Best Things to Do in Bryson City, North Carolina: 12 Top Attractions

Jon Miksis Jon Miksis clock Updated August 15, 2023 tourism Dream Destinations
by Jen
Best Things to Do in Bryson City, North Carolina
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Are you planning a trip to the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains? Here are some of the most interesting, visually stunning, and unique things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina. These incredible sights and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Known for its breathtaking landscapes, Bryson City is a gem nestled in the Smoky Mountains, boasting a rich cultural heritage. What truly sets this charming town apart is its blend of outdoor adventures and relaxing retreats. As far as the best things to do in Bryson City go, there are countless activities that are sure to delight nature lovers, history buffs, and thrill-seekers alike.

From the historic Great Smoky Mountains Railroad to the enchanting Deep Creek Trail, from the educational Swain County Heritage Museum to the family-friendly Darnell Farms, there is no shortage of things to do and places to visit in Bryson City. There really is something for everyone. That, of course, makes it all the more important for you to know which places are best suited for your particular interests. To help, I’ve compiled a list of some of my personal favorite Bryson City attractions. Let’s explore!

Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina.

The top places to visit in Bryson City, North Carolina right now
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Best Places to Visit in Bryson City, NC

Ready for a rundown of all the coolest things to do in Bryson City? As noted above, there’s no shortage of things to do and places to visit at this popular vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Bryson City places to visit.

Are you looking for iconic city attractions and cultural sites? Or would you prefer a relaxing escape from all the stress and noise of the city to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of nature? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Bryson City can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Bryson City, North Carolina that you should know about.

1. Smoky Mountain Trains Museum

This is one of the best things to do in Bryson City, hands down. Operated by the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum is a treasure trove for train enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Boasting a collection of over 7,000 objects, this museum offers a unique opportunity to explore vintage locomotives, carriages, and artifacts, providing a rich educational experience for both children and adults.

The museum provides a climate-controlled environment. This makes it a suitable attraction regardless of the weather conditions outside. However, while the museum offers a wealth of historical exhibits, it may lack the hands-on or interactive elements that some visitors seek.

One of the coolest activities in Bryson City, North Carolina, the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum brings you back to your childhood. It features Lionel model engines, cars, and accessories, a large model train layout, a children’s activity center, and a gift shop.

Visitors can explore the Great Smoky Mountains’ railroad heritage indoors with the kids. They can also have fun watching little trains running at once through three levels of the railroad layout. You can even control a few of the scenes!

So, if you’re wondering what to do in Bryson City, NC, why not step back in time and immerse yourself in the fascinating world of trains at the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum? It’s an experience you won’t forget.

Exploring Smoky Mountain Trains Museum is one of the best things to do in Bryson City.
Smoky Mountain Trains Museum features a treasure trove, 7,000+ objects, vintage locomotives, history, and train enthusiasts’ delight.

2. Deep Creek Winery

Experience North Carolina in style at this unique place to visit in Bryson City. For couples seeking a romantic and serene experience, Deep Creek Winery is one of the unique places in Bryson City, North Carolina. Nestled amidst the stunning mountainous landscape, the winery offers a tranquil setting where you can savor the taste of their exquisite wines while soaking in the breathtaking views.

The winery is known for its outdoor seating area. This allows you to enjoy the fresh mountain air and panoramic views. Enhance your wine tasting experience by ordering a charcuterie platter. It comes complete with fresh Amish cheese, perfectly paired with your chosen wine. The prices are incredibly affordable, and the winery even offers shipping for their bottles. This makes it easy for you to take a piece of Bryson City home with you.

Deep Creek Winery is a venue for memorable experiences. Keep an eye out for the events they host, as participating in a festival or other event during your visit can make your trip even more unforgettable. Please note that the winery does not allow pets or children, ensuring a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere for all guests.

So, if you’re wondering what to do in Bryson City, NC, for a romantic and relaxing experience, make sure to add Deep Creek Winery to your list. It’s no surprise this is one of the best things to do in Bryson City!

Deep Creek Winery offers a romantic and serene spot to savor exquisite wines amidst stunning mountain landscapes.
Deep Creek Winery offers a romantic and serene spot to savor exquisite wines amidst stunning mountain landscapes.

3. Downtown Bryson City

Looking for what to do in Bryson City, North Carolina? Look no further than Downton Bryson City. This city, with a population of around 1,700, is a charming small town that serves as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The downtown area is a delight to explore on foot, with a variety of cute shops, excellent restaurants, and the Tuckasegee River flowing right through its heart.

Among the notable places to visit are the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Depot, built in 1885, the Bryson City Presbyterian Church from 1890, and the Swain County Visitor Center, which was originally a courthouse built in 1908. Gallery Zella, housed in a building from 1915 that was once the town’s second bank, is also worth a visit.

