Bryson City Travel Guide


Discovering the Hidden Gems of Bryson City: A Travel Guide

May 30, 2023

Where to Stay in Bryson City, NC:

Bryson City, North Carolina is a charming town nestled in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. It’s a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with plenty of hiking, fishing, and rafting opportunities nearby. But where should you stay during your visit? There are plenty of options, from hotels to campgrounds, but one of the best choices is Lands Creek Log Cabins

Lands Creek Log Cabins

Lands Creek Log Cabins is a family-owned business that offers a variety of cabins for rent. They’re located just a few miles outside of Bryson City, so you’ll have easy access to all the town has to offer while still feeling like you’re in the middle of nature. I think it took us about 7 minutes to drive downtown. The cabins are situated on a quiet, wooded property with a creek running through it. It’s a peaceful and serene setting that’s perfect for a relaxing getaway.

One of the cabins at Lands Creek Log Cabins is the Hummingbird Cabin, which is where we stayed during our visit. It’s a cozy and comfortable cabin that’s perfect for a couple or small family. The cabin has one bedroom with a queen-sized bed, a pull of sofa that fit Harper comfortably, a bathroom with a shower, and a living room with a fireplace. There’s also a fully equipped kitchen, so you can cook your own meals if you’d like. One of the highlights of the Hummingbird Cabin is the hot tub on the deck. It’s the perfect place to relax and soak after a long day of hiking or exploring. This was the highlight for Harper for sure. We would come in after a long day of adventures and soak in the hot tub. Next to the hot tub was a great fire pit and outdoor propane grill. We made great use of the fire pit and enjoyed delicious s’mores one evening. The cabin had those nice long metal sticks to cook the marshmallows on. It was perfect. The back deck has rocking chairs, so you can relax while taking in the beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains. Another unique feature of the Hummingbird Cabin is the chicken coop. Yes, you read that right! There’s a small chicken coop on the property, and guests are welcome to feed the chickens.  It’s a fun and quirky touch that adds to the charm of the cabin. And we cannot forget about the two sweet bunnies that also live in the coop with the chickens. But what really sets Lands Creek Log Cabins apart is the hospitality of the owners, Joe and his wife. They’re incredibly friendly and welcoming, and they go out of their way to make sure their guests have a great stay. Joe gave us plenty of recommendations for things to do in the area, and he even helped us feed the chickens. It’s clear that he takes pride in his cabins and wants his guests to have a memorable experience.

Where to Eat in Bryson City, NC:

If you’re looking for a great meal in Bryson City, there’s no shortage of options. The town has a charming downtown area with plenty of restaurants. Here are a few of our personal favorites:

The Bistro at the Everett

For foodies, I highly recommend dinner at The Bistro at the Everett. This restaurant boasts a unique and creative menu that showcases locally sourced ingredients and a variety of flavors and textures. The menu changes seasonally to reflect the freshest ingredients available. To start, we indulged in the Dates appetizer, bleu cheese-stuffed and bacon-wrapped Medjool dates with bleu cheese crumbles, dressed mixed greens, blueberries, and honey drizzle. The craft cocktails were also a highlight, with options like the Old Redeemer, made with Redemption Rye Whiskey, Wild Amarena Cherries, honey, lemon, and Aztec Chocolate Bitters. Erik enjoyed the Open Range Meatloaf, a savory blend of four regionally sourced specialty meats, including Brasstown Farms Beef, Durham Ranch Bison, Hickory Nut Gap Farms Pork Sausage, and Border Springs Lamb, draped in bacon and served with a savory tomato gravy, grilled asparagus, and roasted fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and peppers. He said it was the best meatloaf of his life! I opted for the petite Filet Mignon, a 4 oz choice cut Black Angus filet served with grilled asparagus, roasted fingerling potatoes and red peppers, and a red wine demi-glace. The cozy and intimate atmosphere, complete with rustic decor, perfectly complements the food.

Reservations for non-guests are limited and can only be made one week in advance of the desired date. The restaurant is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, from 5 pm to 9 pm, with the last seating time at 7:30 pm. The Bistro at the Everett also offers a children’s menu and Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available. With a focus on quality and creativity, The Bistro at the Everett is a dining experience not to be missed.

