15 Best Things to Do in Jefferson, NC

Jefferson, NC
Gabriel Quiles / shutterstock.com

Jefferson, North Carolina, is a small town with big attractions.

Surrounded by scenic landscapes and majestic views, this beautiful little town is perfect for nature lovers.

Jefferson is the heart of Ashe Country, in the North Carolina High Country of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

No one is certain who named the town, but it is said to be the first town to bear the name of former US president Thomas Jefferson.

People describe Jefferson as a peaceful and quiet town with a friendly community, colorful history, and many exciting activities to keep you busy.

Whether you’re up for hiking or kayaking or a much more relaxing trip full of museum visits and picnics, Jefferson’s got you covered.

Are you going on a trip to this town?

Here are the best things to do in Jefferson, NC:

Explore the Natural Beauty of Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

The 1,188-acre Mount Jefferson State Natural Area in Ashe County is one of the most popular destinations.

It’s close to town and offers plenty of activities for all ages.

Several hiking trails start near the parking lot at the top of Mount Jefferson State Natural Area.

Explore the area if you have time to kill before sunset or want closer views of the mountains.

The park is home to many wildlife species, including red squirrels, chipmunks, foxes, raccoons, opossums, and deer.

Lucky visitors may catch a glimpse of different birds up in higher altitudes.

A diverse population of trees, plants, and shrubs awaits you during your hike.

Their picnic area is the perfect place to spend time with family and friends.

Located near the summit of Mount Jefferson, the wooded grounds offer scenic views and a cool breeze.

Take a Scenic Hike on the Rhododendron Trail

The Rhododendron Trail is a great hike that offers gorgeous views of Mount Jefferson and other mountain peaks.

The single-loop trail stretches for about 1.3 miles and is perfect for families and beginner hikers who want a taste of what it’s like to be in the wilderness.

Hikers and tourists usually combine this track with the Summit Trail.

These two trails are the most popular hiking trails up Mount Jefferson.

The trail passes through beautiful old-growth forests filled with red oaks and chestnut trees, showing spectacular views during any season.

Admire the lush greenery as you traverse the path towards Luther Rock and the peak of Mount Jefferson.

Paddle Your Way with Zaloo’s Canoes, Kayaks & Tubes

One of the best ways to experience all the New River offers is by canoeing down its waters.

This way, you’ll see everything from its forests and mountains to its many animals and plants.

Zaloo’s Canoes, Kayaks & Tubes is the perfect way to explore the river’s beautiful waterways.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing paddle or an exhilarating adventure downriver, they have something for you.

If you’re a beginner, there’s no need to worry.

Zaloo’s Canoes, Kayaks & Tubes will help you get on the water in comfort and style.

Relive the Past in the Museum of Ashe County History

Take a trip down memory lane in the Museum of Ashe County History.

Get answers to your pressing questions, such as who the Jefferson people are and how the area came to be.

Located in a beautifully restored 1904 courthouse on Main Street, this museum houses souvenirs, tools, clothes, and other paraphernalia.

Some exhibits show the Native Americans, war veterans, and the Virginia Creeper railroad.

Beyond the physical objects displayed in the museum are the stories and tales of life in Jefferson town.

Feast Your Eyes on the Precious Jewels at Gem Valley LLC

A unique experience you will never forget is mining for gems and fuming at Gem Valley LLC.

This company offers the chance to bring home beautiful gems, jewelry, stones, and other extraordinary objects that are feasts for the eyes.

Don’t worry if you are new to this activity.

Flume workers will help you search for the perfect gem from the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.

Within the park is a picnic area, complete with grills to enjoy lunch after a long mining journey.

A one-of-a-kind activity awaits you at Gem Valley LLC.

Challenge Yourself at Jefferson Landing

If you’re up for a sports challenge or want to try golf, visit the golf course at Jefferson Landing.

An idea turned into reality when Eddie and Mark Vannoy of Vannoy Construction decided to build their golf course while constructing townhouses.

With the help of professional golfers, they fine-tuned the golf course until it finally opened to the public in 1991.

The course is near the well-known New River.

It offers a wonderful golfing experience and several amenities such as an Olympic pool, a fitness center, restaurants, and lodging.

Admire Gorgeous Patterns on an Ashe County Barn Quilt Tour

Quilts tell the history of different families and generations, and the Ashe County Barn Quilts are no exception.

Embark on an Ashe County Barn Quilt tour along the highways and backroads of Western North Carolina.

Learn more about the heritage of Ashe County.

You will also feel the warmth and comfort that quilts symbolize through the families creating them.

In 2005, three counties in Western North Carolina started a quilting project, resulting in these barn quilts.

They have come a long way and will surely last for many generations.

Students, artists, and members from all over the community contribute to making these beautiful quilts, supervised by the Ashe County Arts Council.

Magnificent quilts await you on the Ashe County Barn Quilt Tour.

Discover a New Passion for Sports at Ashe County Parks and Recreation

Ashe County Parks and Recreation is the ideal place to go for sports fans and enthusiasts.

Those who wish to learn to play a new sport are also welcome.

The park is along the Ashe Central School Road and offers a full range of activities for all ages, including football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, and pickleball.