The downtown area is one of the best places in Bryson City, North Carolina to visit. The vibrant local culture makes it special that can be experienced through its shops and restaurants. History buffs, foodies, and those looking for a pleasant stroll are sure to discover downtown Bryson City has something wonderful to offer.

Remember, there are plenty of cool destinations in Bryson City, NC, and the downtown area is definitely one of them. So, when you’re planning your trip, make sure to include a day to explore the heart of this charming mountain town. The downtown area offers so much to see. It’s no wonder this ranks among the most enjoyable things to do in Bryson City.

Explore Bryson City: Charming gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, walkable downtown with shops, restaurants, and Tuckasegee River.
Explore Bryson City: Charming gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, walkable downtown with shops, restaurants, and Tuckasegee River.

4. Folkestone Inn

For those seeking a unique and tranquil retreat, visiting the Folkestone Inn Bed and Breakfast is one of the best things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina. This historic inn is nestled next to a picturesque cow pasture filled with wildflowers, offering guests a charming farm experience.

More than just a bed and breakfast, the Folkestone Inn is a working farm with a delightful assortment of animals. This includes chickens, ducks, dogs, and a friendly Calico cat. The inn’s decor is a tasteful blend of farmhouse chic, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for guests.

What sets the Folkestone Inn apart is the culinary expertise of its owners, Toni and Scott Rowe. With decades of experience in the culinary industry, they serve up remarkable breakfasts made with fresh eggs, vegetables, and fruits that are either grown on the property or sourced locally.

The Folkestone Inn is a haven for those who love animals, appreciate good food, or simply want to soak in the peace and tranquility of a relaxing mountain farm. It’s a unique place in Bryson City, North Carolina, offering a different kind of vacation experience. It allows you to slow down, connect with nature, and savor the simple pleasures of farm life. With so much charm and personality, Folkestone Inn is one of the top places to visit in Bryson City.

Folkestone Inn Bed and Breakfast features a tranquil retreat, a historic inn near a picturesque cow pasture.
Folkestone Inn Bed and Breakfast features a tranquil retreat, a historic inn near a picturesque cow pasture.

5. Wildwater Nantahala Adventure Center

As far as things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina go, this activity is among the coolest! For those seeking adrenaline-pumping activities and breathtaking views, the Wildwater Nantahala Adventure Center is one of the best places to go in Bryson City, NC. This adventure hub offers a variety of outdoor activities that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the stunning landscape of Bryson City.

One of the most popular activities at the center is whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River. Known as one of the most frequented rivers in the United States, the Nantahala River provides a family-friendly whitewater rafting experience that is both thrilling and safe.

But the adventure doesn’t stop at the river’s edge. The center also offers a ziplining course that takes you deep into the woods of the Nantahala Gorge Region. As you zip through the trees, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the Nantahala Gorge and Fontana Lake.

The Wildwater Nantahala Adventure Center also caters to young adventurers, with courses designed for children aged 4-12. This ensures that every member of the family can join in the fun and create unforgettable memories.

If you’re completing your list of Bryson City, North Carolina attractions, make sure to include the Wildwater Nantahala Adventure Center. It’s a must-see in Bryson City. This guarantees an experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the natural beauty of the city.

Wildwater Nantahala Adventure Center offers adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities with breathtaking views.
Wildwater Nantahala Adventure Center offers adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities with breathtaking views.

6. Road to Nowhere Tunnel

Yearning for getaway like no other? This thing to do in Bryson City has got you covered. For those who appreciate the unique and the unusual, the Road to Nowhere Tunnel is a must-see in Bryson City, North Carolina. This intriguing site is located just ten minutes northwest of the city center, offering a fascinating glimpse into the area’s history.

The road and tunnel were initially constructed to assist residents displaced by the Tennessee Valley Authority. However, due to various construction issues, the project was never completed, leaving behind the intriguingly named “Road to Nowhere.”

Today, the tunnel is situated about six miles into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, serving as a testament to the area’s past and a unique attraction for visitors. As you walk through the cool, echoing tunnel, you can’t help but wonder about the stories and history it holds.

The Road to Nowhere Tunnel stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. It also showcases the enduring beauty of nature reclaiming its space. It’s a place where you can reflect, explore, and appreciate the blend of history and natural beauty. This makes Bryson City such a unique place to visit.

So, if you’re wondering about the most fun things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina, make sure to add the Road to Nowhere Tunnel to your list. It’s a journey into the past that you won’t want to miss.

Exploring Road to Nowhere Tunnel is one of the best things to do in Bryson City.
Road to Nowhere Tunnel is a unique attraction, an intriguing site with historical significance.

7. Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians

If you’re a fishing enthusiast or simply interested in the rich history of the southeastern United States, the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians is one of the unique places in Bryson City, North Carolina that you shouldn’t miss. This museum is a treasure trove of information, showcasing the evolution of rods, reels, gear, and game fishing through engaging videos and exhibits.

Once considered a sport for the affluent, fly fishing has become much more accessible over the years, and this transition is beautifully depicted at the museum. The building itself has a unique charm, being constructed from a dismantled tobacco barn from Surry County, North Carolina.

This museum is a journey through time that reveals the rich tapestry of fly fishing in the southeastern United States. It’s one of the coolest Bryson City, North Carolina things to do, especially for those who appreciate the blend of history, culture, and sport.

Fly Fishing Museum showcases gear evolution and game fishing history, a must for enthusiasts and history buffs.
Fly Fishing Museum showcases gear evolution and game fishing history, a must for enthusiasts and history buffs.

8. Mountain Perks

Attractions in Bryson City, North Carolina come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is among the best! For those who can’t start their day without a strong cup of coffee, Mountain Perks on Depot Street is a must-visit in Bryson City, North Carolina. This charming little coffee shop exudes small-town vibes and offers an impressive menu that will delight your taste buds.

Starting your day at Mountain Perks, you can indulge in a hot chocolate or coffee, paired with a muffin, breakfast sandwich, or quiche. As the day progresses, the menu expands to include hearty options like chili and light soups, bagels, buttery croissants, and a variety of delicious sweets. From carrot cake and muffins to rolls and cheesecakes, the sweets at Mountain Perks are not to be missed!

This cozy coffee shop is a place where you can soak in the local culture and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. It’s one of the best places to go in Bryson City, NC, especially for those who appreciate good food and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. No wonder visiting Mountain Perks is one of the most unique things to do in Bryson City for the most discerning travelers.

Mountain Perks is the city's best coffee stop, charming and vibrant,.
Mountain Perks is the city’s best coffee stop, charming and vibrant,.

9. Darnell Farms

For an experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in Bryson City, North Carolina. If you’re a fan of supporting local producers and love the idea of agro-tourism, then Darnell Farms is a must-see in Bryson City. This family-run farm is an experience that immerses you in the local culture and the farm-to-table movement.

Throughout the year, Darnell Farms hosts a variety of festivals that showcase the beautiful produce they grow. From strawberries to pumpkins, the farm’s produce is a testament to the rich, fertile soils of North Carolina. These festivals and markets offer products made from their ingredients, giving you a taste of authentic Bryson City flavors.

The farm itself is a sight to behold, with sprawling fields and rustic farm buildings that paint a picture of rural life. It’s a place where you can connect with nature, learn about sustainable farming, and appreciate the hard work that goes into every piece of produce.

Visiting Darnell Farms is undoubtedly one of the unique things to do in Bryson City, NC. So, if you have the opportunity to participate in a festival or shop at a market during your visit, don’t miss out!

Darnell Farms,  agro-tourism, family-run farm, local culture, and farm-to-table, a must-see in North Carolina.
Darnell Farms, agro-tourism, family-run farm, local culture, and farm-to-table, a must-see in North Carolina.

10. Juney Whank Falls

Looking to visit one of the best places in Bryson City, North Carolina? Add this to your bucket list! For those who love the great outdoors and are looking for cool destinations in Bryson City, Juney Whank Falls is a must-visit. This stunning waterfall is divided into two sections, the upper and lower, both of which can be viewed from a charming wooden footbridge that crosses the stream beneath the falls.

The waterfall cascades down 90 feet, making it one of the most impressive waterfalls in North Carolina. The hike to the falls is a manageable 0.8 miles round trip. This makes it a fantastic point of interest for all fitness levels. However, keep in mind that the trail is rated as moderate in difficulty and can take over an hour to hike, especially when you factor in time spent admiring the waterfall.

Visiting Juney Whank Falls is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina. The beauty of the falls and the surrounding nature is a sight to behold, offering a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So, don’t forget to pack your hiking boots and camera for this unforgettable adventure!

Discover Juney Whank Falls featuring stunning falls and nature escape.
Discover Juney Whank Falls featuring stunning falls and nature escape.

11. Nantahala Brewing Company

Looking for the best things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina? Don’t miss this one! When the sun sets and the stars begin to twinkle, one of the coolest activities in Bryson City, North Carolina is to visit the Nantahala Brewing Company. Nestled on Deep Creek Road, this brewery is a haven for beer enthusiasts and those seeking a vibrant nightlife scene.

The rustic and lively taproom frequently hosts live music, creating an atmosphere that’s as refreshing as the beer they serve. The brewery sits in the shadow of the majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park, adding a unique charm to your evening escapade.

While the Nantahala Brewing Company doesn’t serve food, they welcome guests to bring their own meals from home or town. This means you can enjoy your favorite food while sipping on their craft beers or one of the thirty-two beers they have on tap.

