Keep Warm in Sylva and Dillsboro
Out and About
Warm up with some shopping in a variety of locally-owned stores, and find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Shops throughout the county sell handmade and artisan goods that can’t be found anywhere else. In Dillsboro, explore the work of incredibly talented local potters. Riverwood Pottery is a great stop while in town for beautiful creations, and one-of-a-kind holiday gifts. Find a full list of potters and crafters to visit along the way here. There are many specialty Christmas stores in town that have festive decorations and gifts that are sure to put even the biggest scrooge in the holiday spirit. Stop into Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop, open since 1969, for an incredible selection of holiday ornaments, décor and more.
The Mountain Artisans Hard Candy Christmas has been running for more than 30 years. The show features incredible collections of handmade goods from local and regional basket makers, leather craftsmen, master jewelers and many more. Check our event calendar for this year’s dates!
Also at Western Carolina University, don’t miss the Mountain Heritage Center, a regional resource for education and research that aims to celebrate the people, and the natural and cultural heritage of the Southern Appalachians. Check their calendar for event dates and times, or their website for a complete list of current exhibits.
If you want to get outside to warm up from the inside out, consider a visit to 828 Escape. Bring along a group of four-ten people and work together to find hidden clues and solve mind-bending puzzles in order to “escape” before your hour is up!
When the sun goes down, the lights turn up and guests to the area will experience the most wonderful time of the year as Dillsboro is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights, candles, laughter and music during their annual Lights and Luminaries event. 2,500 luminaries light guest’s way to shops, while horse and buggy rides carry people through the streets, and shopkeepers welcome guests with live music and treats. Lights and Luminaries takes place the first two Fridays and Saturdays in December from 5-9 p.m. each night. A free shuttle service is available from Monteith Park.
Stop into Cherokee for the three-day Lights & Legends Christmas event in December. Enjoy interactive displays and learn more about ancient Cherokee Christmas legends. The event also boasts a 40-foot Christmas tree, a synthetic ice rink, and photos with Santa and other holiday favorites.
Every year at the start of December, the Sylva Christmas Parade marches through Historic Main Street with more than 50 floats and a special guest appearance from Santa.
Head over to the ecological, artistic and environmental marvel, the Jackson County Green Energy Park, for another activity to keep you out of the cold. Situated on an old landfill that now harnesses the methane to create energy, the Green Energy Park uses that renewable energy as fuel for glassblowing studios, blacksmith forges and pottery kilns and is the only art studios powered by renewable energy in the world.
Want to pamper yourself? Head to Fusions Spa. Located in downtown Sylva, Fusions is the perfect way to recharge your body and mind during the colder months. Choose from the extensive menu of offerings, including massages, facials, body treatments, makeup, fitness and wellness options.
Comfort Food (And Drinks)
Start your day off right with a delicious hot breakfast and coffee or tea in town at one of the many dining options.
City Lights Café provides “quick, tasty and healthy” fare, and uniquely decadent menu items to satisfy any palate. Many of their ingredients are locally-sourced and organically-produced. At the City Lights Bookstore, which is located above the City Lights Café, find a quiet corner to enjoy a good book and relax.
Visit the popular farm-to-table, tropical fusion restaurant Guadalupe Café for dinner. Sit down, relax and enjoy the ambiance and live music. The menu is full of innovative and flavorful delights, and includes a wide variety of zesty and delectable Caribbean-flavored meals with spices that are sure to warm you up on a cold day.
Take a break from the chilly temperatures outdoors, and grab a slice of pizza and a movie at the local favorite, Mad Batter Kitchen Mad Batter offers creative comfort food with a free feature film every Thursday, Friday & Saturday in their theater. Here, you can eat, drink and catch a flick all for an affordable price. Check their website for the monthly movie selections.
Jackson County is home to several innovative and tasty breweries: Innovation Brewing, Balsam Falls Brewing Co., Nantahala Brewing Sylva Outpost and Lazy Hiker Brewing Company Taproom, which are located within walking distance of each other in downtown Sylva. Innovation Brewing’s second location, Innovation Station, is located in the heart of Dillsboro and Whiteside Brewing Co. in Cashiers. For those who prefer wine and cocktails over beer, check out The Wine Bar and Cellar, The Cut Cocktail Lounge, or The Paper Mill Lounge – all perfect choices for great drinks and welcoming environments with locals happy to provide you with even more suggestions for the area.
