Places To Visit IN THE SMOKIES

Bryson City's Location Is Ideal For Exploring All of Western North Carolina

Dozens of Smoky Mountain attractions are just a short drive from Bryson City, making this the ideal home base for an event-filled Western North Carolina vacation. You can even enjoy easy day trips to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Cades Cove – and then retreat to the peace and quiet of the North Carolina Smokies. There's plenty to keep you occupied for a few days or a week's vacation.'s feature: Pretty Awesome Weekends: Summer Travel Edition highlighted Bryson City with the accolade — "But, most of all, skip the nearby over-developed region that is Gatlinburg and visit Bryson City on the North Carolina side of the park.  It is a beautiful small American town with great road-side inns, shops and family entertainment that takes you back to the America of the past, something you can not get much of these days." 


Area Attractions - Western North Carolina & Tennessee

In addition to all the things to do near Bryson City, you can easily enjoy area attractions in Western North Carolina and even Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge from your base camp here in the Smokies.

The website links below will open in a new window.

Biltmore House and Gardens

Interstate 40, Exit 50

Asheville, NC

828-225-1333 or 800-BILTMORE


George Vanderbilt’s 250-room mansion is virtually the same as it was at the turn of the 20th century. Sculptures, paintings, furnishing, and household items have been carefully preserved. Tour the gardens and the winery, and enjoy a sumptuous three-course meal or a sandwich in one of several restaurants.

Cataloochee Ski & Snowboard Area

1080 Ski Lodge Road

Maggie Valley, NC

828-926-0295 or 800-768-0285


We utilize one the most advanced snowmaking systems in the Southeast and offer 100% snowmaking on 16 lighted slopes including the Cat Cage Terrain Park. With a variety of terrain for beginners to experts alike and over 4,000 sets of snowsports equipment, the Cataloochee experience offers something for everyone. Snow School lesson programs, night runs, discounts and more.

Chimney Rock Park

US 64/74A

Chimney Rock, NC



Spectacular 75-mile views, sheer cliffs and unique rock formations. Trails leading to the 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls. Famous as the filming site for the climactic scenes of The Last of the Mohicans.

Cradle of Forestry In America

Located off U.S. 276
14 miles northwest of Brevard,

4 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway



This major visitor attraction was once part of George Vanderbilt's vast Biltmore Estate. It was here that Dr. Carl Schenck started the first forestry school in the nation and first practiced forest conservation. A visitor center, exhibits, guided tours, historic buildings, and three paved trails lead you back to the era of the first forestry school, established 1898. Open May - October.

Fields of the Wood

Highway 294
18 miles west of Murphy, NC



From the top of Prayer Mountain to the gigantic Ten Commandments spread across the mountainside, to the All Nations Cross, Bible passages are presented in marble and stone in an outdoor park. Open every day from sunrise to sunset. Free.

Fontana Dam

Hwy 28 west of Bryson City, NC

828-498-2234 (May thru September) or

828-498-2251 (off season)

480 feet high, Fontana is the tallest dam in the Eastern United States. Constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority during the early 1940s to supply electricity to fuel the war effort during World War II. Open for visitors May thru September. Free.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

US 441 on the Tennessee side of the Park

These two towns, just five miles apart, serve as the principal Tennessee gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and host most of the Park's nine million annual visitors. The busy tourist center offers a many attractions including Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, the Ripley's Aquarium and Dollywood.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort

Hwy 19 N

Cherokee, NC

800-427-7247 or 828-497-7777


Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort offers a true Vegas experience in the Smokies with 3,565 slot games and 172 table games. But don't spend all your time on the floor - enjoy one of the eleven restaurants, full service spa, shopping, and a multitude of shows to be found at the 3,000 seat event center.

John C. Campbell Folk School

1 Folk School Road

Brasstown, NC



A school dedicated to the preservation of time-honored crafts, music and dance since 1925. Courses and special events.

Mountain Farm Museum & Mingus Mill

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Oconaluftee Visitor Center

US 441 North

Cherokee, NC



An outdoor collection of historic log, farm buildings that is open year-round. Walk at your leisure through the house, barn, and outbuildings including a blacksmith shop and chicken coop. Gardens and orchards feature heirloom plants. Easy walking trail by the Oconaluftee River.

A half-mile north of theMountain Farm is Mingus Mill. Built in 1886, this historic grist mill uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building. Located at its original site, Mingus Mill stands as a tribute to the test of time. Hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm daily mid-March through mid-November.

