In western North Carolina, there’s a place for everyone: artists and epicures, locals and visitors, explorers and kick-back-and-relaxers. Down in the valleys, high on the peaks, around every bend in the road, communities with identities all their own remind us that our mountains contain multitudes.
Foothills & Brushy Mountains • Yadkin Valley • High Country
Asheville & Environs • Southern Mountains • Smoky Mountains & Far West
Those gently rolling hills and small-town main streets appear to be relaxed and mellow. But behind the facade, some of our state’s most maverick daredevils forged a culture of risk-taking and creativity.
Hidden away in the hollers just west of the Piedmont, where the land begins to rise, our ancestors learned to enjoy themselves with homemade whiskey, music, car racing, and other activities that provided relief from the arduous work of farming and laboring in mills.
Written by Jan Karon
More than a century ago, some called Statesville the liquor capital of the world. Then came Prohibition. Today, Southern Distilling Company is on a mission to prove that North Carolina spirits are more than just moonshine.
Written by Carrie Dow
The towns and villages across North Carolina’s wine country embrace the easy life: relaxed, indulgent, celebratory — a feast for the senses.
The sprawling vineyards and wide-open skies that stretch for miles across seven North Carolina counties offer relaxing getaways — not to mention some of the state’s finest wines — for Sunday drivers aching to escape the rush of city life.
Written by Krista Bremer
Behind the easy elegance of an afternoon in the Yadkin Valley are hours of unseen work and hard-won expertise. At Surry Community College, future vintners soak up the wisdom of wine country.
Written by Jeremy Markovich
What’s a sonker? Ask bakers in and around Mount Airy, and you’ll get a thousand different answers. One thing’s for certain: It’s a North Carolina original.
Written by Debbie Moose
From the Blue Ridge Parkway to the top of Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina’s High County is for the adventuresome and the artistic — nature-loving explorers seeking to blaze new trails.
The spectacular views in North Carolina’s High Country aren’t just inspiration for writers, painters, and sculptors. Those landscapes — the rugged gray face of Grandfather Mountain, the vibrant fall leaves, the deep green meadows — are brushstrokes on Earth’s own canvas.
Written by Georgann Eubanks
An Appalachian State University professor explores the mountains to find the telltale shades of autumn. Then he shares on social media the best places to find the most color in nature.
Written by Anna Grace Thrailkill
Contemporary murals adorn the exteriors of buildings throughout West Jefferson and the High Country. But the walls inside a handful of churches offer stunning displays of an ancient technique.
Written by Mark Powell
In this area of the Blue Ridge, bohemian sensibilities and nonconformist attitudes combine to create a signature aesthetic.
To an untrained ear, the sounds emanating from downtown street corners form a cacophony of drums and strings and synthesizers. To musicians and poets and music lovers, it’s a distinctive symphony like no other.
Written by Keith Flynn
When The Admiral opened 15 years ago, the dive bar with world-class food helped usher in a new era for Asheville. Together, both restaurant and city became nationally recognized destinations.
Written by C.A. Carlson
A big-city photographer had a vision to transform a storied Burnsville property into a space for contemplation and reflection — a healing place.
Written by Michael Kruse
For centuries, people from all over have gravitated toward the towns that dot our southernmost mountains. The result? A refined region where art and culture worthy of the big city have been cultivated in the beauty and tranquility of the Blue Ridge.
Among the stone and pine in our southern mountains, monied gentry built their summer homes and established towns that helped define the area.
Written by Jeremy B. Jones
At a country inn in Highlands, museum-quality artifacts share space with local art, books, and vinyl records, offering a curated experience for visitors to this mountain town where time seems to stand still.
Written by Katie Kane
For nearly 40 years, TJ Bailey’s has helped men suit up to meet every dress code in Highlands, from black-tie formal to croquet casual.
Written by Susan Stafford Kelly
A Southern Cup draws on the long tradition of teatime, giving customers a place to gather and celebrate one another.
Written by C.A. Carlson
Far-western North Carolina is renowned for its rugged mountains and unspoiled vistas. It remains home to Indigenous people and modern settlers who appreciate the land as it is: wild and pure.
In the towns and communities in and around the Qualla Boundary, the Cherokee have endured like the ancient rhododendrons with which they share a home.
Written by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle
In the far-western reaches of the state, two men who learned to quilt from the communities around them are dispelling stereotypes while continuing a beloved — and necessary — mountain tradition.
Written by Marianne Leek
Why does this Haywood County town have some of the cleanest water in the state? It’s the result of the community’s efforts to keep the forests in its watershed pristine.
Written by Rebecca Woltz