This year has shown many of us what is truly important in life. We’ve had to push the pause button on many plans and to look inward to find contentment in the little things. As we approach the holidays, many traditions that we’ve shared with our loved ones may be different. Warm hugs from the grandparents and large extended family meals gathered around the table might be on hold for the time being.
While we reminisce the good times and look forward to brighter days ahead, now may be the year to begin new traditions with those closest to you. Give the gift of memories this year in the North Carolina Mountains of Jackson County. Spend the holidays relaxing – enjoying the rustic charm of a lakeside cabin, listening to the crackle of a log fireplace, while the kids spend time away from their screens. Unplug, and be as off the grid as you want to be, leaving your worries and emails behind as you recharge and reconnect with your loved ones.
This year, you deserve a break from home offices, zoom calls, and remote learning. Enjoy anywhere but home for the holidays and take a family trip. Our mountain towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva are only a gas tank away from the southeast’s metro areas.
Imagine the blissful feel of a cool mountain day and exploring endless trails with plenty of room to spread out. Our mountains offer a safe haven from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the “new normal.”
Right around Thanksgiving, our charming downtowns are transformed into a winter wonderland. Large Christmas trees are lit in the center of town, and decorations are placed creating holiday cheer.
Holiday traditions may feel a little different this year, but some favorites will take on new, socially distant, and safe protocols so we can all enjoy some holiday cheer. Lights and Luminaries is held each year in the artisan village of Dillsboro on the first and second Friday and Saturday of December. Bring the family along for cocoa and cookies, live music, and more as you witness the charm of 2,500 luminaries lining the streets. Parents can find that perfect hand-made gift in the artisan shops, and children will have the option to send Santa Claus a letter. Get in early to explore Sylva just three miles down the road, grab a bite to eat at one of our award-winning non-chain restaurants, check out our Ale Trail, or explore the downtown antique stores.
A longtime tradition in the NC Mountains is visiting a choose-and-cut tree farm. Take the family along to find the perfect Holiday Centerpiece, a real Carolina Frasier Fir. Pyramid, round, short, fat, tall, small, Charlie Brown, you’ll find the perfect tree for you and the family to enjoy. This year, trees are in limited supply, so make sure to call ahead to confirm availability. Our tree farms are taking extra precautions to make sure that your experience is safe and fun.
Lifelong Mountain Memories
Make this year different and create lifelong mountain memories. Trade “frenzy Friday” deals and online shopping, for a breath of fresh mountain air and enjoy hiking new trails together, discovering hidden waterfalls, and discovering remote scenic mountain vistas.
As the leaves make their final descent, new views begin to open up, giving our trails a different experience. In the Cashiers area, you’ll enjoy some of the most iconic waterfalls in the Southeast, miles of scenic trails all to yourself, and the benefits of a cooler hiking season. Panthertown Valley is home to over 30 miles of multiuse trails and over a dozen waterfalls – Schoolhouse, Granny Burrell, and Greenland Creek Falls just to name a few. When temps drop, many waterfalls begin to freeze, creating a frozen display of glistening ice. Make sure to pick up a map either online or at the Highland Hiker in Cashiers before exploring on your own. Bundling up is a must, as temperatures in the higher elevations tend to be about 10 degrees cooler year-round.
Whiteside Mountain offers an ideal trail to create family memories. This two-mile loop trail offers endless views atop the highest vertical cliffs in the Eastern United States along one of the oldest mountains in the world (at 360-490 million years old). This family favorite is a moderate hike and offers great photo ops at the top. Make sure to bring along $3, as there is a parking fee.
If you’re staying in the Sylva/Dillsboro area, November is one of the best times to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although they are open year-round, higher elevations along these routes experience earlier and heavier snowfall and can frequently experience closures. Mid-November – December allows for the best views with no crowds. Check out the Waterrock Knob Trail on the Parkway or the Mingus Creek/Deeplow Gap Trail in the Smokies.
Your Holiday Escape
Trade your traffic for trees and screen time for family time in the NC Mountains. Whether planning a Thanksgiving getaway or a Carolina Christmas, Jackson County offers the best rates in the region, with remote cabins, lakeside lodges, vacation rentals full of amenities, and more. Book a getaway with enough room to bring along the whole family. Book your holiday adventure using our Trip Planner.
Header image courtesy of Jared Kay