Items marked with an asterisk (*) are within the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Alleghany County

*Stone Mountain State Park - The massive granite dome at Stone Mountain State Park keeps watch on park visitors enjoying nearly every type of outdoor activity – camping, hiking, climbing, fishing, picnicking, horseback riding and more.

Roaring River Vineyards - Nestled on the banks of the Roaring River, on the site of the historic Brewer mills built in 1793, the vineyards boast magnificent views. The site is distinguished by its twin mills -- a gristmill (in ruins) on one side of the river and a sawmill on the other side. Near the sawmill ruins is the original miller’s cabin that is still standing today. Visit the tasting room or restaurant, or stay onsite in one of the vacation rentals.

Music on Main – Stroll through downtown Sparta June-September, and enjoy live music at downtown restaurants and merchants. Part of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Music Trails.

Mountain Arts Adventure Studio Tour – Head to Alleghany County and tour 16 studios and galleries, talk to the artists and watch them demonstrate their work.

Alleghany Fiddlers Convention – A friendly competition for bands and individual musicians, the contestants with the highest scores win cash prizes and ribbons. A separate dance contest is also held for bragging rights. Come show off your flatfooting, clogging or buck dancing!

Ashe County

*New River State Park - A base camp for exploration of the New River, a National Wild and Scenic River that winds through some of the best North Carolina mountain scenery. The New River is the second oldest river in the world, second to the Nile, and it also flows north.

*Mount Jefferson State Natural Area - Rising abruptly to more than 1,600 feet above the surrounding landscape, Mount Jefferson State Natural Area’s namesake peak is a national natural landmark with a rich history.

Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention - This event honors the old-time and bluegrass music of the mountains – and the musicians who make it happen – with individual and band competitions with cash prizes. The convention is a benefit for the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program that places fourth to six grade students who want to learn to play banjo, guitar or fiddle with an adult musician.

Museum of Ashe County History – This county heritage museum tells the story of Ashe County through exhibits devoted to Virginia Creeper, moonshine and music, local industries, the Ore Knob Mine, and more.

Ashe Arts Center – Located in downtown West Jefferson, the Ashe Arts Center houses a gallery that showcases the work of local and regional artists. The gallery shop features locally produced arts and crafts. Stroll through downtown the second Friday of each month during the summer for the center-sponsored Gallery Crawls and visit the more than 15 participating local galleries and studios.

St. Mary’s Church of the Frescoes – View fresco paintings by world famous artist, Benjamin F. Long IV at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. Part of the Blue Ridge Fresco Trail.

Christmas in July Festival – Join this celebration of Ashe County’s Christmas tree industry, featuring traditional mountain music, handmade arts, and crafts vendors, festival foods and Civil War re-enactments.

Ashe County Cheese - See cheese being made at Ashe County Cheese in downtown West Jefferson. There are tours and cheese making schedules posted each day, and you can purchase a variety of local, award-winning cheeses.

Avery County

*Grandfather Mountain State Park - An icon in North Carolina’s landscape for generations, Grandfather Mountain offers stunning scenery, challenging hiking and backpacking and unmatched ecological diversity.

Land of Oz – Journey with Dorothy down the yellow brick road through this former theme park located on Beech Mountain.  

Linville Falls - Linville Falls is the most popular waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains because of its accessibility to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a spectacular three-tiered waterfall plunging into Linville Gorge, the “Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians.”

Sugar Mountain – There’s more to Sugar Mountain than skiing. Hike or bike the mountain trails this summer, or enjoy the spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show.

Beech Mountain – Visit the highest town in the Eastern U.S. for mile-high yoga, live music, downhill mountain biking and much more.

Buncombe County

*DNCR Archives & History Western Office - A regional archives and research library focused on historical and evidential materials relating to western North Carolina. The office hosts special events and exhibits throughout the year.

*Thomas Wolfe Memorial - The childhood home of one of North Carolina’s most famous writers, and the setting of his best-known novel. Visit the second Saturday of the month for the Writers at Wolfe events.

*Vance Birthplace – Tour this pioneer farmstead, the birthplace of one of North Carolina’s most famous governors, Zebulon B. Vance.

