Are you looking for the best things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina? This lovely western North Carolina town has so much to offer in the way of natural beauty, amazing food, and more.
Known as being the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can find everything from hiking, waterfalls, and white-water rafting to museums, coffee shops, and incredible restaurants. There are so many great things to do in Bryson City.
This beautiful mountain town has fantastic vibes and will leave you with amazing memories, no matter how you choose to spend your time during your visit. While all seasons in Bryson City are something to experience, spring through fall are particularly popular, with fall being exceptionally beautiful. The rainy season in Bryson City is from May to August. So, avoid these times if a rain-free trip is important for you.
Now, let’s take a look at the best attractions in Bryson City!
15 Best Things To Do In Bryson City NC You Shouldn’t Miss
Ride a Train Through The Great Smoky Mountains
Among the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains is to take an excursion with the Smoky Mountain Railroad. Train rides on the railroad offer a variety of experiences. There is something for every age and every type of traveler. They run both steam and diesel engines depending on which of their excursions you choose to take. You can see the Nantahala Gorge, Tuckasegee River, or experience the stunning fall foliage in the area surrounding Bryson City!
One of the coolest offerings by the Smoky Mountain Railroad is the Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience This experience forbids children to ride along with their parents and is served in first-class cars making it one of the best things to do in Bryson City for couples. Taken on the Nantahala Gorge excursion, the beautiful copper-lined walls surround guests as they enjoy a pulled pork meal and moonshine.
Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians
Do you want to hear about one of the best things to do in Bryson City that you may not be expecting? On this list of best Bryson City activities, it would be a shame to not include the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians. Fishermen especially will not want to miss this site!
Through videos and exhibits, you will learn about the evolution of rods and reels, gear, game fishing, and the history of fly fishing in the southeastern United States. Once considered a rich man’s sport, fly fishing is now much more attainable and you can see this transition play out at the museum. The building itself is quite unique as well as it is made from a dismantled tobacco barn from Surry County, North Carolina.
One of the places to visit in Bryson City for those who have to start their day with a strong cup of coffee is Mountain Parks on Depot Street. Visiting this cute little coffee shop is one of the best things to do in Bryson City because it has perfect small-town vibes and an amazing menu!
If you start your day at Mountain Perks u can warm up with a hot chocolate or coffee alongside a muffin, breakfast sandwich, or quiche. At lunchtime, you can also find things like chili and light soups, bagels, buttery croissants, and delicious sweets. From carrot cake and muffins to rolls and cheesecakes, the sweets at Mountain Perks shouldn’t be missed!
Do you like supporting local producers? Of course, you do! Some of the best attractions in Bryson City are centered around food, and Darnell Farms is one of them. Priding itself as an agro-tourism experience, Darnell Farms easily made its way onto the list of best things to do in Bryson City!
The farm hosts festivals throughout the year. The festivals and markets that are put on by Darnell Farms showcase the beautiful produce they grow and offer products made from their ingredients. (This farm produced one hundred acres of strawberries!) If you have the opportunity to participate in a festival or shop at a market during your visit to Bryson City, don’t miss out on the opportunity!
Juney Whank Falls
One of the best free things to do in Bryson City is visiting Juney Whank Falls. This waterfall is split into two parts, the upper section, and the lower section. You can view both of these sections from the beautiful wooden footbridge that crosses the branch beneath Juney Whank Falls.
The waterfall tumbles down 90 feet and is one of the best waterfalls in North Carolina. This incredible hike is only 0.8 miles round trip to an absolutely incredible point of interest, making it one of the best things to do in Bryson City. (Keep in mind that it can take over an hour to hike there in hike considering time spent at the waterfall and that the trail is rated moderate in difficulty.)
Nantahala Brewing Company
If you are looking for things to do in Bryson City at night, check out the Nantahala Brewing Company. Located on Deep Creek Road, this brewery offers visitors tours of the facility, tastings, and frequent live music in their rustic and lively taproom. Sitting in the shadow of the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visiting the brewery is one of the best things to do in Bryson City for adults.
While the Nantahala Brewing Company doesn’t serve food, all guests are welcome to grab food from home or from town and bring it into the brewery with you. Other than their craft beers, you can also order liquor or one of their thirty-two beers on tap. If you are feeling extra rowdy, consider tailgating while you’re there. (They love when guests have fun and grill out on their deck!)
Road to Nowhere Tunnel
For those who like unique NC mountain attractions, the Road to Nowhere Tunnel is just the site for you! You will find Bryson City among the best North Carolina mountain towns and a great way to experience it fully is to see some of the best things to do in Bryson City that are off of the beaten path.
