(Article last updated July 2021). I’ve spent many years exploring the dynamically beautiful town of Cashiers North Carolina getting to know the land, the people, and most importantly, the best things to do while in this unique mountain town. From a once in a lifetime dam release waterfall to unique casual and fine dining eating opportunities, there is something for everyone in this Cashiers NC Travel Guide.
The first thing you need to know about Cashiers is that it’s not pronounced like the clerk who checks you out at a grocery store, it is pronounced “Cash-ers”. This small mountain town sits East of its popular neighbor, Highlands, but is not short of charm and things to do. Known for being a popular vacation home for golf enthusiasts, the downtown area is flooded with home decor stores, antique shops, and landscaping stores to serve the non-golf enthused. I’ve included all of the best things to do in this Cashiers NC travel guide. Just be aware that while exploring downtown, there are no sidewalks, so you’ll want to pay attention closely to traffic as you walk from store to store.
Things To Do
A Cashiers NC Travel Guide would be remiss to mention golf first! Although I’m not much of a player, I’ve seen some beautiful courses in my day but none compare to the lovely ones in Cashiers with their stunning mountainous views. For these reasons, I’m perfectly receptive to a slow pace of play day on the course. While most clubs tend to be private, there are a few semi-public courses the enthusiast can look into at this link.
Pick Your Own Dahlia’s
This has to have been the greatest accident I ever stumbled upon. Past High Hampton Inn there is a beautiful landscape store called “Scotlyn’s Yard” (141 Little Terrapin Road Cashiers, NC) that during Dahlia season (June/July until October) is teeming with dinner plate size Dahlia’s in every color. What started as a quick stop for a photo ended up us finding an “honor system” cut-your-own-Dahlia bouquet. It was $2 for every size except for the Dinner Plate Dahlia’s which were $4. It was the best $20 I ever have spent and was able to make a lovely bouquet when we got home. (See my tips on Flower Arranging here)
Semi-Private Cooking Class
Kristin of the Barn hosts semi-private cooking classes in her rustic barn on a beautiful stretch of property just outside of Cashiers. I can’t wait to take one of these classes in the future and dine at her rustic barn table with all of our family.
Boating and Water Sports
This town sits right on the edge of Lake Glenville, which is a gorgeous natural lake with shimmering blue water and agreeable weather most weekends. You’ll see the ski boats, pontoons, tubers, and kayakers all out there together, and even on the busiest weekend, it doesn’t seem that crowded. This is the only rental place I’ve passed in town, but most people own there own boats that you’ll see out there.
High Falls Dam Release
This one could be lumped under hiking but it was way too cool of an experience to not get its own slide. Each month, Duke Energy releases the dam to Lake Glenville, and for those who time it right (because of this schedule), you can watch a small stream of water turn into a behemoth waterfall right in front of your eyes. As some would say, it’s Biblical. We went in the middle of summer and it was still chilly, so bring a rain resistant jacket and make sure to check out more info here on how to get there. You’ll definitely want to get there early to scope out a good spot for photos, it gets quite crowded!
You can’t come to the mountains and not take advantage of one of the many trails they have here. There is a range of difficulty levels and experiences. From moderately easy hikes like Whiteside Mountain and Yellow Mountain, Sunset Falls to steep inclines with impressive waterfall views, there is no shortage of trails to go on. Check this link for a complete list of hikes and trailheads.
Cashiers is a naturally occurring rainforest. The vegetation is lush and there are plenty of garden stores to indulge in. Chattooga Gardens is situated right on the edge of town before the Cornucopia and continuously features impressive displays of local vegetation to take home. I am particularly drawn to the antique cone hydrangeas, impatiens, dahlias, peonies and ferns. I loved the winding trellises of daisy vine and the dinner plate dahlias that were in front.
