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Why Highlands North Carolina Makes The Perfect Vacation Getaway

Why Highlands North Carolina Makes The Perfect Vacation Getaway

Highlands North Carolina Is My Top Pick For A Peaceful Getaway

Imagine a town so lovely it seems to belong more in a picture book than right here in reality. Add friendly shopkeepers with unique items and fun displays. Imagine a town where the chefs deliver tastes you never before thought possible in bite after bite of exquisite cuisine. Imagine a town surrounded by waterfalls, some just off the side of the road and others buried deep within lush green forests. You are imagining Highlands North Carolina. Let me show you what I found there.

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Sunset Rock In Highlands NC

We have just returned from Highlands, North Carolina! Mr. Wonderful and I traveled there to celebrate our eight year wedding anniversary. This year we were seeking something a little different from our annual romantic getaway. We didn’t want to go big. We weren’t interested in a loaded itinerary. This year we wanted someplace simple, quiet, peaceful, and relaxing.

We were seeking a beautiful environment, great food, and unique shops. We thought it might be nice to explore some museums and art galleries. We were thinking gentle hikes and beautiful scenery. We found exactly that, and so much more, at 4118 feet in the quaint and charming town of Highlands.

The History Of Highlands North Carolina

First things first. Where did this tiny gem nestled in the Nantahala National Forest get its start? This land was originally Cherokee land and we did find ourselves along the Trail of Tears during our visit. It was a powerful and humbling experience.

Highlands was founded in 1879 when two developers drew a line from New York to New Orleans and then another from Chicago to Savannah. Where these lines intersected was this place of immense beauty. Also being located at 4118 feet allowed it cooler temperatures during the sweltering southern summers. Soon Highlands had become a resort town of unsurpassed beauty. As it remains today.

Average Temperatures In Highlands

Highlights of Highlands North Carolina

  • The waterfalls around every bend.
  • The food is out of this world.
  • The shopping experience is unique and fun.
  • The Bascom is awesome and has beautiful grounds to explore.
  • Highland Excursions offers a day of true adventure.
  • Highlands has mastered the small town feel of being home (away from home).
  • The Park At Main is warm and welcoming.

Let’s Begin With The Waterfalls

Bridal Veil Falls In Highlands North Carolina

When we were just about to arrive in town we passed this 120-foot waterfall just off the side of the road. You can drive behind Bridal Veil Falls but we chose to walk behind it instead. As a girl used to really working hard and making very long hikes to enjoy a waterfall, this one felt like magic. Just sitting there, waiting for me.

Dry Falls In Highlands North Carolina

Here is Dry Falls and it was easily our favorite. This is another one just a short hike and some stairs off the main road. It’s about 80 feet tall and a total powerhouse! Absolutely beautiful!

Secret Falls In Highlands North Carolina

Secret Falls was the most fun to get to. It was a hike for sure, but we loved it! This 50-foot beauty was stunning!

We visited Secret Falls with Justin (our favorite Aussie) from Highland Excursions. He also took us to Sunrise and Sunset Rock and the Nature Center in his truck Jenny!

Secret Falls Trip with Highland Excursion
Photo Property of Highland Excursion

Those are just a few of the waterfalls surrounding this beautiful town! There is also,

Now Let’s Talk About The Food In Highlands

The food is worth the trip alone. Honestly, so very good. My favorite place to eat was Wild Thyme Gourmet. Everything we had there was incredible. So much flavor in every single bite. I couldn’t get enough. We ate a lot of places that were really good. The Ugly Dog, Wolfgang’s Restaurant and Wine Bistro, and several others.

Most restaurants in Highlands are all about Culinary Art, serving outstanding flavors, edible masterpieces. And so, most places don’t do simple. For example, look at this hot dog from Wolfgang’s. Not so simple. Delicious though.

Wolfgangs in Highlands

Mr. Wonderful’s favorite place to eat was El Azteca Rainforest Bar & Grill. And I’ve got to give it to them, seriously amazing Mexican. I want their salsa right now!

Kilwins Chocolate Shop

Kilwins Chocolates and Ice Cream was our most frequently visited place. Everything they had was delicious.

Now Let’s Talk About The Shopping Experience In Highlands

Unique Shopping Experience In Highlands

All of the stores in Highlands have a very special charm about them. The shopkeepers are welcoming and full of good stories.

Unique Shopping Experience

Almost every shop is full of live plants and I loved the way they overflowed from every space.

Shopping in Highlands

The displays both inside and outside the shops were lovely!

Silver Eagle Highlands North Carolina

We even found a shop called Silver Eagle Gallery full of every kind of rock and mineral you could imagine.

Silver Eagle Gallery Highlands North Carolina

We kept going back in there! This is also the shop where we bought our anniversary gift for each other.

Appalachian Harvest in Highlands NC

We also purchased a few things from Appalachian Harvest! They have jams and jellies and salsa, and olives and all kinds of wonderful things. We found this Mayhaw Jelly in there and had never heard of it before. It is made from the Mayhaw berry and totally delicious. Turns out the Mayhaw berry is considered a delicacy for good reason.

Christmas Store in Highlands

We even found stores that had Christmas inside! We had a ball picking out ornaments to bring home. We have a tradition of adding one ornament to our tree every year that reminds us of our last vacation.

The Bascom – A Center For The Visual Arts

The Bascom in Highlands

One of the greatest parts of our stay in Highlands, North Carolina was that we were able to walk almost everywhere we went. All the shopping, food, and galleries were within a comfortable walking distance. Including, The Bascom, A Center of The Visual Arts.

The Bascom Center Visual Arts

I love bridges and all that they represent! This one was especially beautiful!

The Bascom Bridge

We loved all the tones in the wood grains and how it was surrounded by such lush green landscape.

Bascom Gears

The grounds were filled with cool displays like this one made of gears!

Stone Art at The Bascom

And this one made of stones.

Where To Stay In Highlands North Carolina

The Park on Main

We stayed in The Park On Main and we absolutely loved it! Our space was beautiful. We got the King Suite with the fireplace. We had two rooms and a giant and spectacular bathroom that even had heated floors. The staff was very friendly and helpful at all times. We felt very at home.

The Park On Main

We loved our time at The Park On Main. On our next visit, we want to stay at the Old Edwards Inn. Every time we passed it we wanted to go in and explore.

Here are some of my favorite waterfall moments from Highlands North Carolina!

Highlands In A Nutshell

So obviously I am recommending a vacation to Highlands, North Carolina. It makes for the perfect romantic getaway. If you are looking for a slower pace, ridiculously amazing food, nature at its very best, and a unique shopping experience, then Highlands should make your short list. It truly is amazing. We both agree, next to our Norwegian Cruise this has been our favorite vacation getaway!

Highlands, North Carolina

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2 thoughts on “Why Highlands North Carolina Makes The Perfect Vacation Getaway

  1. Love the Highlands in NC! It almost didn’t seem real when my wife and I stumbled onto this idyllic little town, sort of one of those places where you say out loud “wow people actually get to live here?” It is a twisty distance away from main highways, but once you’re there – why leave?! Thanks for the great reminder, Gwen!

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