Biltmore Estate – Biltmore Estate in Asheville includes the 250-room Biltmore House – America’s largest private home – and century-old gardens. Explore Antler Hill Village and Biltmore Winery, and dine in one of Biltmore’s amazing restaurants.

Shindig on the Green - Shindig on the Green is a celebration of traditional and old-time string bands, bluegrass, ballad singers, big circle mountain dancers and cloggers on summer evenings in downtown Asheville.

Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands – This Craft Fair is an event where connoisseurs and novices alike come to craft a collection, connect with tradition, and invest in regional culture. Over 200 craftspeople fill two floors with fine handcrafted items, while local musicians play live on the arena stage, and craft educators share their knowledge with children in hands-on projects.

North Carolina Arboretum - Nestled in the Southern Appalachian Mountains just south of Asheville, The North Carolina Arboretum offers acres of cultivated gardens and groomed trails featuring some of the most beautiful, botanically-diverse plants in the region.

Burke County

*South Mountains State Park - In one of the state’s most rugged areas, South Mountains State Park features elevations to 3,000 feet, an 80-foot waterfall, mountain streams and more than 40 miles of trails for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers.

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail - Stretching 330 miles through four states (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina) the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail traces the route used by patriot militia during the pivotal Kings Mountain campaign of 1780.

History Museum of Burke County – Dedicated to preserving and displaying the heritage of Burke County for current and future generations.

McDowell House at Quaker Meadows Plantation – Built in 1812, this restored federal style home portrays life in the 19th century.

Caldwell County

Blowing Rock – An immense cliff 4,000 feet above sea level, the Blowing Rock is so named because the wind sweeps through with such force that it returns light objects dropped over the side. Here, even the snow falls upside down.

Fort Defiance - The restored 1792 home of Revolutionary War hero and statesman William Lenoir, the namesake of Lenoir, N.C., the home features more than 300 pieces of original furnishings and artifacts and is considered one of the country's most unique restorations.

Caldwell Heritage Museum – Learn about Caldwell County history, including military contributions by Caldwell county citizens, music, and Davenport College, the last building of which now houses the museum.

Tuttle Educational State Forest – This 290- acre state forest includes a series of trails accented by exhibits and displays that explain the ecology of the forest. Exhibits, the "talking tree" trail, and forest management demonstration areas help visitors learn more about the forest.

Caldwell Arts - The Caldwell Arts Council is home to four beautiful gallery spaces with monthly exhibits and a small artisan craft gift shop. Visit Labor Day weekend for the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention and enjoy the traditional music of North Carolina.

N.C. Blackberry Festival - Visit beautiful downtown Lenoir for the Annual N.C. Blackberry Festival. Experience small-town charm with street vendors, crafts, food, fun, and blackberries -- lots and lots of blackberries. 

Cherokee County

Murphy River Walk and Canoe Trails – This beautiful greenway follows the Valley and Hiwassee rivers surrounding the historic town center of Murphy. Whether you take the trail on foot or put in for an easy paddle along the canoe trails, you’ll enjoy the ecology and cultural heritage along the way.

Fires Creek Recreation Area - Picturesque recreation area in the Nantahala National Forest at the base of Leatherwood Falls, operated by the U.S. Forest Service. Picnic tables and BBQ grills in the woods next to a refreshing mountain stream. Hiking and horseback riding trails and a camping area where horses are acceptable.

Cherokee County Historical Museum – This museum displays the rich history of Native American and pioneer settlers in the far-western corner of the state. The museum is housed in a historic Carnegie Library building in downtown Murphy.

Valley River Arts Guild – This non-profit local organization supports local artists and showcases regional art in its gallery in downtown Murphy. Check out the Art Walk, held the first Friday of each month from May to December, and see local artists demonstrating their work.

Clay County

Clay County Historical and Arts Museum - The Clay County Historical & Arts Museum is housed in the Old County Jail Museum which was constructed in 1912 and used as a jail until 1972. The Museum displays items pertinent to the history of the area through changing exhibits.

