The lush mountains of southwestern North Carolina await you on this 4-day itinerary. Visit beautiful Lake Lure and see the majestic Hickory Nut Gorge from the heights of Chimney Rock. In Cherokee, learn about the fascinating history of an ancient culture in Cherokee. Travel to Asheville and Dillsboro and shop for traditional crafts inspired by the beauty and ruggedness of these mountains.
Day 1: Lake Lure & Chimney Rock State Park
Start your visit by taking a relaxing narrated cruise on Lake Lure. During the hour-long tour with Lake Lure Tours, see the film location for the blockbuster hit Dirty Dancing, hear the story of Snake Island, and listen to the legend of the church said to be 70 feet below in the center of the lake.
Next, visit Chimney Rock State Park, film site of The Last of the Mohicans. Climb the 500 steps to the top of Chimney Rock for breathtaking 75-mile views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Following a visit to the top of the “Chimney,” enjoy an evening at Chimney Rock Village, with stores and restaurants perched on the banks of the Rocky Broad River, tucked in the Hickory Nut Gorge.
Day 2: Asheville Art Stops
Visit the Grovewood Gallery for an introduction to the history of art in Asheville. The Gallery’s roots reach back to the late 1800s with Biltmore Industries. In the 1990s, the Grovewood Gallery and its tradition of fine craft were revitalized, and the Gallery now houses a collection of contemporary and traditional furniture, garden art and fine crafts from our nation’s top craftspeople.
The 1.7-mile Asheville Urban Trail takes visitors on a journey through the art and history of Asheville. The trail starts and ends at Pack Place and includes 30 stops around downtown. You’ll learn the fascinating story of Asheville through its historic buildings and stations marked by bronze sculptures.
Enjoy lunch at Grove Arcade, a lavishly ornamented, block-long Gothic public market built in the 1900s. The Arcade showcases shops and services featuring the distinctive heritage of the area.
Drive out to the Blue Ridge Parkway to visit the Folk Art Center. The Center is a showplace of fine regional crafts from the mountains of nine Southern states. It’s operated by the Southern Highland Craft Guild, an organization comprising 750 juried craftspeople.
For dinner, choose from many fantastic restaurants in downtown Asheville.
Day 3: Museum of The Cherokee Indian & Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
Relive the Victorian era at the museum in the Smith-McDowell House, built around 1840 and believed to be Asheville’s oldest home. Explore opulent period rooms, history exhibits and grounds designed by the renowned Olmsted brothers. Get a glimpse of life in the latter half of the 1800s while viewing the furnishings, dress and household tools of the period.
Next, head about an hour west of Asheville to the Museum of The Cherokee Indian at the Cherokee Indian Reservation. The museum combines high-tech wizardry and an extensive artifact collection and is both fun and educational.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort brings you all your favorite games in video format, along with a variety of dining facilities and the opportunity to see big-name entertainment. You’ll find more than 60,000 square feet of casino excitement and round-the-clock gaming action. The Casino’s 18,000-square-foot Mandara Spa features an exotic Balinese-inspired menu of services.
Day 4: Great Smoky Mountains Railroad & Dillsboro
Just 20 minutes southwest of Cherokee, it’s “All aboard!” in Bryson City. Depart from Bryson City Depot for a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. The 4.5-hour Nantahala Gorge Train Excursion travels across fertile valleys and through river gorges and mountain tunnels. Picnic lunches are available.
Shop the boutiques, potteries and galleries of Dillsboro, just 16 miles from Bryson City. Its five square blocks of century-old stores, restaurants, galleries and inns are a nostalgic reminder of small-town America.
Have dinner at the Jarrett House, where favorites like hot biscuits, vinegar pie, and ham with red-eye gravy have been served since 1884. One of the oldest inns in Western North Carolina, the Jarrett House is on the National Register of Historic Places. Amid its Victorian furnishings, you are transported back to the days of the horse and buggy and the wood-burning passenger train.