15 Fantastic North Carolina Mountain Towns You Should Visit

Steve Cummings

North Carolina Mountain Towns

Are you looking for a North Carolina getaway that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of city life? Do you want to escape into the beauty of the mountains? If so, visiting North Carolina mountain towns is the best option! With the majestic Appalachian, Blue Ridge, and Great Smokey mountain ranges, North Carolina mountain towns are a must-see for anyone looking for an unforgettable experience. From the vibrant culture of Asheville to the outdoor adventure in Boone and the pristine valleys of Maggie Valley, these beautiful towns are brimming with cultural richness and mountain spirit that will leave you breathless. 

With so many options, it might be tricky to decide where to start. No worries! In this blog post, we've compiled a list of the best mountain towns to visit, including those near Asheville and towns with options for hiking and skiing. 

When is the Best Time to Visit North Carolina Mountain Towns?

North Carolina has a humid subtropical climate, which means that it experiences hot and humid summers and mild winters. Fall is the best time to visit these towns, as the vibrant colors of the autumn leaves cover the mountains. During the holiday season, the towns come alive with festive lights and decorations, creating a magical atmosphere. 

Whether you're an avid hiker or simply looking for a peaceful vacation, the North Carolina mountain towns have something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in one of the best mountain ranges in the country. Don't forget to bring your hiking boots and bug spray to make the most of your trip!

15 Fantastic North Carolina Mountain Towns

1. Asheville

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Asheville is a beautiful city located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is known for its scenic beauty, art galleries, wineries, and craft breweries. This bustling city is located close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and not far from Pisgah National Forest. The Blue Ridge Parkway headquarters are also in Asheville. There are many outdoor activities to do. You can go rafting on the French Broad River, ride bikes in the Pisgah Forest, and find hiking trails all around.

Asheville is also home to the Biltmore Estate, which is the largest privately owned house in the United States. The city has many unique neighborhoods that give it a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Some popular neighborhoods include the Montford Area Historic District and the River Arts District.

Winter is a special time to visit because the streets are decorated with twinkling lights, and there are many events to attend. Even on rainy days, there are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy. 

Top Attractions

2. Blowing Rock

Blowing Rock is a small mountain town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and many people take a day trip there from Asheville. The main attraction is its famous rock formation, called Blowing Rock, which is 4,000 feet above the sea. The town's downtown area is great to walk around. There are shops, restaurants, coffee places, and breweries.

Blowing Rock is close to fun outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, golf, fishing, and kayaking. It also provides easy access to nearby famous places like the Blue Ridge Parkway, Tweetsie Railroad, Linville Falls, and Grandfather Mountain State Park. 

Many folks come to see the beautiful fall colors in the mountains, but you can visit any time of the year! Whether you want to go on a hike or just enjoy the pretty colors from your car, Blowing Rock is a fantastic place to check out!

Top Attractions

3. Boone

Boone, NC
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Boone, in the Appalachian Mountains, is a top choice for one of the best North Carolina mountain towns. Blowing Rock and Boone are in close proximity to each other. Boone is known for its outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. It is also home to Appalachian State University. Boone has many waterfalls nearby, and they're all worth checking out! 

The Appalachian Ski Resort is just a short drive away and is one of the best ski spots in North Carolina, especially for young skiers and snowboarders. Don't miss the Horn in the West outdoor drama during the summer. It has been telling the story of Daniel Boone's adventures since 1952.

Boone is a great place to stay if you want to explore Elk Knob State Park, Grandfather Mountain, or the Pisgah National Forest. Take a stroll through Boone's restored downtown area, where you can find good places to eat and shop, like the Mast General Store. Boone is a great spot with lots of fun things to do!

Top Attractions

  • Appalachian Ski Resort
  • Tweetsie Railroad Theme Park
  • Mast General Store
  • Daniel Boone Native Gardens
  • Elk River Falls
  • Hickory Ridge History Museum

4. Black Mountain

Things to do in Black Mountain NC
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Black Mountain is a small town near Asheville, just off I-40 (Exits 64 and 65). It is known for its beautiful combination of art and outdoor fun, which makes it one of the best North Carolina Mountain Towns. You can explore its history at the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center. After that, you can eat at one of the many downtown restaurants like Black Mountain Ale's House! If you walk a little, you'll find Tomahawk Lake, where you can take a nice walk with pretty views of Graybeard Mountain. 

The town has a lot of distilleries and breweries like Oak & Grist. With hiking trails, great places to eat, and local shops, Black Mountain is a wonderful place to spend a weekend! 

Top Attractions

5. Brevard

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Brevard, known as the Land of the Waterfalls, is one of the best North Carolina Mountain towns. This huge area, covering 500,000 acres, is surrounded by some of the most amazing waterfalls, like Whitewater Falls and Looking Glass Falls. The nearby Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Recreational Forest offer numerous hiking and biking trails. If you love music, the Brevard Music Center has events happening throughout the year. One of the popular events is the White Squirrel Festival, usually in late May or early June. 