Peacock Center for the Performing Arts – Big city entertainment in the small town of Hayesville. The theater presents a steady flow of stellar performance throughout the year, including plays, concerts, and family entertainment.

Graham County

Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center – Located in a picturesque valley about 10 miles northeast of Robbinsville, the Stagecoach Valley Cultural Arts Center celebrates mountain traditions through music programs, festivals, workshops, and other events. 

An Appalachian Evening Summer Concert Series - The Stecoah Valley Center’s summer concert series highlights the region’s cultural heritage with performances of bluegrass, folk and old-time mountain music in the historic Stecoah auditorium on summer Saturday evenings.

Barn Quilt Trail - From Stecoah to Robbinsville, Yellow Creek to Snowbird, there are barn quilts across the communities in the county. Quilt patterns include traditional and non-traditional patterns. The trail displays patterns such as Spinning Star, Ocean Waves, Inverted Log Cabin, original designs and more!

Native Azalea Festival - Graham County is home to one-of-a-kind variety of native flame azalea. The festival celebrates the history and the beauty of this extraordinary plant. 

Haywood County

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life and the beauty of its ancient mountains, this is America’s most visited national park. Be sure to visit Cataloochee Valley -- rich in history, with original homesteads still standing, visitors can tour a school, churches, a barn, and several homes to learn what life was like for early settlers of the area.

Folkmoot USA - As the official “International Folklore Festival of North Carolina” Folkmoot brings culture and heritage from around the world to Haywood County every July to be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike.

Shelton House Museum of Handicrafts – Stop by the historic Shelton House to view exhibits of 19th-century crafts including hand-woven coverlets, quilts, sculptured porcelain, dulcimers, masterpieces of pottery work and furniture and a fine collection of Native American artifacts.

Lake Junaluska – Enjoy fishing, hiking, boat tours, swimming, canoeing and more at this popular family destination.

Canton Labor Day Festival – A celebration of all things made in Western N.C., locals and visitors come together to enjoy live music, have fun at Papertown Kids Village, shop the Farmers Market, and shop the handmade crafts.  

Henderson County

Carl Sandburg Home – Explore the legacy of poet Carl Sandburg at his home in Flat Rock, now a National Historic Site.

Curb Market – A Hendersonville tradition since 1924, the Curb Market began as a group of farmers who brought their extra produce to town for the “city folk” to buy. It has expanded to include local fruits and vegetables, plants, fresh cut flowers, homemade jams and baked goods, and handmade crafts.

DuPont State Forest – Home to more than 10,000 acres of forest, trails, and waterfalls between Hendersonville and Brevard. 

Henderson County Heritage Museum – Learn about the people, culture, and history of Henderson County through this museum’s colorful exhibits, collections, and educational programs.

Hendersonville Train Depot – The first steam engine to puff up to the Hendersonville Depot in 1879 needed a “help engine” attached to the rear of the train for additional power to push it up the Saluda Mountain Grade, the steepest main-line standard gauge railroad in the U.S. The Depot now houses the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club, the largest club layout in Western N.C.

Holmes Educational State Forest - With rugged terrain, numerous rock outcroppings, and scenic vistas, Holmes Educational State Forest offers a rich mixture of mountain hardwoods, rhododendron, flame azaleas, and a variety of wildflowers.

Western North Carolina Air Museum – See and touch historic airplanes, engines from historic aircraft and more at this Hendersonville museum dedicated to the wonders of aviation.

Mineral & Lapidary Museum – This museum houses exhibits from North Carolina, minerals, Indian artifacts, a dinosaur egg nest, fossils, fluorescent minerals, gems, and faceted minerals.

Music on Main Street – Hear some of the region’s finest bands every Friday evening from June through August at the Music on Main Street Concert Series in Hendersonville.

Historic Flat Rock Cultural Center/Museum - Take a step back in time and learn about area history and historic preservation efforts. 

Jackson County

Unto These Hills Unto These Hills tells the story of the forced removal of the Cherokee by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1540, and their struggle along the “Trail of Tears.” This work debuted in 1950, making it one of the nation’s oldest Native American outdoor dramas.

Museum of the Cherokee Indian – Experience the history of the Cherokee people in this interactive, immersive museum.

