With the kids out of school, summer is the perfect time to take a family adventure somewhere new. Tucked away in the mountains of N.C., five thriving mountain towns are ideal destinations for your next family getaway. From hiking fanatics to history buffs to craft connoisseurs, N.C. has something in store for every member of the family. It’s time to start packing; adventure awaits.
Beech Mountain, N.C.
Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains where temperatures seldom surpass 79 degrees, this quaint mountain town is conveniently located in driving distance from many of the South’s biggest metropolitan cities, making it an ideal weekend getaway for every member of the family. Touted as the highest town in Eastern America, Beech Mountain is bustling with activities for every type of adventurer. Summer visitors to Beech Mountain can expect a variety of unique summer offerings such as the famed Land of Oz, the newly announced summer tubing experience, and a summer concert series kicked off by the ever-popular GRAMMY® award-winning group, The Steep Canyon Rangers. For those seeking an excursion outdoors, Beech Mountain’s Emerald Outback offers nearly seven miles of trails for every level of adventurer, from the most-experienced hiker to the scenic walker. For a unique view of the mountain’s greenery from above, grab a lift ticket and take a summer scenic chair lift ride up and down Beech Mountain. Available on select days throughout the summer, the round-trip lift ride takes visitors up to the city’s highest elevation to capture panoramic views of the stunning summer foliage.
Famously known as “the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” Cashiers is home to awe-inspiring waterfalls, award-winning dining and a diverse shopping scene. Sitting at 3,484 feet, Cashiers is located in Jackson County in western N.C. This mountain town’s elevation, paired with its abundant rainfall, creates a lush rainforest-scape perfect for families who love a balance between the upscale and the outdoors. As summer temperatures reach peak numbers, you won’t find typical scorching heat here – Cashiers boasts a climate that is generally about 20 degrees cooler in the summer months than just about anywhere else in the southeastern U.S. On Friday evenings, families of all ages are invited to dance to live music at Cashiers’ weekly Groovin’ On the Green concert series. From shoppers to hikers, from concertgoers to waterfall-chasers, Cashiers is the perfect spot for the most diverse of family trips.
This picturesque small town that sits right at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains is a haven for all things quirky. Home to vintage clothing stores and noteworthy restaurants, Sylva is the perfect destination for families looking for a hip town teeming with local flair. Often heralded as a small, more intimate version of Asheville, Sylva’s funky offerings give off a low-key, hippie vibe everyone will fall in love with. Stop by downtown’s “All American” main street where you’ll experience one-of-a-kind eats and kitschy stores, including a record shop and multiple bookstores. Cinephiles may find that downtown looks a bit familiar – the award-winning film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was filmed on-site right in Sylva’s downtown district! Sylva is a perfect destination for outdoor adventurers, as well. Set along the Tuckasegee River, fondly referred to by locals as “the Tuck,” Sylva is home to several rafting and kayaking companies and the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail®, the first and only fly-fishing trail in the country. Whether you’re on the hunt for a new thrifted find or an outdoor excursion, Sylva has something in store for every kind of traveler.
Often thought of as Sylva’s artsy sister city, Dillsboro is home to crafters and creators of all mediums, from pottery to glass, from metal to weaving. This small, nostalgic mountain town has a unique array of mom and pop stores specializing in hand-made merchandise and gifts. Due to the nature of the town’s layout, Dillsboro is extremely walkable, making it a perfect spot to stroll from shop to shop browsing the wares of local makers. You may even wander into an artisan’s studio, where you and your family can watch the creation of one-of-a-kind masterpieces. In the late afternoons, Dillsboro blossoms into a foodie’s paradise. Award-winning restaurant Haywood Smokehouse is a delicious option for barbecue-lovers of all ages. If sweets are more your family’s speed, a trip to the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory is a MUST. This artsy town is one that should top every art-lovers travel bucket list.
One of the most unique towns in N.C. is one you may have heard about before. Cherokee is a town on the reservation of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. Nestled in western N.C, this town is enshrouded in Cherokee motifs, visible from the moment you enter the city lines. Cherokee is a worthy destination for explorers of all ages, with offerings like horseback riding, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and weekly performances of outdoor drama “Unto These Hills.” Stop by the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to learn more about area’s early history and the legacy of its inhabitants. The forests surrounding the center are also a hub for some excellent animal viewing. If you time your visit well, you may be lucky enough to spot a herd of elk! To learn more about the Cherokee tribe, visitors can explore the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a live reenactment of 1760s Cherokee daily life and rich cultural history. The village even offers arts and crafts classes for children at select days and times throughout the summer. At the end of your trip, be sure to stop by one of the many artisan shops to pick up unique gifts for your family back at home.