It's Time to Visit Bryson City, North Carolina—This Hidden Mountain Gem Won't Be a Secret Much Longer

This under-the-radar getaway is beginning to attract more and more tourists, and for good reason.

As y'all know, we love a charming small town—and Bryson City, North Carolina, is the underrated Smoky Mountain destination you need to add to your bucket list now.

Located about 65 miles from Asheville, North Carolina, this friendly mountain village has only a population of around 1,700 but has been gaining more and more tourists, especially as the pandemic has left travelers searching for more outdoor activities. Although Bryson City's main square has the antiquated allure we love, it also boasts a blend of modern upgrades like aesthetically-pleasing storefronts and a rooftop brewery. From visiting the unique shops in town to white-water rafting, you'll want to book a long weekend trip to try everything the Smokies' best-kept secret has to offer.

Where To Stay

Of course, no trip to the mountains is complete without a stay in a cabin, and the Watershed Resort has an option for everyone. They offer both "mountain modern" cabins and traditional log cabins, and you can choose a smaller romantic option or a multi-level getaway for families.

The 50-acre property is about 10 miles from the heart of Bryson City, and it features scenic landscapes, private hot tubs, a hiking trail that leads to a waterfall, a playground for kids, and an outdoor amphitheater complete with a fire pit for roasting marshmallows. The "Yard" is also a popular attraction for guests to congregate and overlook the rolling scenery from a swinging daybed. And as a bonus, you may see the property manager's rescue dog, Bluebell, happily enjoying the grounds too.

One-bedroom cabins start at $95 per night, and if you're celebrating a birthday, include that bit of information in the note when you're booking—the resort offers a discount for your stay and will make sure your trip is even more memorable.

Where to Relax

Whether you want relaxation or adventure, Bryson City has options for both. If you're staying at the Watershed Resort, make it a serene escape by taking advantage of your cabin's private hot tub or scheduling a massage therapist to come right to you. After you're feeling rejuvenated, book a first-class ticket on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad and enjoy a boxed lunch on the train as you casually tour the area's most magnificent views.

Where to Find Adventure

For a more adventurous approach, explore the streams and waterfalls of Deep Creek or hike a section of the Appalachian Trail. During warmer months, bring your swimsuit for water activities galore. Though the town is well-known for white-water rafting, you can go tubing, kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, and fishing too.

smoky mountains bryson city
Courtesy of Brandi Fuller

Where To Eat

After you've worked up an appetite from rafting and hiking, head into town to enjoy their finest eateries. For a casual meal, build your own pizza or order a specialty sub from Nate and Nick's. Pizza & Grill by Bryson City Outdoors to shop for gear, and stay for a bite to eat from the food truck parked out front. While you're waiting for your jerk chicken sandwich or nachos, grab a beer from Bryson City Outdoors' taproom. To satisfy your sweet teeth, walk on over to The Chocolate Shoppe for some ice cream or "choctails," which are truffles flavored with liqueurs.

For a romantic date night, make reservations at The Bistro at the Everett Hotel. Start the meal off with craft cocktails and an appetizer like savory brussels sprouts while deciding which delectable entree to order (pro tip — ask about the nightly specials). And don't even think about leaving the restaurant without ordering one of their featured desserts.

Be sure to book your stay for this year-round destination soon — the word is getting out about this affordable mountainous oasis, and we have a feeling Bryson City may not be a small town for much longer.

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