Highlands, North Carolina
Living the High Life
With its idyllic Main Street and surrounding natural beauty, Highlands balances a simpler era with modern luxury.
Cradled by the Nantahala National Forest at an elevation of 4,118 feet, the quaint town offers the very best in shopping, dining and exploring nature. There’s a reason why it regularly ranks as a top small-town or mountain destination.
Waterfalls & Wide Views
A short drive takes you to two of the most photographed and unique waterfalls in the region: Dry Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Both are easily accessed from U.S. Highway 64 and offer a paved walk underneath the falling water. You’ll find that Dry Falls is a misnomer; you may want to bring a rain jacket!
About five miles past Dry Falls on U.S. Highway 64 is Cullasaja Falls. You will likely hear it before you see it. To take in the view, it is advisable to drive past the pull-over area, turn around safely, then follow the route back up to park.
One of the best long-range mountain views in Western North Carolina is found atop Satulah Mountain. Begin your hike in town on 4th street, or drive to the top and take the short, wooded walk to find breathtaking, 360° views.
On the corner of Main and 4th streets stands the venerable Old Edwards Inn and Spa, a European-style retreat that draws visitors from around the world. With delectable cuisine, a world-class spa and rooms featuring Italian antiques, this is luxurious lodging like no other. With the highly-regarded Madison’s restaurant onsite, you don’t even have to leave the premises for a fabulous Highlands experience.
Across the street in its original location since the 19th century stands The Highlands Inn, another landmark hotel. For those who enjoy bringing their four-legged friends along, there’s The Park on Main, just down the street. Newer to the mix is Highlander Mountain House, home to The Ruffled Grouse, an elevated, all-day tavern.
Restaurants & Shopping
Galleries. Boutiques. Antique and Christmas stores. A stroll along Highlands’ Main Street has it all. Most shops are locally owned and operated, so you may find yourself caught in conversation that offers helpful tips to make your visit even more enjoyable. A favorite stop is the Highlands Wine Shoppe, offering rare and reasonable selections. Tastings are offered regularly.
When it’s time for a good meal, you have your pick—through reservations are recommended. Notable restaurants include Ristorante Paoletti, Wolfgang’s Restaurant & Wine Bistro and Midpoint, a newer establishment offering unique, visually-pleasing desserts from its pastry chef and chocolatier.
Highlands is a well-known cultural center that draws artists and art lovers alike.
For more than 30 years, the Bascom has created visual arts experiences that inspire and empower. From classes to exhibits to shopping, this six-acre former horse farm offers an array of ways to engage with the arts.
One of the country’s oldest professional summer stock theaters, Highlands Playhouse dates back to the 1930s. It offers plays and camps during the summer and first-run films throughout the rest of the year.