The Blue Ridge Mountains are more than 600 miles long and are part of 7 different US states, traversing from Southern Pennsylvania to North West Georgia.
Within the Blue Ridge Mountains visitors can find hundreds of attractions, thousands of hiking trails and waterfalls, scenic drives, historic sites, and more. Additionally, nestled through these historic mountains and ancient mountains (one of the oldest ranges in the world), you'll find many gorgeous and quaint towns and cities that offer unique history, shops, restaurants, and things to see and do.
Many of these towns are easily accessible from the combination of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. Those that are a little further out are still accessible but just require a longer, but often very scenic excursion.
The largest portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains are found in the state of North Carolina and it additionally contains the largest number of hiking trails, waterfalls, and mountain towns to visit and explore.
These mountain towns in North Carolina offer some of the best places to stay, wonderful places to eat and dine, events, attractions, and much more. Many of them provide a central resting spot for your adventures in the North Carolina Blue Ridge as well.
In this guide, we'll highlight our picks for the Best Mountain Towns in North Carolina and link out to our more detailed town guides for you to learn more. Let's get started!
Our Best Mountain Towns in North Carolina are not ordered by rating but are in alphabetical order. What makes these various towns great is very subjective for everyone, so we chose to let you decide the best ones for you.
Arguably not a town, but a city, Asheville is the largest Blue Ridge Mountain city in North Carolina and the most visited. We included it in our list anyway, because it's a great small city, that provides central access to many great things to do in Western North Carolina, and is also a central location for visiting many of the small towns included in our list.
Asheville NC is most well known for its unique culture and vibe and is full of art, music, bars, cultural events, and craft beer.
Downtown Asheville is full of great restaurants, bars, bus tours, awesome street performers, and more. You'll find numerous hotels, shopping venues, and of course Biltmore.
Located not far from Boone NC, Banner Elk is a beautiful small town that is not only popular for its quiet small-town atmosphere, but also for its quaint downtown and access to many great things to see and do in the area. Banner Elk is also now home to Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, a new Mountain Coaster in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Banner Elk is popular due to being between two of the largest ski resorts in North Carolina, Sugar Mountain Ski Resort and Beech Mountain Ski Resort. Banner Elk is also a popular lodging location for those visiting the Autumn in Oz event at Land of Oz in Beech Mountain.
While we love all of these small mountain towns, there are a few we're exceptionally partial to, and Beech Mountain NC is one of them. Beech Mountain is most well known for being a major North Carolina Ski town, with Beech Mountain Ski Resort. However, Beech Mountain has so much more to offer.
Beech Mountain NC offers hiking trails, waterfalls, incredible mountain biking trails at the Ski Resort, and even a lake with fishing and kayaking. There are many great lodging options and restaurants as well.
We have visited many areas in the Blue Ridge Mountains with wildlife, but we've never seen so many deer as we have during our visits to Beech Mountain. You'll see Deer everywhere!
One of our favorite attractions and events is Autumn in Oz at Land of Oz in Beech Mountain. We look forward to visiting each year!
Another of our personal favorite small Blue Ridge Mountains Towns, Blowing Rock NC offers a wonderful downtown area full of shops and restaurants to explore. There is even a super nice park in downtown that you can walk and explore.
Nearby is Boone NC for those looking for a bigger city feel and a university-style atmosphere.
Blowing Rock also features a number of popular attractions including The Blowing Rock itself, Tweetsie Railroad, and Mystery Hill, and the Blowing Rock itself.
When visiting, we highly recommend the Meadowlark Inn, The Speckled Trout restaurant, and a visit to Kilwins Chocolate.
While not really a small mountain town, Boone NC is still a wonderful town/city to visit, that provides larger city amenities with a small-town flare. Boone is home to one of North Carolina's largest universities, Appalachian University, and as a result has a young and vibrant vibe, that you'll only find in a college town.
Boone's downtown area is wonderful and full of locally owned businesses, restaurants, and bars. For those that love the outdoors, Boone provides easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, numerous area hiking trails, and waterfalls as well.
Area attractions include Tweetsie Railroad and Mystery Hill, Moses Cone Memorial Park, and much more.
Bryson City is located in Western NC south of Cherokee and is a great small mountain town that has a historic downtown, access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via Deep Creek, tubing and rafting, and is the central location for the popular Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
The downtown area is full of locally owned shops and restaurants. The Tuckasegee River flows right through downtown Bryson City and provides a beautiful setting.
Not far from Bryson City are Fontana Lake, Fontana Dam, and the famous Road to Nowhere to visit as well. Harrah's Cherokee Casino is just a short drive north as well.
Cherokee has been a favorite mountain town destination for years. Cherokee provides shopping, shows, restaurants, and of course Harrah's Casino. Cherokee also serves as the main east-side entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the starting point (Mile marker zero) for the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Oconoluftee Visitor Center, at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offers visitors information, a museum, hiking/walking trails, and access to Elk which frequent the fields around the visitor center. Nearby are Mingo Falls and Mingus Mill.
The main attraction in Cherokee these days is the huge Harrah's Casino facility, which includes the Casino, numerous hotels, restaurants, bars, bowling, games, and more! People travel from all around the world to visit this modern entertainment facility.
While visiting, be sure to learn all about the history of the Cherokee Indians, and Cherokee itself by attending the Unto These Hills outdoor drama and the Cherokee Museum. Also, visit the park at the Oconoluftee River, it offers great wading and water play for families and a nice place to sit back and enjoy the sounds of the river and Cherokee itself.