Address: 24 Everett Street Bryson City, North Carolina 28713

Pasqualino’s Italian Restaurant

On our second night in town, we went to Pasqualino’s Italian Restaurant for dinner. This local family-owned and operated restaurant offers a charming atmosphere, delicious food, and exceptional service. The menu boasts a diverse range of authentic Italian dishes, such as homemade pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and fresh seafood. The calzones are a must-try, as they are enormous, fluffy, and incredibly scrumptious. The pricing is also very reasonable, making it an excellent value. One of the restaurant’s most notable features is the use of high-quality ingredients in every dish. The establishment sources its ingredients from local farmers to ensure that each meal is made with the freshest and finest ingredients. We savored the Chicken Puttanesca, which was prepared with garlic, capers, black olives, anchovies, and spicy marinara, and it was divine. Harper enjoyed the spaghetti from the kid’s menu. I highly recommend this restaurant, but be sure to arrive early as it fills up quickly.

Address: 25 Everett St Rear, Bryson City, NC 28713

Mountain Perks

Mountain Perks is a charming café located in Bryson City, North Carolina, that offers a variety of delicious food and drinks. The café is situated in the heart of the town, just a few steps away from the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. The location is perfect for tourists who want to grab a quick bite before or after their train ride. Tip: Grab a bagel sandwich and iced latte to-go and bring it on the train with you. The train has a snack car but the line was extremely long. We were go glad we grabbed the bagels before our trip. The menu at Mountain Perks is diverse and caters to all tastes. They offer a range of bagel sandwiches, including the popular bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich. I got mine on an Asiago bagel with Colby jack cheese and bacon. Y’all, it was SO GOOD!! The café also serves a variety of salads, wraps, and paninis. For those with a sweet tooth, they have a selection of pastries and desserts. Their coffee is freshly brewed and made with high-quality beans. I highly recommend the Iced Mint Bliss.  It is made with a double shot of espresso, dark chocolate and peppermint syrup with half and half, blended with ice. I have a sweet tooth and asked to switch out the dark chocolate for white chocolate and it was unbelievable! Mountain Perks is open seven days a week, from 7 am to 5 pm. We liked it so much we went 3 times. We grabbed bagel sandwiches twice and then went a third time for their Italian sodas which were also amazing!

Address: 9 Depot St, Bryson City, NC 28713

River’s End Restaurant

Rivers End Restaurant, situated at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, was another one of our favorite spots. Its location on the banks of the Nantahala River provides a dining experience that is truly one-of-a-kind. Each table in the restaurant boasts a stunning view of the river. Erik enjoyed the fresh Carolina blackened trout, served with a roasted red pepper cream sauce, sherpa rice, and house vegetables. I decided to try the Sherpa Rice, which was inspired by the founder’s trip to Nepal. The dish was made with whole-grain brown rice, lentils, and barley, and was accompanied by blackened steak, stir fry vegetables, and topped with homemade ginger-soy sauce. Both meals were delicious, and we were delighted to discover that the restaurant also offered a fantastic breakfast menu. This was Harper’s favorite restaurant because he was mesmerized by the river outside our window and loved watching the paddlers go by!

Address: 13077 US-19 Bryson City, NC 28713

Darnell Farms

If you want the best ice cream concoction of your life, head to Darnell Farms. This family-owned farm boasts an impressive selection of fresh produce, including juicy peaches, sweet strawberries, and plump tomatoes. But what really sets Darnell Farms apart is their famous Dream Whips – a delectable dessert made with homemade ice cream and fresh fruit toppings. Y’all this is legit the best ice cream ever. I got the mango peach flavor and it was filled with chunks of fresh sweet fresh peaches. The farm’s commitment to using only the freshest ingredients and sustainable farming practices is evident in the quality of their produce and the taste of their Dream Whips. A visit to Darnell Farms is not only a treat for the taste buds but also a chance to support a local business that truly cares about the environment and the community.

Address: 2300 Governors Island Road Bryson City, NC 28713

What to Do in Bryson City, NC

From hiking to fishing, kayaking to zip-lining, there’s no shortage of ways to explore the natural beauty of this charming town. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Bryson City:

