Why You Should Go
A Small Town That Offers Plenty of Activities
Bryson City, NC is a really cute and fun outdoor town nestled against the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Its downtown has quaint shops and restaurants, and the Great Smoky Mountain Train Depot is right in the heart of it. You’ll also find two breweries, a bookstore, shops, and good restaurants, all within just several blocks of each other.
Within a 20 minute driving radius of downtown, you have an unlimited choice of activities- great lakes to swim or canoe, rivers to raft, mountain biking trails, and hikes to waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You just can’t beat it.
Smoky Mountain Train Depot
Great Smoky Mountain Railway departs from downtown and offers scenic train excursions through the North Carolina mountains along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, across valleys, and through tunnels. It’s an absolute treat for the entire family.
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Located roughly 20 minutes from downtown Bryson City, Nantahala Outdoor Center (aka "the “N-O-C") offers guided or unguided rafting trips on Level II/III rapids for families with children ages 7 and older. If an adrenaline-fueled activity is not quite your speed, you can also rent kayaks and SUPs at the NOC for a more leisurely water sport at nearby Fontana Lake.
Besides the whitewater fun, the NOC also has a zipline, a young kids treetop adventure, mountain bike trails, and two restaurants with good food and entertaining views of the rafters coming down the river. It is a fun place to spend an afternoon even if you don’t want to get wet.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You’ll find plenty of family-friendly short hikes in the Deep Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, located about 10 minutes from downtown Bryson City. This area is known for its easy hiking trails to numerous waterfalls. It’s also a popular area to tube the river and you’ll find several outfitters nearby renting tubes.
Scenes From Bryson City
Where You Should Stay
This is our personal list of places that we have stayed in previously, have been recommended by friends we trust, or we have bookmarked as possibilities for future visits.
Heads Up: We do participate in affiliate marketing with some of the companies that we personally use. They don’t pay us to write, we simply get a commission if you enter those sites through our “gate” as opposed to say a Google search. We never accept free gifts or comped stays. Full Disclosure Statement
Downtown Bryson City
Aloft in the Smokies consists of four condos (“lofts”) located above the McClanahan’s Collectibles store. Park the car and walk to all the restaurants, the Nantahala Brewery, the Train Depot, and shops.
Calhoun House and Suites is within a 3 minute walk to downtown, although up a hill. The suites sleep 3-4 and offer plenty of room with a king bedroom and sleeping sofa. Offers fully equipped kitchens as well. The porch is a wonderful spot to enjoy your morning coffee and each suite has a slightly kitschy but still charming theme. Pet- friendly.
The Everett Hotel is a nice boutique hotel with a great location downtown and breakfast is included in your stay. $140-$260. They have two suites with 2 beds but the rest appear to be one King bed only.
VRBO Listings In Bryson City
If you’d rather stay in a mountain cabin with views, these VRBO listings look very nice and are within 20 minutes of Nantahala Outdoor Center, Fontana Lake, and downtown Bryson City.
2 Bedrooms plus a loft with a 3rd bed and full bathroom. VRBO 3849684ha. Mountain views and a covered porch. Within 15 minutes of everything. Average nightly rate: $189
Million $$$ Views at Longview Cabin. VRBO 28792. Amazing views and a basement with pool table and ping pong. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. Average nightly rate: $214
2 bedroom, fire pit, foosball table, mountain views. VRBO 3991320ha. 15 minutes to downtown. Average nightly rate: $190
Where You Should Eat Downtown
Anthony’s Restaurant bakes fantastic pizza. You can eat on their outdoor patio or order it as takeout and watch the game next door at Nantahala Brewery. This is a great option when Anthony’s is packed, a frequent occurrence in the summer.
When you order, ask for plates and grab some forks and napkins. Kids are welcome at the brewery and it’s right across the street from the Train Depot.
Everett Diner is located downtown and serves up breakfast classics like french toast and biscuits and gravy. A kids menu is also offered.
