guide for the Sylva, Dillsboro, Lake Glenville, Cherokee and Cashiers areas, including info on fly fishing, hikes and waterfalls in Jackson County, NC.
Judaculla Rock
Judaculla Rock
See petroglyphs created by Cherokee Indians 1,500 years ago on a boulder near Sylva and Western Carolina University. The small outdoor park is open every day.

Nearby
Western Carolina University is seven miles down the road in Cullowhee.

There is great hiking on the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, including hikes at Devil's CourthouseGraveyard FieldsWaterrock Knob and Black Balsam Knob.

Other nearby small towns include FranklinCashiersHighlandsCherokee and Waynesville. See more of our Coolest NC Mountain Small Towns.

Sylva Directions from Asheville: Take I-40 West to Exit 27 and follow US Highway 74 West past Waynesville to exit 83 for downtown Sylva. 50 miles, 1 hour drive.

The feature movie "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" was filmed in several locations near Asheville, including many days in downtown Sylva (mostly May 2-20, 2016).... read more
Lake Glenville is pristine reservoir located just 8 miles from Cashiers in Jackson County. Located in a beautiful North Carolina mountain... read more
This is the tale of two waterfalls. High Falls (or Cullowhee Falls) is located just below the dam for Lake Glenville on the West Fork Tuckasegee River near... read more
Nantahala National Forest is the largest national forest in North Carolina (531,286 acres), covering much of the western tip of the state. From Asheville, head west past the Blue Ridge Parkway to... read more
There are many waterfalls near Highlands and Cashiers, North Carolina, that are easily seen and enjoyed. Many of these are located along... read more