The town has a pretty Main Street with excellent shops, interesting restaurants, an old-style cinema, and a farmers' market every week. People often say it is one of the best mountain towns to live in. Brevard is just a short 45-minute drive from downtown Asheville. It is a perfect spot for a day trip, and if you're looking for a romantic escape, consider spending at least a weekend!

Top Attractions

  • Dupont State Recreational Forest
  • Sliding Rock
  • Looking Glass Falls
  • Moore Cove Falls
  • Brevard's Lumber Arts District
  • Cradle of Forestry in America

6. Hendersonville

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Hendersonville is a small mountain town located in the western part of the state. The town has a small-town vibe with a friendly Main Street in a Historic Downtown, but it also has some city vibes being close to Asheville. 

Hendersonville is known as “The City of Four Seasons” because you can experience all the seasons here. This mountain town is about 2200 feet above sea level and is only about 15 miles from the South Carolina border. It is known for its historic downtown area, apple orchards, and the Flat Rock Playhouse. You can go apple picking, explore museums, see historical buildings, find many places to eat, hike trails, enjoy beautiful views, go shopping, and much more!

If you're there with kids, you can check out the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine and the aquarium with a shark lab. For the adults, there is the Brandy Bar! Hendersonville has always been considered one of the best mountain towns in North Carolina. You should visit and see it for yourself!

Top Attractions

  • Appalachian Pinball Museum
  • Team ECCO Aquarium and Shark Lab
  • Apple Valley Model Railroad Museum
  • Elijah Mountain Gem
  • Henderson County Heritage Museum

7. Weaverville

Weaverville is a small town just north of Asheville in North Carolina. It is in a beautiful area with rolling hills of Reems Creek Valley. Even though it is small, it has many pleasant surprises for you! With a population of less than 4,786, it feels like you're part of a small town when you visit! 

Weaverville has excellent restaurants and handcrafted art. It is also close to fantastic outdoor experiences. Take a nice hike to Reems Creek, where you can see both a dam and a waterfall. Right in the middle of downtown, there's a beautiful nature park where you can have a picnic. The town hosts the Weaverville Art Safari two times a year, and many artists open their studios for visitors. With a strong artistic influence, Weaverville is one of the best North Carolina mountain towns.

Top Attractions

8. Highlands

highlands north carolina
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Highlands is a fantastic place in the mountains of North Carolina. It is high at over 4,000 feet and is surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. If you like hiking, it's a great spot! You can take a walk along the tree-lined Main Street, filled with charming stores, souvenir shops, and many restaurants. Every Friday night (May – October), there are concerts in the square. If you visit during Halloween, make sure not to miss their old-fashioned festivities when they close down the entire town center!

One cool thing about Highlands is that it has some of the best waterfalls near Asheville. One of them is called Dry Falls, and it is beautiful, with an 80-foot drop. There's a nice, easy path to walk on to see it. Glen Falls, Cullasaja Falls, and Bridal Falls are also worth visiting.

So, if you love waterfalls, Highlands is one of the best North Carolina mountain towns to visit!

Top Attractions

  • Mountain Theater Company at The Highlands Playhouse
  • Sunset Rock and Ravenel Park
  • Highlands Botanical Gardens
  • The Bascom
  • Cullasaja River Gorge

9. Banner Elk

Banner Elk, located in the Carolina High Country, is one of the most loved Blue Ridge Mountain towns in North Carolina. It is situated between two large ski resorts, Beech Mountain Ski Resort and Sugar Mountain Ski Resort, making it a perfect place for winter sports. 

Banner Elk is also near Grandfather Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Appalachian Mountains. If you enjoy dining out, Banner Elk has more than a dozen small restaurants. For adults, there are local wineries and breweries to check out.

This small mountain town is home to the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, a fun ride in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you like walking, there's a beautiful one-mile greenway, a fantastic path to explore the town. And there's more – a college and even an alpaca farm to visit! 

Top Attractions

  • Grandfather Vineyard & Winery
  • Apple Hill Farm
  • Sugar Creek Gem Mine
  • Grandfather Mountain Nursery Garden Center
  • Lees McRae College

10. Maggie Valley

Maggie Valley, located in the Great Smoky Mountains, is one of the best mountain towns in North Carolina. People in Maggie Valley are known for their friendly Southern hospitality. In the summer, people come to explore the national park, while in the winter, it attracts snowboarders and skiers to Cataloochee Ski Resort. Other outdoor activities you can enjoy are golfing, hiking, fishing, or ziplining. The town itself has local shops, restaurants, and bars. 

The Festival Grounds host various events throughout the year, such as craft shows, auto shows, music concerts, and motorcycle events. Whether you love outdoor activities or just want a laid-back escape, Maggie Valley has it all.

