North Carolina is far more interesting than I ever imagined! It’s a state I had never been to, and has now become one of my most frequently-visited destinations. It does help that my boyfriend has wonderful family there, but every time we go I opt for extending it. It's great for families and couples looking for a cozy getaway and some Southern hospitality.
In particular, town hopping is one of the best things you can do. Nothing is too far a drive (maybe an hour, 2 tops), and all of North Carolina's cities and towns were made for day trips. Each is picturesque and full of delicious comfort food, coffee shops, friendly locals and breweries with craft beers (emphasis on that last one). Here are 4 things every traveler passing through the North Carolinas should do when they get to Bryson City.
Rent a cabin on the mountainside
Bryson City (about 45 minutes from Asheville) is one of these cities. It’s quite small, in fact “town” may be a more suitable title. But this sleepy little mountain spot is worth stopping by a few nights. There is plenty of lodging available that looks like a scene from a postcard.
This was actually my first time staying at a cottage literally perched on The Smokies. And holy smokes, pun intended, it was sublime. The intimate one bedroom cabin came equipped with a small kitchen and fireplace. This really did make the trip. Waking up to the smell of wood and crisp mountain air is its own type of heaven.
These are some photos of our cabin, its surrounding views and the fireplace. We had a porch and outdoor fire pit as well, ready to go with an ax, some wood and fire starters.
Should you be interested in renting a cabin, I'd recommend visiting West Oak Lodging.
Walk Around Downtown Bryson City
Bryson City’s modest downtown is an awesome day-trip full of eclectic little shops, delicious local restaurants, java joints, its famous train station and a brewery! Tons of stuff to see all within walking distance, and everything is picture worthy. I couldn’t walk 3 feet without snapping some shots with my Nikon DSLR. I happily sacrificed my hand freezing to remove my glove and document our day. #PhotographerProblems
If you go during Christmas, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is converted to the The Polar Express. You can see parents accompanying their young children in PJs waiting to catch the train at midnight. It melts even the toughest of hearts.
While you're exploring:
DO: Get Ice Cream at an Ice Cream Parlor and say words like "snazzy" and "gumption" while you eat it
DO: Buy some type of local artisan pottery (even if you don't need it because you do, you just don't know it yet)
DO: Be a doll and hashtag "BrysonCity" for these folks (because they went through the trouble to paint it on a fire truck)
Have a cup o' Joe or lunch at Cork & Bean
It's no secret I consider my morning cup of coffee a ritual. Heck, I've started an entire artistic project based on coffee. Java is sacred and if you feel the same, have a cup here. The ambiance contributes to the taste, and I am a big believer in experience and surroundings. The aptly titled "Mountain Social House", actually does feel as if you have stepped into a mountain resort. It's a solid experience and a perfect stop as you explore downtown.
Have a brew at Nantahala Brewing
Sippin' some Noon Day IPA in The Smokies
This is an absolute most. Nantahala Brewing is #BrysonCity’s MVP. This local brewer is a surprisingly delicious beer find. I only say surprisingly because Bryson City is so small, I’d never have expected a legitimately awesome (and award-winning) brewery to set up shop.
But shop they have set up, indeed. The brewery is owned by locals and you can chat with the owners if they’re in. I love that about restaurants and bars. When you're able to walk in and the owner has a genuine interest in getting to know you, even if you're just passing by, it makes a place worth supporting. This personal touch is part of the human connection side of traveling. We all get wanderlust and it’s more than just itchy feet to leave your hometown, it’s about connecting with people from all over the world. For that, Bryson City gets 4 travel stars from this gypsie.