10 Mountain Towns in Western North Carolina Worth Checking Out

Don’t overlook these high country hot spots scattered across Western NC.

The mountains are calling. … And while Asheville gets a whole lotta love as a Western NC tourist destination with its delectable and eclectic restaurants/breweries, thriving art and craft scene, and unique art deco architecture, there’s a whole lot more to that part of the state. Here’s our guide to 10 additional towns worth checking out if you’re planning a mountain getaway from Raleigh. Mount us in! 


Hardly a well-kept secret, Boone is a popular high country destination in its own right. Home to Appalachian State University, the college town is located smack-dab in the middle of the mountains. Translation: Endless outdoor adventure ops! To boot, downtown is nestled right next to the university and boasts several restaurants, bars and shops.

Food and Drink

Stick Boy Bread Company: Breakfast/sweet treats

Booneshine Brewing Co.: Beer garden/restaurant offering a mix of bar food and lighter fare

Appalachian Mountain Brewing: Ciders/beers

Outdoor Activities

Appalachian Ski Mountain: ~5 miles away

Blowing Rock Trails: Doesn’t require seasoned hiking chops to experience

Boone Fork Trail: Moderately challenging lengthier trail loop located in Julian Price Memorial Park

Things to Do

Mast General Store: Offers a variety of Mountaineer merch

Anna Banana’s Fine Consignment: You never know what you might find…

Tweetsie Railroad: Offers trains, rides, games, live entertainment and more (reopens in April)


Located just ~9 miles north of  Asheville in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Weaverville touts a charming downtown, easy-access parks and great proximity to hikes. It’s small-town mountain living at its finest!

Food and Drink

Well-Bred Bakery and Cafe: Coffee, pastries, sandwiches and salads 

Stoney Knob Cafe: An eclectic mix of food from “near and far”—everything from Greek salad to a Jamaican wrap to South Korean tacos

Blue Mountain Pizza: Classic American pizza joint with live music

Zebulon Artisan Ales: Local brews galore

Outdoor Activities  

Lake Louise: Hit the trail for biking/hiking or cast a line

Main Street Nature Park: The place to be during the summer thanks to Weaverville’s Second Saturday Summer Music Series

Black Mountain

You’ve peaked (!). This gorgeous mountain town located just east of Asheville is filled with arts and crafts, restaurants, breweries, and other novelties. NTM those views of the Blue Ridge Mountains (*swoon*). 

Food and Drink 

My Father’s Pizza & Pasta or Fresh Wood Fired Pizza: Fresh pies in the sky 

Louise’s Kitchen: Southern breakfast, lunch or brunch—complete with a wraparound porch 

The Bush Farmhouse: South African-inspired restaurant in an open-air setting

Outdoor Activities 

Chimney Rock State Park: ~30-minutes away 

Lake Lure: Also known as the set of Dirty Dancing (!)

Lake Tomahawk: Boasting blue as the eye can see—plus plenty of ops to play, swim, gather, relax, etc. 

Lookout Trail: A slightly tough out-and-back trail

Things to Do 

Lake Eden Arts Festival: Music, art, creativity and culture collide at this biannual fest on the Lake Eden grounds. 


A delightful mountain town with an old-timey vibe, this city touts historic buildings and railroad tracks lining the banks of the French Broad River. Take a trip through history—and make some new memories while you’re at it.  

Food and Drink 

Zadie’s Market: Located in the Old Marshall Jail

Zuma’s Coffee & Provisions: Classic cafe fare

Star Diner: A retro-style restaurant in an old gas station with high-end offerings

Outdoor Activities 

French Broad Adventures: Offers expeditions including canyoneering, rafting and ziplining. 

Nantahala Outdoor Center’s French Broad river outpost: Offers white water rafting excursions.

Hot Springs

Nestled near the Tennessee border, this town is aptly named for its naturally occurring hot springs—the only hot springs in the state (!). Post-hike hot springs soak, anyone?

Food and Drink 

Big Pillow Brewing: Perf perch for post-trail beer and food

The Grey Eagle Taqueria: Tacos and ’tails—name a better duo, we’ll wait.

Outdoor Activities 

Lover’s Leap Trail. Section of the Appalachian Trail that leads to an outcropping with an incredible view of the French Broad river.

