Bryson City, North Carolina

Bryson City, North Carolina

Bryson City, NC sits snug to the southern border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Like it’s sister city, Cherokee, it offers a starting point for outfitters, lodging and food plus easy access to the National Park and its wealth of recreational opportunities. Bryson City is a small, old-fashioned red-brick southern city with an interesting casual downtown that offers the traveler a full range of services. It’s a lively town and offers lodging accommodations and restaurants sufficient to host the tens of thousands of visitors yearly. For example, the old railroad now houses the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, which offers excursions for visitors. Also, 13 miles southwest of Bryson City you’ll find the Nantahala Gorge and Nantahala River, home to numerous rafting and kayaking outfitters. The eight-mile Gorge has even developed its own community of tourist-oriented businesses. In Bryson itself, you can explore the little town, beginning with the Old Swain County Courthouse, which sits next to a statue of a World War I doughboy. Nearby Lake Fontana isolates much of the remote western Smokies from most visitors. To explore this area by car, you need to travel nine miles west of Bryson City and pick up NC 28. It’s worth the effort because this route will introduce you to Stecoa NC, a small village that offers a glimpse of the past, and Fontana Dam, where you will want to drive across the dam to enjoy the great views. (Bryson City attractions) Nearby Fontana NC (now Fontana Village) was founded in 1942 as the construction camp for Fontana Dam. Upon completion of the dam, the camp became a...
Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, NC is a lively, sophisticated Smoky Mountains city that’s home to the Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, the leading attraction of the Great Smoky Mountains, second only to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Asheville NC was just another small western North Carolina town until 1889 when the venerable George Vanderbilt visited and was impressed by all he saw. He returned shortly after his visit and purchased over 100,000 acres to develop the beautiful estate now called Biltmore. Nearby, Vanderbilt founded a model village—Biltmore Village—and also brought in experts on forestry, architecture, landscape design to deveop the European look the estate retains. In addition to the Biltmore Estate, Asheville NC has much to offer the traveler. Asheville has some great lodging accommodations including hotels and many wonderful B&Bs—not to mention the rustic and luxury cabins in the surrounding mountains. Choose from a fine selection of restaurants with a wide variety of cuisine. Entertainment-wise, the city of Asheville has a symphony orchestra, minor league baseball, and offerings at community theaters. For those especially interested in shopping, enjoy the Lexington, Pack Square, and Battery Hill shopping Districts. Asheville’s downtown comprises 60 square blocks with architecture dating from the years 1890-1930. Asheville, NC is surrounded by mountains: the Newfound Mountains, the Bald Mountains, the Pisgah Mountains, and the Great Balsams. This group of mountains boasts the highest peak in the east—Mt. Mitchell at 6,690 feet. And at the base of these mountains sits Asheville, NC in the impressive valley through which the French Broad River runs. Asheville’s special events include Lake Eden Arts Festival the last weekend in May; the Mountain Dance...
Townsend, Tennessee

Townsend, Tennessee

Townsend, TN bills itself as “The Peaceful Side of the Smoky Mountains”. And true to its name, it does have a much slower and easier pace than its neighboring towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN. More important is its close proximity to Cades Cove. Townsend is the closest of the towns bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is the most visited part of the Park. In fact, Townsend’s Tuckaleechee Cove is rich in Appalachian history and heritage. Here the Little River gently descends from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park into this quiet community, and was a natural settlement area that has attracted and served as home to pioneers for hundreds of years. In fact, archaeological digs in the Townsend area have recently uncovered evidence of settlers dating back thousands of years. As early as the 1700’s, white settlers settled the areas of Townsend and nearby Cades Cove. Today, several museums and historic sites keep us connected with the past. In the early 1900’s, the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company ruled the area when they logged thousands of acres until 1928, when locals fostered the idea for creating a national park. The railroad museum that exists here today contains hundreds of photographs, well-restored railroad equipment and entertaining exhibits to interest the traveler. True railroad enthusiasts can enjoy viewing the preserved locomotives and logging equipment. For more info, contact the Townsend Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum at 865-448-3060. From Townsend, you are only 25 minutes to Dollywood and Pigeon Forge TN, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville. Start your visit at the Townsend Visitors Center. Call 865-448-6134...
Dillsboro, North Carolina

