A Stylish Guide to: Bryson City, NC

It just doesn’t feel like summer until you’ve taken a little adventure. So we packed up the car and took a little trip to Bryson City, North Carolina! Tucked away in the majestic Smoky Mountains, just over 3 hours from Columbia, this hidden gem offers a surprising blend of affordability and tranquility. If you’re looking for an affordable family vacation that encourages traditional summer activities from simpler time then Bryson City is just for you. So we’re sharing where to stay, where to eat, what to do, and where to shop to help you plan your very own trip.

Where to Stay

Tuckaseegee Loft with Aloft in the Smokies

Since we were traveling with a group of 4 (including T!), this 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom loft was perfect! It is located in the heart of Bryson City on Everett Street. It has a very spacious floor plan with plenty of black bear motifs to remind you that you were indeed in the Smoky Mountains. But the best part was being  walking distance to several attractions like: the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, restaurants and plenty of shops.


Where to Eat

Mae|Blu Boutique & Tea Bar

If you’re the type to treat yourself to a little treat like a special drink or cosmetics, then you’d love this place. It was located almost directly next to our loft and had a pink floral arch at the entrance so we had to pop in! They’re known for their array of specialty tea options, but also offer makeup + skincare products. Definitely worth the stop in!


Mountain Layers Brewing Company

Known as an award-winning microbrewery in Bryson City, NC, this rooftop deck not only has gorgeous views of downtown Bryson City, the mountain range, and the Tuckasegee River, it also offers a taproom with 16 beers on tap.


Pasqualino’s Italian Restaurant

This traditional Italian restaurant is clearly a town favorite! When we were there almost every table was filled– and they didn’t take reservations. The pastas were great and filling, and our waitress was super friendly and knowledgeable and even helped us order a glass of wine that wasn’t featured on the menu, but ended up being some of the best!


Everett Street Diner

We grabbed breakfast from this classic country-style diner one morning on Everett Street. The host was welcoming and super accommodating to Teagan, and the menu had nearly every breakfast item you could imagine. Nearly every table was filled here too, but we were able to snag a seat by the front window!!


Anthony’s Pizza

Although we didn’t get the chance to sit down inside, their gigantic pizza did not disappoint when we enjoyed it on a boat almost 30 mins later. They have an extensive selection of pizzas, or you can customize your own!

La Dolce Vita Bakery

We popped into this bakery one morning for a meal on-the-go! Offering classic bakery options, this place also had Southern favorites like grit bowls. This was also the only breakfast spot we saw that offered breakfast cocktails like mimosas!

Soda Pop’s Ice Cream

The entire town has a nostalgic feeling, but no place signifies that more than this authentic 1940s-50s style ice cream parlor that offers shakes, splits, malts and everything in between. Entering is like stepping back in time and it’s clear by the amount of traffic it sees, that it’s a must if you’re in Bryson City.


Bryson City Brewing

Although we didn’t have time to get to this brewery, we really wish we would have! This family-friendly spot has a view and a large fenced-in grassy area perfect for the little ones. They also offer a 20-barrel brewing system and a rotating selection of guest taps featuring 18 different beers.

Rivers End at NOC

If you’re looking for a meal with a view then, River End at NOC should be at the top of your list. They offer casual lunch/dinner options with a scenic view of the river!

What to Do

Take a Sunset Pontoon Ride with Sunny Day Adventures

Between the  beautiful views of the mountains and the learning opportunity from the guide, this was definitely an experience that you will not forget. The ride lasts for about 2 hours, and it offers so many different sites to see along Fontana Lake and the option to pack a picnic/snacks!



Visit Deep Creek Trail

Known as one of the most popular hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this trail is along the river and has natural entrance points along the way. There are also plenty of picnic + camping sites near the trail.

Strawberry Picking at Darnell Farms

One of our most memorable experiences, this farm offers so much. You could pick strawberries with a view of the mountains, shop for local treats + harvest, or play along the riverbank on an extensive playground. There’s also a rather large area for the live music they’re known to have!!

Go Elk Viewing

If you’re an early riser and want a view of large Elk, you may consider the drive to Cherokee worth it. But making it all the way to the Visitors Center felt a little pointless, especially for a 6am wake up call. We saw more elk, and got closer to them, on the drive over, than we did at the actual center. But it’s nature and no two days are the same, so venture at your own risk of disappointment.

Collect gems at Nantahala, River Gem Mine

We weren’t able to fit this activity indo this our itinerary, but this stop is one of the more popular for Bryson City visitors. This mine is famous for all of its natural deposits and gives you the chance to try your hand at gem mining. And you walk away with what you find! If T were a few years older, I think he would have loved it!

Check out the Railroad Museum

Before boarding the train ride, you have the opportunity to learn a little more about the history of the depot and the train system,  see what’s the artifacts and memorabilia on view.

Take a train ride on Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Excursion

With stunning landscape views of the Great Smoky Mountains, this train ride was something that we won’t soon forget! It is about a 4.5 hour round trip that takes you up and down the Nantahala River and includes a stop at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

Visit The Road to Nowhere

This historical scenic route is a popular tourist attraction in Bryson City. Originally planned as a scenic highway, due to environmental concerns, the road was never finished and reached a point at 6.4 miles from Bryson City. The drive has breathtaking views of the mountains and even a pull-of that has views of the Fontana Lake.

Where to Shop

Humanité Boutique

This women’s clothing and gifts boutique was probably the chicest store we went into and is pretty popular! Besides clothes, they also offer various home decor items that are made from repurposed materials.

Loose Moose

This gift shop was only a few doors down from our loft and offered a variety of souvenirs and local mountain-themed gifts!

Bunky’s on Everett 

Elk Crossing

Darnell Farms

This place offers a true farm-to-table experience, but with a twist! This 100-acr wholesale farm offers many different fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from. While fresh produce is their speciality, they also offer a variety of other items like local crafts and goods and seasonal offerings.


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