These are the best Things To Do In Bryson City

Top 7 Things to Do in Bryson City, NC Should Be On Your List

By Olivia Williams

Near the Smoky Mountains, Bryson City is located on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Additionally, Bryson City and Asheville are only 70 miles apart. In a nutshell, this is a charming alpine village with lots to offer. Bryson City, NC is a small town filled with the sound of train whistles and surrounded by mountains. If you are looking for the perfect mountain getaway, you should head to Bryson City ASAP!

Ride the Train at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad _ Things To Do In Bryson City
Train at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

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In the summer, outdoor adventurers visit Bryson City to go hiking, white water rafting, river tubing, and kayaking. In the winter, families visit to ride the magical Polar Express. Bryson City is, above all, a top destination for outdoor lovers, families, and couples looking for a romantic escape. We’ll go through these activities in Bryson City, North Carolina, in our guide.

If you have plans to visit Bryson City in the future, keep reading for the top 7 things to do in Bryson City, NC!

Allow The Elk to Cross _ Things To Do In Bryson City
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Here are The Top 7 Things to Do in Bryson City, NC!

#7 Visit Deep Creek

Located just a few minutes outside of Bryson City and inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Deep Creek Recreation Area offers camping, hiking, horseback riding, and river tubing!

There are hiking trails for all different skill levels and three beautiful waterfalls that you can explore.

If you visit in the summer, you can rent a river tube for around just $5 per day. There is nothing more relaxing than a natural lazy river. Just be warned, the water is cold!

If you want to document your tubing adventure at Deep Creek, leave your DSLR at home and bring an action camera like GoPro. They are perfect for outdoor adventures, especially those involving water.

Recommended: Ultimate Guide to Visiting Deep Creek, Bryson City 

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#6 Go White Water Rafting at the Nantahala Outdoor Center

The Nantahala Outdoor Center, located just outside Bryson City, is the perfect place for the outdoor enthusiast. Located on the Nantahala River, the NOC offers family white water rafting with class II rapids.

They also have zip-lining courses, mountain biking, paddle boarding, and hiking. The Appalachian Trail runs directly through the NOC, giving you the chance to interact with hikers and even take a hike yourself!

If you are not exactly the adventurous type, the Rivers End restaurant has wonderful food and overlooks the Nantahala River.

You can watch as rafters and kayakers float down the river while enjoying a delicious meal. We also recommend checking out the outfitter store, as they have plenty of awesome gear.

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If you are interested in riding the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, one of their main excursions travels to the NOC and provides you with a couple of hours to explore.

There is even a deal where you can ride the train to the Nantahala Outdoor Center in the morning, eat lunch, and then go white water rafting! Because this takes longer than the typical train layover, the NOC will take you back to Bryson City on a bus.

Fun Fact: The Nantahala River hosted the 2013 International Canoe Federations Freestyle World Championship. Over 500 freestyle kayakers from 45 different countries competed for the world title!

#5 Explore Downtown Bryson City

This may sound obvious, but when visiting Bryson City, one of the best things to do is explore downtown! Downtown Bryson City has a unique small-town charm and is full of fun little shops to get lost in.

There are art galleries, outdoor outfitters, clothing stores, candy stores, bakeries, restaurants, and more. For such a small town, there is so much to do!

We highly recommend checking out Everett Street Diner, The Chocolate Shop, Soda Pops, and The High Test Deli.

Bryson City is a small city, yet it manages to cram a lot of things into its core. That being said, downtown Bryson City promises to be a joyful and rewarding experience for all types of visitors, including those who are looking for the town’s unique creative offers, gourmet explorers, and leisure shoppers.

#4 Drive to the Road to Nowhere

The Road to Nowhere didn’t get its name for no reason, it goes nowhere! Back in the 1940s, during the creation of the Fontana Dam, thousands of residents were displaced, and entire towns were submerged underwater.

The federal government promised the residents of Swain County that they would build a road to replace NC Highway 288, also lost under Fontana Lake.

