Bryson City, North Carolina is a mountain paradise. Located in Western, North Carolina, at the base of the Smokies, this town offers both picturesque serenity and adrenaline filled adventure. This city is a frequent vacation spot for my husband and me, and will be a future destination for our whole family.
We prefer to rent a cabin in the area, so that we have the best of both worlds: tranquility and access to activities. There are several excellent cabin rentals in the area with amenities such as central heat and air, satellite TVs, outdoor grills, fully equipped kitchens, hot tubs, fireplaces, and balconies with secluded wooded views. Bryson City Cabin Rentals offers over 25 cabins from small cabins for couples and larger cabins for families or groups. We generally stock up our supplies in Bryson City at the local Ingles grocery store. We usually plan for a few picnic lunches, snacks, and 3-4 dinners to eat in at the cabin. We enjoy waking up, and enjoying coffee while sitting in the outdoor hot tub, and then heading into Bryson City for breakfast at the Everett St. Diner. This quaint little restaurant services most of the locals, and is busy every morning. We love their grits, which are slow cooked with cream, and my husband is fond of their homemade biscuits and sausage gravy. After a hearty breakfast, we gear up and head to Tsali Recreational Area to do some mountain biking. A short drive from Bryson City, Tsali is a destination for most mountain bikers, with 40 miles of swift, hard-packed, well planned trails that are shared with hikers and equestrians. The trails offer creek crossings, long ascents and fast descents, with some technical areas, but suitable for both experienced riders and beginners alike. We have our own bikes, but bikes can be rented at Bryson City Bicycles, across from the Everett St. Diner, or Natahala Outdoor Center.
NOC, as it is referred to by the locals, is a 14 mile drive south west of Bryson City, and minutes from the Tsali trails. The center is a destination in itself, and is configured with several buildings, beautiful landscaping, views of the Natahala River, and crossed by the Appalachian Trail. Many hikers on the AT stop here to shower, rest and have a nice meal. NOC supplies hiking gear, mountain bike rentals, recreational and whitewater kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and fly fishing equipment. We have eaten lunch at the River’s End, a lunch and dinner spot with views of the Natahala River and a nice selection of local craft beers.
If go out for dinner, we enjoy Pasqualino’s. The food is delicious, the service is excellent, and the owner walks around and makes sure everyone is happy with their food. The Bryson City Cork and Bean offers a nice selection of coffees, wines, soups, salads and a fabulous selection of savory and dessert crepes made from organic and fresh ingredients. Some evenings, we drive into Sylva, a 25 minute drive from Bryson City, to the Heinzelmannchen Brewery in downtown Sylva. There we meet with Dieter Kuhn, the owner and brewmeister. We taste his freshly brewed ales, and fill up our growler to bring back to the cabin to enjoy with our grilled steak or chicken al fresco on the balcony of our rental cabin with picturesque views of the woods and the stars.
In the morning, we may decide to take our kayaks to Fontana Lake to enjoy paddling and seeing blue heron, waterfalls and hidden coves. For a more adrenaline-filled experience we may rent a jet boat from many of the local companies, which is like a large jet ski with a driver that ensures thrills, but not spills! A short drive away is Fontana Dam, where you can explore the Eastern United States’ tallest dam, upon which the Appalachian Trail crosses. Just west of the Dam is the Tail of the Dragon and Deal’s Gap, an 11 mile ride consisting of 311 curves and exquisite river views at the western edge of the Great Smoky National Park. This is a destination for many motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts, but may cause some motion sickness if you are prone to it. In the evening, we like to head 20 minutes east to Cherokee for some gambling at Harrah’s Casino for gambling, dining and entertainment.
The area serves as a hub to a plethora of outdoor activities, both serene and exciting, as well as culture, shopping and entertaining. The communities of Cherokee, Sylva and Stecoah are all less that 30 minutes from Bryson City, and Asheville is 1.5 hours away. We have fallen in love, head over heels, with the area, and plan to make it a regular stop on our vacation schedule. Whether you want a romantic getaway with that special someone, or an adrenaline-fueled family excursion, the Bryson City, North Carolina area has all the activities, amenities and accommodations.