Oconaluftee Indian Village – Let a cultural expert lead you on a tour of Cherokee lifestyle and history as you walk through this village of traditional Cherokee dwellings, work areas and sacred ritual sites.

Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc. – The place to go for authentic, handmade Cherokee arts and crafts.

Jackson County Green Energy Park – Located in Dillsboro, the JCGEP captures methane gas from the old town landfill, then uses the gas as fuel for artisan studios. Stop by the gallery to view and purchase works by the park’s artists or sign up for a class and learn to make your own artworks.

Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail – Featuring some of the best trout waters in the Great Smoky Mountains, the trail takes you to 15 excellent spots for catching brook, brown and rainbow trout

Groovin’ on the Green – This summer concert series takes place Friday nights in Cashiers. Bring your blankets and chairs, kids and dogs, and enjoy some great music on the Village Green.

Mountain Artisans Summertime Arts & Crafts Show – Come to Cullowhee for this art show featuring authentic crafts from the hands of 100 regional artisans. 

Macon County

Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts - See a show at The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. This beautiful venue hosts some of the best live music, drama and dance performances in the region.

Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum – Located in the Old Jail, this museum has eight rooms filled with gems and minerals from all over the world.

Scottish Tartan Museum – Find your tartan and learn about the Scottish emigrant experience in North Carolina. Learn about your Scottish connection and find out which clan is yours.

Macon County Historical Museum – Learn about the history of Macon County, research genealogical information, and take a walk down Memory Lane at this museum in Franklin.

Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center - Built in 1943 on the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp by the WPA, Cowee School served thousands of students until it was closed as a school in 2012. It continues as an institution of learning and an exciting outdoor venue for music and the arts.

Appalachian Heritage Festival - Nearly 50 live demonstrations will be showcased and will feature the essence of life in Appalachia. You'll see quilters, wood carvers, canoe builders and even a live, working gem mining flume at this festival in Franklin.

Franklin Folk Festival - This family-friendly festival features live heritage demonstrations, Appalachian crafts, old-time mountain music, kids' activities, food, tours of the Cowee Valley and more! Artisans inside Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center exhibit Macon County’s rich heritage by teaching about pottery, textiles, painting, and local history.

Madison County

Madison County Arts Center – Experience outstanding art exhibits, concerts and more at this arts center run by the Madison County Arts Council.

Appalachian Trail - The world-famous AT, as it is affectionately known, passes from one end of the county to the other on its route from Georgia to Maine. Thousands of hikers pass along our ridges, slopes, and valleys each year. Many of them spending a night or more at the hikers' hostel in Hot Springs. The Appalachian Trail and many other trails are easily accessible to visitors. There are 65 miles of AT in Madison County.

Hot Springs - Whether you are looking for a way to simply enjoy a relaxing end of a day or have finished hiking a stretch of the nearby Appalachian Trail, you can soak in the natural hot mineral waters in Hot Springs, N.C.

Rainbow’s End Trout Pond - Fresh rainbow trout raised in the clean cool waters of Madison County. No license required and the pole and bait are supplied. If you want to keep your fish for supper, there's only a per pound charge.

Bluff Mountain Festival – Travel to Hot Springs for the Annual Bluff Mountain Festival for some western-N.C. style music, food, artist vendors and family fun.

McDowell County

*Mountain Gateway Museum –  Learn about the history and culture of Western North Carolina at this regional museum that encourages the preservation and understanding of the culture of the state’s mountain region.

*Lake James State Park - Though its namesake may be its defining feature, Lake James State Park also offers 15 miles of mountain biking trails and the opportunity to explore a segment of the historic Overmountain Victory Trail.

Carson House - Carson House Museum tells the story of Irish immigrant Colonel John Carson and his new world experience. The Carson family history includes the creation of McDowell County, North Carolina public service and tales of Sam Houston and Davey Crockett.

Linville Caverns - NC’s only show caverns. Entertaining and informative guided tours take visitors along a level walk to see “inside” Humpback Mountain. Affordable family fun that features amazing mineral color, unique formations, an underground stream with native trout, the “Bottomless Pool” and a peek into total darkness.