Dillsboro, North Carolina

Dillsboro, North Carolina and the adjoining village of Sylva NC sit in a deep mountain valley, and serve as a major entryway to the western North Carolina mountains. Both small towns are the old-fashioned red brick and white clapboard Victorian villages that are common to this area. Both towns are quaint and unspoiled and consist of just a few city blocks of authentic old brick buildings, with architecture from the 40s. You won’t find the franchise restaurants here-just good old-fashioned independently-owned eateries. The small western North Carolina towns have put considerable thought and energy into some upscale shops for North Carolina mountain visitors, and for those travelers whose mountain getaway is not complete without a shopping spree—well, they won’t be disappointed here. Sylva’s Jackson’s General Store and Dillsboro’s Riverwood Crafters shouldn’t be missed. For those who appreciate art, visit L. Kotila Watercolors. If you are lucky, you might even catch Linda working on a new watercolor. There are some interesting things to do and see in and around the towns of Sylva NC and Dillsboro, North Carolina. Some entrepreneurial investors bought an abandoned freight railroad in Dillsboro NC and created the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad which offers several excursion rides throughout the surrounding mountains. The Mountain Heritage Center at WCU houses a museum that re-tells the story of early settlers in the coves and valleys in this area. Lodging choices run the gamut. Mountain cabin rentals and luxurious bed and breakfast inns are the best choices. As an example, Dillsboro’s Jarrett House combines a fine bed and breakfast and dining experience. Jarrett House is a three-story wood hotel in operation...
Cherokee, North Carolina

Cherokee, North Carolina

Cherokee, North Carolina, home of the Cherokee Indians, is one of five gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and sits up against the southeastern boundary of the Park. Unlike it’s counterpart Tennessee city, Gatlinburg, it is much quieter. Where Gatlinburg TN—at the northern border of the Park—is very fast-paced with lots of lights, with a constant flow of improvements and investment, Cherokee NC is still stuck in the 1950s, because the tribal members own all the land within the Cherokee boundary and have not encouraged outside investment. If you visit both towns, you’ll get a good idea of the contrast that exists between the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the Park. But understand that Cherokee NC has a lot to offer the mountain traveler. The southern approaches to the town (via US 441 through the Park or north from Atlanta) or US Hwy 19 (from Bryson City) will bring you quickly to the downtown area of Cherokee. If you’ve ever visited Cherokee at anytime since the mid 1950s, you’ll quickly recognize the souvenir stands and the stuffed bear shops. You can still locate the “Chiefs” in full colorful regalia as they stand in front of tepees waiting for their pictures to be taken–expect to leave a tip for the privilege. In an area of Cherokee that features the old government buildings from the 1930s and 1940s, you’ll find The Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. The Cherokee craft cooperative, the Oconaluftee Indian Village, and the Cherokee Historical Association’s production of “Unto These Hills”, an outdoor presentation with more than 100...
Highlands, North Carolina

Highlands, North Carolina

Highlands is not only a great place to visit–it’s also a great place to retire. In 1879, developers Samuel Kelsey and Clinton Hutchinson thought Highlands NC would be the ideal location for a vacation Time has proven that Kelsey and Hutchinson were right. And all the things that make it a wonderful place to vacation make Highlands, and nearby Cashiers, the perfect place to retire. Highlands NC and sister village Cashiers are located at the southern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains, at a point where North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia meet. The towns offer a pleasing climate, plenty of clean air, some fantastic shopping and the natural beauty of the mountains and numerous waterfalls. The Highlands Country Club features a world-famous Donald Ross resort golf course, which has been played by many of golf’s big names. The course record is held by Bobby Jones, who maintained a summer home at the club. Highlands NC has a permanent population of approximately 2,000, but in summer that number easily jumps to over 25,000.(For Cashiers NC, these numbers are 1,200 and 9,500, respectively. During summer vacation, travelers can appreciate the cooler temperatures. In July, the average low is about 56 degrees; the high about 76. Residents and vistors who stick around for winter can expect an average low of 25 and an average high of 42 in the month January. Cashiers NC, a one-stoplight town, is home to the High Hampton Inn and Country Club. The rustic retreat also features cabins covered with shaggy chestnut bark,water sports on Lake Hampton, mountain climbing, horseback riding, and gold. The moderate weather found...