Due to several different reasons, the road never got completed. This road represents a broken promise, and you can feel the sadness when you visit.

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The drive to the Road to Nowhere on Lakeshore Drive is a beautiful one that offers stunning views of Fontana Lake.

When you get to the very end of the road, there will be a pull-off area. You will not be able to drive any further than this due to concrete posts blocking the road.

If you plan on walking through the tunnel at the end of the road, bring a flashlight because it is dark in the middle. On the other side of the tunnel, there are several hiking trails. This is a beautiful place to hike due to its seclusiveness and history.

#3 Take In the Views at Clingman’s Dome

If you are looking for one of the best views in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, then this is the place for you. Clingman’s Dome is a 360-degree observation tower located at an elevation of 6,643 feet. This is the highest elevation in the national park!

Be warned, the hike up to the observation tower is not an easy one. While it is only .5 miles long, it is steep. The views at the top are worth it, though!

If you plan on doing some hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, make sure that you have the right gear! Packing the wrong hiking equipment can not only be uncomfortable, but it also can turn serious very quickly.

If you enjoy hiking, you may also enjoy hiking to Shuckstack Fire Tower or an airplane crash. These are both just a short distance from Bryson City!

Recommended: Ultimate Guide to Visiting Clingmans Dome

#2 Visit Darnell Farms

Many locals will tell you that Darnell Farms is one of the most enjoyable places to visit in Bryon City. If you love visiting farms, you should take the time to visit Darnell Farms while in Bryson City. Darnell Farms is the perfect place to pick up fresh produce, hang out with friends, and enjoy some Dream-Whip!

For the whole family, Darnell Farms is a genuinely exceptional and delightful experience. Situated on more than 100 acres, their farm stand provides an abundance of freshly harvested fruits, vegetables, and berries along with dairy, eggs, meats, specialized produce, and other items. 

For even more fun, more food, and an amazing experience, guests are welcome to explore the farm or stop by during one of their many well-attended events. And a trip to Darnell Farms wouldn’t be complete without tasting one of their luscious dream whips or dream slush—both of which come in an endless array of flavours.

If you visit in the fall, you also get the option to pick pumpkins, go on a hayride, and enjoy their haunted house.

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#1 Ride the Train at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

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All aboard! The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is one of the main reasons why people visit Bryson City.

You can go on the Nantahala Shore Excursion for a beautiful ride along Fontana Lake or go on the Tukasegee excursion to explore the small, charming town of Dillsboro, NC.

Both excursions will allow you to step back in time and learn more about the history of the area. You can choose to ride in first-class, where you can enjoy big windows and fancy dining options, or ride in coach class and enjoy a BBQ sandwich with views.

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad offers a wide variety of special events throughout the year, the most popular being the Polar Express.

The Polar Express is a magical journey to the North Pole, where kids will meet Santa and get a Christmas bell. There will be hot chocolate and cookies to enjoy while listening to the story of the Polar Express. You also get to sing Christmas carols!

If you plan on riding the train, make sure you have your camera with you. The views are stunning, and you will get some amazing pictures.

Insider Insights 

For about 14,000 years, the Cherokee Native Americans inhabited this area before English immigrants made Bryson City their home. Over time, the English established Bryson City in 1887 as Swain County’s county seat.

For a considerable amount of time, the town was still fairly small and had only dirt roads. It took several decades, but eventually, people began to recognize the intriguing little mountain town for what it is: a haven of nourishing beauty with clean mountain air, amazing views, and kind locals.

Try These Fun Things To Do In Bryson City!

The blooming views along the Blue Ridge Mountains _ Things To Do In Bryson City
The blooming views along the Blue Ridge Mountains | Things To Do In Bryson City

In conclusion, Bryson City is a wonderful place to visit year-round and there is something to do for everyone. If you have been to Bryson City, let us know in the comments what your favourite thing to do is!

Watch The Elk Walking in Downtown Bryson City in This Video

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