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Hikers rest on the bank at Tom Branch Falls.

Bryson City is located just west of the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 469.1) and the Cherokee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Here’s a sample one-day itinerary to inspire your next getaway to Bryson City & Swain County. Once you explore all the area has to offer, however, you’ll find you’re gonna need a longer vacation! Get more trip ideas.


Start your day in downtown Bryson City where the locals eat – The Everett Street Diner. You’ll find fluffy pancakes, sausage, eggs cooked just right, and scrumptious homemade biscuits with gravy. And friendly servers that make you feel like a local, too.

Morning Activities

Just 5 minutes from town on West Deep Creek Road, you’ll find the Deep Creek Recreation Area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – known for waterfalls, trails, swimming, tubing, and fly fishing. The Waterfall Loop Trail is 2.5 miles of easy hiking, with two miles on an old logging road. The Park has no entrance fee, but summer tube rentals from vendors outside the park entrance are inexpensive for a whole day of play on the water. If you’ve packed a lunch, you’ll find a perfect picnic spot on the creek. Hikers at Toms Branch Falls are pictured above.


Back in town look for Mountain Perks Espresso Bar & Cafe across from the train depot for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. They specialize in vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. They also offer bagel sandwiches, wraps, quiches, plenty of homemade desserts, and great coffee drinks.

Afternoon Activities

For a different way to see the Smokies, rent a pontoon boat from a marina or take a guided lake tour with Carolina Bound Adventures for the afternoon (or at sunset) and look up at the mountains from the surface of Fontana Lake, home of the largest dam east of the Rockies. Minimal shoreline development means unobstructed views and easy cruising. Look for eagles and other wildlife; tie off and take a swim. Bring your dog for a pet-friendly experience.

Pontoons on Fontana Lake

Pontoons on Fontana Lake


Built in 1923, the Fryemont Inn overlooks Bryson City and the Great Smokies. Choose between casual dining in the cozy Fireside Bar and a four-course meal in the spacious dining room. The Fryemont is well-known for five different recipes for fresh rainbow trout, as well as vegetarian offerings.

Fryemont Inn Dining Room

Fryemont Inn Dining Room

Bryson City, NC is just one hour west of Asheville; two hours from Knoxville and Greenville/Spartanburg; and three hours from Atlanta, Charlotte and Chattanooga.