Just 40 minutes west of Asheville, Maggie Valley, North Carolina is its more laidback artsy mountain getaway counterpart.

Peaceful and quiet though it may be, Maggie Valley also has plenty of opportunities for recreation and sightseeing all year-round. Between golfing in the summer and skiing in the winter, leaf-peeping in the fall and horseback riding in the spring, there’s always something exciting to do here.

To give you a taste of just some of those many activities when you stay at a Carolina Vacations rental, we’ve put together a list of the 11 best things to do in this piece of southern paradise.

Whether you’re traveling solo, going on a girls getaway, or visiting with the whole family, anyone and everyone can partake in the fun.

A Quick Guide to Maggie Valley

Located in Western North Carolina amid the Appalachian Mountains, Maggie Valley is steeped in both natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. With a population of less than 2,000 people, this small town annually draws thousands of visitors seeking a quintessential mountain getaway full of outdoor activities and must-see attractions.

Once little more than an isolated mountain community, Maggie Valley has gained renown across the country as a bona fide resort destination. Named after Maggie Setzer, whose father founded the community’s first post office, Maggie Valley was originally named “Maggie” from the time of its founding in 1904 until it was rechristened seven decades later in 1974.

The Setzer family continue to return to Maggie Valley every year for a family reunion, joined by those hoping to experience Maggie Valley’s famed peace and tranquility.

1. Explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Photo Credit: Weidman Photography

Just a few miles away from Maggie Valley, you’ll reach one of the most serene areas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cataloochee Valley is home to a herd of native elk, as well as a historic schoolhouse, two churches, and a collection of other buildings preserved from the late 19th and early 20th centuries — an American pastoral classic.

To fully experience the valley (and have your best chance at spotting elk), you can stroll along the Boogerman Trail or the Little Cataloochee Trail, two of the most popular hiking trails in Maggie Valley that both offer fantastic overlooks along the route. Note that Cove Creek Road can be fairly rough, so we recommend tackling it in an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

If you are a waterfall chaser, don’t miss Grotto Falls off the Trillium Gap Trail or the three that can be found off the Deep Creek Trailhead.

You’ll have to reserve a low-cost parking permit, a necessity to leave your car within America’s most-visited national park for more than 15 minutes. Check with the visitor center for more information about maps and amenities.

2. Ski the Slopes

Photo Credit: Jennifer Stanford

Every winter, skiers and snowboarders from all over the Southeast flock to one of the biggest and best ski resorts in the region, Cataloochee Ski Area. With 18 ski runs serviced by three aerial lifts and two magic carpets, Cataloochee features a wide variety of terrain, from mellow bunny hills all the way up to a couple of expert-worthy steeps (though beginners and intermediates will likely have the most fun here).

First-timers can take private or group lessons at the snow school, and all gear can be rented on site, including items like snow bibs and helmets.

At the end of a long day on the slopes, warm up with après-ski burgers and hot cocoa at the resort’s restaurant. Those who aren’t interested in skiing or snowboarding, meanwhile, should head down the mountain to Tube World, a snow tubing hill across the road from the Old Ghost Town in the Sky.

3. Go Horseback Riding

Photo Credit: LanaG

Sometimes, you just need to slow down in order to fully embrace all of the stunning Appalachian scenery around you. To that end, many stables near Maggie Valley offer guided horseback rides, including the budget- and family-friendly Panther Creek Outfitters in the neighboring town of Clyde. But if you’re interested in something a bit more upscale, visit Cataloochee Ranch, perched on a grassy bald adjacent to Cataloochee Ski Area.

The ranch provides both private and group rides tailored to customers’ skill levels and preferences. Go on a half-day excursion to Gooseberry Knob, where you’ll stop for a picnic lunch with five-star views, or opt for the full-day Serenity Saddles experience and wrap up your ride with a series of relaxing spa treatments.

4. Cast a Line

Photo Credit: Gingo Scott

Maggie Valley is a veritable fisherman’s paradise and has the credentials to prove it: the town was designated a Mountain Heritage Trout City in 2008.

Many of the crystal-clear local waterways support a healthy population of native trout, a major prize for avid fly fishermen and novice anglers alike. Brookies, browns, and rainbows stay active in these waters all year round, so you stand to see some action even in the dead of winter.

To make the most of your time on the water, you can go on a guided fly fishing trip with Maggie Valley Fly Shop, or bring your own bait and tackle to hotspots like Jonathan’s Creek and Cold Creek.

Just make sure to swing by North Carolina’s largest fly fishing festival if you happen to visit during June. Every summer, anglers go head-to-head in the casting competition, watch fly-tying demos, and attend fishing workshops on the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds.

5. Drive Down Memory Lane

Photo Credit: Jose Medeiros

Motorcycle and car enthusiasts often visit Maggie Valley to cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway (more on that later), but a pitstop by the iconic Wheels Through Time Museum is also a must.

