We love our homes – it’s where the heart is, memories are made, and loved ones gather. However, these days we could use some time away from our houses. When you’re ready, the charming small towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva offer the perfect place to enjoy a safe staycation. Explore endless trails, waterfalls, world-class cuisine, and more! Jackson County is centrally located an hour west of downtown Asheville, and a gas tank away from the southeast’s most crowded cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Nashville and Atlanta. Here are some ways to enjoy a staycation in the North Carolina Mountains.
Mountain Views | Hiking | Waterfalls | Food & Drink | Avoid the Crowds | Romance | Wellness | Your Trip
Change of Scenery
It’s no secret we could all use a change of scenery. Trade your home office’s four walls for endless mountain vistas from right outside your vacation rental. You don’t always have to hike to enjoy the best views of the mountains. Jackson County is located between America’s two favorite National Park sites, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hop in the car and enjoy scenic mountain passes with plenty of pull-offs for you to take in the best views in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Another great way to enjoy new scenery is by staying in a place with a view! Jackson County is home to some of the best Airbnb’s, vacation homes, cabin rentals, bed and breakfasts, and hotels in the region, complete with modern conveniences like wifi and fitness centers. Find the perfect place and wake up to sweeping mountain views and the crisp, clean, and cool mountain air.
Stretch Your Legs
The WNC Mountains have some of the best hiking trails country. From scenic hidden waterfall hikes to heart-pumping treks, we’ve got the trails to help you put your best “boot” forward.
Sylva’s Pinnacle Park ascends nearly 3,000 feet over a 3.5-mile one-way hike for those who seek more strenuous adventure. This challenging trail ends at “the Pinnacle,” with sweeping views of Sylva and the surrounding mountain ranges below, making the hike well worth it.
Near Cashiers, explore the Yosemite of the East, Panthertown Valley, with over 6,500 acres of pristine mountain land to enjoy. Located between Gorges State Park and Sapphire Valley, Panthertown is home to a dozen iconic waterfalls, 30 miles of mixed-use trails, and crystal-clear streams in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. With all that ground to cover, we always recommend getting a map online or at the Highland Hiker in Cashiers. For something a little less extreme, enjoy a stroll along the Tuckasegee River Greenway. Located in Cullowhee, the ‘Tuck’ Greenway is a fantastic place to stretch your legs, and enjoy the cool breeze off of the river.
If you’re looking for a different spin on adventure, take on the trails on four legs with our equestrian centers or two wheels on our heart-pumping biking trails. When the weather heats up, try your hand at paddling along the Tuckasegee River by kayaking or rafting! We’ve got the Outfitters & Guides to get you geared up and ready to go.
Discover Hidden Waterfalls
Nothing quite tops off a trip to the mountains like seeing that perfect cascade. Jackson County is home to some of the best-hidden waterfalls, many of which only require a short walk. In the Cashiers area, you won’t want to miss Whitewater Falls. Towering at 411 feet, Whitewater Falls is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies. Accessing views of this waterfall requires just a short quarter-mile stroll along a paved path in the Nantahala National Forest.
Located only a short drive from town, Silver Run Falls is a must. Requiring a short hundred-yard walk to the base of the falls, Silver Run has a refreshing swimming hole at the bottom, making it a great place for kids to cool off during the warmer months. When things cool down, the waterfall and pool below can freeze, causing a shimmering display.
For serious adventures, make sure to check out Panthertown waterfalls, including Schoolhouse, Granny Burrell, Greenland Creek, and Frolictown Falls, to name a few. Most of these waterfalls require a minimum of a two-mile hike, so make sure to get a map, pack a snack, and lace-up those hiking boots!
Savor the Flavor
Experience delicious local cuisine for all pallets and diets at one of our award-winning locally sourced eateries. Our restaurants have been working hard to create a safe and delicious experience for you whether you want to dine in or grab takeout.
