HIGHLANDS, N.C. (WNCN) — Planning a fall weekend getaway to the mountains? There are no shortage of options in North Carolina, but one town in particular has caught national attention this year.
Highlands has been named America’s Best Small Mountain Town on Travel + Leisure magazine’s America’s Best Small Towns 2023 list.
The town is near the borders with Georgia and South Carolina and is less than a 6-hour drive from Raleigh. It offers a wealth of outdoor activities from golf to hiking to see one of the area’s many waterfalls and also has a great cultural arts scene.
“Located within the Nantahala National Forest, at the highest crest of the Western North Carolina plateau, the area now known as Highlands was once used as hunting ground for the Cherokee,” writes Lydia Mansel of T+L. “Driving distance from major cities in the Southeast — including Charleston, Nashville and Charlotte — modern-day Highlands is a summer retreat for those looking to escape the humidity and a year-round haven for hiking, waterfall spotting, art, music and top-tier dining and hospitality experiences.”
At an elevation of 4,118 feet within town limits, Highlands is one of the highest incorporated towns east of the Mississippi River. According to the Highlands Chamber of Commerce it is located in one of just two rainforests in North America.
For those looking to do some leaf-peeping, current outlooks have fall foliage peaking in the Highlands area in mid- to late October.