Top 5 Reasons to Spend Thanksgiving in Highlands, NC

Highlands is nestled on the tip of the southern plateau of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the heart of the Nantahala Forest. Consistently ranked one of the “Best Small Towns in the South”, the quaint town of Highlands is a vibrant mountain destination with a small town atmosphere, award-winning restaurants, shopping galore and a feast of fun over the Thanksgiving season.

#1 Outdoor Activities

Warm, sunny days in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and a cozy cabin and crackling fire at home makes it easy to get outside and enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities in and around Highlands. The Blue Ridge Parkway (America’s Favorite Drive) and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are open on Thanksgiving with endless trails and fishing opportunities. Tee off at one of Highland’s scenic golf courses, zipline in the mountaintops at Highlands Aerial Park, take the family horseriding at Dillard House Stables and enjoy year-round snow tubing, trout fishing or gem mining at the Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center. Wherever (and however) you choose to adventure, you’re surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

#2 Waterfall Hikes

The North Carolina mountains are home to hundreds of waterfalls, many within easy reach from Highlands.Take an easy, family-friendly waterfall hike from Highlands through the Nantahala Forest to Secret Falls or to Glen Falls, a triple waterfall only a few miles from downtown Highlands. Closer to Cashiers, Silver Run Falls is an easy, scenic winter hike and the perfect picnic spot with a tranquil pool and beach area and ice formations if the early season temperatures are cool enough.


#3 Mountain Waters Scenic Byway

Of course, the best way to experience the beautiful waterfalls surrounding Highlands is on a scenic drive on the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway that winds through the Nantahala Forest from Highlands. Travel along a scenic stretch of highway weaving through Cullasaja River Gorge with top waterfall attractions including Bridal Veil Falls, Dry Falls, Bust your Butt Falls and Cullasaja Falls visible from the roadside. Alternatively, travel east on US 64 through the Pisgah National Forest and the towns of Cashiers, Sapphire and Brevard onto Asheville. Top attractions include Cashiers Sliding Rock, Rainbow Falls, Schoolhouse Falls, Lake Toxaway, Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Rock near Brevard, and the many attractions in the scenic mountain town of Asheville.

#4 Festive Family-Friendly Events

If you’re spending Thanksgiving in Cashiers, take the family to the Village Green for the annual tree lighting on Friday, November 26th to celebrate the start of the magical festive season.

The 2021 Holidays in Highlands begins on Saturday, November 27th when Santa arrives in historic downtown Highlands to light up the park and families enjoy old-fashioned fun at the ice-rink, sharing cookies and hot cocoa, and creating special Thanksgiving memories. Create a new tradition with a read-along ride, warm cocoa and Christmas Carols on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Polar Express, an unforgettable journey to the North Pole for the whole family.


#5 Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

We saved the best till last …. a traditional Thanksgiving feast in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you’d like to fill your fridge with your family favorites, pre-order a hassle-free Thanksgiving meal to share with friends and family in the comfort of home, or celebrate and give thanks in one of the amazing restaurants in Highlands or Cashiers, we’ve got the scoop on the best Thanksgiving dinners on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.

Thanksgiving Take-Out & Catering in Highlands & Cashiers

Mountain Fresh Grocery: Highlands (828) 526-2400 - Pre-order your delicious Thanksgiving Dinner or NY pizzas, specialty pies and artisan fare to go from Mountain Fresh Grocery.

Fressers Courtyard Café & Catering: Highlands (828) 526-8847 - Fressers have been serving delicious food to Highland’s locals and visitors for over 22 years with courtyard dining, take-out and group catering.

The Kitchen Carryaway: Highlands (828) 526-2110 - For authentic local catering and carry-out, order your Thanksgiving sides and desserts from The Kitchen Carryaway, a household staple in Highlands that won’t disappoint.

Cashiers Valley Smokehouse: Cashiers (828) 547-2096 - Trade the traditional Thanksgiving for southern BBQ to-go from Cashiers Valley Smokehouse. Turkey smoked to perfection with homemade sides, sauces and delicious desserts.

Cashiers Farmers Market: Cashiers (828) 743-4334 - Order your traditional turkey or authentic southern BBQ, comfort casseroles, side dishes and heavenly deserts at the farmers market in Cashiers.

Highlands-Cashiers Restaurants for Thanksgiving Dinner

Wolfgang’s Restaurant & Wine Bistro: Main Street, Highlands (828) 526-3807
Make a reservation for fireside dining at the award-winning Wolfgang’s, voted the “The Best Place for Dinner in Highlands” by Southern Living Magazine. Wolfgang’s boasts an extensive wine list and contemporary variations of classic fare for an evening of fine dining in Highlands.

The Ruffed Grouse Tavern: Main Street, Highlands (828) 526-2590
Sip sundowners in front of the fire followed by fresh, farm-to-table dining at the Ruffed Grouse Tavern in Highlander Mountain House, a historic inn nestled in the heart of downtown Highlands.

The Old Edwards Inn: Main Street, Highlands (866) 526-8008
The Old Edwards Inn offers a diverse selection of dining options with farm-to-table cuisine, wood-fired pizzas, casual outdoor dining in Madison’s Wine Garden and handcrafted cocktails and live piano music in the elegant, yet casual, Hummingbird Lounge.

Highlands Smokehouse: Highlands (828) 526-3554
This rustic roadside BBQ joint is a Highlands favorite for a unique southern BBQ experience. Dine in or order whole turkeys, pit smoked brisket, traditional sides and family style combos from their catering menu.

The Library Kitchen + Bar: Sapphire (828) 547-2096
Savor a delectable Thanksgiving meal and colorful craft cocktails in a historic and vibrant setting at the Library Kitchen + Bar, nestled in the Sapphire Valley, only a few miles from Cashiers.

On the Verandah: Lake Sequoyah (828) 526-0083
Enjoy an idyllic Blue Ridge sunset and traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at On the Verandah, a waterfront restaurant overlooking scenic Lake Sequoyah. Feast on the freshest farm to fork flavors, outstanding seafood, signature cocktails and handmade desserts.

Greystone Inn: Lake Toxaway (828) 966-4700
The Greystone Inn is nestled on the shores of Lake Toxaway near Brevard. This historic inn features an elegant bar for pre-drinks and a lakeside dining room with breathtaking views, and an irresistible Thanksgiving dinner menu.

Fire + Water: Scaly Mountain (800) 775-4446
Fire + Water is located at Fire Mountain Inn, a mountaintop hideaway in the heart of the Nantahala National Forest. Fire + Water is a contemporary restaurant with outdoor viewing decks and fire pits and a striking Sky Bar & Lounge for dining guests to gather with friends and family after a hearty three-course meal.


Where to Stay in Highlands, NC

Whether you’re looking for a quaint, romantic cottage walking distance to downtown Highlands or a secluded hideaway with a hot tub and firepit on the shores of Lake Sequoyah, our team at Highlands Vacation Rentals can match you with the ideal Thanksgiving rental home in Highlands and Cashiers. We’ve been creating family traditions for our guests for over 20 years and our selection of pet-friendly cabins ensure you celebrate this Thanksgiving with the whole family!

For the best Thanksgiving rates in Highlands, book direct online or call our local team on (828) 526-9999 today.