Visit Little Switzerland downtown and Spruce Pine for interesting shops and a wide assortment of restaurants. I particularly like the funky but extensive bookstore located in Little Switzerland. Besides the usual mix of fast food there are 2 good barbecue restaurants near by as well as fine dining at the Switzerland Inn, Little Switzerland Cafe, Mountain View, Grassy Creek Golf and Country Club, and Knife and Fork restaurants. Spruce Pine is the sight of a blacksmiths fair each spring as well as a large gem and mineral show and a bluegrass and barbecue festival in the summer. The nearby towns of Bakersville, Burnsville, Micaville, Old Fort and Black Mountain all have their own charms as well as festivals, especially during the summer months.
You will enjoy a visit to close-by Penland School and community. Its still an active school for traditional crafts and contains a collection of classic buildings surrounding a picturesque valley. Arts are an important part of this area and artists ranging from potters to painters to jewelry makers are present along with more traditional crafts and skills like soap making, glass blowing and stone masonry. This is an area of great goat cheeses, jams, and honeys.
Authentic mountain music is played regularly at many local venues that are close by, including the Apple Orchard and Young's Mountain Music. This area is one of only a few areas in our country where there is a very vibrant music scene that continues traditions that go back hundreds of years. Mountain clogging and buck dancing are part of that tradition, and you will have opportunities to view and maybe even learn these if you are interested.
A little further, but within an hours drive, is Asheville with its diverse art and music offerings, the Biltmore Estate, the Grove Park Inn, and an extensive and international selection of fine restaurants. A wellspring of new music that often combines mountain music with bluegrass, rock, gospel, jazz, and international rhythms, Asheville hosts a lot of concerts as well as free music events like the Downtown After Five, Bele Chere, and Shindig on the Green series. Its also the origin of one of America's greatest writers, Thomas Wolfe, and his childhood home as well as a museum dedicated to his work are available for your viewing and pleasure. So if you ever tire of LS's tranquility, there's strange but wonderful Asheville! You may also enjoy many fine examples of architectural beauty in the older buildings and homes of Asheville, the large Farmers Market, and the North Carolina Arboretum to the south .