Bryson City, NC: Things to Do and Places to Stay in the Great Smoky Mountains

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Are you looking for a place to visit with mountain town charm? Bryson City, NC, located in Western North Carolina, fits that description perfectly. The downtown area offers unique shopping, rich history, and access to the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.  There are also some pretty spectacular things to do in the surrounding nature areas that will get your kids excited to explore, including hiking, river tubing, and camping. Below, you will find some of the best things to do with your family while visiting Bryson City, NC.

bryson city, nc

Things to do in Bryson City, NC

Bryson City, NC has lots to do, especially since it is situated in the WNC portion of the Great Smoky Mountains. We gathered reviews of some of the adventures we have had in Bryson City, including river tubing, hiking, and riding the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.

Go River Tubing on Deep Creek

If you’re looking for some fun riding the river through the mountain, then rent some tubes to go tubing on Deep Creek. This popular river tubing destination in Western North Carolina is affordable, fun, and a great choice to add to your summer bucket list! You will find places to rent tubes, what to expect, how to pack, and more in our KA review of river tubing on Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Explore the Nantahala Outdoor Center

If you are yearning to leave the city and take a day trip to Bryson City, then the Nantahala Outdoor Center should absolutely be on the itinerary. This outdoor center has things to do with kids, whitewater rafting, riverfront dining options, hiking, ziplining, and more! Read more about the Great Smoky Mountain’s Nantahala Outdoor Center in our KA review.

Nantahala Outdoor Center
 13077 U.S. 19 West, Bryson City, NC

The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad is a historical train with its depot station located in the heart of downtown Bryson City. The train is family-friendly and offers train rides through the Great Smoky Mountains, Nantahala National Forest, along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, and is the place to be when fall foliage arrives. During the summer, the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad offers deals for Kids Ride Free from May through August. Learn about the Kids Ride Free promotion in our KA review of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad
45 Mitchell Street, Bryson City, NC

Seasonal Things to Do

There is something magical about being in a cozy mountain town during winter and the holiday season. We have some ideas of things to do that your entire family will love!

Visit Bryson City for the Holidays

The holiday season is full of magic, light displays, Christmas tree farms, and more! They even have ice skating to really bring the charm to the season. Check out our KA guide to Bryson City during the Holidays to plan your adventure into a real-life Christmas wonderful.

Ride the Polar Express on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

There is almost nothing greater than creating magical memories for children. Riding the Polar Express on the Great Smoky Railroad is one of the most magical things you can do during the holidays! PJs, hot chocolate, magical bells. Sound familiar? The train leaves out of the historic Bryson City Depot and begins in early November each year. Tickets sell fast, so keep an eye out. Learn everything you need to know, including ticket information and what to expect, in our KA review of the Great Smoky Mountain’s Polar Express.

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad: Polar Express
45 Mitchell Street, Bryson City, NC

Unique Lodging Near Bryson City, NC

Being in the Great Smoky Mountains in Bryson City offers some unique places to lodge. With mountains, streams, and tons of trees, it’s the perfect place to stay if you love the outdoors. We have some lodging ideas below.

The map below contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Sky Ridge Yurts: Bryson City, NC

If you’re wanting a unique lodging experience outside of hotels, then Sky Ridge Yurts in Bryson City may just be it! This yurt village offers gorgeous, cozy yurts to spend the night in before you head out for a hike or adventure during your trip. You can learn all about Sky Ridge Yurts in our KA review, including rates, what it is like, and how much your kids will love it!

KA Review:
Sky Ridge Yurts
in Bryson City, NC

Sky Ridge Yurt interior pictures

Sky Ridge Yurts
200 Sky Ridge Drive, Bryson City, NC 

Make It a Day Trip!

KA Guide to Cherokee, NC,
20 minutes from Bryson City.

Street view of Cherokee, NC

Erin Gorges
About the Author
Erin is a Greenville, South Carolina native who loves taking her two young daughters on adventures around the Upstate. Erin enjoys gardening, hiking, and dabbling in DIY projects. Her favorite things to do with her husband and kids include sensory activities, swimming, playing with their dogs, and exploring the local state and national parks.

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