5 PRETTIEST North Carolina Mountain Towns In The Fall

5 PRETTIEST North Carolina Mountain Towns In The Fall

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Updated: March 6, 2022

North Carolina is home to some cute and fun mountain towns that make for either a great weekend getaway or even a nice road trip! Even though I am a native North Carolinian, I still enjoy exploring the quaint North Carolina mountain towns. I don’t think you could ever see or do everything!

There is so much to love! Although, I must admit that I am partial to the mountains over the beach. Even if you are a “sun worshipper,” I think there is still something to love about the North Carolina mountains.

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Why Are The North Carolina Mountain Towns So Great?

The Seasons

The mountains typically are around 8-10 degrees cooler due to the higher elevation. Cooler weather can be a great escape during the summer months, especially due to the humidity in North Carolina. Even though there is a slight temperature drop, winters are still mild compared to our neighbors in the North.

Fall

The Blue Ridge parkway is famous for its beautiful foliage during the fall. The bright and vibrant leaves can actually lead to miles of backup on the parkway. It’s a great time to plan a visit and photograph the gorgeous scenery.

Navigating the Blue Ridge Parkway
road to the North Carolina mountain towns in the fall

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 469 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties. It connects Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and is actually America’s longest linear park. As for the busiest time to visit, Caitlin Worth (a parkway spokeswoman), says that “traditionally it is the third week in October.”

** Travel Tip** Download the Blue Ridge Parkway – Travel App for constant access to information and maps. Areas of the parkway have limited to no cell service.

Fall is another great time to hit up some fall festivals!

Fall Festivals

Are you a fan of the Wizard of Oz? In September there is a festival called Autumn at Oz in Beech Mountain. Festival goers can walk down the yellow brick road, meet Dorothy and characters, and be entertained by dancers, a petting zoo, and live music!

Not a Wizard of Oz fan? Don’t you worry! If you are more into the arts, there’s a festival called Autumn Art In The Park. Art in the Park is held in downtown Blowing Rock, close to all the shopping and restaurants. Jury-selected vendors come from all over to showcase a wide array of artwork that can be bought. Hours are 10am-5pm and it is free to attend!

Sugar Mountain’s Oktoberfest is one that is full of German spirit! There is a ton of dancing, food, costume contests, arts/crafts, and live music. It’s a fun, family oriented festival!

** 2021 update: Due to COVID-19, some events may not be going on this year. Check the local listings for up to day information**

Summer/Spring

I love escaping to the North Carolina Mountains in the warmer months. Traditionally, the mountains are a slight bit cooler due to the higher elevation. This year, however, there have been times when the mountains were warmer! Silly global warming.

There are many ways to cool down, from natural water slides to swimming holes. Just be safe- Copperheads love sun bathing on those warm rocks. I hate snakes… Josh hates them more!🐍

Sliding Rock

Sliding Rock is a natural slide-type waterfall. It is located near Brevard, NC in the Pisgah National Forest. There are 2 observation decks and lifeguards on duty. Entry fee is $4.00, whether a slider or observer. Beware- the plunge into the 7 foot pool below is COLD! 🥶

Winter

So, the great thing about North Carolina winters is how mild they are compared to other areas of the U.S. The mountains still see snow and have many known ski resorts. While I love skiing, I don’t entirely recommend North Carolina mountains for your go-to ski resorts. If, however, you want a quick ski trip, you have plenty of options from Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, and Appalachian Mountain.

The Activities

Warm Weather

There are some great hiking trails for people of all fitness levels. As you may know, I am not the most advanced hiker; however, I enjoy spending a few hours in nature. Hanging Rock, Pilot Mountain, and Grand Father Mountain are a few well known hiking spots with some spectacular overlooking views. If you are feeling extra adventurous, you can take a try at the mile high swinging bridge located in Grandfather Mountain.

husband and I getting ready for a hike
Pilot Mountain

I love white water rafting! Some of the best white water rafting in North Carolina occurs on the French Broad, Nolichucky, Nantahala River, and/or Watauga River. Each white water rafting trip is different depending on the river difficulty and experience of rafters.

I know many people love camping. Unless you are a glutton for punishment, do not attempt camping while it’s summer in North Carolina. One word: H.U.M.I.D!

Cold Weather

Can anybody say snow skiing?! Most ski resorts also have the option to go snow tubing and snowmobiling. There are a total of 6 ski resorts in North Carolina, so you have plenty of options to choose from. As far as snow tubing, the largest snow tubing park on the East Coat is Hawksnest Snow Tubing, located in Seven Devils, NC.

Boone

Boone is the home of Appalachian State University (ASU) and it sure does have a college town feel! Because of ASU, there is also a lot to do in the area.

Things To Do

Located in Boone, NC is the Appalachian Ski Mountain. There are 11 slopes, five lifts, and three terrain parks. The ski season at Appalachian Ski Mountain lasts from mid-November to late march. There is also night skiing every night, making it one of the only ski resorts to have night skiing!⛷️

Check out High Mountain Expeditions for some great white water rafting guided tours that depart from Boone/Banner Elk Area. They have some pretty cool canoe and kayak trips as well!

My Favorite Restaurant

Whenever I go to Boone, I have to stop at the Dan’l Boone Inn to eat. The restaurant is family style dining and cash only. There is an ATM on site if you forget your monaaaay.💰 Meals include salad or soup, three meats, five vegetables, biscuits, dessert, and beverage. The Dan’l Boone Inn has been featured in Southern Living and Our State Magazine… so it’s gotta be good, right?!

Blowing Rock

15 minutes away from Boone, NC is the quaint walking mountain town of Blowing Rock, NC.

