Although we may be focused on fall, big box stores already have the fake trees and inflatable Santas out, reminding us that it may be time to start making arrangements for the holidays. What better place to gather with friends and family this season than in a cozy mountain home in beautiful Jackson County, NC?
Last year’s events certainly prevented many of us from celebrating with our loved ones, so for those who are ready to gather, it’s time to make this year’s holiday season the best one yet with trip to the Western North Carolina Mountains. Our small towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva are located about an hour west of Asheville and 20 minutes east of Bryson City and the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Here, you’ll enjoy the best of the NC Mountains without the heavy traffic.
Gift of a Getaway
We love our homes, but for many of us, we may have found ourselves spending a little too much time in them over the past 18 months. Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of a blue ridge mountain escape with memories that are sure to last a lifetime. Jackson County offers a range of cozy boutique hotels, luxury resorts, vacation rentals, and cabin rentals so you’ll have no problem finding the perfect place for your needs.
Shopping & Dining in Dillsboro
Nestled along the Tuckasegee River, the charming artisan village of Dillsboro is a cozy escape from the city’s crowds. The holiday spirit is certainly Dillsboro’s forte with the iconic Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop located along Haywood Road. Nancy Tut’s sells Christmas decor year-round, and you can find the perfect ornament or decoration to help deck the halls. If you’re seeking the gift for that ‘person who has everything,’ how about a one-of-a-kind handmade craft? Dogwood Crafters is a co-op of over a hundred local artists where you’re sure to find an Appalachian craft that will bring a smile on Christmas Day.
Although this quaint railroad town has been long revered for its art scene, boutique inns, and proximity to the Tuckasegee River, a new vibe is on the horizon. In recent years, Dillsboro has become quite the culinary scene! Along the four square blocks that make up downtown, you’ll discover bites for every diet type and palate. One of America’s favorite BBQ restaurants, Haywood Smokehouse is a great place to enjoy some authentic Carolina BBQ with a wide variety of unique sauces, sides, and homemade desserts. Quirky Bird’s Treehouse & Bistro is new to the food scene and offers crafty creations and tasty vegan fare. Other options include the farm-to-table Forgers Canteen, River & Rails Tavern, and Boots Steakhouse. Make sure to check out Innovation Station for local craft beers and live events ‘on tap.’
Holiday Spirit in Sylva
Sylva is the holiday hub for adventure in Jackson County due to its central location and festive downtown vibes. Starting in November, this town brings on the charm of a Christmas town with festive decorations, and the Sylva Historic Courthouse decked out from top to bottom – holiday lights and all. Stop into a decorated storefront for the perfect holiday gift.
Located within a simple stroll, you’ll find everything you need for a day on the town. Start with breakfast from the new and popular Lucy in the Rye on Main Street or head up East Jackson Street to City Lights Café, a Sylva staple for decades. For the outdoorsy type, hit up Black Balsam Outdoors for all the gear you’ll need to hit the trails in Jackson County. If you’re searching for something else, no worries – Sylva’s shopping scene has a little bit of everything, including a rare find bookstore, a record store, antique stores, home decor, and more.
After a day full of shopping, it may be time to sip on some seasonal cheer. Downtown Sylva is the perfect place for a locally crafted beverage with four Ale Trail locations within a walkable distance. All of our breweries feature food and nonalcoholic beverages and are both kid and pet friendly. Grinch for Beer? We got you! Check out our crafty cocktail lounges or the Wine Bar and Cellar for sensational sips or warm up with coffee or hot cocoa from White Moon, the Farmhouse, or City Lights Café.
Elevated Christmas in Cashiers
As upscale as the elevation, Cashiers is a mountaintop village with some of the best-kept natural secrets in the region, including one of the tallest waterfalls, oldest mountains, and highest vertical cliffs east of the Mississippi. This mountain town knows how to put on a Christmastime celebration, and the town is a wonderful luxe option for a holiday getaway.
