Highlands, NC, nestled in the heart of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, is a charming and picturesque town known for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant cultural scene. While Highlands itself has much to offer, the surrounding region is also filled with exciting day trip opportunities for adventure enthusiasts, foodies, and nature lovers alike. In this article, we’ll explore 11 fun day trips from Highlands, NC, that will take you to some of the most captivating spots in the Blue Ridge Mountains, featuring delicious food, refreshing drinks, and thrilling outdoor adventures.

11 Exciting Day Trips from Highlands, NC

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1. Cashiers, NC (Approx. 15 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Spend your day hiking in the Panthertown Valley, known as the “Yosemite of the East,” or enjoy a leisurely day by the tranquil Lake Glenville.
  • Food and Drink: Visit the Cornucopia Restaurant for farm-to-table dining, stop by the Ugly Dog Public House for craft beers and a laid-back atmosphere, or enjoy a pint of local brew at Whiteside Brewery.

2. Franklin, NC (Approx. 25 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Journey to the charming town of Franklin to explore the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Hike the stunning trails in the Nantahala National Forest, fish in the clear mountain streams, or take a leisurely stroll through the town’s historic district. Stop at Dry Falls and walk behind an impressive 75-foot waterfall or take in the views from the observation deck.
  • Food and Drink: Treat yourself to a delicious meal at Caffe Rel, a popular French Bistro located in a gas station and great food. Afterward, quench your thirst with a visit to Currahee Brewing, where you can sample various craft beers.
  • Place to Stay: Extend your stay in Franklin, NC, by booking a cozy cabin or treehouse at Treehouse Hollow and Cabin Vacation Rentals. Nestled in the heart of nature, these accommodations provide a serene retreat for those looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. Learn more and make reservations at Treehouse Hollow and Cabin Vacation Rentals.

3. Whiteside Mountain (Approx. 5 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Hike to the top of Whiteside Mountain for breathtaking panoramic views or explore the many trails that wind through this unique landscape.
  • Food and Drink: Pack a picnic and enjoy it at the mountain’s summit, or dine at one of the charming restaurants in nearby Cashiers.

4. DuPont State Recreational Forest (Approx. 45 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Discover numerous waterfalls, hike, bike, or go horseback riding in this magnificent forest.
  • Food and Drink: Grab lunch in Brevard and indulge in local favorites at the Square Root restaurant or sample craft beer at Oskar Blues Brewery.

5. Gorges State Park (Approx. 40 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Explore rugged terrain, waterfalls, and stunning viewpoints on the park’s various hiking trails.
  • Food and Drink: Drive to Brevard for a diverse dining scene or enjoy a cold beer at Ecusta Brewing Company.

6. Blue Ridge Parkway (Various access points nearby):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Embark on a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, offering breathtaking vistas, hiking trails, and picnicking spots.
  • Food and Drink: Stop by the Pisgah Inn Restaurant for classic Southern cuisine or bring a picnic to enjoy amidst the views.

7. High Falls Trail (Approx. 20 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Hike to High Falls and Triple Falls for mesmerizing waterfalls and serene forest surroundings.
  • Food and Drink: Visit the charming town of Saluda for a delightful dining experience at The Purple Onion or Green River BBQ.

8. Nantahala National Forest (Approx. 35 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Engage in a wide range of outdoor activities like rafting, fishing, and hiking in this pristine forest.
  • Food and Drink: Relish comfort food at the River’s End Restaurant in Bryson City or sip craft beers at the Nantahala Brewing Company.

9. Biltmore Estate in Asheville (Approx. 60 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Explore the beautiful gardens and grounds of the Biltmore Estate, including biking and hiking trails.
  • Food and Drink: Enjoy a fine dining experience at the Biltmore’s restaurants or visit the vibrant food scene in downtown Asheville.

10. Cherokee, NC (Approx. 40 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hike the Deep Creek Trail, or try your luck at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.
  • Food and Drink: Savor authentic Cherokee cuisine at the Cherokee Grill or dine at one of the casino’s fine restaurants.

11. Dillard, Georgia (Approx. 10 miles from Highlands):

  • Outdoor Adventure: Venture across the state line into Dillard, Georgia, for a change of scenery. Explore the picturesque landscapes of the North Georgia mountains, ride horseback at one Dillard House Stables, or take a scenic drive along the winding roads.
  • Food and Drink: Enjoy a delightful meal at The Dillard House, a Southern-style restaurant known for its family-style dining and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. For a more contemporary culinary experience, savor dishes inspired by Southern traditions with a modern twist at Julep Kitchen.

As you embark on these thrilling day trips from Highlands, NC, and experience the wonders of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you might find yourself longing for a place to call your own in this breathtaking region. Look no further than Brian Horner Custom Home Builder. Brian specializes in crafting custom-built mountain homes that blend seamlessly with the area’s natural beauty while providing modern comforts and amenities.

Custom Home Builder in Cashiers, Highlands, NC

If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own piece of paradise in the Blue Ridge Mountains, now is the perfect time to turn that dream into a reality. Contact Brian Horner Custom Home Builder today to start the journey towards creating your very own custom-built mountain retreat where every day feels like a vacation.

Take advantage of the opportunity to make Highlands, NC, and the surrounding area your permanent playground. Contact Brian Horner and let him help you bring your vision to life. Your dream mountain home awaits!

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