Break Away from the Beach and Head to the Mountains this Spring

Avoid the mass crowds, bumper-to-bumper traffic and high prices that most spring break destinations have and experience Jackson County where wide-open spaces, scenic roadways and affordable accommodations ranging in setting and size await. Jackson County’s towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Sylva and Dillsboro have all the necessities to make spring break 2018 one for the books. Avoid the masses at the beach, explore the outdoors, relax and recharge, and enjoy farm-to-table food, beautiful scenery, and the area’s booming brewery scene, all without breaking the bank.

Venture Out

Nature is calling! Come check out the many outdoor excursions available to thrill seekers of all ages throughout the county. Plan a group rafting trip down the Tuckasegee River or try your hand at fly fishing in the pristine waters of the state’s Trout Capital. The county is filled with more than two dozen waterfalls, including one of the tallest east of the Rocky Mountains, Whitewater Falls (411’).  You can also take a dip in Lake Glenville, the largest lake in Jackson County. Pack a picnic and set up on the sandy beach where you can enjoy a mountain view, picnic tables and a fishing pier. Visit one of the local marinas to rent a pontoon boat, kayak, or Sea-Doo to add some adventure while exploring the lake’s 26 miles of shoreline.

From novice to more adventurous, Jackson County is home to some of Western North Carolina’s finest hiking trails and as winter starts to melt into spring, these trails spring alive with bursts of colors from the wildflowers that line them. Many trails are flanked by spectacular views, cliffs and tumbling waterfalls, some of which are just short treks and easily accessible for all physical levels. Panthertown Valley provides over 30 miles of biking and  hiking trails that lead to more than a dozen waterfalls, with one of the most popular and scenic being the 18-foot Schoolhouse Falls with a natural swimming hole beneath it. Download a free trail map or browse individual hikes to plan a hike and take advantage of this blooming time of year in the mountains.

Get your heart racing and soar through the trees on The Vordach Zip Line, a two hour journey through the air featuring 16 platforms, two bridges and 12 full-sized zip line courses. Make sure to try the Red Bird Foot Golf course located at Sapphire Valley Resort where visitors can try their hand, or in this case, foot, at the quickly growing sport- Foot Golf. In this sport, players use their foot to kick a soccer ball in to a 21-inch hole with a standard golf flag. Perfect for a new kind of family activity, the Red Bird course has nine holes for a few hours of fun at the affordable price of $10 per person.

Satisfy Cravings for Something New

A vacation is never complete without tasty places to eat! The restaurants in Jackson County range from a unique pizza restaurant that offers patrons a side of a free movie feature every Thursday, Friday & Saturday in their theater, to a fine dining restaurant that pays special attention to the use of locally-sourced ingredients and flavors for each menu item and sits in a refurbished 19th century barn.  It’s guaranteed that there will be something everyone will love, and there are enough options that vacationers can try a new dining experience each day of their stay. Be sure to save room and check out the sweet spots located across the county.

Calling all craft beer lovers! With more than 50 locally brewed beers, whether you’re a fan of dark IPAs, fruitier flavors, sours, or smoother golden ales, Jackson County’s brew scene has you covered. Take a stroll down Sylva’s Historic Main Streets and pay a visit to Innovation Brewing and Balsam Falls Brewing Co. to experience the flavors of Sylva’s thriving brewery scene. In June, Innovation will be opening a new brewery in neighboring town Dillsboro dedicated to producing sours for those who are looking to branch out and taste something different.  For families, all of Jackson County’s breweries are kid-friendly and offer a house-made soda on tap, so parents can sip on their beer while kids sip on birch beer, ginger ale or root beer.

An Unforgettable Spring Break – Without Breaking the Bank

When looking for a place to stay in Jackson County, most rooms can be found for less than $100 a night. Larger groups can book vacation rentals that accommodate up to 20 people. From cabins to upscale resorts, vacation rentals to favorite hotel chains, find accommodations here.

Once you’ve arrived, take advantage of the fun activities in the area that are absolutely free. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States that requires no admission fee, features hiking trails, waterfalls and great photo opportunities. Both the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway are only a 20-minute drive from Sylva.

Other free options include: Judaculla Rock, a huge boulder with unexplained petroglyphs said to be carved by Indians possibly thousands of years ago, visiting the filming locations of popular movies like Oscar winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, spending time with loved ones exploring the outdoor sculpture garden or simply relaxing for a while and taking in the natural beauty of the land.

Whether you’re looking to get your blood pumping for an active vacation or if you want a relaxing mountain getaway, Jackson County is the perfect option for your spring break. No matter your age, interests or preferences, a spring break in Western North Carolina is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Feature photo of Black Balsam hike courtesy Carrie Turner

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