Western North Carolina (WNC) is known nationwide for its Blue Ridge Mountains, among which Asheville sits like a crown jewel. However, farther off the beaten path, mountain towns are peppered along railroads like ticks on a timeline. Snow globe towns like Tryon, Brevard, Etowah, and Bryson City have no trouble drawing in visitors, despite being in the shadows of both mountain and metropolis.
Fresh air and room to move make WNC a hotspot for winter sportsmen and women who crave the swing of a club or tension in a flyrod without the high temps of summer. Launching from Tryon, an uphill trek through North Carolina’s stretch of Southern Appalachia packs scenery and sport.
Take a back saddle and watch the pros at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. Not only can you see single- and multi-day competitive events, but you can also take advantage of the several on-site shops and restaurants. Kick back at the Silo Bar, step into the time machine that is Roger’s Diner, or fuel up at Mane Street Coffee before heading west towards Lake Toxaway to bed down.
Hidden behind a tangle of curves, the converted, early twentieth-century mansion known as Greystone Inn is poised on a short peninsula. A long list of activities—including wooden boat tours—ensure an eventful stay. Dine at the Lakeside Restaurant, where seasonal ingredients dictate the menu but local trout reigns supreme. Retire to one of the unique suites early and soak up the lake views because the Davidson River awaits.
Set your sights on Brevard and the one-stop fly shop, Davidson River Outfitters, to get the next day under way. Spend the whole day casting your fly or split it in half and take the latter to explore the surrounding area’s food and drink. The Brevard area is known as much for its breweries as it is its famed fishing.
In nearby Etowah, visit the family-owned Sideways Farm & Brewery to experience one of the few breweries in the country that creates carbonation using local wildflower honey. In addition to unique, single-batch brews, Sideways is also one of the few producers of Hard Jun Kombucha—a tart-sweet, fruity drink that uses honey for fermentation rather than sugar.
Oskar Blues’ Tasty Weasel taproom and their food truck, the CHUBwagon, is ideal for recharging before piling back into the car. Sink your teeth into their burgers and fries while enjoying brews made steps away from the covered patio.
Route towards Bryson City where mountaineers and golfers alike flock for unparalleled access to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Sequoyah National Golf Club. Eighteen holes spread over bent grass greens and bluegrass fairways serve 360-degree views of surrounding mountain ranges. Everett Hotel serves as a rustic space to relax after a day on the links and the attached bistro boasts Carolina mountain trout, meatloaf, and other Southern comforts.
Cyclists will find a robust program and eclectic digs just one hour east in Asheville at Applewood Manor. Each guestroom is decorated with the owners’ personal art collection and has a stash of their homemade cookies. Wake to a breakfast made with produce supplied by local farmers before a cycling excursion through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Take out one of the manor’s 3T cycles (or bring your own) and look out for guided tours and coaching from professional cyclist Johnny Brown–when he isn’t off racing. Return before a dinner out on the town or book for February 17 to 20 to experience a visit from Xavier Mathieu.
For a more scenery-scoping sport, Mount Mitchell in neighboring Yancey County stands in the Black Mountain subrange and wields hiking trails for those looking to learn more about nature, as well as those who are in it for views. With all your energy spent, you’ll want to unwind for one final night. The beautifully restored Monte Vista Boutique Hotel is a good place to hang your hat, especially after a nightcap at Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails.
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