Cashiers is known for its collection of home decor stores and antique shopping. There are plenty of shopping places all lumped right next to each other which is great for those who don’t mind walking. Some of my repeat favorites are The Village Hound (pictured), Josephines for lithograph prints and French antiques, Rusticks, Vivian Metzger Antiques, Summer Place Antiques, and Robins Nest. While I may have been in each of these stores more than a handful of times, I always find something new that piques my interest.
Cashiers Farmers Market
I couldn’t decide whether to lump Cashiers Farmers Market under food, or things to do, but I feel like it’s such an institution for Cashiers it can be both. I love having this place as an excuse to run to town for some provisions. They stock their store with seasonal local veggies and fruits, have fridges full of meats, eggs, cheese, and dairy, and have shelves lined with homemade preserves, jams, jars of honey, and every sort of condiment your heart could call for. They also have a bevy of freshly baked treats like pies and cakes. It’s a dangerous place to be with a hungry stomach, but you can cure that with a trip to the BBQ place attached to it.
Places to Eat
On The Side BBQ
The. Best. BBQ. No kidding. When a woman we met on one of our hikes told us about this place, we knew it was an immediate “must visit” because she said something about “life-changing mac n’cheese”. They specialize in pulled pork BBQ. They let the food do the talking, and it talks right to your bbq loving soul. Pro-tip, buy both varieties of their sauces and mix it together while you eat. It’s tangy and sweet and chock full of flavor. And if you were curious: yes, you can buy On-The-Side-BBQ before you leave town and drive it home to Atlanta for a future meal. It reheats excellently. You’ll find this place, “On The Side” of the Cashiers Farmers Market.
Cashiers Valley Smokehouse
The newbie in town, Cashiers Valley Smokehouse is an excellent BBQ institution to visit on a rainy day. Ample indoor and covered patio seating. Their pork is chopped, not pulled. The sauces are fantastic, although I’m partial to the mustard-based sauce myself. An excellent BBQ joint for those craving a classic BBQ experience, complete with texas toast as big as your head.
Don’t let the exterior of this place fool you, it is MASSIVE on the inside. I was surprised by how open the dining space is and it has a charming little patio that you can sit at while enjoying the crisp mountain air of Cashiers NC. Surprisingly, at one pm there was still quite a lunch crowd so we sat at the bar, enjoying a local brew and ordered some food to share. A plate of hummus and a chicken BLT that hit the spot nicely. Although our neighbors Spicy Cajun Turkey Melt looked incredible, we just decided next time we were in town we’d have to switch up our orders. Cornucopia is a definite must-visit for lunch.
Any good mountain town knows that you need to have a local place that serves up coffee. Buck’s is always on my “to-visit” list when we get to town. I don’t know if it’s because I actually need coffee or because it just doesn’t feel like a trip into town without strolling the stores with a warm (or iced) cup of coffee in hand. They have a ton of sandwiches and sweet treats on hand to cure any sort of “munchies” you may find yourself with while wandering the stores.
Located on the same strip as Valley Bakery, Slabtown Pizza has delicious pizza pies. Whether you create your own of pick from one of their menu favorites, everyone leaves satisfied from Slabtown.
If pizza isn’t calling to you from Slabtown, Chile Loco right next door is the authentic Mexican you may be craving. Everything is homemade to perfection. This is a mountain institution and you should definitely come hungry and come often. Strong and delicious margaritas paired with spicy Mexican is just what the doctor ordered for vacation perfection.
Sugar Cloud Baking Company
Bursting to the brim with sweet confections, Sugar Cloud Baking Company is hiding in plain sight right across the street from Cashiers Farmers Market. They have sweet treats of all varieties and a variety of cupcakes to choose from. It’s mostly an in-town wedding cake company, but you can always pop in for a unique sweet treat!
The Ugly Dog Pub
This Highlands pub made an expansion to Cashiers and boasts an impressive patio area for dining and happy hour-ing. The Ugly Dog Pub in Cashiers has a weekly lineup of live music and an impressive Sunday Brunch and a Bloody Mary Bar that is not to be missed.
