15 Best Things to Do in Dillsboro, NC

Dillsboro, NC
Gerry Dincher, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dillsboro is a small town in Jackson County, North Carolina, home to 212 residents per the 2021 census.

Despite its small population, the town attracts many tourists who want to escape the summer heat.

Its strategic location also makes it an ideal stopover for tourists traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and other natural wonders.

If you want to know more about this quaint town, here are the best things to do in Dillsboro, North Carolina:

Tour the Appalachian Women's Museum

Front view of Appalachian Women's Museum
Warren LeMay from Cincinnati, OH, United States, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Appalachian Women's Museum is one of the few museums honoring and showcasing stories about women's lives at a certain time period.

This museum at Hometown Plaza will give you a glimpse of what life was like for women in the Southern Appalachians.

From raising a family to working in a relatively isolated part of the country, these women persisted and led extraordinary lives, earning them a place in Dillsboro’s history.

Take a tour of the Appalachian Women's Museum and be inspired by the stories and anecdotes of the women of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Aside from holding exhibits, the museum hosts regular and annual events, such as the Airing of the Quilts and Arts Circle Saturdays.

Visit the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory

The Dillsboro Chocolate Factory on Church Street is one of the town’s most popular establishments, having been around since 2004.

This family-owned and operated shop uses single-bean Venezuelan cacao to develop a unique yet high-quality flavor profile.

In addition, the sweets shop partners with local growers, helping farmers and the community sustain their livelihood.

At the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory, satisfy your sweet tooth and purchase award-winning products like sea salt caramels, milk chocolate fudge, blue ridge truffle, chocolate peanut butter fudge, and chocolate-dipped pretzels.

They also offer other sweet treats like carrot cake fudge, pumpkin praline fudge, milk chocolate s’mores, peanut brittle, and dark chocolate orange peels.

Not sure which one to purchase?

Try their truffle sampler box, savory bar box, or spicy sampler box to try an assortment of sweets.

Savor Delicious BBQ at Haywood Smokehouse

At Haywood Smokehouse, there’s no need to travel to Texas to try the best BBQ!

Located along Dillsboro Road, the restaurant is one of the unmissable spots along the way, with its wooden porch and exterior reminiscent of old-school establishments in the Wild West.

The restaurant takes pride in using premium specialty meat, homemade sausages, sauces, and melt-in-your-mouth pork and ribs.

Offering lunch and dinner options, Haywood Smokehouse is the perfect place to unwind halfway through your trip across town or after a day of adventure and exploring.

Try their sandwiches, brisket, ribs, or a combination of two or three kinds of meat from the smokehouse with your choice of side dishes.

For dessert, don’t miss their pecan pie, banana pudding, or seasonal cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

Watch the Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries

If you’re spending the holidays in Dillsboro, don’t miss the chance to see the gorgeous Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries on Front Street.

The charming town turns into a winter wonderland for this month-long event, with 2,500 twinkling lights scattered around its shops, studios, and buildings.

To complete the festive atmosphere, there are horse and buggy rides roaming around town, and children can visit Santa at the Town Hall.

Sip on a warm cup of cider or cocoa as you explore and admire the Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries sights, moving from one shop to another.

Stores also extend their operating hours to accommodate last-minute holiday shoppers.

With Dillsboro’s small-town charm, colorful lights, and joyful atmosphere, this is one of the best things to do in winter.

Hang Out at Monteith Farmstead and Community Park

View of Monteith Farmstead and Community Park
Warren LeMay from Cincinnati, OH, United States, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for a place to relax and spend the afternoon in Dillsboro, head to Monteith Farmstead and Community Park.

Located near the Appalachian Women's Museum, you can visit the park and the museum in one trip.

View of Monteith Farmstead and Community Park
Warren LeMay from Cincinnati, OH, United States, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The park features a wide green space, recreation area, picnic pavilion, restrooms, and paths for exercising and walking.

Visit Monteith Farmstead and Community Park and spend the day with a relaxing picnic lunch or a couple of fun outdoor games.

Near the park, you can find interpretive trails along Scotts Creek and enjoy the scenery along the creek.

Shop for Gourmet Olive Oil at The Artsy Olive

For extra virgin olive oil, infused oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, sugar, and other seasonings, stop by The Artsy Olive.

The food boutique offers the largest selection of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and other herb blends.

They source their products from small and family-owned orchards, ensuring the best quality while supporting local businesses.

Visit The Artsy Olive and discover a wide array of olive-based products, condiments, and pantry items to spice up your home-cooked meals.

The shop is located along Front Street near other gourmet shops, so you can visit the area in one day and go store hopping.

Enjoy Greek Cuisine at Kostas Express Restaurant

Satisfy your Greek food cravings at Kostas Express Restaurant, a family-owned restaurant located along Haywood Road.

This fast-casual restaurant offers meals prepared with fresh and high-quality ingredients, using olive oil and canola oil as healthier alternatives.

Start your meal with appetizers like fried zucchini, bacon cheese fries, or spanakopita before trying out main dishes like pastichio, fish dinner, or shrimp ala Greco.

The restaurant's customer favorites include tzatziki, hummus, chicken gyro, and saganaki.

Although they classify as a Greek restaurant, Kostas Express Restaurant also offers Italian dishes like pasta marinara and Italian meatball sub and classic American food like steak and burgers.

Join an Art Class at Dogwood Crafters

Dogwood Crafters is a charming store housed in a cabin-style establishment on Webster Street, selling unique and handcrafted works from local artisans.

