10 Reasons to Ride the Bryson City Polar Express Train for Christmas

Christmas in Bryson City Polar Express Train Ticket

In 2022, my wife Mary decided to make her 80-year-old dad’s longtime dream of spending Christmas in Asheville NC come true. She planned a terrific trip that included two “bucket list” items– the Biltmore Estate Christmas Candlelight Tour and the Polar Express Christmas Train Ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City.   … Read more

The 7 Best Train Rides for Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Christmas Train Rides in North Carolina

Train rides for Christmas chug back into our lives with a payload of nostalgia on board. Railroads come from a historic era before automobiles and airplanes had been invented. Yet they come rumbling in from afar with an odd sense of odd familiarity, even for those who’ve never been on a train ride before. In our … Read more

The 30 Best NC Christmas Events (2023-2024)

Tweetsie Railroad

[Updated November 9, 2023] There’s nothing quite like celebrating the holiday season in a magical place, and many small mountain towns offer special NC Christmas Events. From parades and shopping to dazzling Christmas lights and meetings with Santa, these Blue Ridge Mountain Towns are the perfect place to celebrate and get into the holiday spirit. … Read more

20 Best Things to Do in Bryson City NC & Swain County (2023)

Downtown Bryson City seen from the Oconaluftee Loft Balcony

[Updated February 13, 2023] Bryson City is surrounded by Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the north, Fontana Lake to the west, Cherokee NC to the east, and the Nantahala National Forest to the south.  So even a shortlist of the best things to do in Bryson City NC could include dozens of exciting activities … Read more

The 15 Best Bryson City Restaurants for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Bar at the Everett Hotel Bistro, one of the best restaurants in Bryson City NC

[Updated February 11, 2023] Compared to burgeoning mountain towns like Asheville NC and Roanoke VA, Bryson City is a fairly small town encompassing just 2.3 square miles, with a population of around 1800 people.  But the town, which is known as “the Gateway to the Great Smokies,” offers an exceptional array of things to do, … Read more

The 10 Best Campgrounds in/near Bryson City NC

Deep Creek Campground in Bryson City NC by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

From a visitor’s standpoint, Bryson City is the ideal of what Western NC small towns can be: It’s walkable, wild, and packed with a mixture of wonder and whimsy. The town is perched on the southern boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a few miles from Lake Fontana, and just as near to Nantahala National Forest. … Read more

Review of Aloft in the Smokies: Downtown Bryson City NC Cabins


When we started the Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide in 2019, we had two major goals in mind.  The first was to explore the countless Blue Ridge Mountain towns in-depth, and share all our favorite things we experienced while rediscovering the simple pleasures of small town Americana. The second was to find our future home in the … Read more

The 15 Best Cabin Rentals in Bryson City NC

Eagles Nest - Bryson City cabin rental

Bryson City is a charming little mountain town that’s packed full of outdoor adventure.  To the north, you’ll find Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with ever-popular attractions such as Mingus Mill, Deep Creek waterfalls, the Road to Nowhere, Newfound Gap, and Clingman’s Dome.  To the west is Fontana Lake, to the east is Cherokee NC, and the … Read more

Hiking the Deep Creek Trail to 3 Waterfalls in Bryson City NC

Bridge on the Deep Creek Trail in Bryson City NC

Spanning more than half a million acres, Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Averaging over 14 million visitors a year, GSMNP is the most visited of all the US National Parks. The park was commissioned by the US Congress in 1934, and officially dedicated in 1940 by President … Read more