Laurel River Trail: An easy trail with water access

Max Patch Loop: Low effort, high reward exploration

Things to Do

Hot Springs Resort & Spa: Treat yo’self to the healing powers of natural mineral water.


Galavant to this prime location for hikers and outdoorsy folk—particularly if you love waterfalls (See: it’s renowned title as the “Land of Waterfalls” because of its easy access to 250 waterfalls). … And we’re already fallin’ for this one! 

Food and Drink 

Brevard Brewing Company: “Crafted in the land of the waterfalls” with a special focus on German-inspired lagersOskar Blues Brewery: Cure any blues with a beer and live music

Wild Morel: Rooted in a farm-to-table philosophy 

The Square Root: Voted the best restaurant in Brevard for 13 consecutive years

Outdoor Activities 

Hooker Falls: Awe-inspiring falls in the DuPont State Recreational Forest

Triple Falls: Three falls is better than one!

Sliding Rock: Slide on down this popular rock formation… If you dare take the plunge!

Things To Do 

Crystal Mountain Gem Mine: Kitschy shop where kids can sift for gems

White Squirrel Shoppe: For bangin’ Brevard merch featuring the town’s mascot, the white squirrel

White Squirrel Weekend: An annual festival with food from local vendors, a beer garden and artisan vendors

Mars Hill

This small mountain city is more than just a college town—find fun restos, theatre shows and hiking trails to sate your spirit for sups, sips and adventure.

Food and Drink 

Camden’s Coffee House: Tasty drinks and small bites in a laid-back, bookish atmosphere

Mars Theatre Brewing Company: Travel back to a 1940s-esque theater-turned-brewery

Wagon Wheel: The best lunch buffet around

Outdoor Activities

Bailey Mountain Loop: For pleasant/scenic strolling

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort: Shred the slopes and try your hand at snow tubing

Things to Do 

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre: Professional theater company with a myriad of fun shows on the docket


A quaint and charming prototypical western NC mountain town, Waynesville is a mere 30-minute drive away from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and offers a plethora of things to do for the adventurous and laid-back traveler alike.

Food and Drink 

Frog Level Brewing: Hop to this microbrewery for satisfying brews (natch) and pub fare

Boojum Brewing Company: The mountaineer’s choice for post-adventure fuel

Sauced: If you’re all about the sauce, take a dip via wings, hummus, mozz sticks and more.

Outdoor Activities 

Lake Junaluska: Recharge your batteries via stroll around this serene lake. 

Things to Do 

NC International Folk Festival: Showcases cultural music and dance traditions from around the world. 


A peak experience, Burnsville (aka the “Home of Mt. Mitchell”) is a great spot to stay if you want to visit the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Spend some time in town exploring the town’s shops before heading out and about for adventure.

Food and Drink 

Homeplace Beer Co.: There’s no place like home(place), esp. when there’s beer involved.

Outdoor Activities

Mount Mitchell State Park: The genesis of NC’s state parks system—topping out at 6,684 feet 

NC Outdoor Adventures: Get outside, whether via rafting, waterfall rappelling, climbing, hiking, etc. 

Things to Do 

Bare Dark Sky Observatory: We’re seeing stars—literally

Banner Elk

Though small (fun fact: The town only has one stoplight!), Banner Elk boasts a rich culture of adventure—what with its many outdoors attractions, great restaurants and vineyards, arts and theater entertainment, and more. 

Food and Drink: 

Banner Elk Cafe: Classic American fare, as well as coffee, smoothies and desserts.

Banner Elk Winery: Come for the wine and stay for the luxurious accommodations (no DD, no problem!). 

Grandfather Vineyard: The high country’s first wine-producing vineyard

Outdoor Activities: 

Beech Mountain Ski Resort or Sugar Mountain Ski Resort: Come ski season, hit the slopes and stick around for après ski 

Grandfather Mountain State Park: Known for its challenging terrain. … Beginners beware!

Roan Mountain State Park: Outdoor lovers are going to soak up the 2,000+ acres of rich hardwood forest along rugged ridges

Things to Do: Original Mast General Store in Sugar Grove: Where it all began…

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About the Author

Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.