Recreation and Relaxation; the New R&R

 Imagine the warmth of a pleasant summer day atop a mountain peak all to yourself. As you sit there, taking in the cool light breeze, enjoying the crisp, clean, and cool mountain air, you hear the music birds chirping in the trees above. Now imagine, the peaceful rapids of the Tuckasegee river carrying you and your best pals along in a tube. As you lay back and soak up the warmth of the sun, you relax the day away along a two-hour float trip.

Recreation and Relaxation go hand-in-hand, especially in the NC mountain towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva. The past few months have been long and dreary for most of us, and we could all use some time away from our phone screens, crowds, and anxiety. Trade your worries and distractions for some much deserved ‘me time’ in the mountains.

The small mountain towns of Jackson County, NC offer a plethora of opportunities to get outdoors and socially distance naturally within our trails, peaks, and wide-open spaces. The wellness benefits of getting outside are immediate, as stress levels decrease, and your sense of relaxation increases. No matter how you choose to enjoy the great outdoors, adventures don’t have to be extreme. From hanging a hammock, to hiking a summit, to rafting down the Tuckasegee River, the NC mountains will help you reconnect with yourself or your loved ones.

The New R&R

 Looking to enjoy a relaxing stroll? We’ve got you covered. Between Sylva and Cullowhee, the Tuckasegee River Greenway offers a scenic two-mile there-and-back tree-shaded paved path along the Tuck’s cool riverbanks. In Cashiers, a similarly relaxing experience is the Village Green. With over 13-acres of beautiful gardens, ample walking trails, and picnic benches to enjoy, the Village Green offers a perfect space for a low key adventure or mindful mediation.

The Oconaluftee River Trail greets you at the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located adjacent to the Mountain Farm Museum, this trail spans for nearly two miles along the crystal-clear waters of the Oconaluftee River. Make sure to keep an eye out for elk, as they are commonly spotted in the vast fields that run along this path. Just a short drive from the Oconaluftee River Trail is Mingus Mill. This fully functional grindstone mill has been grinding corn since 1886 and is a short and easy walk from the parking lot.

If you prefer the more adventurous side of recreation, make sure to check out some of these trails:

  • Whiteside Mountain – Located in Cashiers, this two-mile loop trail offers sweeping views of the highest vertical cliffs in the Eastern United States.
  • Waterrock Knob – Along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, this short but steep hike elevates to one of the highest point along the BRP. Hikers will enjoy endless views of multiple mountain ranges that surround the area.
  • If you want a more extreme adventure, check out Pinnacle Park – Sylva’s Pinnacle Park is just a short drive from downtown and is an avid hiker’s paradise. The West Fork Trail is a seven-mile there-and back trail, elevating more than 3,000 feet along the way.

Jackson County, NC, is known as the Hammock Capital of the USA for a good reason. With the most named summits in the state, (185 to be exact), all you need is two sturdy trees, a hammock, some straps and the tranquil view of your choice, to perfect your relaxation. Grab a book from one of our local bookstores and relax the day away in the comfort of a parachute hammock. No hammock? No problem! We will be giving away a FREE branded ENO® hammock every week, now throughout the end of summer on our DiscoverJacksonNC Instagram page.

Here, you can enjoy river adventures at your own pace. Our river outfitters offer rentals on tubes, duckies, kayaks, and rafts for your adventure along our gentle whitewater rapids. Anglers can relax the day away navigating the waters of the WNC Fly Fishing Trail®. Our outfitters and guides will literally hook you up with the gear you need, so you don’t need to worry about packing a pole. Just show up!

Try something new with a guided Pinnacle Forest Therapy walk with Dr. Mark Ellison. Shinrin-Yoku is the ancient Japanese art of forest meditation. It’s designed to help you reap the relaxing health benefits of being outdoors while also becoming self-aware. As you’re guided through breathing techniques, you’ll begin to feel one with nature and exhale the worries of the world away.

If you’d prefer to relax under the hands of an expert masseuse, schedule a massage at one of our spas. Canyon Spa located near Cashiers offers a relaxing and cozy environment at the foot of Laurel Knob, one of the highest box canyons east of the Rockies. If you’re in Sylva, check out Fusions Spa & Wellness. Fusions offers signature experiences and therapies to bring you transformational wellness in a serene, relaxing atmosphere.

“Sip” Down and Relax

Nothing completes a day of R&R quite like a craft beverage. Our Ale Trail is made up of six distinctly local breweries that are full of hometown vibes and Southern hospitality. If you’re looking to relax at your own pace, pick up a growler or a six-pack to take with you, or grab a seat outside, and enjoy the cool mountain breeze. Our breweries are going above and beyond to help you stay and feel safe during your visit. All of our breweries love dogs and are pup-friendly, so you’ll never have to leave your furry friend behind.

If wine or cocktails are more your style, then you won’t want to miss our new spots downtown. The Wine Bar and Cellar pairs a wide selection of wine with a cozy atmosphere overlooking Main Street. With tastings, music, and events along with the largest selection of top-shelf wines, you can sit down, relax, and “wine down”. The Paper Mill Lounge is a New Orleans style cocktail lounge. Its prime location has a large outdoor courtyard with room to spread out and enjoy Sylva’s relaxing downtown vibes.

Blissful Bites

To end a perfect day of R&R grab a bite from one of our unique non-chain restaurants. Most of our restaurants are offering curbside, contactless pickup, to go/takeout, and socially spread-out dining. Many have taken the ‘Count on Me NC’ pledge, designed to keep diners safe and healthy during their visit. Visitors to these locations can peacefully enjoy our mouthwatering, award-winning, locally-sourced eateries knowing that their safety is the top priority. If you decide to pack a picnic, check out our list of top places to catch a ‘Golden Hour’ sunset, as there’s no better way to end the day.

Enjoy the Day Your Way

R&R is best enjoyed out of the city and in the slower-paced NC Mountains. Plan your weekend getaway using our ‘Trip Planner’ on our website and request your FREE Visitor Guide. If you’re tired of the crowds, check out our ‘Avoid the Crowds’ itinerary for more inspiration for your next R&R getaway. Your retreat is waiting in the NC Mountains of Jackson County. We can’t wait to see you soon!



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