A charming downtown with a booming brew scene that TripAdvisor calls “One of the Top 10 American Brewery Tours,” this historic Jackson County mountain town has a distinct groove. Sylva serves as the county seat of Jackson County.
The downtown area is lined with a collection of eclectic restaurants, breweries, and shops that are open year-round. Sylva was also named one of the “Top 10 Cleanest Cities in the US” by Expedia.com, due in part to its green and eco-friendly initiatives, including being a certified Tree City featuring a stunning Tree Walk that showcases over 50 different species of trees.
With elevations exceeding 5,000 feet, the 1,400-acre Pinnacle Park, owned by the town of Sylva, has some of the most challenging hiking trails in all of Western North Carolina. Jackson County is proclaimed NC’s Trout Capital®, and Sylva is a major part of the county’s famed WNC Fly Fishing Trail®. Scotts Creek, also called Scott Creek runs through the heart of downtown and provides ample opportunity for reeling in trout. Visitors are invited to bring their fishing gear and grab a trail map from the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center to explore the abundantly stocked, pristine waters.
For a fun activity with friends, check out four local breweries on the Jackson County Ale Trail. Sylva and surrounding towns are known for this unique string of breweries featuring local brews and good times. Sylva has four walkable breweries with over 120 locally crafted ales on tap: Innovation Brewing, Nantahala Brewing, Lazy Hiker Taproom, and Balsam Falls Brewing. Nearby in Dillsboro, Innovation Station is another brewery featuring even more options for locally crafted goodness.
Sylva’s charming downtown earned its role in the Hollywood motion picture Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, which utilized West Main Street for most of the movie. No stranger to Hollywood, the Fugitive (filmed at Harris Regional Hospital) and Deliverance also had scenes staged in Sylva.
Sylva never lacks in things to do: Memorial Day through Labor Day, there are live concerts at Bridge Park every Friday night, and Greening Up the Mountains is a large earth day festival spanning several blocks downtown every spring.
More to Explore
- Sylva holds a range of options for dining, local shopping, art galleries, history, and more. What’s not to love?
- The entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Balsam and the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee are both only twenty minutes from Downtown Sylva.
- Cherokee, only a twenty-minute drive is home to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, which is a must-see. While staying in Sylva, you’re only a short drive from Tuckasegee, Cashiers, Waynesville, and other nearby towns you might explore.
- The Washington Post termed Sylva in their Sunday travel section featuring a whole page on the town as an ‘Asheville Alternative for the Crowd Weary’, speaking to the wide-open spaces, yet endless activities for those who visit; not to mention the affordability of staying in Sylva. Fodors named Sylva one of the Top 25 Cutest Main Streets in the United States.
- Historic Courthouse – The Jackson County Courthouse, located on Sylva’s bustling and quaint Main Street, is the most photographed courthouse in North Carolina. With a beautiful mountain backdrop and a perfect view of downtown Sylva, you’ll definitely want to make a stop here.
- Freedom Park – At Sylva’s Freedom Park, you can check out life-sized replicas of our country’s founding documents, like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It’s also conveniently located right behind the Historic Courthouse and Library downtown!
- Lulu’s on Main – Southern Living’s “Favorite Restaurant in the Region,” Lulu’s on Main is known for its eclectic flare that reflects the welcoming spirit of Sylva. Lulu’s on Main has an edgy, retro atmosphere tied together with paintings from many local artists displayed on the wall. Chef Devin McCardle, who once served as honorary chef for Julia Child’s foundation, The American Institute of Wine & Food, takes his expertise and French culinary training to the kitchen to create a menu which features a range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free items to suit special diets.
All restaurants have taken special COVID precautions and are offering takeout and curbside serve.
- Western Carolina University, in Cullowhee, is only ten minutes from downtown Sylva, so visitors can readily enjoy a WCU Basketball, Football, or Baseball game while visiting our countless programs and displays at the Bardo Arts Center and Fine Art Museum.
- Shopping – With five antique stores and three bookstores (including a rare bookstore), shopping in Sylva is a must. Enjoy Sylva’s walkable downtown and find the perfect keepsake.
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