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider tailgating. They love when guests grill out on their deck, adding to the fun and convivial atmosphere. So, if you’re pondering about what to do in Bryson City, North Carolina at night, remember that the Nantahala Brewing Company is always an excellent choice! As such, I recommend this thing to do in Bryson City to everyone I meet.

Nantahala Brewing Company boasts a vibrant nightlife, a beer haven on Deep Creek Road.
Nantahala Brewing Company boasts a vibrant nightlife, a beer haven on Deep Creek Road.

12. Clingman’s Dome

Nature enthusiasts will love this top thing to do in Bryson City, North Carolina. For a truly breathtaking experience, one of the best places to go in Bryson City is Clingman’s Dome. Just over an hour away from Bryson City, this majestic peak is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and indeed, the highest point in all of Tennessee. It’s also the third highest point east of the Mississippi.

As you ascend to the summit, you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the Smokies that stretch as far as 100 miles on a clear day. Even on foggy days, which are quite common, the sight of the mist swirling around the dome and blanketing the mountains is a dreamy spectacle you won’t soon forget.

So, if you’re wondering what to do in Bryson City, North Carolina, a trip to Clingman’s Dome should definitely be on your list. The journey to the top is as much a part of the adventure as the stunning vistas that await you. It’s a testament to the natural beauty that Bryson City and its surroundings have to offer. Is this one of the coolest things to do in Bryson City? No doubt!

Clingman's Dome is one of the best things to do in Cincinnati.
Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a majestic peak.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Bryson City, North Carolina

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Bryson City:

What are some of the most fun, scenic, and unique things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina?

Bryson City offers a plethora of activities for every kind of traveler. From exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to riding the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, there’s something for everyone. For the adventurous, there’s whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River, and for those who prefer a slower pace, there’s fishing in the many streams and lakes.

What is Bryson City NC known for?

Bryson City, North Carolina, is known for its stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. Here’s what makes it notable:

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Bryson City is located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s of the most visited national parks in the United States. The park offers hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and breathtaking mountain scenery.
  2. Nantahala Outdoor Center: This is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, offering whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, and other adventure activities.
  3. Scenic Train Rides: The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad operates out of Bryson City. It offers scenic train rides through the beautiful landscapes of Western North Carolina.
  4. Fishing and Water Sports: The area is renowned for its trout fishing in the nearby Tuckasegee River and Fontana Lake. It also offers opportunities for boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
  5. Cherokee Culture: Bryson City is close to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Reservation. Visitors can explore Cherokee culture and history.
  6. Appalachian Trail: Part of the famous Appalachian Trail runs through the area near Bryson City. It attracts long-distance hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  7. Local Arts and Crafts: The town is home to various artisans and crafters, and visitors can explore local galleries and shops featuring handmade crafts, pottery, and more.
  8. Seasonal Festivals and Events: Bryson City hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating local culture, music, and traditions.
  9. Cabin Rentals and Mountain Retreats: The area is popular for its cozy cabin rentals and mountain retreats. It provides a peaceful getaway for those looking to escape and enjoy nature.

In summary, Bryson City, NC, is known for many things. This includes its outdoor activities, scenic beauty, and gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

What makes Bryson City a must-visit destination?

Bryson City is a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This makes it a perfect destination for nature lovers. It’s also a hub for outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and whitewater rafting. Plus, it’s home to cultural attractions like the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

Scenic view of a river flowing through the Cherokee Indian Reservation, surrounded by lush greenery and natural beauty.
Scenic view of a river flowing through the Cherokee Indian Reservation, surrounded by lush greenery and natural beauty.

Is Bryson City, North Carolina a good place to live?

Yes, Bryson City, North Carolina is a great place to live, especially for those who appreciate nature and outdoor activities. It offers a peaceful, small-town atmosphere, stunning mountain views, and a strong sense of community. This makes it an ideal home for both families and retirees.

What are some of the best places to visit in Bryson City, North Carolina?

Some of the best places to visit in Bryson City include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, the Nantahala River for whitewater rafting, and the Deep Creek area for tubing and hiking. For a taste of local culture, don’t miss the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

Is Bryson City, North Carolina worth visiting?

Absolutely, Bryson City, North Carolina is worth visiting. Its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural history, and a plethora of outdoor activities make it a must-visit destination for any traveler.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Bryson City, North Carolina

Bryson City, North Carolina is a gem tucked away in the Great Smoky Mountains. Its rich natural beauty, combined with a variety of outdoor activities and cultural attractions, make it a must-visit destination. If you’re up for adventure, nature and culture and interested in local history, Bryson City has something to offer you. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable experience in this charming mountain town.

The top things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina for all types of travelers
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