Your Weekender In Highlands NC Starts Here
Looking for things to do in Highlands in October? You’ve come to the right place. Nested 4,000 feet above sea level, a weekend away in Highlands and Cashiers is the crowning Carolina autumn escape. Your weekend will be filled with waterfalls and winding mountain drives. But there’s so much to do in the popular Carolina area. So how do you narrow it all down? Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered. This is our perfect Highlands NC Fall Itinerary! You’re going to find our favorite hikes, restaurants, places to stay in Highlands and so much more. We even share with you what’s number one on our favorite Highlands NC Fall activities list.
What To Do Friday Night – Highlands NC Fall Itinerary
We have a lot in store for you, so let’s begin with the best places to stay on your weekend away:
The Highlander Mountain House is a country-house hotel built in 1885. It seamlessly blends its bohemian design with the unspoiled beauty and heritage of the surrounding Highlands region.
The Old Edwards Inn is a luxurious getaway within downtown Highland. The ground’s feature lush greenery and the inn offers exceptional dining. The amenities alongside an award-winning spa make it near-perfect.
Half Mile Farm is a picturesque haven on the outskirts of Highlands, where guests can enjoy an elevated country inn amidst 14 acres of verdant fields, forests, and mountain streams.
Airbnb Options We Love Nearby
The Highlands NC fall activities to do on your first night in town!
No matter where you stay, we recommend you enjoy a beautiful sunset your first night in the area. This time of the year you have an amazing opportunity to catch one of the coolest natural occurences in the area.
Shadow Of The Bear
Because of the rarity of this event, The Shadow Of The Bear is number 1 on our Highlands list. A shadow in the form of a black bear is cast on the hills behind Whiteside Mountain. People park their cars on the side of the road off of Highway 64 to witness this special sighting. This is easily one of the coolest things to do in Highlands NC in October and November. But once November ends you have to wait a whole year to see this spectacle again.
A Stroll, Shopping and Supper
After a beautiful mountain golden hour, make your way to downtown for a walk around the beautifully decorated Highlands. Our favorite shops to explore while there are TJ Baileys and Acorns but there are so many.
For dinner and a nightcap we recommend The Ruffed Grouse Tavern. This place is the ideal place to end your day. This historic hostelry hits differently as chic design elements compliment the regionally-influenced menu reflecting the rich heritage of the surrounding Blue Ridge terroir.
What You’ll Want To Do Saturday – A Day Full OF Highlands NC Fall Activities
Welcome the wonder of your first day in Highlands and be the first at one or all of the choice cascades nearby. Seeing the waterfalls is one of our favorite things to do in Highlands NC in October.
First Things First, Waterfalls!
All three featured NC mountain waterfalls — Dry Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Cullasaja Falls — are gorgeous! You’ll think you are in Oregon or Iceland….these are that impressive. Getting up early will help you avoid all the people. All three are very crowded midday but near sunrise (tip: or after a rain!!!) you can have these pretty much to yourself.
Around Town In Highlands NC
Now that you’ve conquered the morning, reward yourself with a midmorning breakfast at Blue Bike Cafe back in Highlands, and take some more time meandering through the charming boutiques and storefronts that line Highlands’ Main Street. After that we recommend visiting several of the beautiful lakes. Lake Sequoyah and Mirror Lake both offer fantastic views of the foliage from their park and parking areas. Cliffside LAke Recreation area is also another fantastic place to reflect on fall.
Before taking on the rest of the day, lunch at Madison’s is a must where Chef Chris Huerta’s menu features ingredients fresh from the Old Edwards Inn’s gardens and greenhouses.
Whiteside Mountain Views
Once you have had your fill of downtown, work your way up to Whiteside Mountain for a hike amidst the phenomenal fall foliage. The 2 mile loop ends with absolutely epic views of the foothills in the distance.
No Highlands NC fall itinerary would be complete without a visit to see the eclectic exhibits at The Bascom Visual Arts Center by Mill Creek. Then grab a late-night dinner and drink at The Ugly Dog Public House down the road.
Sunday – Things To Do Near Highlands NC Before You Leave
Indulge in a lazy morning and stay onsite for coffee and a bite, as each of our recommended accommodations offer excellent breakfast options.
More Waterfalls, this time near Cashiers, NC
Once you are fueled up and fresh for another adventure, drive through Cashiers to another favorite waterfall. After a short hike you can snap stunning shots of the orange and gold reflecting in the morning mists of Silver Run Falls.
Next, swing back up Route 64 to Gorges State Park to see the largest waterfall on the east coast—Whitewater falls. This is a quick stop that you can see just from the parking lot, but if you want to stretch your legs, explore the Rainbow Falls trail. This waterfall is highly unique if you get there around midday. When the bright sunlight hits the falls just right, a bright and full rainbow forms at its base. Just a stunning thing to see and for us this is a must add to the very best list of things to do in Highlands NC in October.
Visit the Village Green of Cashiers on your way into town before lunch at Cornucopia. The restaurant’s rotating menus keep the cuisine as fresh as the local ingredients used.
On your way out of town, save time for one last stop in Panthertown Valley. This local gem has less traffic than other landmarks. Our favorite thing to do here is to hike to the beautiful Schoolhouse Falls. It’s a great way to end your mountain trip. Certainly one of the most beautiful falls in the state.
We hope you enjoyed this weekend agenda as much as we are sure you will enjoy all the things to do in Highlands NC in October. Cheers to a great fall in the mountains.