The newly renovated High Hampton is ready to welcome guests back for the first holiday season in over two years. Now a world-class resort property with unparalleled food & beverage, amenities including golf, hiking trails, a private lake, a stay here is sure to delight.
Just outside of Cashiers, neighboring Sapphire Valley Resort is home to one of six ski resorts within North Carolina. The family and beginner-friendly slope opens on December 18 (cold weather permitting) with a state-of-the-art quad chair lift, gentle slopes, snow tubing, and an on-site ski school. When the snow lays on the ground, Sapphire Valley becomes a winter wonderland! Afterward, enjoy a bite to eat at Slope Side Tavern at the base of the mountain.
Holiday Events & Activities
Jackson County hosts several award-winning events throughout the holiday season. We’re delighted to be welcoming these events back in 2021 for you and your loved ones to enjoy!
Gobble On the Green Turkey Trot & 5k is one of the best ways to burn off that extra ‘stuffing.’ Runners gather at the Cashiers Village Green and gobble for the gold! The race takes place on Thanksgiving Day from 9 – 11 am.
Small Business Saturday in Sylva & Dillsboro is one of the best ways to get a great deal on the perfect seasonal gift. Shop small November 27 from 10 am – closing for wonderful finds.
Christmas & More
Mountain Artisans Hard Candy Christmas showcases over a hundred regional artists at the Ramsey Regional Activity Center in Cullowhee. This event takes place over two days, November 26 & 27, and entry is $5.
Santa on the Green, Cashiers Christmas Tree Lighting, and Mistletoe Market kicks off on November 26 from 2 – 6:30 pm with the Tree lighting at the Village Green in Cashiers. This event runs from Thanksgiving weekend until after New Year’s with vibrant light display throughout the Village Green.
Sylva Tree Lighting Kick-off the holidays with Christmas in Sylva, a Holiday weekend. Experience the joy of the town’s holiday centerpiece as it is brought to life with twinkling Christmas lights. The event takes place downtown a the foot of the Historic Courthouse at 7 p.m.
Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries runs on December 3 & 4, and 10 & 11, 2021, from 5 – 7 pm. Over 2,500 luminaries and Christmas lights line the town as you take a step back in time with joy, laughter, and song as carolers sing live music. Shop owners give away free hot chocolate and cider, and children will enjoy a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Cashiers Christmas Parade takes place on December 4 from 3 – 4 pm. This one-mile parade route features festive floats and is a great way to kick off the Christmas season.
Sylva Christmas Parade this annual Christmas parade takes place along Historic Main Street for celebration, cheer and a chance to see Santa. The start time is 3 p.m., and the parade lasts 45 minutes to an hour.
Holiday Fireworks in Sylva makes the season both merry and bright – literally! This light show will spark up some holiday cheer behind the winter lights display in downtown Sylva on December 17 from 7:30 – 8:30 pm.
The Glenville/Cashiers area is known as one of the best places in the country to grow the Frasier Fir – better known as the perfect Christmas Tree. Finding the perfect fir has become a family tradition for many locals and visitors alike at Grandy Mountain Farm and Bear Valley Tree Farm, and with limited supply this year, we recommend taking an earlier trip than usual or calling ahead to reserve your tree in advance.
Reconnection & Relaxation
The time to answer the call for a stress-free getaway has never been more important. Reconnect and relax in the mountains of Western North Carolina by booking a spa day at one of our mountain spas, each offering treatments to help you unplug and unwind. Afterward, curl up with a good book by the fireplace.
Book Your Holiday Getaway
Okay, so now you’re convinced – you and your loved ones need a Christmas vacation to the mountains! The good news is that it’s closer and more affordable than you think. Jackson County is less than a day’s drive for over half of the U.S. population. Book your stay at one of our cozy boutique hotels, luxury resorts, vacation rentals, or cabins. See our full lodging list here and check out our ‘Trip Planner’ to begin to begin planning your getaway today.