Top Attractions

  • Wheels Through Time Transportation Museum
  • Waterrock Knob
  • Cataloochee Ski Area
  • Maggie Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center
  • Soco Falls

11. Beech Mountain

beech mountain north carolina
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Beech Mountain is a beautiful mountain town known for the famous Beech Mountain Resort, especially in winter. Sitting at a height of 5,506 feet, it is the highest town in the Eastern United States. This makes it a perfect place for skiing and snowboarding, with lots of snow and just the right temperatures. 

Even though it is small, less than seven square miles, Beech Mountain is full of charm. The buildings look like they're from a storybook, and the people make you feel like you've lived there forever. In the summer, there are great trails for hiking and mountain biking. One of the main attractions of Beech Mountain is the Land of Oz theme park. Whether you're on a romantic getaway or seeking a true mountain experience, Beech Mountain has something special. 

Top Attractions

  • Beech Mountain Ski Resort
  • Land of Oz
  • The Buckeye Recreation Center
  • The Sledding Hill
  • Emerald Outback

12. Little Switzerland

Next on our list of the best North Carolina mountain towns is Little Switzerland. It is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, only a 1-hour drive from Asheville. It is also called the Jewel of the Blue Ridge Parkway because of its beauty. People like to go mining at Emerald Village and hike to Crabtree Falls or Wiseman's View. The Diamondback (NC-226) is a popular road known for its stunning views, attracting tourists and motorcyclists.

Visiting this small mountain town is like taking a trip to Europe but staying in the United States! The shops and restaurants in town have a Swiss feel, and the mountains around make the scene look like a picture. Whether you're here for a day or a week, Little Switzerland offers a memorable experience. 

Top Attractions

  • Little Switzerland Books and Beans
  • Emerald Village
  • The Trillium Gallery
  • WildAcres Retreat

13. Sylva

Sylva, surrounded by the Plott Balsam and the Great Smoky Mountains, is a beautiful mountain town in North Carolina. Visitors can explore the Jackson County Greenway and attend local festivals. The downtown area has a classic “All-American” main street with book shops, art galleries, restaurants, and a Courthouse that resembles a Norman Rockwell painting. 

Sylva gained recognition as a filming location for the Oscar-nominated movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing. This mountain town is also home to the 1400-acre Pinnacle Park wilderness. It is also part of the WNC Fly Fishing Trail, which makes it a great destination for adventure seekers.

Top Attractions

  • Jackson County Public Library
  • Rockhound Ridge Gem Mine
  • Wolf Creek Lake
  • Pinnacle Park
  • The American Museum of the House Cat

14. Cherokee

If you're looking for the best North Carolina mountain towns, you shouldn't skip. Cherokee is a small town at the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It was the historical home of the Cherokee people, and many still live in the Qualla Boundary, a sovereign nation bordering Bryson City. You can learn about Cherokee history and culture through the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills” and by visiting the Cherokee Museum and its historic village.

The town's main street is lined with many shops, art galleries, and covered walkways. With a low elevation of 1,991 feet, spring nights are warmer, perfect for camping in the lush surroundings. Nearby, you can explore the Nantahala National Forest, Soco Falls, and Mingo Falls with short hikes. 

Top Attractions

  • Oconaluftee Indian Village
  • Museum of the Cherokee People
  • Santa's Land Fun Park & Zoo
  • Casino at Harrah's Cherokee
  • Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery

15. Bryson City

Last but certainly not least! If you love outdoor adventures, you shouldn't miss Bryson City. It is known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bryson City is also known as one of the best Christmas Towns in North Carolina, especially because of the festival “Polar Express” ride by the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.

In Bryson City, you can explore the scenic “The Tunnel To Nowhere” or go tubing in Deep Creek with friends. The town and its surrounding trails are dog-friendly, making it a perfect destination for pet lovers. 

Bryson City also has charming shops, art galleries, and restaurants to explore. Other nearby attractions include the Nantahala National Forest, the Cherokee Nation, and Fontana Lake.

Top Attractions

  • Deep Creek Trail
  • Smoky Mountain Train Museum
  • Tsali Recreation Area
  • The Tunnel to Nowhere
  • Darnell Farms

Final Thoughts

There you have it – a list of the 15 fantastic NC mountain towns. These mountain towns are a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy the beauty of the mountains. From the artistic vibes of Weaverville to the winter wonderland of Beech Mountain, each town offers different outdoor activities, cultural events, and scenic beauty. Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway or an adventurous vacation, North Carolina mountain towns have something for everyone. So, pack your bags and head to the mountains for a memorable vacation!

1 thought on “15 Fantastic North Carolina Mountain Towns You Should Visit”

  1. Living in Charleston, SC we like to escape to the cool, fresh air of the North Carolina Mountains. Black Mountain is one of our favorites for shopping, eating, and watching people. But it shouldn’t be mentioned without recommending a visit to the nearby college town of Montreal. Besides scenery there is an interesting bookstore and a gift shop with fair trade merchandise. Also, the chapel is beautiful!


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