Although it may be tempting to stay in and enjoy your Smoky Mountains vacation rental, there are so many things to do around Western North Carolina, it would be a shame not to check out some of it – especially around the holidays. We’ve got a few ideas on how to spend some time away from the house.
The tiny but artistic town’s annual Festival of Lights & Luminaries takes place during the first two weekends in December. More than 2,500 luminaries line the streets and sidewalks leading to the shops downtown. In addition to the lights, the stores and restaurants (like our favorite, Foragers Canteen) along Front Street stay open later, a live nativity takes place at Jarrett Memorial Baptist Church, and horse and buggy rides will be available, as will hot cider and cocoa. Visitors can also enjoy carolers, as well as a visit from Santa Claus. This year, the lighting takes place Dec. 3-4 and 10-11 from Dusk-9 p.m.
Christmas in Sylva centers around the lighting of its Historic Courthouse downtown. The official lighting takes place on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. Downtown Sylva’s annual Christmas parade takes place on Dec. 5 at 3 p.m. and travels along Historic Main Street. This year’s theme is “Down Home Christmas,” and will feature more than 50 floats. The first-ever Holiday Fireworks in Downtown Sylva will take place on Dec. 17, from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Before the fireworks, shop for the perfect gifts at unique downtown shops, or grab dinner at one of the town’s independent, locally-owned restaurants.
The world’s only museum dedicated to aluminum Christmas trees (The Aluminum Tree & Ornament Museum, or ATOM) is in the small town of Brevard inside its Transylvania Heritage Museum. The trees are decorated with vintage ornaments befitting their kitschy nature. The Atomic Sisterhood will be on-hand to sing carols most days through the display’s closing date of Jan. 15. Open hours and more information can be found on the website.
This year on December 11, Downtown Waynesville‘s historic Main Street area will come alive for A Night Before Christmas. The town’s shops, galleries, and restaurants stay open later, and from 6-9 PM the streets are filled with live music, live carolers, a Bethlehem marketplace and live nativity, wagon rides, Santa & Mrs. Claus, storytelling, luminary-lined streets, and more. Visit the website for more info.
Events during the town’s “Home for the Holidays” include carriage rides, the lighting of the city’s Christmas Tree outside of the Historic Courthouse, a Christmas parade on Dec. 4, and the popular Peppermint the Bear Scavenger Hunt. The quaint and vibrant Main Street is decked out in thousands of lights and its 100 independent stores, restaurants, galleries and antique shops.
Call for more information: 1-877-786-3641
Microbreweries and craft breweries are big business in Western North Carolina, mainly because of the abundance of those facilities in Asheville. However, the area surrounding the Sundog Vacation Rental properties is also an up-and-coming area that beer lovers and aficionados shouldn’t ignore.
Jackson County Ale Trail
The best place to start exploring the breweries is by following the Jackson County Ale Trail, a scenic route that begins in Dillsboro and stretches through Sylva to Cashiers. All of the breweries on the trail are family-friendly and offer at least one non-alcoholic beverage on tap.
414 W Main St
Sylva, NC 28779
If you’d rather explore on your own, the following is a list of nearby breweries.
Frog Level Brewing Co.
56 Commerce St.
Balsam Falls Brewing Co.
506 W. Main St.
Sylva, NC 28779
Nantahala Brewing Sylva Outpost
5 Grindstaff Cove Road
414 West Main Street
Sylva, NC 28779
40 Depot Street
Dillsboro, NC 28725
Lazy Hiker Brewing Co
188 W. Main St.
Franklin, NC 28734
(828) 349-BEER (2337)
Curahee Brewing Company
100 Lakeside Dr.
Whiteside Brewing Co.
Sequoyah National Golf Course
Owned by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, this Robert Trent Jones II-designed course is open to the public. With 6,600 yards from the back tees to a par 72, the course features bent grass greens with bluegrass fairways and a practice area with putting and chipping greens.