Linville Gorge Wilderness Area - The "Grand Canyon of the East." Primitive recreation in a wild and isolated terrain. Strenuous hiking, backpacking, rock-climbing and fishing for native trout. Stretches of virgin forest, rare and endangered species, an assortment of wild game and non-game species. Located in the Pisgah National Forest near Linville Falls.

Liver Mush Festival – Marion’s annual Liver Mush Festival will celebrate the liver mush heritage of the area. See the best-dressed pig contest, join in the liver mush toss and enjoy live music at this annual event.

Mitchell County

Penland School of Crafts - Take a tour of the campus and studios or better yet, sign up for one of the Penland classes and explore your own creativity in a one-week or eight-week workshop.

Toe River Arts Council - The Toe River Studio Tour is perhaps the largest and the longest running studio tour in the country; you will find craftspeople and artists in nearly every medium, many tops in their field and several new-to-the-tour participants. This free, self-guided adventure will lead you to some unique places between Mt. Mitchell and Roan Mountain.

N.C. Rhododendron Festival – Head to Bakersville to see Roan Mountain turn pink with over 600 acres of blooming Catawba rhododendron at this festival held the third weekend in June. With a street dance, craft fair, pageant, car show, and other events, there’s lots of family fun to be had!

Roan Mountain - Just outside of Bakersville, Roan Mountain isn’t just one mountain but contains five mountain peaks, and is roughly divided into two sections by Carver’s Gap. A Catawba legend tells of a great battle with the Cherokee atop the mountain where the bloodshed from the battle left the rhododendron colored crimson and parts of the mountain treeless.

BBQ Championship & Bluegrass Festival – Featuring a professional BBQ competition, live bluegrass, arts and crafts vendors, kids’ activities and much more. Held in Spruce Pine.

Mineral and Gem Festival – Since the early 1950s, Spruce Pine has welcomed visitors from around the world to the Mine and Gem Festival to shop for jewelry, gemstones, crystals, fossils and more. The festival features gem, jewelry and mineral dealers from across the country. 

Polk County

Polk County History Museum – Located in downtown Columbus, this museum offers a collection of historic artifacts that tell the story of Polk County.

KidSenses Interactive Museum – Take the kids to this interactive, hands-on museum in Rutherfordton for some science fun!

Tryon Fine Arts Center – Located in the heart of Tryon, the Fine Arts Center has been a focus for entertainment and the arts since 1969. View outstanding performances or learn a new craft. 

Tryon Historical Museum – Learn about the history and culture of Tryon, from the Cherokee hunting grounds to equestrian culture to some of the iconic artists who have called Tryon home.

Pearsons FallsThis unique botanical preserve is comprised of 268 acres of rich cove forest, granite, spring-fed streams, and a moderate ¼-mile trail to a 90-ft. waterfall.


Rutherford County

*Chimney Rock State Park - Some of North Carolina’s most dramatic mountain scenery is found at Chimney Rock State Park, with the signature 315-foot spire overlooking Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. 

Green River Plantation - A beautiful, 19th-century, 42-room mansion located in Rutherfordton, the Green River Plantation is open to the public for daily tours, gift shopping, and scheduled events.

Bechtler House/N.C. Gold Trail - Home to Christopher Bechtler who is credited with minting the first U.S. $1 gold coin, the Bechtler House showcases period artifacts and exhibits that transport visitors back to the 1830s. The house also serves as the headquarters of the NC Gold Trail, which connects over 27 counties with historical significance from the NC gold rush.

Lake Lure – Visit the place where “Dirty Dancing” was filmed. Enjoy boating, fishing, and other water activities on the lake, or go rock climbing or golfing.

Dirty Dancing Festival - In honor of its namesake film, the annual Dirty Dancing Festival, held in the picturesque mountain town of Lake Lure, showcases live bands, fun competitions, watermelon games, and amazing dance performances.

Lake Lure Olympiad – A three-day summer sports festival held at Rumbling Bald Resort and Chimney Rock State Park in majestic Lake Lure, NC. Choose to compete in multiple race events including the 10K Dam Run, Lake Lure Triathlon, a Junior Olympiad for the kids, Race to the Rock bike and run events, plus many more!