You will find the tunnel about ten minutes northwest of Bryson City. The road and tunnel were built to help the displaced residents that were removed from their homes by the Tennessee Valley Authority. However, due to construction issues, the construction of the road was never finished. Today, you will find the tunnel about six miles into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Wildwater Nantahala Adventure Center
Some of the best activities in Bryson City are the ones where you get to experience the landscape and vibe of the city. One of the most incredible ways to do this is by going rafting with Wildwater Nantahala Adventure Center. One of the most popular rivers in the United States, the Nantahala River is where rafters will enjoy the family-friendly whitewater rafting experience.
Aside from the rafting experiences, you can also go ziplining! The course in the Nantahala Gorge Region takes you deep into the woods and gives you views of the Nantahala Gorge and Fontana Lake. For family travelers, there are courses for children 4-12 years old as well. Visiting the adventure center is one of the best things to do in Bryson City.
Deep Creek Winery
Deep Creek Winery is one of the best things to do in Bryson City for couples! This winery has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and allows visitors to sit outside in the fresh mountain air to experience the views and the wines. You can order yourself a charcuterie platter with fresh Amish cheese to pair with your glass of wine, sit back, and relax.
Prices are super affordable and the winery offers shipping for their bottles which is wonderful as you are likely to want to take some wine home with you! Be on the lookout for events during your visit, being able to experience a festival or another recent during your visit will make your trip all the more memorable. (Keep in mind the winery doesn’t allow pets or children.)
If you are looking for things to do near Bryson City, Clingmans Dome is a simply incredible option. At just over an hour away from Bryson City, Clingman’s Dome is absolutely idyllic. The dome sits at the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, it is the highest point in all of Tennessee and the third highest point east of the Mississippi.
When you climb to the tallest point, you get spectacular views of the Smokies. If you hike to the top on a clear day, you can see as far as 100 miles away! If you are visiting when it is foggy, which happens quite often, there’s no reason to be upset as the fog around the dome and over the mountains is a dreamy and picturesque sight that you won’t soon forget. Taking an excursion to visit Clingman’s Dome is one of the best things to do in Bryson City!
Jimmy Mac’s Restaurant
On Main Street, you will find Jimmy Mac’s Restaurant. Trying some mouthwatering Southern food is one of the best things to do in Bryson City. The vibe is eclectic with wood floors and simple tables, neon signs, and old newspapers framed on the walls. The interior design, great food, and the fact that you are only a block from the Tuckasegee River make this one of the best restaurants in town!
While you’re there, you can order things like steak smothered in mushrooms and onions, fried fish, and delicious Southern sides. Of course, they also have burgers, pasta, and other dishes like stuffed mushrooms as well. Pints of beer and craft bottles make their rounds at Jimmy Mac’s as well, so don’t miss out!
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Train Museum
If you are looking for things to do in Bryson City with kids, you should know about the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Train Museum where you will find an immaculate display of model trains.
The museum is one of the best things to do in Bryson City because you can get a bit of a two-for-one deal. If you have already bought a ticket for an excursion with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, then you will be given free admission to the Train Museum. If you don’t plan on buying a ticket for a train excursion, you can still buy a ticket solely for the museum.
With a massive collection of around 7,000 Lionel cars, engines, and accessories, the museum is an incredible display of collectorship and craftsmanship. While adults can appreciate the amount of work that has gone into such an incredible display, children will love spending their time at the Children’s Activity Center at the museum.
Lonesome Pine Overlook
Wondering what to do in Bryson City as an adventurous traveler? One of the best things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina is to check out the Lonesome Pine Overlook. The trail to the viewpoint is a 6.7-mile out-and-back trail that gains more than 2,300 feet of elevation. Don’t let this deter you though; the view is worth the effort!
Overlooks in and around the Smoky Mountains are plentiful. And the Lonesome Pine Overlook is one of the most incredible ones in western North Carolina. The overlooks around Bryson City are stunning and make it easy to see why the town is one of the coolest places for glamping in North Carolina!
Swain County Heritage Museum
For those who seek to learn more about the history of the places that they visit, the Swain County Heritage Museum is one of the best things to do in Bryson City. You can find the museum inside of the old 1908 courthouse in the downtown area. The museum really dives into how the county was formed and the heritage of the people who have lived there.
The exhibits, photos, and videos at the museum depict the early settlers of the area and the way that they lived their lives. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as the Fontana Dam is also talked about as they played roles in shaping Swain County into what it is today.
Indian Creek Falls
Another opportunity for hikers looking for fun things to do in Bryson City, Indian Creek Falls Trail is an easy trail that takes you to a stunning waterfall in Bryson City. With only 150 feet of elevation gain and a roundtrip mileage of just 1.9 miles, even families and those who aren’t big fans of hiking can make this hike to see the waterfall!
Indian Creek Falls is just north of Juney Whank Falls Trail. The hike is possible at most times of the year. However, if you want to see the incredible wildflowers that bloom every year, consider visiting sometime between late February and September. Indian Creek Falls is one of the best things to do in Bryson City NC!
If you didn’t already have visiting Bryson City on your list of best things to do in North Carolina, will you be adding it now? Let us know which of the best things to do in Bryson City you will do first!