Sometimes, you’ve just got to get away.

Especially when the hustle and bustle of city life strains you, there’s nothing quite like envisioning a quiet cabin in the picturesque North Carolina mountains, away from all the stress of normal life. Well, nothing except actually experiencing the N.C. mountains instead of just dreaming about them!

Let me whisk you away to Highlands, North Carolina. It’s March, the air is crisp, and nature is singing. Just a short two hours north of Atlanta sits this charming mountain town, where the Nantahala National Forest surrounds you and your worries melt away as you ascend in elevation.

Highlands North Carolina

Whiteside Cove on Whiteside Mountain

Whiteside Cove on Whiteside Mountain courtesy of Cynthia Strain

Located on a plateau within the southern Appalachian Mountains, Highlands, NC, is one of those places you want people to know about, but you’re glad they don’t. More for you to explore, and less for tourists to ruin. There’s a magical feeling to the whole experience, as you wind through scenic view after scenic view and drink in the intoxicating mountain air.

Nature Calls in Highlands, NC

TLC might warn you against chasing waterfalls, but in this slice of lesser-known land, waterfalls beg to be discovered. There are approximately eight cascading waterfalls around the area, all nestled in hiding spots along hiking trails and scenic drives.

Highlands North Carolina

Courtesy of Cynthia Strain

There’s Dry Falls, which you can walk beneath, or there’s Bridal Veil Falls, which makes for a beautiful drive-through. But the most impressive waterfall of all just might be Whitewater Falls, which boasts the tallest height (411 feet) east of the Rockies.

Dry Falls

Dry Falls

The Cullasaja Falls on the Cullasaja River are harder to get to, but Quarry Falls are a prime summertime swimming spot for adventurous visitors. Quarry Falls is also known as “Bust Your Butt Falls” thanks to its function as a natural rock slide—test your bravery and jump off one of the taller rocks to truly dive into North Carolina’s alluring nature.

Highlands Cashiers Plateau

Cashiers Plateau

Highlands Biological Station

Highlands Biological Station courtesy of Peter Ray

Of course, enjoying nature doesn’t have to be action-packed. Lake Sequoia serves as a stunning place to kayak in the mornings, when the water is still and the sun is bright. You can also cast a line into Cullasaja River’s crystal waters. The Highlands Greenway supplies a fun-filled network of trails through downtown and beyond, so don’t hesitate to bring a bike or your hiking shoes.

Culture and Leisure

It’s said that “anything grows” in Highlands, NC, which is great news for foodies fervent to try local cuisines. Tasty farm-to-table experiences await, along with five Wine Spectator restaurants. Please your palate with something new from the region, and you’ll likely keep coming back for more.

Highlands North Carolina

Especially once you get a taste of the arts scene. Named as one of America’s Top Small-Town Arts Places, the cultural sector in Highlands is one worth seeing. Kelsey-Hutchinson Park and Town Square light up with live music during warmer months, and the historic Highlands Playhouse is the perfect spot for a date night.

Kelsey Hutchinson Park

To satisfy the shopaholic, the downtown district is peppered with a fabulous mix of high-end boutiques and eclectic shops, all worth stopping in “just to look.” Stroll the sidewalks as you window shop and get to know this new-to-you town.

Where to Stay in Highlands

Because this mountain town can sweep you away with activities, it’s nice to know you’ve got a great place to sleep when you’re ready to call it a day. There is something so inherently calming about a mountain cabin, especially when you take into account the gorgeous, layered mountain views of a VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) such as this cozy 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom gem.

VRBO Highlands, NC VRBO Highlands, NCVRBO Highlands, NC VRBO Highlands, NC VRBO Highlands, NC VRBO Highlands, NCVRBO Highlands, NC

Perched in a prime spot, this rental vacation home serves the ideal background for a stunning stay in Highlands, NC. The covered porches offer panoramic views, perfect for an evening al fresco happy hour with your love. This “million-dollar view” is accented by a spacious interior fit for a cozy mountain getaway, and it’s large enough to bring the whole family.

VRBO Highlands, NC VRBO Highlands, NCVRBO Highlands, NC

Wind down after a long day of swimming, hiking, shopping, or horseback riding as you roast marshmallows over the wood-burning fireplace.This place can easily become your home away from home in the Highlands—the authentic experience of a vacation home far outweighs the corporate feel of hotels in this darling destination.

Your weekend getaway to the mountains is just 2 hours away from Atlanta. What are you waiting for?

For more information about Highlands, visit:

More about this VRBO listing HERE.