10 Reasons You'll Love Sylva, North Carolina

Pinnacle Park in Sylva, NC
Photo: Nick Breedlove

Ever heard of Sylva? If you haven't, you'll be glad to know there's yet another charming small town at the foot of the Smokies that deserves your attention. If you have heard of Sylva, let this be a nudge to plan a return trip this year. Located less than an hour from Asheville, Sylva has lots of local shops, restaurants, and breweries to keep you entertained during your visit. It's in a prime location smack dab between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway, meaning that when you're in Sylva, the outdoors are always calling. With plenty of hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic views in the area, you're never far from an astounding pocket of nature. In addition, the picturesque downtown has eateries and shopping stops to keep you busy on a weekend trip. There's much more to explore here, so pack your bags and find your way to this mountain gem. Check out a few picks from this western North Carolina jewel and see why you should make it part of your next road trip.

01 of 10

Break For Sylva

Sylva, NC

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Movie buffs might recognize tiny Sylva—population 2,600—as one of the settings for Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. But Sylva’s Main Street has a lot more to offer than movie magic. It’s home to local shops, restaurants, and breweries, not to mention the Jackson County Courthouse, which sits high on a hill, 107 steps above Main, offering incredible views and photo ops. It also hosts the annual Greening Up the Mountains Festival, which celebrates sustainability and local makers.

02 of 10

Park The Car

Downtown Sylva, NC
Jackson County Tourism Development Authority

Downtown Sylva is perfect for meandering on foot. The town has been recognized for its efforts to be eco-friendly. Downtown, you'll find The Farmhouse Mercantile and Coffee Bar, which has locally made gifts and delicious brews. Southern-Appalachian restaurant Ilda is another downtown must-try. For breakfast and lunch, Lucy in the Rye is a cozy spot with waffles, burgers, and BLTs on the menu.

03 of 10

Shop Main Street

Sylva, NC Mural
Jackson County Tourism Development Authority

You can find many shops in which to while away your afternoons. Sylva is home to places like Black Balsam Outdoors, which has all the hiking and camping equipment you need to prepare for your next excursion; Baxley's Chocolates, where you can treat yourself to handcrafted, small-batch treats; and Noon, which is filled with elegant handmade goods celebrating local craftsmanship. Start you day with a visit to White Moon Coffee Shop for a cup of coffee.

04 of 10

Enjoy The Brews

Innovation Brewing in Sylva, NC
Jackson County Tourism Development Authority

Innovation Brewing, where the menu includes light, dark and malty, hoppy, seasonal, and wild and funky options, is one of several breweries in town. Experimentation is the name of the game here. Additionally, don't miss Balsam Falls Brewing Company, which opened in 2017 and has a menu of creative craft beers, ciders, and meads. Still thirsty? Check out Nantahala Brewing Company and the Sylva outpost of Lazy Hiker Brewing Taproom too.

05 of 10

Take In The View

Pinnacle Park in Sylva, NC
Nick Breedlove

You can get your fill of mountain vistas in Sylva. The challenging West Fork Trail of Pinnacle Park leads to a breathtaking summit with unforgettable views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's a challenge to reach the top, but for those prepared for the intensity of the hike, it provides ample reward. Scenic drives in and around Sylva also lead to panoramic views.

06 of 10

Go For A Hike

North Carolina

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Sylva is surrounded by great places to camp, hike, and explore. Hiking maps of the area will lead you to trails beyond Pinnacle Park, and you can also trek to area waterfalls and other vistas for photo ops. Overlooks, trails, and cascades found along the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway are particularly popular and relatively easy to access.

07 of 10

Eat Local

Guadalupe Cafe in Sylva, NC
Jackson County Tourism Development Authority

When it comes to dining, you've got options. There's the Guadalupe Cafe, which describes its food as a fusion of Caribbean and Southern flavors, as well as Lulu's on Main, which has been a Sylva institution since 1989. You can find steaks and seafood at Lulu's, along with a fun selection of appetizers. Haywood Smokehouse in nearby Dillsboro is also well worth a visit.

08 of 10

Take In A Concert

Western NC

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You can find live music in Sylva year-round, but one of the area's favorite programs is Concerts on the Creek, a free live music series that happens in the summers. Starting on Memorial Day weekend, Sylva hosts a roster of musicians, carrying on the rich musical tradition of western North Carolina and bringing the community together for music in the open air at Bridge Park downtown.

09 of 10

Stop By A Bookstore


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When you’re in need of a new book, make a visit to City Lights in downtown Sylva. The shop has been a mainstay in the town since 1985. In addition to books, the store has a cafe attached, so you can get a new read and also order up a cup of coffee or lunch. At the cafe, you'll find a menu of breakfast burritos, crepes, and lunch sandwiches.

10 of 10

Visit Neighboring Towns

High Hampton Resort Sunset Cashiers, NC
Robbie Caponetto

Neighboring towns bring even more to see and do, from hiking Whiteside Mountain and exploring Silver Run Falls near Cashiers to exploring local crafts and eateries in Dillsboro. Bonus: Sylva is less than an hour from everything that's happening in Asheville. Take in the town, then explore farther afield; there's so much to see and do in western North Carolina, you might just decide to stay.

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