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Hwy 441 & Drama Road

Cherokee, NC



By combining high-tech wizardry and an extensive artifact collection, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian is fun for the entire family and an exciting, educational event. Open daily at 9 am except closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children, and free for children under age 6.

North Carolina Arboretum

100 Fredrick Law Olmsted Way

Asheville, NC



Miles of nature trails, cultivated gardens, and state-of-the-art greenhouse complex. Near Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville entrance.

Oconaluftee Indian Village

Drama Road

Cherokee, NC

828-497-2111 or 828-497-2315


Recreated Cherokee Village of the 1750s. Regular tours by Cherokee guides present history, crafts, early homes and mountain forest demonstrations of beadwork, pottery, blowguns, and much more in a beautiful forest setting. Open from 10:00 am -5 pm daily (except Sunday), mid-May through October; see website for specific dates and times.

Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual

Hwy 441 & Drama Road

Cherokee NC



Established in 1946, it serves mainly as a cooperative mutual for 300 Cherokee craftspeople, the facility has a large display area for those interested in historical baskets, masks, pottery, fingerweaving, wood carving and more. Open all year, yet hours vary seasonally; call ahead n the off-season. No admission fee.

Scottish Tartans Museum
and Heritage Center

86 East Main Street

Franklin, NC



A museum dedicated to the history and heritage of the Scottish Tartan. Contains the official registry of all publicly known tartans. The American extension of the Scottish Tartans Society in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Sliding Rock

In the Pisgah National Forest

Brevard, NC


Slide down Mother Nature's 60-foot smooth rock waterslide and plunge into a pool of cool water at the bottom.

"Unto These Hills" Outdoor Drama

Mountainside Theater / U.S. 441 North

Cherokee, NC



Recognized as one of the top outdoor dramas in the United States with over 5,000,000 visitors since its opening in July 1950. The Drama tells the history of the Cherokee people from about 1540 through their forced removal from this area in the late 1830's. Shows nightly except Sunday. Preshow at 7:30 pm, drama begins at 8 pm. Performance runs 2 hours including intermission. June-August; check the website for exact dates. General admission seating.

Western Carolina University
Mountain Heritage Center

Main Campus Entrance
Highway 107, South of Sylva, NC
Cullowhee, NC



Our exhibitions illustrate the natural world and mountain societies, past and present focusing on the Scots-Irish migration into the mountains. Temporary exhibits have been produced around such themes as blacksmithing traditions, Cherokee myths and legends, the history of an Appalachian watershed, and the southern Appalachian handicraft movement.Free lectures and bluegrass concerts. Hours are seasonally adjusted and also reflect the University's holiday schedule; call for hours.

Western North Carolina
Nature Center

75 Gashes Creek Road

Asheville, NC



A living museum of plant and animal wildlife in the Southern Appalachian mountains.

Wheels Through Time
Transportation Museum

62 Vintage Lane

Maggie Valley, NC



Home to the world’s premier collection of rare American vintage motorcycles, "The Museum That Runs" houses over 300 of America’s rarest and most historic classic motorcycles, including Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior, Crocker, Henderson, and much more. Enjoy dozens of motorcycle-related exhibits, ranging from board track racers, hillclimbing, and original paint machines to American Dirt Track racing, choppers and bobbers, and one-of-a-kind motorcycles. Open Thurs-Monday, late March through November. Check the site for hours and prices.

Area Attractions Menu

Click on a link below to jump directly to that attraction's description

Attractions within a one-half hour drive
Harrah's Cherokee Casino
Mountain Farm Museum & Mingus Mill
Museum of the Cherokee Indian
Oconaluftee Indian Village
Qualla Arts Mutual
Unto These HIlls Outdoor Drama
WCU Mountain Heritage Center

Attractions within a 45-minute to a 1-hour drive

Biltmore House

Cataloochee Ski Area

Fontana Dam

John C. Campbell Folk School

North Carolina Arboretum

Scottish Tartans Museum

WNC Nature Center

Wheels Through Time Museum

Attractions within a 1 to 2-hour drive

Chimney Rock Park

Cradle of Forestry in America

Fields of the Wood

Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

Sliding Rock



Bryson City - Swain County
Chamber of Commerce

210 Main Street
P.O. Box 509
Bryson City, NC 28713


Karen Proctor Wilmot
Executive Director

800-867-9246 toll-free
828-488-3681 local
828-488-6858 fax