Looking for what to do in North Carolina during the warm months? Western North Carolina has an abundance of attractions, ranging from outdoor activities and sports to Great Smoky Mountain adventures. But among the most beautiful attractions in western North Carolina are its vibrant gardens. These include botanical gardens, flower gardens and community gardens. Our farmer’s markets offer everything from special events and live entertainment to delicious local fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, cheeses, organic apple cider and more.

What to Do in North Carolina: Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens at Asheville: The largest and most popular botanical garden in western North Carolina is the Botanical Gardens at Asheville. It’s located at 151 West Weaver Boulevard in Asheville, NC, about a 30-minute drive from Maggie Valley and the Great Smoky Mountains. Explore 700 species of plants native to the Southern Appalachians. Offering free admission to the public, Asheville Botanical Gardens also features adult education, botany classes and Saturday morning special events for “kids of all ages”. Visit the website of the Asheville Botanical Garden.

Cherokee Botanical Garden & Nature Trail: Located just off US Route 441 in Cherokee, near the Oconaluftee Indian Village, is the Cherokee Botanical Garden. It offers 150 species of plants native to the Great Smoky Mountains, an herb garden and a scenic forest walking trail. Cherokee is just a short drive from Asheville and Maggie Valley. It’s a part of Haywood County, which features 46 miles of scenic drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as 16 peaks over 6,000 feet and an authentic Appalachian experience.

See a list of all botanical gardens and arboretums in North Carolina.

What to Do in North Carolina: Community Gardens, Natural Wildflower Displays & Farmer’s Markets

Community Gardens

Meadowlark Motel Community Garden is located at 2878 Soco Road in the heart of Maggie Valley. Krysten Parker, Guest Experience Manager with Meadowlark Motel, says the community garden is growing mostly heirloom plants during this first season, showcasing the famous heritage Cherokee Purple Tomato. “Guests can also pick their own veggies and herbs or get their gardening fix by doing a bit of weeding and planting during their stay. Since all of the plants and herbs are labeled, this is a great learning experience for kids.” The staff incorporates herbs and vegetables from the garden into a great Saturday night cookout held on-site in the outdoor pavilion on the banks of Jonathan Creek. The motel offers a blend of accommodations, from guest rooms to a cottage or cabin, as well as free Wi-Fi and Continental breakfast. You might even find homemade jams or jellies on the breakfast table. Visit Meadowlark Motel.

The Lord’s Acre – The Gardens That Give WNC is an alliance of community gardens “supporting food access organizations in western North Carolina.” The website features a long list of member community gardens with addresses and contact info, from Sylva Community Gardens in Sylva, NC to Grace Giving Gardens in Waynesville. Learn more.

Farmer’s Markets

Cataloochee Ranch – While not actually a farmer’s market, the Cataloochee Ranch does sell an array of delicious homemade jams, created by hand from local fruits grown on-property. Cataloochee Ranch is located in Maggie Valley, NC.

Barber Orchards Fruit Stand – This market opens from August 1st through Christmas Eve and is located at 2855 Old Balsam Road in Waynesville, NC. It offers locally grown fruits and vegetables, with a focus on organic apples from their own orchard, special events and homemade cider. Contact them at (828) 456-3598.

Western NC Farmer’s Market – One of four regional farmer’s markets in North Carolina, this massive market spans 36 acres and is located in downtown Asheville. It offers free admission to the public and is open seven days a week, year-round. Find local-grown fruits, vegetables, homemade jellies, jams, fresh-baked breads, sourwood honey, cookies and other farm-fresh goodies. If you’re looking for what to do in North Carolina, you could easily spend a day viewing all of the natural goodness at this wondrous market. Visit the website for more information.

Natural Wildflower Displays

From late spring to the first few weeks of autumn, nature provides its own ever-changing show of stunning wildflower displays in scenic western North Carolina. Where there are spring and summer flowers, there is also an array of insects and pollinators, especially the glorious Monarch butterflies, who flit with happy abandon from flower to flower. One of the best places to view the abundance of beautiful wildflowers and butterflies is on the Blue Ridge Parkway, America’s most scenic drive. Access the parkway at Soco Gap just outside of Maggie Valley, NC, or at numerous other points in western NC and VA.

All of the gardens, markets and attractions listed on our “What to Do in North Carolina” list are just a short drive or day trip from Maggie Valley. Maggie Valley is centrally located in western North Carolina, right in the center of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a lovely mountain resort town with its own special allure.


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