Dillsboro NC is a small mountain town located between Waynesville NC and Sylva NC, and in fact, is only about 2 miles from Sylva. Dillsboro is a beautiful and artistic town, that is a main destination for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, which arrives from Bryson City NC.
The downtown area is full of various shops to explore and restaurant destinations, including the popular Haywood Smokehouse. Dillsboro is also home to one of the top North Carolina craft beers, Innovation Station.
For those looking for more excitement and adventure, Dillsboro is also a great destination for rafting, kayaking, or tubing down "the Tuck", or the Tuckasegee River. Two feature river adventure companies include Dillsboro River Company and Smoky Mountain River Adventures.
Dillsboro North Carolina is also one of our picks for the top Christmas Towns in North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Dillsboro has an annual "Lights and Luminaries" event that brings old-time customs and celebrations to current times.
Hendersonville NC is located just south of Asheville NC and offers apple picking in the Fall, museums, historical structures, many dining options, hiking trails, scenic views, shopping, and much more!
Hendersonville is known as “The City of Four Seasons” and is at an elevation of 2200 feet an is only about 15 miles from the South Carolina border.
Hendersonville is most well known for it's numerous area apple orchards. There area a variety of orchards to visit in the Fall, that offer pick your own apples, hayrides, and many other activities for families.
Hendersonville also has a wonderful historic downtown area with unique locally owned shops and restaurants to enjoy and explore.
Nearby, you'll find Dupont State Park and the Lake Lure and Chimney Rock areas, both offering numerous outdoor activities including hiking, waterfalls, and mountain biking.
One of our personal favorite mountain small towns to visit, and one that we have been visiting since before we were married, is Lake Lure NC. The town of Lake Lure is a town around a gorgeous and famous mountain lake. Lake Lure is often voted as one of the most beautiful and scenic lakes in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Lake Lure is located about 30 miles south of Asheville NC, in the Hickory Nut Gorge, often called the Grand Canyon on the East, due to the sheer rock faces and tall mountains that surround the lake and town.
While Lake Lure NC is a small, quiet, and relaxing mountain town that offers numerous small shops, restaurants, and numerous outdoor activities including activities on the lake and at nearby Chimney Rock State Park.
Lake Lure offers a gorgeous beach with water slides, boating, water skiing, hiking, waterfalls, site seeing, shopping, and even zip lining.
Lake Lure is one small mountain town that needs to be on your short list of small mountain towns to visit.
Maggie Valley NC is one of the most popular mountain small towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has been for many years. Maggie Valley is central to many of the wonderful things to see and do outdoors in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.
Maggie Valley is close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Pisgah National Forest. All of which provide beautiful scenic drives, hiking trails, waterfalls, and more.
Maggie Valley also has plenty of local shopping, restaurants, and coffee shops. The Festival Grounds provides a number of events during the year, including craft shows, car shows concerts, motorcycle events, and concerts.
If you love fishing, especially for Trout, Jonathon Creek, which runs through Maggie Valley provides some of the best Mountain Trout fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Outfitters for fishing and fly fishing supplies are located in town.
Nearby Waynesville NC offers additional things to do, restaurants, and shopping as well.
Mount Airy North Carolina is the real-life Mayberry from the popular TV show "The Andy Griffith Show". Mayberry, from the show, is based on Mount Airy NC, which is also often referred to in various episodes.
Mount Airy is a beautiful and historic mountain town located in Northern North Carolina. While visiting you can enjoy many things "Mayberry" related, including Visiting the “Andy & Opie” TV Land Statue, riding a vintage squad car tour through town, and visiting the Andy Griffith Playhouse, where Andy Griffith attended elementary school and where he performed in the 1930s and 1940s.
You can also visit many attractions, themed around Mayberry, including the Mayberry Jail, Wally's Service Station, Floyd’s Barber Shop, Wally’s Service Station, the Mayberry Courthouse, and Emmit’s Fix It Shop.
Additionally, there are plenty of unique shops and great dining opportunities throughout the downtown area that are locally owned and operated, and not themed.
Mount Pilot isn't too far away, and access to the Blue Ridge Parkway is less than an hour's drive.
Located in Jackson County NC, southwest of Asheville, Sylva NC is a small but beautiful small mountain town. Sylva features an "All-American" main street in downtown, featuring shops, restaurants, and a picturesque and almost Norman Rockwell-like Courthouse.
Sylva features many wonderful restaurants, including one of our favorites, Lucy in the Rye. You'll also find a number of craft breweries.
Sylva was also featured in the Oscar-nominated Three Billboards outside Ebbing. Sylva is near many different hiking trails and waterfalls and is not far from both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Sylva also features Pinnacle Park, a 7-mile roundtrip hike up to a 5,000-foot peak with incredible views.
Last, but certainly not least is our hometown of Waynesville NC. Waynesville is a historic town, featuring a number of attractions, access to local outdoor activities, and modern small-town conveniences.
The top attraction in Waynesville NC is the historic Norman Rockwell like downtown. Downtown Waynesville features numerous unique and locally owned shops and restaurants, along with a wonderful Mast General Store. New is Kilwin's Chocolate, which you may recognize as one of our favorites from Banner Elk NC.
Waynesville is also well known as the Gateway to the Smokies for North Carolina, due to its close proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Blue Ridge Parkway Waynesville offers nearby hiking, waterfalls, fishing, and more.
Be sure to visit nearby Lake Junaluska and Maggie Valley as well.