Things To Do in North Carolina’s Mountain Region
Blue Ridge Parkway’s Folk Art Center – This arts center has full schedule of fine art exhibits of regional, national, and international scope. Daily craft demonstrations are offered April through December. Three different galleries feature changing exhibits of work by potters, blacksmiths, furniture makers, carvers, woodturners, glassblowers, jewelers, basket makers, and more.
French Broad River – One of the oldest rivers in the world with only the New River and the Nile predating it, the French Broad River is a scenic and peaceful river ideal for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. Excellent water quality provides homes to a wide variety of wildlife and waterfowl including ospreys, bald eagles, mink, muskrat, deer, and even the occasional bear. Several outfitters offer their services all along the river. There is even a special festival held to celebrate the river.
Hickory Ridge Homestead & Living History Museum – Located on the grounds of the “Horn in the West,” the museum highlights the daily lives of our mountain ancestors. Docents in traditional costumes recreate chores and crafts, inclduing working with traditional tools, hearth baking, candle-making, weaving, and tin smithing among original mountain cabins.
Daniel Boone Native Gardens – Located in the Daniel Boone Park, this beautifully landscaped garden is home to a rare collection of North Carolina native plants, many of which are of the mountain species. Highlights of the garden include a stone gatehouse, a bog garden, a rhododendron thicket, and the historical Squire Boone Cabin. Self-guided tours only, but gardeners will be happy to answer questions.
Land of the Waterfalls – The Brevard area of Transylvania County and the Pisgah National Forest boast 250 waterfalls. The major falls include Connestee Falls (US 276), High Falls (2.5 miles form Yellow Gap Road), Looking Glass Falls (US 276), and Whitewater Falls (US 281). In addition to viewing theses amazing waterfalls, the area features small towns full of charm, outdoor recreation, and numerous festivals.
Sliding Rock – Located in the Pisgah National Forest, Sliding Rock is a naturally occurring 60-foot waterslide with a seven foot deep pool that has been developed by the US Forest Service into a recreation area. Sliding Rock is a great place to cool off on hot summer weekends, and is a cool alternative to huge theme parks with long lines. Cost to enter the recreation area is a $1.00 per person. Sliding Rock is open year-round, but the bathrooms and changing rooms are only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Museum of the Cherokee Indian – The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is an official interpretive site for the National Park Service. The museum combines the technology of computer-generated images, holographic images, specialty lighting, and audio presentations with a solid artifact collection. Experience the story of the Cherokee and their ancestors from twelve thousand years ago through the present.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino – While you’re visiting the inviting homeland of the Cherokee Indians in the Great Smoky Mountains, experience the large variety of gaming at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. Play live digital Blackjack, video gaming machines, video craps, and the exclusive Baccarito offered only at Harrah’s. The casino features live entertainment with some of the brightest stars, including Loretta Lynn, Bill Cosby, Wayne Newton, and BB King, among others. The Cherokee Pavilion seats 1,500 with 20′ projection screens. There are also six different restaurants offering buffets, steak & seafood, and deli sandwiches.
Historic Flat Rock District – Visit the historic village of Flat Rock nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountain Heritage Area. Flat Rock began about a century and a half ago with affluent southerners building large estates. Today, visitors can enjoy seeing historical homes and buildings, including the Woodfield Inn, St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church, and the Flat Rock Playhouse. There are many restaurants offering casual meals and fine dining. Nearby, there are also several state parks and the charming downtown of Hendersonville.
The Fun Factory – Located in scenic Franklin, North Carolina, The Fun Factory is the Smoky Mountains’ award-winning attraction for family-friendly entertainment. Kids of all ages will find something that interests them at The Factory, including games, mini golf, go-karts, bowling, laser tag, big screen TVs and great restaurants. You can play over 100 arcade games, enjoy ten lanes of bowling action, and test your driving skills in single or two seat go-karts. There is even a special kids’ area for toddlers who can play in a foam factory, a giant slide, carousel, and more.
Heather Grove Gold & Gem Panning – This fun attraction offers visitors the chance to pan for gold and gems just like the first settlers. Sluicing, dredging, and high banking area also offered.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad – Guests aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad will experience the region with scenic views across valleys, through tunnels, and over river gorges. The railroad features 53 miles of track, two tunnels, and 25 bridges. There is a variety of round trip adventures to choose from including a Gourmet Dinner Train, the Mystery Theatre Dinner Trains, the Fontana Trestle, and the Polar Express Dining Trains, among many others. Departures begin May 20 through September 30, with 15 additional departures in October and November.
New River – Renowned as the second-oldest river in the world, rivaled only by the Nile, the New River is a National and State Wild and Scenic River. It is also one of the first American Heritage Rivers. The state maintains three parks along the river. There are numerous outfitters and canoe liveries in the area offering guide services and boat rentals.
Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine – As seen on TLC and the Travel Channel, Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine offers visitors a unique chance to gem mine under covered flumes, rain or shine. A Sands of Time Museum is free. A jewelry 7 gift shop features fine gifts and souvenirs. The mine is open March through December.
DID YOU KNOW . . . The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most popular national park!
Picture courtesy of Mountain Stream RV Park.