Definitely a place for a special occasion, you can’t beat the views at Canyon Kitchen! It is extremely beautiful and the food is delightful. Reservations are typically needed and the dress code is mountain casual, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear a fun block print dress and a statement earring.
The Library Kitchen & Bar
A stunning and chef-driven restaurant just outside of the downtown area. You cant go wrong with anything on the menu. You’ll typically find local delights like Coriander Sauteed Carolina Trout on the menu at The Library. Sit at the bar and try one of their seasonal cocktails!
Places to Stay
Cashiers Cottage (pictured above): Owned by one of my friends in Atlanta, this cozy cottage is brimming with charm and is within walking distance of the Village Green in Cashiers NC. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms plus a beautiful kitchen worthy of a Food Network TV Show.
The Perch: Every corner of this little cabin is Instagram-worthy. The owners, Bryan & Stephen, have done an outstanding job with the entire cabin looking like a retreat Ralph Lauren would spend a weekend at.
I’m not too familiar with the Hotel scene in Cashiers, however, I think AirBnB’s are the way to go in this mountain town. I stumbled upon the most adorable cottage called The Highlands Honeymoon Cottage on Instagram and was smitten instantaneously. It’s an Instagram dream cottage complete with shiplap walls, a Smeg fridge, modern-chic furniture and charming mountain touches throughout. You can find the link to the Highland Honeymoon Cottage here or check out other Cashiers AirBnBs here. (Photo Courtesy of Highlands Honeymoon Cottage)
High Hampton Inn just received a full renovation and was recently purchased by the team who does Blackberry Farm. Every detail in the new establishment has been refined for the resort-experience seeker. They have plenty of things to do on the premises like canoeing, hiking, golfing and plenty of relaxing.
(Photo from my friend Allie of Peachfully Chic)
Hotel Cashiers is within walking distance to the bustling downtown area.
Greystone Inn on Lake Toxaway is a little bit of a drive but looks every bit worth it. Situated right on the lake, the restaurant, spa, and resort-style rooms will have you extending your vacation.
This casual mountain town is sure to capture your heart whether you are staying for a weekend or for a summer. It is not one that you want to skip out on during Fall and you’ll find that the lack of cell phone service can’t deter a good weekend away. Let me know if you get to use this Cashiers NC travel guide and if it helped you plan your vacation there! See you around town!
Your photos are so fun! Thanks for sharing everything. I’m heading there this weekend and cannot wait to explore this sweet little mountain town!
Allie @ Peachfully Chic
Great visit to Cashiers. However, it’s not that Cashiers is “like” a rain forest. Cashiers is in an actual rain forest – the only one in the eastern United States.
That’s interesting, I had no idea! Thank you for the info! I’ll amend the post!
I loved your article and used many of your suggestions on our summer trip to Cashiers two weeks ago. First of all, thank you so much for the suggestion on High Falls Dam Release! This was definitely a highlight of our trip! I only have one note of disagreement: the folks that told you On the Side BBQ has “life-changing mac n’ cheese” has obviously not been farther south. The BBQ WAS delicious but the mac ‘n cheese was sub-par.
I’m so glad this helped you and your family out. Isn’t that High Falls release magical? We’d love to go and do it again, it was such an incredible site. Ha I haven’t had their mac n cheese in years so may need to pop over there this next weekend to confirm that review ;). Glad you had a great time with your family!
hello, what is the safest way to get through the windy roads to cashiers, north carolina from Chicago, IL
Hi Joe, I recommend you check with Google on the best route from Chicago. Most roads coming into Cashiers are windy so you likely will have to drive on one of them to get there. Just take it slow and enjoy the scenery.
Thank you so much for this informative article. We are headed to Cashiers in July and have never been to the area. I am grateful to have your information to know where to go.
Enjoy your time there!