The Filling Station offers up all types of sandwiches including “frozen sandwiches” (filled with ice cream).
Soda Pop’s Ice Cream counter with its fantastic old time diner decor offers the perfect treat for all. You will leave happily with sticky smiles.
Bryson City, North Carolina is loaded with attractions that the whole family will enjoy-- between train rides, playing on the water, its proximity to the Smoky Mountains National Park, and its charming downtown with great food and a casual vibe, you won’t have any trouble filling your weekend getaway with good times. So load up the minivan, unplug those devices, and go have yourself a weekend of fun and family togetherness!
If you want to visit Bryson City but don’t have time to plan your weekend adventure, check out our Bryson City Weekend Getaway Guide.
It lists additional lodging, camping, and dining choices so you can choose what best suits your family.
The guidebook also details the best activities the area has to offer, such as several fun excursions to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, rafting or canoeing the nearby waterways, and rainy day activities in case Mother Nature is not cooperating.
Most importantly, our guide includes all the little things that can be so helpful in making a trip a success-- detailed maps so it’s easy to find your way around, rainy day ideas, and helpful tips we discovered along the way.
We have done these trips with our own families so we know what works and what doesn’t. We’ll tell you what’s skippable and what’s a must do in this fun area.
A Simply Awesome Book To Help You Plan Your Next Family Weekend Getaway
This full color guidebook covers weekend adventures in the North Carolina towns of Asheville, Bryson City, and Brevard. It details the best lodging choices including hotels, camping options, and VRBO listings, local restaurants and craft brewery recommendations, activities that are fun for both kids and adults, rainy day activities, and helpful tips discovered along the way.
Our goal is to help simplify your trip planning by sharing all the details you need for an enjoyable family weekend getaway.
All Of Our Travel Guides Include:
Where To Stay
The lodging choices for each destination have been carefully selected for their ideal location, price point, safety, and proximity to the day’s activities. We tell you the best area to stay so you can minimize driving or walking distances and maximize your moments having fun. Knowing what part of town to stay in is a huge part of making a trip a success, and that’s hard to do when you are not familiar with a destination. We save you time and energy by doing all the research for you.
Where To Eat
Local dining establishments are highlighted. The kind where children are welcome but isn't necessarily a restaurant geared primarily towards kids. You won't find many restaurant chains in our itineraries, just good local food mirroring the destination's culture. This could mean a food truck, a pizza place, or a nice sit-down restaurant, but always delicious. If there are any local brews, specialty foods, wines, or coffee houses around, we'll mention those too.
Where To Play
The organization of each day has been thoughtfully planned in order to group activities together by proximity, ideal time of day to visit, and the best nearby dining choices. It’s all been laid out for you, along with directions, maps, travel tips, links to more info, and more. We cover the most worthwhile activities to do in a destination (based on our own family’s reviews) without forgetting that vacations are meant to be fun and relaxing, not a list to be checked off while hauling around whining children.
You’ll find plenty of outdoor activities for the family as well as cultural and historical sites unique to the destination. Many itineraries include easy hikes, bike rides, and float trips that have been selected for their kid-friendly length and ease of difficulty as well as their scenic beauty. (Always worth it!) We are all about getting families outdoors so we include as much fresh air as we can in our itineraries, whether it is a day-long trek in a national park or just the location of a fantastic playground perfect for a break from sight-seeing.
At the founding of Simply Awesome Trips, we agreed to travel as we always have with our families—on our own dime. No free nights, no comped visits, not even any swag. We continue to feel good about that decision. We do participate in affiliate marketing with some of the companies that we personally use (Booking.com, VRBO.com). They don’t pay us to write, we simply get a commission if you enter those sites through our “gate” as opposed to say a Google search. But we also recommend lodging, restaurants, and activities, where we don’t receive any commission, such as Airbnb or private rental companies. If it’s good; it’s good. We don’t change recommendations based on vendor.