Travel Guide For North Carolina

By | June 11, 2024

Travel Guide For North Carolina – Bryson City, North Carolina is a quaint town surrounded by mountains with a classic mountain town feel and full of adventure. It’s the perfect place to hibernate in the cabin during the winter or relax and drink in the cool mountain air in the summer. No matter when you go or who you go with, you’re sure to have the BEST time in Bryson City.

Use this ultimate travel guide to help you decide what to do, where to eat and where to stay!

Travel Guide For North Carolina

Although Bryson City is a small town, there are plenty of things to do in the area. We were in Bryson City for four full days but would have liked a few more days. You can check it off your bucket list for a long weekend, but I recommend staying longer.

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Bryson City is known for its beautiful whitewater rafting. There are three rivers that offer whitewater rafting – the Nantahala River, the Ocoee River, and the Cheoah River. All have varying intensity rapids depending on your ability and level of experience.

We went rafting on the Nantahala River twice when we visited, and it was a lot of fun. You can definitely take kids on this adventure, but I recommend you bring a guide unless you are experienced. It is suitable for everyone who wants to see the beauty of the earth with full feeling.

There are several lakes in this area that you can use to spend the day relaxing. Lake Fontana and Lake Nantahala are two of the most popular. Fountain Lake is the largest in the area and closer to Bryson City.

We drove nearly an hour to Nantahala Lake, which is smaller and more remote, but has fewer people and is more secluded. If you go to this lake, I recommend using Lakes End Marina to rent a boat for a few hours to tour the lake. You can even go tubing or skiing on the lake.

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A VERY popular attraction near town is down Deep Creek. You can rent an inflatable tube for very cheap and spend the day floating down the river as much as you want. Imagine a lazy river trip in nature.

It is different from white water rafting, because the river current is much calmer and you actually just float lazily and don’t pay.

The advantages are that it is cheap, you can spend as long as you want on the river, and it is easier to do with small children. Tip: tie the child’s tube to your tube so it doesn’t float too far away from you.

The downside is that you have to carry your tube up the river every time you float. It’s also much busier and doesn’t give you the thrill of going through white water.

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The main historic area in downtown Bryson City is quite small, but there are many worthwhile shops that you can stop and explore. It won’t take all day, but plan a few hours in your schedule (maybe before or after eating?) to walk around the area.

North of Bryson City is one of the few national parks located in the Southeastern United States – Great Smoky Mountains National Park. No trip to Bryson City would be complete without visiting it and walking around.

Some hikes can take a long time, so be sure to check the length before you go and be prepared. We went to Deep Creek Trail but didn’t know people went tubing here. If you’re looking for a short route, this is great (we had a baby in our group), but otherwise, I don’t recommend it because it’s very crowded. This article contains suggestions for short hikes around Asheville.

Less than 20 minutes from Bryson City is the town of Cherokee, North Carolina located on an Indian reservation. Take time to learn about Cherokee history at Oconaluftee Village or the Cherokee Indian Museum. Not that kind of trip? Stop by Harrah’s Casino!

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Probably the most popular attraction in Bryson City is the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Book a scenic round trip on one of the steam powered locomotives and choochoos around the Great Smoky Mountains.

They offer two tours (Nantahala Canyon and Tuckasegee River) throughout the year, but the most popular choice is their vacation experience – The Polar Express!

Tickets are going fast, but how magical would it be to ride the Polar Express through the mountains? Every child dreams!

For all you fly fishing lovers, visit the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians to learn all about the history and evolution of fly fishing.

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But don’t stop there! You will see many people fishing in the rivers and streams around Bryson City, so grab a rod and see what you can catch.

Located in the heart of historic downtown Bryson City, the Swain County Heritage Museum is a great way to learn about the area. And did I mention admission is FREE?

Take time to appreciate the architecture as the museum is located in the historic Bryson City courthouse. You can also find a visitor center and bookstore at the courthouse!

Among its many accolades, Nantahala Outdoor Center is “the largest outdoor recreation company in the nation,” according to their website. NOC has it all, adventure, lodging, shopping and dining.

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Read about the history of the NOC on the signs posted on the bridge over the Nantahala River.

They offer rafting, ziplining, lessons and training, and more! Most likely if you go whitewater rafting, you will end your trip at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. You can walk across the Nantahala River to take some iconic pictures and read all about the history of the NOC while you’re there.

Take time to wander through their shops and eat in one of their restaurants. I highly recommend River’s End, their on-site restaurant (more at the bottom).

Although it is called the “Road to Nowhere”, its actual name is Lakeview Drive. Although construction began, the road was never finished and now ends in a tunnel. Not only is this place unique and popular (not to mention great for Instagram), but there are also hiking trails you can take in the area.

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One thing I LOVE about Bryson City, North Carolina is that it has so many unique and local restaurants that you won’t find anywhere else. They have always been my favorite place to eat. We had wonderful Bryson City locals give us lots of recommendations before our trip and their suggestions did not disappoint!

Looking for a place to have breakfast? Everett Street Diner is the place to be! It may not be very luxurious, but with good food in the restaurant, it will make you happy and satisfied.

Although not located in downtown Bryson City, a quick trip to Cardinal Coffee will not disappoint. It’s a small cabin that you can easily miss if you’re not paying attention, but that’s part of the beauty. It is very unique and if you are a coffee lover like me, stopping here on your trip is a must!

If you’re looking for a solid coffee and cake shop in the heart of Bryson City, La Dolce Vita is the place to go.

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When your sweet tooth needs to be satisfied, head to The Chocolate Shoppe for handmade ice cream and treats. We were told the coffee ice cream was to die for.

Okay, so this place has two names? Their website is called The Filling Station, but the sign says High Test Deli… After all, this is the best place to buy a sandwich in town.

Haywood Smokehouse is a great place to visit! Although technically located in Dillsboro, it is worth the trip as it has been named the best barbeque in North Carolina and ranked 5th.

Best in the country. You can’t leave without going here. Note that they are closed on Sundays and Mondays.

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We liked Antonio’s so much that we ended up eating here twice during our trip! They have the best pizza in town and great Italian food too. Relax and dine outside enjoying the cool mountain air on the large terrace with table.

Another great option for upscale dining is The Bistro at Everett Hotel. The dining room’s mountain cabin and quality American food will satisfy all your mountain vacation dreams.

I love the atmosphere at Nantahala Brewing Burger + Bar. When we went, they had a limited menu and no indoor seating, but it was still good. It’s a relaxed atmosphere with great food and if you like craft beer they have some local brews you can try.

Jimmy Mac’s is a place for everyone, a hometown type place. With a diverse menu, everyone is sure to find something they like.

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Probably one of my favorite places to eat in Bryson City is Rivers End. Located in Nantahala Outdoor

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