Visit the most popular attractions and things to do in NC Mountains on your next vacation. From Maggie Valley and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Asheville and its grand Biltmore Estate, Western North Carolina offers thousands of exciting recreational opportunities. There’s something for everyone in our Top 20 list.
Top 20 Things to Do in NC Mountains
- The Cataloochee Ski Area is located at 1080 Ski Lodge Road in Maggie Valley. It offers the longest ski season on the East Coast, 18 skiing and snowboarding slopes and trails of varying skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Cataloochee Ski Resort has snow-making capabilities, so there will always be snow during their open season, which runs from November through early spring.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Located in Western NC, near Maggie Valley and Asheville, the park covers 520,976 acres and offers a plethora of things to do within its boundaries, from viewing Clingman’s Dome to hiking, camping, sightseeing, waterfalls, cultural and historical attractions.
- Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is located about 30 minutes North of Asheville, at 578 Valley View Circle, Mars Hill, NC. Wolf Ridge offers ski slopes, snowboarding trails and a tube run. It’s open from December through March.
- NC Stage Company, Asheville – Here you can take in live shows of everything from classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “Jeeves at Sea” and “Silent Sky”. Find this theatre at 15 Stage Lane in Asheville, NC.
- River Arts District, Asheville – Walk along a street of converted warehouses and historic brick buildings with brightly colored exteriors. Enter into each art gallery, full of creative works that rival any world-class artistic endeavors. The zesty River Arts District is located along the French Broad River and is a favorite tourist attraction in the city.
- Biltmore Estate, Asheville – Built for George Vanderbilt, this elegant and massive estate offers guided tours of the historic mansion, grounds and winery, special events, dining, hiking and equestrian trails.
- Blue Ridge Parkway – The parkway spans 469 awe-inspiring miles between North Carolina and Virginia. Haywood County (Maggie Valley, Waynesville and other towns) is home to 46 miles of the parkway. It’s dubbed “America’s most scenic drive” for a reason.
- The Learning Center at PARI – Located in Pisgah National Forest, The Learning Center is a former NASA facility converted to a non-profit educational and research center. It’s located near Brevard, NC.
- Pisgah National Forest – See old-growth forests and the highest mountain peaks East of the Mississippi at Pisgah National Forest.
- Great Smoky Mountains Railroad – Situated in Bryson City, this railroad offers scenic rides through the NC Mountains, traversing valleys, mountains and tunnels. It offers a variety of train adventures that cater to all ages.
- Asheville Outlets – Shop at the Asheville Outlets Mall where you’ll find 75 local and international retailers, an array of dining outlets and much more. It’s one of the most popular things to do in NC Mountains as far as shopping goes.
- Mountain Hiking and Camping – From the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Recreational Forest, there are tens of dozens hiking trails and campgrounds from which to choose.
- River Tubing / Whitewater Rafting – One of the most exciting things to do in NC Mountains is to enjoy action sports on the many rivers. Two of the favorite outdoor sports are river tubing and whitewater rafting. Read more about outdoor sports in NC Mountains.
- North Carolina Arboretum – Stroll, bike or hike in this 434-acre public garden, located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, within the Pisgah National Forest in Asheville, NC.
- Harrah’s Cherokee Casino – Try your hand at Lady Luck at Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee, NC. It is one of the most popular attractions in Western NC.
- Cherokee – As home to the Eastern band of the Cherokee Native American tribe, Cherokee offers an array of attractions, including a recreated Indian village, live dramas and more.
- Gem Mining – Scattered throughout the NC Mountains, you’ll discover many places that offer gem mining to the public. This is a great pastime for families and kids love it. One of the largest is the Emerald Village and Mining Museum near Little Switzerland. Learn more about gem mining in NC Mountains.
- Brewery and Winery Tours – Western North Carolina has its fair share of breweries and wineries. Most of them offer guided tours and tastings. Perhaps the most famous winery is located at Biltmore Estate. Located near Columbus and Tryon, NC, the Tryon Foothills Wine Country offers guided tours to five well-known wineries, and the Catawba Valley Foothills are home to at least four more wineries that offer tours.
- Historic Sites – These can be found throughout the NC Mountains. Some of the most famous historic sites include the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, Grovewood Village in Asheville, Smith-McDowell House in Asheville, the Orchard at Altapass, Mingus Mill and Smokemont Church within the Great Smoky Mountains near Cherokee.
- Chimney Rock Park – Set in Rutherford County, 25 miles from Asheville, NC, Chimney Rock is the name of the surrounding small village as well as Chimney Rock State Park. It offers an elevator ride to the top of the 500-million-year-old mountain named Chimney Rock, dramatic scenery and hiking trails.
Stay in Maggie Valley – Near All 20 Things to Do in NC Mountains
Meadowlark Motel is located at 3878 Soco Road in Maggie Valley, and offers an assortment of spacious accommodations, from guestrooms to a cottage or cabin. Many accommodations feature jetted tubs, microwaves and refrigerators. Bring Fido along because pets are welcome at this establishment. Located on the banks of Jonathan Creek, Meadowlark Motel features an array of guest services, such as Friday family night activities, Saturday night cookouts, wine and craft beer tastings, live music by local musicians and in-room spa services. Enjoy the outdoor pavilion and recreation area with grills and outdoor furniture, along with complimentary Continental breakfast and free Wi-Fi. Meadowlark offers numerous deals and packages, including many with tickets to attractions named above, such as its Biltmore Estate, Great Smoky Mountains Railroad and Harrah’s Casino packages.