Instruction is available by certified PGA Golf Professional Carr Crowe, and the golf shop offers a full range of men’s and women’s golf apparel. The club also offers meals on an outdoor deck with 180-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains.
79 Cahons Road
Sapphire National Golf Club
Sapphire National Golf Club is located in the Sapphire Valley and Cashiers Plateau Resort area and is open to the public. Recipient of a 4-½ star golf course rating from Golf Digest, the golf course recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation. The club has a partnership with Sapphire Mountain Brewing Company, a full-service restaurant and bar that showcases the region’s finest craft beers and overlooks the 8th and 18th holes.
50 Slicers Ave.
Sapphire Valley offers skiing and zipline facilities. The on-site learning center slope has certified instructors to teach beginners the fundamentals. Take off the skis and race down the multi-lane, 500-foot snow tubing run, or when the snow melts, fly through the trees on a two-hour excursion with 16 platforms, two bridges, and 12 zip lines.
127 Cherokee Trail
Sapphire Valley, NC
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
The Wolf peaks at an elevation of 4,700 feet and sits in the shadow of Big Bald Mountain, with 72 acres of skiable terrain. It’s always snowing here, since The Wolf makes its own snow. There are 22 lighted runs with 2 double lifts, 2 quad lifts, and a surface lift. First-timer on the slopes? Learn to ski or snowboard with the Snow Sports School instructors. Once you get your balance enjoy 9 easy trails to practice on and explore, or test your skills on one of 3 black diamond runs. After a day of skiing or boarding relax in a rocking chair by a roaring fire with a cup of hot cocoa.
578 Valley View Circle
Mars Hill, NC 28754
Cataloochee Ski Area
With a peak elevation of 5,400 feet, everything you need for a day of fun in the snow is at Cataloochee. From beginner ski trails to black diamond courses, a terrain park with stunt equipment, to Tube World, just a few miles down the road from the slopes, there is plenty to do. No snow? No problem! They make their own snow as soon as temperatures allow. The ski area’s full-service rental department offers ski and snowboard equipment, including jackets, pants, and helmets, plus a state-of-the-art boot drying system. Open early November – late March. Visit the website for information and live webcams, or call for current conditions.
1080 Ski Lodge Road
Maggie Valley, NC
Lakeshore Marina & Sea-doo Rental on Lake Glenville offers pontoons, canoes, kayaks, tubes, kneeboards, paddleboards, and a guided historical tour around the 26-mile shoreline. Call or book online.
4623 Hwy 107
Dillsboro River Company
The Dillsboro River Company takes customers along the rapids of the Tuckasegee River. The ‘Tuck” provides a good place to start for first-time rafters, families with young children (minimum age limit is 4), and those who want more of a relaxing river trip with warmer water and the milder Class I & II rapids.
18 Macktown Rd.
Smoky Mountain River Adventures
Visitors can paddle, float, and splash on the Tuckaseegee River. Perfect for first-timers, groups, and families thanks to gentle rapids (Class 1 and 2) and easy river access.
5036 Hwy 74
Highland Hiker has been outfitting hikers, fishermen, and travelers for over 35 years. They carry a wide selection of gear, clothing, and shoes for backpacking, fly fishing, camping, hiking, adventure travel, and much more.
601 Main Street
47 Highway 107 South
The goal of this bookstore is to share the literature of the region with the world, and the world of books with the community. Selling new and used books, cards, gifts, journals, maps, and more since 1985.
The premier shop for buying and repairing bikes and biking accessories in the area. There are 2 locations in the area of Sundog Vacation Rentals:
17 Big Cove Rd
36 Allen St
Humanité Boutique is a give-back brand local to Bryson City and Sylva that is all about wearing your heart on your sleeve – or skirt, or belt, or lapel and loving your style while spreading the love. Shop hand-selected, on-trend, standout clothes, accessories and home decor that inspire your sense of compassion as much as your sense of style.