Sylva’s Guadalupe Café is known for its wholesome, locally sourced cuisine. Located in an old 1920s drugstore, Guadalupe’s menu is a Caribbean fusion vibe with healthy ingredients. Cashiers serves up an elevated dining experience for its visitors. Local favorites include Cornucopia, Cashiers Valley Smokehouse, Slab Town Pizza, and Whiteside Brewing Company.
When enjoying a staycation, it’s important to remember that calories don’t count outside your zip code. Make sure to grab a locally crafted brew along our Ale Trail (complete with live music throughout the week) or a sweet treat from Baxley’s Chocolates or the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory.
We always recommend BYOB – that is, Bring Your Own Blanket, as there are plenty of great outdoor spaces to enjoy take out on a well-weathered day. When things begin to warm up, a picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a great way to enjoy some time outdoors. Watch a stunning mountain sunset with a tasty locally crafted dinner just for you.
Avoid the Crowds
We’re all looking for a little more elbow room these days. With over 494 square miles of adventure and more named summits than anywhere in the state, it’s easy to spread out and enjoy the mountains all to yourself. One of the best ways to do that is by taking a weekday trip. Experience the trails all to yourself, no lines at your favorite restaurants, and the crisp, clean and cool mountain air with the sounds of nature rustling in the background.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers over 520,000 acres of pristine mountain landscape to explore. With hundreds of miles of trails, you can spread out and enjoy the best of the Smokies all to yourself. A lesser-known trail that is lovely to hike in the Spring is the Mingus Creek/Deeplow Gap Trail. This hike provides a wide, relatively flat trail that runs alongside the babbling creek.
The Blue Ridge Parkway also offers you plenty of space to avoid the crowds. A great hike that is lesser known is the Bear Pen Gap Trail. This trail is located at Milepost 427.6 and is an excellent alternative to some of the Parkway’s more popular trails. Along the path, you’ll encounter a small waterfall, a relatively flat grade, and a fantastic view at the end of a natural mountain bald.
Don’t Forget the Romance
Now is the best time to show that special someone how much they mean to you. Take your loved one out on the town or bring the best of the town back to your room with takeout to complete your romantic getaway. Lulu’s on Main, located in downtown Sylva has been serving up iconic bites for over 20 years. Known as Southern Living’s “Favorite restaurant in the region,” Chef Devin McCardle is always cooking up something savory. In Cashiers, Canyon Kitchen (opening for the 2021 season April 1) is a must. This world-class restaurant offers Al Fresco dining with the stunning backdrop of Lonesome Valley’s box canyon. If you want to explore regional adventure, head to Asheville to experience the Biltmore Estate. America’s Largest Home® is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art, and antiques. Explore over 8,000 acres of pristine gardens perfect for a romantic day trip.
Top it off with a bottle of wine from The Wine Bar and Cellar. Home to a wide variety of wines and tapas by ILDA, The Wine Bar is a perfect place to “un-wine-d” and enjoy the company of your favorite person.
Relaxation and Wellness
Sometimes it’s best just to relax the day away. Sleep in and wake up to the sound of nature – no alarm clock required! Unlike the city with sirens, trains, and traffic noise – you’ll only hear crickets and flowing streams through your window; it’s a quiet unlike any other, that you can only find in the country.
If you’re looking to find your center, book a Shinrin-Yoku forest therapy tour with Pinnacle Forest Therapy. If you’re feeling a bit tense, make sure to book a massage at one of our spas for some much-needed ‘me time.’
Your Getaway Your Way
Jackson County gives you the best of the NC Mountains at the best rates. Through the end of March, enjoy our specials and deals to save even more as our Secret Season comes to an end. From unique stays with hot tubs to pet-friendly rentals, log cabins, and more, our accommodations have been working hard to ensure you and your loved ones have a safe and sanitary trip, so you can enjoy your mountain getaway worry-free. Let us be your hub and spoke to regional adventure, whether heading to Maggie Valley or Waynesville or taking a ride along the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad in Bryson City, we’re centrally located for the best of the WNC Mountains. Looking for more inspiration? Check out our Trip Planner to get ready for your staycation to Jackson County.