Surry County

*Horne Creek Farm - Once the Hauser family farm, Horne Creek enables visitors to experience farm life in North Carolina's northwestern Piedmont circa 1900. The site features the family's original farmhouse, a tobacco curing barn, a corn crib, adjacent fields under cultivation, and even a heritage apple orchard.

*Pilot Mountain State Park - Rising abruptly more than 2,000 feet, Pilot Mountain has been a navigational landmark for centuries, and is a recreational landmark as well, offering miles of trails, camping, climbing, and spectacular scenery.

Visit the World of Mayberry in Mount Airy – Andy Griffith based the fictional town of Mayberry on his hometown of Mount Airy, and dozens of places in town celebrate the Andy Griffith Show. Visit the Andy Griffith Museum, take a ride around town in a squad car, stop at Floyd’s City Barber Shop for a haircut or get a bite to eat at Snappy Lunch.

Surry Sonker Trail – What is sonker? It’s a heritage dessert sort of like a fruit cobbler, and it’s unique to Surry County. Follow this confectionary trail in Surry County to eight places that serve sonker on their menu and discover its delights for yourself.

Historic Rockford – Once the seat of government for Surry County, the historic Village of Rockford includes several historic buildings such as the general store, Methodist Church and Post Office. It’s part of the N.C. Civil War Trail and Mountains to Sea Trail.

Foothills Arts Council – Located in downtown Elkin. Visit the gallery, participate in a Downtown Art & Music Hike or take in a performance at the Foothills Theater.

Elkin Roots Music Fest – Started by the Elkin Valley Fiddlers, this annual festival celebrates regional roots music. 

Swain County

Swain County Heritage Museum - Located in the 1908 historic courthouse in downtown Bryson City, the museum tells the story of Swain County and its people. Through photos, exhibits and video you will learn about the life of early settlers, and how the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Fontana Dam rewrote the landscape and changed lives.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life and the beauty of its ancient mountains, this is America’s most visited national park.

Deep Creek – One of the most beautiful areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Deep Creek is known for waterfalls, trails, swimming, tubing and fly fishing.

Fontana Dam - When completed in November 1944 to produce electricity for WWII industries, the 480-foot-high dam became the highest in the Eastern United States and the fourth highest in the nation. Learn about its history at the Fontana Dam Visitor Center.

Swain County Quilt Trail – Explore the scenery as you follow the Swain County Quilt Trail to find quilt blocks painted on barns, public buildings, and even on an island in Bryson City.

Transylvania County

*Gorges State Park - Backcountry-style recreation is a hallmark of Gorges State Park with distance hiking, backpack camping, trout fishing, mountain biking and horseback riding all available. 

Pisgah National Forest – Come to the “cradle of forestry” and experience the birthplace of science-based forest management. Explore the trails, visit the Adventure Zone or Forest Discovery Center, or attend a nature program.

Sliding Rock – North Carolina’s most famous naturally occurring thrill ride, Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest is a slippery, 60-foot rock waterslide that drops you into a 7-foot deep pool. Summertime can bring large crowds looking to take the plunge.

Brevard Music Center Summer Festival – Celebrate Brevard Music Center’s tradition of musical excellence with the summer festival of symphony, chamber, jazz, bluegrass, opera and more. June through August brings 80 performances, including internationally famous performers.

Waterfalls – Transylvania County is home to 250 magnificent cascading waterfalls, all within a few miles of each other. From the 400-foot drop of Whitewater Falls to the iconic beauty of Looking Glass Falls, few things in nature are as awe-inspiring as this.

Allison-Deaver House – This mountain-crafted Federal and Greek Revival house was built in two parts, and has remained virtually unaltered for two centuries. Today the house serves as a museum and is part of the N.C. Civil War Trails Program.

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute - At the height of space exploration, NASA operated a manned satellite tracking station in Pisgah National Forest. Today, the site is operated by the non-profit Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute. Visit and explore the former NASA facility, enjoy hiking trails, campus tours, scenic mountain views, hands-on space and earth science exhibit galleries, a nature center and more.

