Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Beautiful views, delectable foods, incredible moods… we welcome you to the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.
“Great things are done when men and mountain meet” ~ William Blake
You need peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of your work. It’s time to take a break from the back-to-back phone calls, the stacked up work projects, the long, long meetings, and the busy traffic everywhere. Grab the family, the suitcases, the snack bag, stuff it all into the SUV, and wander on into the Blue Ridge Mountains for some peace and quiet.
C’mon over to the quieter side of the Smokies – the mountains of North Carolina.
The mountains have so much to offer…and very little traffic. Find that mountain cabin to rent where memories are made with the family. Check in to a great romantic getaway with your special someone and ‘check out of the busy’.
But, if you want more than just front porch swingin’ and fire pits on a cool summer evening, toss on those hiking boots, scoop up the kids, and get out into the wilderness to hunt down a waterfall. Maybe even get inside and walk the halls of the historic Biltmore House.
You can expect that there are many great scenic mountain views and plenty of beautiful waterfalls waiting for you in the Smoky Mountains. But, when you begin planning that summer vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains, have you wondered what all there is to do? Let’s just say there are a TON of activities – inside and out!
If you enjoy hiking to a waterfall, kayaking across a peaceful lake, visiting national parks, exploring mountain trails, walking around farmers markets, backpack camping in the mountains, setting up your RV in a mountain campground, jumping off a dock into a lake, or finding that really cool craft beer place everyone is talking about…well, the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina have you covered.
This group of fun activities below is nowhere near an exhaustive list. The mountains are packed full of unique adventures that can keep you and the kids busy during your mountain vacation.
Adventure awaits! Check out 17 MUST DOs while you’re in the Great Smoky Mountains
- Road to Nowhere – just outside of Bryson City, NC, this scenic mountain road was meant to wind around the backside of Fontana Lake through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take a scenic 6-mile drive from Bryson City that ends at a 1200 foot tunnel. The controversial road was never completed and has a complicated history [history]. Today, you can walk through the tunnel to access a network of hiking trails. One option is a 3.2-mile loop that begins at the tunnel. History of the Road to Nowhere
- Dry Falls – located between Franklin and Highlands, NC, this beautiful waterfall is a popular stop along NC Highway 64. You can park and walk down and UNDER the 75 ft waterfall. Or, if you prefer, you can walk out to a viewing platform where you can see the falls without going down all the stairs. Dry Falls in Cullusaja Gorge
- Hot Springs in Hot Springs, NC – Soak up some relaxation in natural hot mineral waters. Hot Springs Resort and Spa pipe the water heated deep in the earth into jacuzzi-style hot tubs. The water ranges between 98 and 102 degrees. Hot Mineral Springs
- Elk in Cherokee, NC – Elk used to be plentiful in these mountains but overhunting caused them to disappear in the 1790s. Reintroduced in 2001 by the National Park Services, these wild giant deer are a popular site at the entrance to the Great Smokies National Park. Keep your distance…they are wild animals. Elk Sightings
- Daniel Boone Native Gardens – Enjoy a walk through this 3-acre garden that contains an outstanding collection of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. During the summer there are programs for seniors, children, birders, and artists. The Gardens
- Biltmore Estate and Gardens – This 250-room castle makes Asheville home to America’s Largest Privately Owned Home. George Vanderbilt’s home [built in the 1890s] features 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces on an 8,000-acre estate. You can tour the Biltmore House, the gardens and grounds, Antler Hill Village, and the Biltmore Winery. Biltmore House
- Catawba Science Center – Located in Hickory, NC, this science center features fresh and saltwater aquarium galleries where you can see sharks and touch stingrays. They have a 65-seat planetarium that has a giant 30 ft dome screen. There are also two gift shops. Science Center in Hickory
- Blue Ridge Parkway – America’s longest linear park, the BRP runs 469 miles across North Carolina and Virginia. It links the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Shenandoah National Park. With a starting point in NC near Cherokee, this beautiful road will bring you past Cumberland Knob, Grandfather Mountain, Linn Cove Viaduct, Mount Pisgah, and much much more. BRP
- Chimney Rock State Park – If you are hunting down Dirty Dancing movie locations around Lake Lure, schedule a visit to Chimney Rock State Park. This park not only features a 315-foot granite monolithic rock but also many hiking trails for all skill levels and an animal discovery den. Chimney Rock
- Linville Caverns – The limestone caverns are open to the public year-round for guided tours. Originally discovered by fishermen in 1822, the underground stream is home to native trout housed in a subterranean recess inside a mountain. Take a guided tour and escape the weather outside. The Caverns
- Grandfather Mountain – One of NC state parks, Grandfather Mountain is known for its mile-high swinging bridge and two rocky peaks. This 720-acre property also has a nature museum and animal habitats. Grandfather Mtn
- North Carolina Arboretum – This 434-acre public garden just outside of Asheville, the arboretum botanically diverse garden, walking trails, education programs, and numerous exhibits. Arboretum
- Sliding Rock – a 60-foot all-natural water slide that ends in an 8-foot deep pool just outside of Brevard, NC. Your family will absolutely love to take the plunge on this refreshing water experience on a hot summer day in Pisgah National Forest. Sliding Rock Recreation Area
- Wheels Through Time Transportation Museum – Come to Maggie Valley, NC to visit the world’s premier collection of rare American motorcycles, memorabilia, and a distinct array of unique “one-off” American automobiles. Wheels Through Time Museum
- Great Smoky Mountains Railroad – catch a mountain ride on 22 miles of the GSMR railroad track between Bryson City and Nantahala, NC. GSMR Train
- Highlands Aerial Park – fly through the forest canopy of the Smoky Mountains on some of the best ziplining in the country. 17 unique aerial elements await your family, including their 1,550 long “Squealing Mare Zipline” Zipline in the Mountains
- Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site – take a tour of the historic home and gardens on this 267-acre property located near Hendersonville, NC. The house is still set up as it would have been while the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet lived there. Visiting the home of the “Poet of the People” is only available via a guided tour. Carl Sandburg Home
As you make your plans and you nail down that rental cottage, expect to create those memories that will last a lifetime. Fireflies, firepits, and family… the mountains are calling…I must go!