The charming village of Dillsboro (population 237) is our top small town for local art and craft. Within its few blocks, find works from hundreds of artists. A longtime artisan community, it's located in Jackson County on the banks of the Tuckasegee River. Dillsboro has been a tourist destination since the late 1800s. Then many visitors arrived by train, and they still do today on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad via an excursion from Bryson City. It's just 1.5 miles from downtown Sylva.
Dogwood Crafters (90 Webster Street) should be your first stop! This craft cooperative features 100+ mountain artists with an amazing array of items packed into their log store. Friendly volunteers will help you navigate the many rooms. It's been here since 1976. Another top stop nearby is Tunnel Mountain Crafts (94 Front Street).
Innovation Station (40 Depot St, Dillsboro) opened in 2018 with a wrap-around covered patio and creek-side seating. The brewery has 32 taps that include non-alcoholic Ginger Ale, three local ciders, three wines and 25 hand-crafted beers. Read more about the Jackson County Ale Trail with additional nearby breweries.
Top restaurants include Haywood Smokehouse (403 Haywood Road) voted top BBQ join in NC, Boots Steakhouse (64 Front St) and Foragers Canteen (42 Depot Street). Don't miss the Chocolate Factory's homemade fudge and chocolate liquer shooter (28 Church Street). Pair their special set of to-go chocolates with a specially made beer flight at Innovation Station.
Just a mile from shops in the village is the fascinating Jackson County Green Energy Park that uses renewable energy resources to create art. The glass studio, kiln and blacksmithing metals shop are one of few in the world utilizing landfill methane gas as a fuel. Watch artists at work, shop for a souvenir or take a class. Read more.
The American Museum of the House Cat, about five miles south of Dillsboro, is packed with 10,000+ cat curiosities, including many rare and fascinating antiques. Check out this quirky roadside gem. Read more.
Raft, kayak or tube down the scenic Tuckasegee River from town at the Dillsboro River Company or Smoky Mountain River Adventures during the summer months - gentle enough for small children. Read about river trips on the Tuck.
Even their street festivals are art focused! See dates below. During the Front Street Arts & Crafts Show in June, interact with more than 40 of the region's best artisans. See the festival calendar below.
Dillsboro is one of our Top 12 Christmas Towns in the mountains. With festive decorations, Lights and Luminaries is held during the first two weekends in December and plenty of one-of-a-kind gifts, you'll definitely get in the holiday spirit!
Read more about Jackson County things to do. See more of our Coolest NC Mountain Small Towns. Western Carolina University is seven miles down the road in Cullowhee.
Directions from Asheville: Take I-40 West to exit 27 and follow US Highway 74 towards Waynesville. Go 26 miles to exit 81 (US Highway 23/441) to Dillsboro. 52 miles from Asheville, 1-hour drive.