When trying to come up with your next vacation destination, consider Bryson City, North Carolina. Few know of this tiny mountain town nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains. This mountain town is the perfect relaxing getaway for any age.

Bryson City is a true gem. On the border of the Great Smoky National Forest, it has outstanding hiking, fishing, camping and many other outdoor activities. The city is about 20 minutes from The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the nation’s largest outdoor recreation company. The Nantahala Outdoor Center offers white water rafting, zip-lining, mountain biking, guided hikes and more. The NOC also offers a wonderful outdoors store as well as several delicious restaurants. As the name suggests, the NOC is right on the Nantahala River; offering great fishing spots, kayaking and canoe areas, as well as shallow, rocky areas to play in the water. I guarantee that there is absolutely anything for every age at the NOC. Bryson City is about ten minutes from Lake Fontana and other swimming holes as well. On Lake Fontana, families can rent out pontoon boats hourly or daily, rent stand up paddle boards, swing into the lake from rope swings, jump off of rocky cliffs or simply enjoy a relaxing swim.

The city itself has many attractions as well. The most well known attraction is perhaps the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. This railroad offers year-round daily train rides with many different packages. During the Halloween season, the Railroad does a Halloween themed ride and all the passengers get to come in costume. During the Christmas season the Railroad and train becomes The Polar Express. All passengers ride in their pajamas, get to drink hot chocolate and sing along to the soundtrack – just like the movie! This is a tourist favorite.

In the city there are many amazing restaurants. A town favorite is The Cork & Bean Bistro. Originally a small, homey local wine and crepe restaurant, it expanded and grew its menu into a rustic, sustainable eatery. Another favorite restaurant is Mountain Perks Espresso Bar & Café. This hippie, welcoming, happy café offers a large selection of coffee daily along with wonderful food options. Other restaurants in town are: The Freymont Inn Restaurant & Bar, Water’s Edge Seafood & Grill, Great Smoky Mountains Winery, Nantahala Brewing Company, Inc., Everett Street Diner, Nate and Nick’s Pizza, Pasqualino's Italian Restaurant and many, many more. There really is something for every taste.

Other city attractions include The Charles Heath Gallery. Charles Heath, an East Carolina University graduate, is a well-known artist and photographer. His gallery is located right in the heart of downtown Bryson City. His works of art are outstanding. Deep Creek offers great hiking, fishing and tubing during the summer for families. The Appalachian Trail, also a popular hiking spot, runs adjacent to Bryson City. One of the things that Bryson City is most famous for is The Road to Nowhere. This road, promised to be finished by the Federal Government and paid for by the taxpayers of Bryson City in the 1930s and 1940s, was never finished and now serves as a popular tourist attraction and hiking trail access. Bryson City also offers wonderful places to shop. Shops include: Madison’s on Main Boutique, Friends of the Library Used Book Store, Calby’s Antiques and Gifts, Appalachian Mercantile, Humanité Boutique, Loose Moose Outdoors Store and many more.

The quaint downtown feel of Bryson City, North Carolina makes the city a family favorite. There are so many attractions in and near Bryson City, this article cannot do them all justice. I have been visiting Bryson City most of my life, in every season, and I highly suggest planning your next vacation in Bryson City. It truly is a mountain gem.