Besides sports facilities, the park has a disc golf course, an all-star field, a nature trail, and a trout pond.

You can also use their fitness center, gymnasium, and playgrounds.

They even have their very own skate park.

Bring your own balls and rackets or borrow the available equipment.

If you don’t know how to play a particular sport, don’t hesitate to ask.

The county’s mission is to create opportunities for all people to participate in quality programs that promote healthy lifestyles.

Whether you’re there to cheer on your kids or watch some great sports action, Ashe County Parks and Recreation is sure to please.

Grab Breakfast at the Famous Shatley Springs Inn and Restaurant

When you visit Jefferson, NC, you can’t miss a stop at Shatley Springs Inn and Restaurant.

The tourist destination has become a famous landmark since Martin Shatley dipped his hands in the spring water and miraculously healed his skin condition.

Since the 1920s, Shatley Springs has served great food.

The restaurant is known for its homemade country cooking and friendly atmosphere.

The menu at Shatley Springs is full of Southern favorites such as country ham, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttermilk biscuits, and more.

Tourists have described the restaurant as a down-to-earth and homey place.

Shatley Springs has undergone many changes through the years, but they have managed to keep that quiet, rustic, country atmosphere the same.

Take a Relaxing Stroll at the Foster-Tyson Park

Located only minutes from the Museum of Ashe County History, the Foster-Tyson Park is a great place to visit if you want to enjoy the outdoors.

Stop by any time and enjoy the beautiful scenery with your friends and family.

The charming park offers plenty of spots to relax under the shade of tall trees or rest in the middle of a busy day.

There are plenty of picnic areas for you to have lunch in and a gazebo for when you want to have little get-togethers.

After your stroll, there are plenty of benches along the trail where you can sit and enjoy the view while resting.

Shop for Home Décor and Plants at the Third Day Market

Since 2016, the Third Day Market has become the perfect place to shop for home decor, plants, and gifts.

The market’s name comes from the third day of creation when God created dry land, seas, plants, and trees.

Wander the market to find a wide variety of items for your home and garden.

They sell everything from hand-crafted vases to breath-taking candles, eye-catching centerpieces vases to calming plants, and more.

They also offer seasonal items such as Easter displays, Christmas ornaments and wreaths, spring decorations, and other occasions.

The staff at this store know all about their products and can help you find what you’re looking for.

Scoop Your Favorite Ice Cream Flavor at Southern Scoops & Sandwiches

Southern Scoops & Sandwiches is the perfect place to enjoy an old-fashioned treat on a hot summer day.

The ice cream at Southern Scoops & Sandwiches is made with a lot of love.

Likewise, they regularly rotate flavors.

They offer the classic favorites but trying out their fun and unique flavors is an exciting experience.

You can also grab milkshakes, sandwiches, pitas, and ice cream.

What makes the ice cream parlor even more attractive is the stunning view of Mount Jefferson you can see while eating ice cream.

If you want to try something different and delicious, check out Southern Scoops & Sandwiches.

Bring Home the Perfect Tree from Jefferson’s Christmas Tree Farms

Ashe County is known for its Christmas tree farms, so you may want to schedule your trip during November and December.

Christmas tree farms are a great way to get in one last family activity before the New Year.

You’ll find a lot of choose and cut farms in Jefferson where the staff will help you choose the right sized tree for you or your family’s needs.

Whether looking for a fresh cut, fragrant fir or just enjoying the outdoor scenery, you’ll have a great time at these farms.

If you want to cut your Christmas tree, look no further than one of Jefferson’s tree farms.

Grab a Slice of Great Pizza at Bobby D’s Restaurant

Since 2012, the family-owned Bobby D’s Restaurant has operated in Jefferson.

People flock to the restaurant that serves the best pizzas in town.

You can’t go wrong with their pizza flavors.

They have everything from meaty pizzas to vegan and gluten-free options.

Besides their freshly made pizza, you can also grab a bite of their delicious cheesecakes.

The restaurant itself doesn’t offer much seating space.

However, the quality of their pizzas will make squeezing into the restaurant worth it.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Bask in the Sun at the New River State Park

You’ll adore the New River State Park in Ashe County if you love the water.

Despite its name, the New River is one of the oldest rivers in North America.

Find it in Laurel Springs, North Carolina, 15 minutes from Jefferson.

The river is a treat for the eyes, and it’s also great for various outdoor activities.

Its gentle current and abundant wildlife make it a fantastic spot for fishing, kayaking, tubing, and swimming.

If you’re looking for something more challenging than paddling, take a day trip on foot or mountain bike along one of the park’s many paths.

Walk or pedal through the forested hillsides, and you might spot handsome deer, shy foxes, and other wildlife.

You’ll also find plenty of picnic areas where you can relax after a long day out in the water.

Go to the New River State Park to spend an afternoon splashing around in the sun and water.

Final Thoughts

Jefferson is a beautiful place with more than enough opportunities for a weekend getaway.

There’s a lot to do and plenty of activities to keep everyone busy.

Plus, you can enjoy some tremendous Southern hospitality that makes any trip worthwhile.

Then again, two things make Jefferson such a great vacation spot: the history and the natural beauty.

Don’t forget to take photos!

💌
Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
✍️
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.