One of the hardest parts about planning a vacation is trying to decide where you’re going to go. Do you want to head down south for the beaches? Or head up north for the cool weather and alligator-free water? What if you could experience both? Western North Carolina is the best of both worlds. It’s technically in the South, but it has the weather of a mild northern state in many areas. The best part is that there’s plenty of places to visit and things to do!
Fun for All Seasons: Visiting Western North Carolina
Sliding Down a Waterfall
Every year, thousands of people put on their swim clothes and slide down a waterfall in Pisgah National Forest. If you want to slide down the rock, you will have to cross a little stream and then wait in line for your turn. Once you get to the top, you sit down, and off you go.
You’ll slide into an 8-foot deep pool — but prepare yourself; it’s cold. During the summer, the water is between 50 to 60 degrees. In the spring and fall, it’s even colder. We don’t recommend sliding down the rock during the winter unless you’re doing some kind of polar bear challenge.
Sliding Rock is open all year round, but there’s a lifeguard on duty in late spring and through the summer. When they’re working, it also costs a small fee to slide. When you finish playing in the water, you can stop by the bathroom, put your leggings on, and then explore the many beautiful waterfalls of Pisgah.
Fifteen miles from Asheville is Black Mountain. The small town has a bustling arts scene. Visitors can stop at galleries and souvenir shops as they walk through downtown and admire the old buildings. Not only is it a fun place for adults, but kids will enjoy its ice cream and chocolate shops, public parks, and Lake Tomahawk.
Black Mountain is also in a central location, allowing visitors to stay in the town while easily exploring the mountains surrounding it. Families can pack a cooler and head out to explore Catawba Falls or check out Andrews Geyser.
Are you a movie fan? If so, Lake Lure is the place for you. The sleepy little town was the filming location for many of the scenes in the movie “Dirty Dancing.” Remember when Baby climbed the steps with a watermelon or Johnny saved her from a corner? Both scenes took place in Lake Lure.
Sadly, the hall where producers filmed the final dance scene is gone, but some of the other places still exist. You can take a Dirty Dancing tour while you’re there. The town usually holds a festival celebrating the movie, but COVID-19 has caused organizers to hit the pause button for a bit.
Outside of Lake Lure is the town of Chimney Rock. Visitors can climb to the top of Chimney Rock at the state park and then stop in the town for a cool drink. Behind some of the restaurants is the Broad Riverwalk which is completely accessible to visitors. Just be careful; the rocks are slippery!
Most Scenic Road in America
Finally, before you leave Western NC, you have to take a trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can access the scenic road right from the Pisgah National Forest after you visit Sliding Rock.
The Parkway is a 469-mile road that runs from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Skyline Drive in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. Even driving a small portion of the road is worth it. There are scenic overlooks that you can stop at and waterfalls to visit. It’s truly one of the most beautiful roads in America. Just remember, don’t look down if you’re afraid of heights.
What are you waiting for? Make Western NC your next vacation destination!