Waterfall Guided Hike

The Waterfall Loop at Trail Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. This 2.5-mile loop trail is an easy hike, with 2 miles on an old logging road, making it accessible for hikers of all skill levels. The trail is surrounded by lush greenery and offers breathtaking views of three stunning waterfalls. During our visit, we went on a guided waterfall tour with Carolina Bound Adventure, and it was an unforgettable experience. Our guides, Sarah and Mark, were knowledgeable and passionate about the area, and they made the tour even more enjoyable. They shared interesting facts about the waterfalls and the surrounding flora and fauna, making the hike even more educational. Mark brought walking sticks and a backpack for us to use on the hike. We bought a water bottle and Gatorade to stay hydrated. The Waterfall Loop at Trail Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to three beautiful waterfalls: Juney Whank Falls, Tom Branch Falls, and Indian Creek Falls. Each waterfall is unique and offers a different perspective of the natural beauty of the area. Along the trail, you’ll also find a variety of animals and plants, including black bears, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and a variety of birds. The area is also home to a diverse range of plant life, including rhododendrons, mountain laurels, and wildflowers. I highly recommend taking the guided tour. It was an educational experience for me and Harper and having the guides with us really took the experience to the next level!

Fly Fishing in the Smokies with Dylan 

Before you go fly fishing, you will need a North Carolina inland fishing license.  Any Individuals 16 years of age or older using any type of bait or gear to catch fish while fishing in North Caro­lina’s public waters must possess a valid North Carolina fishing license. To obtain a license is easy! Go to this link to get them online.

Bryson City is considered the fly fishing capital of the Smoky Mountains due to its prime location and abundance of fish. The Tuckasegee River, which runs through the heart of Bryson City, is home to a variety of fish species, including rainbow and brown trout. The town also boasts numerous fly shops and outfitters, as well as experienced guides who can help visitors navigate the waters and find the best spots to cast their lines. We were lucky enough to end up on a guided trip with Dylan from Fly Fishing the Smokies.

Dyan was an incredible guide. This was our first time fly fishing and we were completely clueless. But thanks to Dylan, Harper was catching trout in no time. All together Harper caught six Rainbow Trout and a Brown Trout. Fly Fishing the Smokies is a premier guide service in Bryson City that offers visitors the opportunity to experience the best fly fishing in the area. Their experienced guides are knowledgeable about the local waters and can provide valuable insight into the best techniques and equipment to use. They offer a variety of guided trips, including half-day and full-day excursions, as well as overnight camping trips for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the fishing experience. When booking a guided trip with Fly Fishing the Smokies, visitors can expect a personalized experience tailored to their skill level and interests. The guides will provide all necessary equipment, including rods, reels, and flies, and will work with visitors to improve their casting and fishing skills. Dylan was amazing. He has three kiddos so he was extremely patient with Harper. He got him right on top of the fish. By the end of our trip Harper declared he, “wants to just fly fish forever!” and that this was the “best day of his life!” So seriously, even if you have zero experience, head out fly fishing with Dylan and you will have the trip of a lifetime.

Fly Fishing in Bryson City

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

When in Bryson City, you have to take a trip on the renowned steam engine train! The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad offers a variety of seating options for passengers to choose from, and we opted for the open-air car. It was a delightful experience as the cool breeze flowed through the seats, providing a refreshing respite. Pro tip- try to get the open-air car closest to the front of the train. We ended up in the train closest to the caboose and it was a long walk to board the train. It also took us the longest to deboard the train so we got less time for lunch. Next time, I would select tickets closer to the front.  The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad has a fascinating history that dates back to the late 1800s. Initially constructed to transport timber and other goods, the railroad played a pivotal role in the region’s development. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction that offers visitors a glimpse into the past while showcasing the area’s natural beauty. One of the most sought-after events hosted by the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad is the Polar Express. Based on the beloved children’s book and movie, the Polar Express is a magical experience that appeals to all ages. Passengers are transported to the North Pole, where they are treated to hot cocoa, cookies, and a visit from Santa Claus himself. If you’re in the area during the holiday season, the Polar Express is a must-see!

Guided Kayak Tour on Fontana Lake

Our family went on an unforgettable kayaking adventure with Carolina Bound Adventures on Fontana Lake in Bryson City, NC. The man-made lake is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offering awe-inspiring views of the lush forests and towering mountains. The crystal-clear Emerald waters and diverse wildlife make it a haven for paddlers, and kayaking on the lake provides a unique perspective of the natural beauty of the area. Carolina Bound Adventures is a local tour company that provides guided kayaking tours of Fontana Lake. Our guide, Mark, was a wealth of knowledge about the region and supplied all the necessary equipment. The lake’s numerous coves, inlets, and islands offer boundless possibilities for kayaking, fishing, and hiking. To learn more about the kayak tour, check out my post HERE! 

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