There are plenty of dining options around town, so find the one that best fits your palate.
For those who aren’t afraid of a cold weather adventure, consider getting outside to explore the best of the winter mountain views. Groups, couples, and families can enjoy wintertime hiking, fly fishing, and much more. For something a little more relaxing, take some time enjoying peaceful forest therapy by experiencing Shinrin-Yoku with Pinnacle Forest Therapy. Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese health inactivate that involves connecting with the restorative power of nature.
Begin planning your escape to Jackson County by selecting from various lodging options. Ranging from spacious cabins and cottages to comfy hotels and B&Bs, there is sure to be one cozy enough to work for your winter mountain getaway.
Cozy Up in Cashiers
Out and About
During the holidays, start a new tradition and bring your family along to choose and cut your own tree! Due to the location, range of elevation, excellent soil and rainfall, Jackson County is home to the southern-most natural stand of Fraser fir in the world. Researchers have even shown that the genetics recovered from this southern stand produce some of the fastest-growing, most aesthetically pleasing Christmas trees. Jackson County has several nostalgic choose and cut tree places, many of which are family-owned.
Keep your holiday spirit bright with our annual Cashiers Christmas Parade, and check our event calendar for this year’s date!
Hit the slopes at Sapphire Valley Resort with skiing and snowboarding on the 1,600-foot main run with a vertical drop of 200 feet. Ideal for a day of family fun, take a lesson from the mountain’s professional instructors, and save money with rentals included in lift ticket prices. Sapphire Valley Resort also features Frozen Falls Tube Park, where tubers can slide down the 500-foot run with a vertical drop of 60 feet, and the moving sidewalk makes it easy to get to the top for another ride down. Snow-seekers can also enjoy full-service amenities now offered at Sapphire Valley Resort, making it easier than ever to plan a day on the slopes.
Continuing the fun at Sapphire Valley Resort, the always-popular Outhouse Races are held in February every year, providing thrills for both participants and spectators. Attendees cheer on teams as two people push homemade outhouses secured to a set of skis down the race track while a third team member holds on for one wild ride. Teams with outhouses both simple and elaborate are welcome to enter, as long as they follow a short list of rules for the competitive event.
Explore the unique stores Cashiers has to offer, and walk along 107 North and South to the boutiques located near the Village Green and Cashiers Crossroads to grab those last-minute gifts.
Winter is a great time of year to enjoy fishing in the crystal-clear streams of the Great Smoky Mountains, so look into hiring one of the many local premier guide services to coordinate a fly fishing excursion. The area hosts the most picturesque trout waters east of the Mississippi River. With a large concentration of rainbow, brown and brook trout, the opportunity exists daily to achieve the Tuckasegee fly fishing grand slam – catching all three species of trout in the same day.
Bundle up and head outdoors for a one-of-a-kind experience at Whitewater Falls, one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies at nearly 400 feet. This natural beauty is sure to be stunning in the winter months – you might even glimpse a few icicles!
If you’re visiting between mid-February through early March, you might be lucky enough to catch the Shadow of the Bear, a naturally occurring phenomenon that makes an appearance for just 30 minutes on sunny days at 5:30 p.m. It starts with a small dark shadow at the bottom of the valley and grows until it finally evolves into the bear that appears to be walking along the treetops below.
Comfort Food (And Drinks)
Try Randevu for lunch – they are known for their culinary specialties with a Southern twist and a French flair. The lunch menu features warm soups, delicious salads, incredible sandwiches and more. Be sure to grab a table close to their fireplace!
Close out your chilly evening with a dinner at The Orchard, which is set in a 100-year-old farmhouse. With a dining ambiance reflecting rustic elegance with mountain charm, this restaurant features several historical artifacts on display. From trout almandine to bacon-wrapped filet and lamb chops flambeau, The Orchard’s extensive menu touches on American cuisine with a Southern flavor. Pair any dish with a bottle from their cellar, which heavily focuses on New World and California wine regions.
Check out the full lineup of dining offerings in Cashiers to find the perfect winter meal for your visit.
Be sure to book a room in one of the many lodging options in Jackson County for your winter getaway, and enjoy lower rates that can be found throughout the winter season.