I turned 34 this December (ah, still processing that) so we planned a trip to Highlands, North Carolina for an outdoor adventure. Highlands is a small, quaint town located a few miles north of the GA/NC border and sits right in the Appalachian Mountains (only about 2 hours from Great Smoky Mountain National Park). Not only does it offer an amazing food scene, it’s also the perfect weekend getaway for outdoor lovers.
In addition to all of that, the area is also extremely dog friendly making it super convenient to just pack up your fur babes and head out.
To help make planning your trip a little easier, here are the top 6 things to do when visiting the Highlands or Cashiers area.
Hiking is by far the most popular activity when visiting the Highlands/Cashiers area- this is the Appalachian Mountains after all. One thing that sets this area apart from most mountain towns is that most trails in this area are dog friendly.
Here are the best trails in the Highlands/Cashiers area, all of which are dog friendly.
- Whiteside Mountain (Moderate)
- This trail is located conveniently between Highlands and Cashiers, offers amazing views and is only a 2-mile loop.
- Yellow Mountain Fire Tower (Hard)
- IMO fire towers are always worth the hype simply because of the views. This trail is around 13 miles total roundtrip and would be the perfect all day, long hike.
- Sunset Rock Trail (Easy)
- Great short hike to watch the sunset at only .7 miles totals.
- Satulah Mountain (Moderate)
- This hike is super convenient as you can literally park in Highlands and walk to the trailhead. This trail offers amazing views and is approx. 2.9 miles long when starting from town.
- Secret Falls Trail (Moderate)
- Short 1.3 mile trail that offers a waterfall and great scenery.
2. Visit Lake Glenville
Lake Glenville is only about 8 miles from Cashiers and is a beautiful way to spend the day. There are actually three different waterfalls going into the lake, which is so bizarre and beautiful! If you are visiting during the summer, don’t pass up the opportunity to see these waterfalls from the water. You can rent a boat, paddle board, or canoe from Signal Ridge Marina.
3. Take a Pic behind Dry Falls
Dry Falls might possibly be one of the best photo ops in Highlands. It’s a giant waterfall that’s just a couple miles from downtown Highlands that you can walk behind. Its a short walk to the falls and definitely worth the stop.
While many people are unaware, Highlands actually has an amazing culinary scene. Don’t miss out on exploring some of the best restaurants that the area has to offer. I do recommend making reservations as early as you can though because these places fill up fast.
- Madison’s Restaurant (Part of Old Edwards Inn and Spa)
- Wolfgang’s Restaurant and Wine Bistro
- The Ugly Dog Pub House (They have the best gluten free buns ever)
- Whiteside Brewing Company
- On the Verandah (Dinner with a view of Lake Sequoyah)
- Lakeside Restaurant
- Pizza Place of Highlands
- Ristorante Paoletti
- Mountain Fresh Grocery (Perfect place for families who all want something different)
I don’t know about you but after a long hike, one of my favorite things is to enjoy a spa day. We booked our spa day with Canyon Spa, which was amazing, and I cannot recommend them enough. However, Old Edwards Spa is equally amazing so if you opt to stay there, you could have a spa day right on site.
6. Explore Town
Highlands is extremely walkable (so is Cashiers) so if you need a break from hiking, exploring some of the shops in town can be fun and there are tons of unique ones. Here are some of my favorites:
- Highland Hiker
- Victoria’s Closet (Cashiers)
- ManTiques (Cashiers)
- McDonough Antiques (Gorgeous furniture, many items from Spain- Cashiers)
- Bear Mountain Outfitters
That wraps up the list of the best things to do in Highlands, NC. I hope this was helpful for planning your trip. Enjoy every moment and remember to take some time to rest and relax!