Watauga County

*Elk Knob State Park - Elk Knob State Park features one of the highest peaks in North Carolina’s high country at 5,520 feet and one of the parks system’s finest trails to the spectacular views from the summit.

Tweetsie Railroad – Enjoy a Western-themed ride on an authentic steam train at this family fun park in Boone. After riding the train, explore the park’s other fun rides and activities.

Horn in the West – The renowned outdoor drama tells the story of Daniel Boone’s adventures in the high country of North Carolina and the little-known role that local pioneers played in winning the American Revolution at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Hickory Ridge Homestead – Located on the grounds of Horn in the West, Hickory Ridge Living History Museum was created in 1980 to foster a better understanding of the life of the settlers in the Horn in the West outdoor drama.

Mystery Hill – Prepare to be amazed at this natural gravitational anomaly where objects held in mid-air take more force to move in one direction than the other. Mystery Hill includes a collection of other amazing optical illusions that you have to see to believe!

Flat Top Manor – Moses H. Cone Memorial Park preserves the country estate of Moses Cone, a prosperous textile entrepreneur, conservationist, and philanthropist of the Gilded Age. Its centerpiece is Flat Top Manor, a gleaming white 20-room, 13,000 square foot mansion built in 1901 in the grand Colonial Revival style. The Manor is now the home of the Parkway Craft Center, one of five shops of the Southern Highland Craft Guild which features handmade crafts by hundreds of regional artists.

Summer Concerts at the Jones House – Bring your lawn chair or blanket to the Jones House lawn on summer Fridays at 5 p.m. for the free summer concert series.

Mast General Store – This iconic general store in Valle Crucis once carried “everything from cradles to caskets.” These days it’s a treasure trove of home goods, clothing, outdoor gear, bulk candy barrels and just about anything else you could want.

An Appalachian Summer Festival - Presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts & Cultural Programs, this annual celebration of the performing and visual arts is held every July in venues across the university campus and features an eclectic, diverse mix of music, dance, theatre, visual arts, and film programming.

Wilkes County

Wilkes Heritage Museum – Celebrate the heritage and history of Wilkes County at this museum in downtown Wilkesboro.  Through a collection of artifacts and images, numerous stories of early settlement, military history, industry, agriculture, medicine, communication,
education, entertainment, and transportation are told.

Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame - The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame exists to showcase and preserve the rich musical heritage of the greater Blue Ridge Mountains area from northern Georgia to northern Virginia. 

Candlelight Ghost Tours – Walk amid history and hear stories from the past during an evening ghost tour in Wilkesboro. You might just hear the footsteps of the long-dead Tom Dooley in the jail cell he once occupied or you might spy the earthbound spirit of the little girl killed by runaway horses.

W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir - There is so much to choose from: camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, bird watching, ranger-led trail tours and children's activities to learn about water safety. You can also rent a shelter for your next gathering, participate in events at Dark Mountain Trail, or experience concerts and other performances at the Forest Edge Amphitheater at Fort Hamby.

Whippoorwill Academy and Village – Located on a 1700s farm, Whippoorwill includes a museum dedicated to Tom Dooley and a replica of Daniel Boone’s cabin. The one-room schoolhouse on the property was built in 1880 and was attended by N.C. Poet Laureate Larkin Pearson. 

Yancey County

*Mount Mitchell State Park – North Carolina’s first state park, centered around a dramatic summit that is the highest point east of the Mississippi and the spruce-fir forest that surrounds it.

Crabtree Falls Trail - Crabtree Falls is a favorite campground and hiking area directly off the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville, a swath of rolling terrain filled with wildflowers, clear-flowing creeks, and scenic hardwood forest.

Quilt Trails – Take a drive along the scenic roads of Yancey County and discover painted quilt blocks on barns and outbuildings along your way. Each quilt block is connected, by its pattern name, to the history of the land, the building or the family.

Emerald Village – Pan for gemstones, explore the North Carolina Mining Museum and take an underground tour of the historic Bon Ami Mine at this group of gem, mining, and historical attractions.

Riddlefest - A yearly musical event honoring Burnsville’s own Lesley Riddle.