As a craft cooperative, the shop features numerous items from over 100 artisans, with some crafters using old-school Appalachian craft traditions.

Find all sorts of linens, Christmas decorations, handmade jewelry, soap, woodcarvings, and a lot more at the shop.

Aside from being a crafts shop, Dogwood Crafters also offers art classes that will let you channel and unleash your inner artist.

Some classes you may enroll in include ornament-making and watercolor painting sessions.

Feel the spirit of Christmas as you walk past shelves and around Nancy Tut's Christmas Shop on Haywood Road.

Housed in a centuries-old house, the establishment is a must-see for tourists visiting Dillsboro.

You can find thousands of Christmas ornaments, including wooden signs, nutcrackers dressed as elves, snow globes, and unique trinkets to hang on your Christmas tree.

You can also find unique products like decorative shovels and The Nightmare Before Christmas-themed items for your front porch.

Even if you’re not looking to buy an item, drop by Nancy Tut's Christmas Shop and check out their collection of Yuletide items.

Check Out the Antiques at Front Porch General Store

You'll feel like you’ve stepped back in time while browsing the antiques at Front Porch General Store.

Located along Church Street, the store has a wide selection of furniture pieces, home decor, accent pieces, lighting fixtures, and centerpieces perfect for your home.

They also sell handcrafted decor, ceramic figurines, wall art, quilted rugs, and other items that can serve as the perfect pièce de résistance for your space.

Looking for a last-minute gift for your partner or a friend?

Stop by Front Porch General Store and check out the vintage items in the store.

Some items you can find here include colorful handmade quilts, a pre-civil war mantel, vintage toys, old DVDs, and various accessories.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

View of Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is one of the most popular tourist railroads in the country, located 20 minutes from Dillsboro.

It offers scenic excursions across some of the region’s best natural sights, including Fontana Lake, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Tuckasegee River, and more.

View of Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

The rides are available all year round, letting passengers see a different side of North Carolina no matter the season.

Aside from enjoying the front-row views of different natural and man-made wonders, guests aboard the train can also enjoy a special menu prepared onboard.

During the autumn season, don’t miss the chance to ride along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad and see the fall foliage from the train with amazing views of the Nantahala Gorge and the countryside.

View of Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

Learn about Cherokee History at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian

View of Museum of the Cherokee Indian
ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

Get a deeper insight into the Cherokee people's history, culture, and heritage at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

Located 20 minutes from Dillsboro, the museum features life-sized figures, artworks, artifacts, and special computer-generated animation that details 13,000 years of Cherokee history.

View of Museum of the Cherokee Indian
ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

Its extensive archive includes books, photographs, manuscript materials, microfilm reels, and other original materials in the Cherokee syllabary.

At the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, take a self-guided tour and experience more than a thousand years of Cherokee history.

After visiting the exhibits, drop by the museum store and purchase souvenirs like books, pendants, and household items like mugs, water bottles, and blankets.

Drop by Barber Orchard Fruitstands Inc.

Travel 15 minutes east of Dillsboro to Waynesville and find the freshest fruits and vegetables at Barber Orchard Fruitstands Inc.

The market is famous for its wide variety of fresh mountain apples like Granny SmitHoneycrispisp, fuji, gala, and McIntosh apples.

In addition, it also sells apple-based products like apple cider, apple cakes, apple cider donuts, apple turnover, and more.

Visit Barber Orchard Fruitstands Inc. and treat yourself to healthy and freshly-picked apples.

The produce market also offers other products like fresh flowers, pears, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, corn, and more.

Before wrapping up your shopping trip, stop by the bakery and buy home-baked treats like apple fritters, oatmeal raisin cookies, peanut butter cookies, and fruit tarts.

Spend the Day at Jackson County Greenway

Looking for a quiet and tranquil place to relax?

Visit Jackson County Greenway, located along the banks of the Tuckasegee River.

Situated in Sylva, the park and recreation center is only a 15-minute drive from Dillsboro, perfect if you want a change of scenery from the rising skyscrapers and buildings of the big city.

The park offers picnic shelters, softball and football fields, playing courts, and a one-mile paved trail adjacent to the Tuckasegee River.

Visit Jackson County Greenway and spend the day surrounded by pristine natural sights.

Have a picnic lunch, break a sweat at the playing courts, go for a leisurely walk, or jog along the paved trail, taking breaks at the benches provided.

Join a Wine Tasting Session at Deep Creek Winery

From Dillsboro, take a 20-minute drive to Deep Creek Winery in Bryson City, a former barn-turned-winery.

The family-owned and operated business takes pride in crafting small-batch wines to ensure their quality while maintaining their flavor.

Deep Creek Winery accepts walk-in guests, so you can drop by the winery for a relaxing wine-tasting session at your leisure.

Sample six of their hand-crafted wines ranging from sweet to dry flavors, which may vary depending on the availability.

Some of the wines you can try include their Southern Hospitality, a peach-infused Chardonnay; the Black Bear, a Merlot-infused bottle; and the Happy Hiker, with a semi-sweet flavor and hints of apricot and apple.

After your wine tasting, stop by the shop and purchase a bottle or two to bring home.

Final Thoughts

Dillsboro may be one of the few towns you’ll pass on your way to well-known sites like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or the Cherokee National Forest, but there’s more than what meets the eye in this North Carolina town.

You can find plenty of antique shops, local crafts shops, and other homegrown establishments in town.

You can get the best BBQ and grilled foods here without traveling to Texas!

On your way to the Great Smoky Mountains, consider stopping by this town and enjoy the best things to do in Dillsboro, North Carolina.

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