Things To Do

Tweetsie Railroad is a great Western themed amusement park for the whole family. They have shows, rides, and a petting zoo. The theme park is most known for the train and re-enactments on board. I don’t want to say more and give it away 😉 Tweetsie has themed events for Halloween and Christmas. Keep in mind, tickets can be pricey so you may want to see if you get any discounts through wholesale clubs or AAA.

If you want to get the adrenaline pumping, try out Sky Valley Zip Tours for some zip lining, cliff jumping, and walking the swinging bridge.

My favorite thing to do when in Blowing Rock is strolling downtown and window shopping. They have some adorable shops, good ice cream, and just a relaxing atmosphere.

husband and i hanging out in bryson city, nc
Bryson City Downtown

Bryson City

We used to visit Bryson City every summer! Although it’s a small town by the Great Smokey Mountains, there is a bunch to do.

Things To Do

Check out Nantahala Outdoor Center! It’s one of my favorite pastimes. They offer white water rafting on the Nantahala River, which is primarily class 1-11 rapids. It’s great for the family. They also offer zip lining and kayak adventures.

Deep Creek is another place to check out. Here you have the option of going whitewater tubing or lazy tubing or both. As you drive to Deep Creek, there are multiple tube rental companies. All you have to do is rent your tube, transport it to the river, and then hike it up to the very top (or wherever you want to start). The upper section is whitewater and lower section of the river is calmer. I recommend observing the whitewater tubing from an observation platform before diving right in as some parts can be very dangerous.

Not into adventure? That’s ok! I also love window shopping 😊  Bryson City is dog friendly and has a walkable downtown with cute restaurants, art shops, 2 breweries, museums, aquarium, bookstores, and an excursion train!

Asheville

Biltmore

Whenever you hear of Asheville, people usually think of the Biltmore Estate. It is one of those landmarks you have to check off of the Bucket List. The Biltmore House spans 175,000 square feet, which is more than 4 acres of floor space. This makes it America’s largest home with 250 rooms that include 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces!

Tickets can be purchased online with prices fluctuating depending on the time of year. The Biltmore is beautifully decorated during Christmas with candle light tours even given in the Winter months. For a candle light visit, you must purchase a special ticket.

On the property, there is also the Antler Hill Village which has shops and restaurants. I highly recommend making dining reservations if you choose to eat on site. I love dining at the Stable Cafe because of the atmosphere; the food is good too! The Stable Cafe was, literally, a stable back in the ol’ days!

Make a day of it and visit the Biltmore Estate Winery! Here you can walk around the shop, tour the winery, and indulge in a wine tasting. Be prepared for a possibly long wait for wine tasting, depending on when you go.

Whenever you hear of Asheville, people usually think of the Biltmore Estate. It is one of those landmarks you have to check off of the Bucket List. The Biltmore House spans 175,000 square feet, which is more than 4 acres of floor space. This makes it America’s largest home with 250 rooms that include 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces!

Omni Grove Park Inn & Spa

Do you enjoy relaxation? History? Beautiful architecture?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will love the Grove Park Inn. Don’t feel like you have to be a hotel guest to enjoy the property. Not only do they have a gorgeous day spa, but there are restaurants, shops, and a hall filled with historical information. Update 2021: Unfortunately, spa appointments are available only to overnight guests at this time.

The Grove Park Inn Spa was rated by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the “Top resort spas in the U.S.” It includes a eucalyptus steam room, therapeutic waterfalls, and a mountain view hot tub!

Thanksgiving Traditions

Every November, the Grove Park Inn hosts the National Gingerbread Competition. The Gingerbread houses are displayed for viewing, usually until the beginning of January.

Did you know?

The competition has been covered by NBC’s TODAY Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, the Travel Channel, and the Food Network.

Omni Grove Park – Pandemic Style

The Highlands

If you want to experience the best customer service and a wonderful spa experience, you need to visit the Old Edwards Inn and Spa. I think the Grove Park was more beautiful, but the service at Old Edwards was top notch. I highly recommend you make this a girls getaway trip. Shop around for special deals. Old Edwards often post Christmas specials or anniversary packages, making it a more reasonable trip!

The highlands is beautiful and remote. While Old Edwards Inn is in the middle of everything, there is a quaint shopping town and beautiful waterfalls if you are interested in hiking and exploring the area. Even though I, again, recommend this for a girls getaway, men could find things to enjoy here as well!

Thoughts 🤔 or comments?! I’d love to hear them! 😃 

Until next time!

xxx Sara + Josh

NC Mountain Towns FAQ’s

What's Asheville, NC known for?

Whenever you hear of Asheville, people usually think of the Biltmore Estate. It is one of those landmarks you have to check off of the Bucket List. The Biltmore House spans 175,000 square feet, which is more than 4 acres of floor space. This makes it America’s largest home with 250 rooms that include 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces!

What is special about Boone, NC?

Boone is the home of Appalachian State University (ASU) and it sure does have a college town feel! Because of ASU, there is also a lot to do in the area.

Does Bryson City have a downtown?

Yes! Bryson City is dog friendly and has a walkable downtown with cute restaurants, art shops, 2 breweries, museums, aquarium, bookstores, and an excursion train!

What is special about Blowing Rock, NC?

15 minutes away from Boone, NC is the quaint walking mountain town of Blowing Rock, NC. Check out Tweetsie Railroad. It is a great Western themed amusement park for the whole family. They have shows, rides, and a petting zoo. The theme park is most known for the train and re-enactments on board.

And please do me a little favor and share this article with others, for there’s a good chance that it will help them with their travels!

Sara & Josh

While Sara and Josh may be new to the travel blogging world, that doesn't mean they lack knowledge or experience in booking bougie vacations. With a talent for finding travel deals, Sara and Josh are here to teach YOU some of their tricks to traveling "bougie on a budget." Learn more about their story and please reach out with any questions or comments via e-mail at: [email protected].

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