Open from spring through fall, Wheels Through Time showcases a large collection of rare vehicles, from gleaming chrome motorbikes to quirky “one-off” automobiles. But Wheels Through Time has more than shiny cars and bikes in store for visitors — the museum also shares a detailed chronology of car-making in the United States.

Visit to admire the vintage Harley-Davidsons and Excelsiors on display, and stick around for a thorough reading of all the fascinating exhibits.

6. Tee Off

Photo Credit: Susie Blackmon via Flickr CC 2.0

Stunning greenery and mountain views await at the Maggie Valley Club, tucked away in a lush Smoky Mountain valley. Spread out across 30 acres of fairway, the club’s 18 holes will suit all skill levels.

New players can check out the front Valley Nine, while experts seeking something a bit more challenging will be satisfied by the tough grade of the steeper Mountain Nine. No matter where you end up, though, you’ll be able to enjoy the course’s gorgeous mountain setting and well-kept native foliage.

The whole family is welcome to play at Maggie Valley Club, but if you’re seeking a more kid-friendly environment, set aside some time to play a few rounds at Maggie Valley’s Fantasy Golf and Gameroom. Located just down the road, this 18-hole minigolf course will appeal to visitors of all ages; plus, it even has mountain views of its own.

7. Get Your Groove On

Photo Credit: Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja via Flickr CC 2.0

If you’ve ever dreamed of attending an old-fashioned hoedown, grab your dancing shoes and make your way to the Stompin’ Ground dance hall.

Described as the “Cloggin’ Capital of the World,” Stompin’ Ground is open every Saturday from April through October for anyone who wants to swing their partner around the 60-by-80-foot dance floor.

Professional local dance groups often make appearances here and a clogging competition takes place in October, but you don’t need to be a pro to hit the floor. Pick up some line dancing skills or simply try out your own moves — just be ready to dance the night away. Any self-proclaimed wallflowers out there can also tap their feet to the live country, folk, and bluegrass music from the comfort of the hall’s stadium seating.

8. Take a Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Photo Credit: anthony heflin

Running from Great Smoky Mountains National Park all the way to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular scenic drives in America for good reason. A portion of the parkway winds directly past Maggie Valley, crossing over Soco Gap.

You can hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway here for easy access to the popular Waterrock Knob hike, as well as other landmarks like Graveyard Fields and Devils Courthouse. But even if you don’t leave the car, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with the incredible landscape as the parkway unwinds before you.

Consider taking a drive here during the fall, when the colorful leaves put on an especially spectacular show.

9. Float on Lake Junaluska

Photo Credit: Margaret.Wiktor

When temperatures warm up during summer, Maggie Valley locals go to Lake Junaluska to beat the heat. Famous for a Christian retreat center that dates to 1913, Lake Junaluska and its grounds are open to the public throughout the year for all kinds of recreation.

Rent a canoe or kayak and go for a cruise along these serene waters, keeping an eye out for local wildlife like snowy egrets and bald eagles. If you prefer to explore on land, a paved walking trail winds around the lake’s shores.

Drop by the Lambuth Inn to learn more about the history of this tranquil, lakeside community, and don’t forget to grab a hand-dipped ice cream cone or iced coffee at Junaluska Gifts & Grounds.

10. Learn About Cherokee Heritage

Photo Credit: ehrlif

Less than a 30-minute drive away from Maggie Valley, the small town of Cherokee has long told the stories and legends of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. The Museum of the Cherokee People showcases collections of artifacts that span centuries, with works of contemporary Cherokee artists on display alongside ancient pieces.

Near the museum, the Oconaluftee Indian Village brings history to life in a detailed reenactment of a traditional Cherokee village, where visitors can watch traditional crafting demonstrations and see how the area’s Indigenous people once lived.

Last but not least, round out your trip to Cherokee by attending the Unto These Hills drama, a live performance that charts centuries of the tribe’s history. The play starts with the Cherokees’ first contact with European settlers in 1540 and culminates in the aftermath of the infamous Trail of Tears.

11. Shop for Local Crafts

Photo Credit: Susie Blackmon via Flickr CC 2.0

From handmade quilts to wood carvings and everything in between, many long-standing handicraft traditions are rooted in the Appalachian Mountains. If you’re on the hunt for souvenirs, look no further — these crafts will serve as the perfect mementos of your time in Maggie Valley.

You can shop for jewelry and homemade jams at Soco Craft and Tower, which also boasts a nine-story observation tower, or pick up Appalachian-area vintages at B&C Winery down the mountain. Maggie Mountaineer Crafts and family-owned Different Drummer Pottery also sell a variety of handmade gifts to commemorate your visit.

Come Stay in Maggie Valley

Now that you know the 11 best things to do in Maggie Valley, there’s just one more thing left on this list: book your stay at Carolina Vacations.

Our rental properties are just a short drive away from these activities, and we have all the comforts of home needed to make your trip go smoothly. That way, you can focus on the important things, like shredding the ski slopes or soaking up the mountain views.