How To Have Kitschy Fun In Maggie Valley With Tips No One Tells You

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Is Maggie Valley, NC worth a visit? We think so! Uncover the best things to do in Maggie Valley, including spooky places, gorgeous Smoky Mountain hikes, and food by the creek. Chase multiple waterfalls like Mingo and Soco Falls, and feel your stomach drop at Soco Tower. Spy majestic elk from afar, and shop at endless specialty stores. Lemme curve those jelly bean cravings… We just love WNC’s quirky mountain towns.

Waterrock Knob in Maggie Valley

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Maggie Valley makes for an easy and unique Asheville day trip, just 45 minutes by car. Please know that all photos are our own except for two gorgeous waterfall images we purchased since we are not professional photographers; our photos didn’t do the falls justice (waterfalls are hard, y’all!).

Drive the Scenic Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway mountainsPin

Did you even visit Western North Carolina if you didn’t take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), one of the area’s best attractions, accessible from Maggie Valley’s Highway 19? Spanning Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park, everyone covets “America’s favorite scenic drive.” It’s easy to see why. A two-lane, typically 45-mph road, the Blue Ridge Parkway is filled with varying length and difficulty hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks. See black bears and smell WNC’s famous wildflowers. It’s one of my favorite places in the U.S. to drive.

Hike Waterrock Knob For Mountain Views

Waterrock Knob mountains and treesPin

For sunsets and picnics, Waterrock Knob and its visitor center promise a moderate 45-minute hike with pit toilets, picnic tables, and BRP exhibits. A mile long out and back, besides the elevation gain, we do not find the hike challenging (just a little breath…taking…). Be prepared for steep slopes, stairs, and stones. At the top, hang out on a cliff overlooking the Smokies, Craggies, Balsams, and Blue Ridge Mountain ranges. Continue on to the much more difficult hike to Browning Knob.

We always recommend checking with the NPS for BRP gate and road closures. Watch that tricky fog if views are a must, and we bring hand sanitizer and wet wipes since the basic facilities have no running water. Discover even more beautiful hiking trails near Asheville.

Waterrock Knob Visitor Center | Milepost 451.2

If you prefer highly recommended guided tours, check out this likely-to-sell out, scenic Blue Ridge Parkway chauffeured driving tour. Or, chase those waterfalls with this tour.

Chase Multiple Stunning Waterfalls

Soco Falls

Soco Falls in Maggie Valley NCPin

Like much of WNC, the Maggie Valley attractions are largely natural phenomena, including those breathtaking waterfalls. Soco Falls is a unique double waterfall. A short walk – under .5 miles round trip from U.S. Highway 19 – park in the small roadside lot to head to the 120-foot falls. The parking lot will fill up, and be careful on that busy/fast road.

As you trek down, there is a much easier and safer view of the falls from a viewing platform – but it is not as clear a view or as great as heading down the very steep trail to the base of the falls. If you walk about .2 miles further down, you’ll see the double falls. However, know that the pathway is slippery, muddy, and treacherous. You will have to climb up rocks to get back. Loose guiding ropes dangle to help you navigate the mountain, and you’ll want to be in the appropriate shoes.

Many people feel comfortable going only so far (Tom called it), and when it’s busy, people start sliding around you. Exert extreme caution, and practice waterfall safety. We suggest going after dry weather when there are no leaves, snow, rain, or ice on the ground. The falls are stunning, but it’s not my favorite “hike.”

Soco Falls | US-19, Maggie Valley, NC 28751

Mingo Falls

If you are looking for another short waterfall hike, nearby Mingo Falls in Cherokee is stunning. About a 30-minute drive from Soco Falls, Mingo Falls sits at one of the entrances to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. A half-mile out and back, the hardest part of the Mingo Falls Trail is climbing all 160 steps (yes; we counted!). Once there, a magnificent 120-foot waterfall awaits you. If you have to pick between Soco or Mingo Falls, we’d go with Mingo.

Mingo Falls Eastern Cherokee Reservation | Cherokee, NC 28719

Grab Bites & Drinks By The Creek

We cannot resist stopping at BearWaters Brewing Creekside location. Nothing beats delicious local craft beer by a babbling creek. We like sitting outside along the water. Choose from a sizable draft list – think ESBs, ales, IPAs, and lagers – along with pub grub. Devour rice and bean bowls, burgers, sandwiches, and flatbreads with apps like pretzels, guac, and fried pickles.

BearWaters Brewing – Creekside | 4352 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751

Shop in Downtown Maggie Valley

Jelly Bellies Mountain Market candiesPin

Although Downtown Maggie Valley isn’t all walkable like Downtown Hendersonville or Downtown Asheville, there are multiple strips of specialty and antique shops along Soco Road – many of which are bunched together and accept cash only. Visit NC Smokies has a complete list of the Maggie Valley shops.

For health food, vegan and gluten-free treats, essential oils, and supplements, peruse the aisles of Wild Market (3435 Soco Rd). For candy lovers and a dose of nostalgia, Jelly Bellies (3477 Soco Rd) promises over 365 types of candy, including boozy jellybean flavors and fudge. We even found edible bubbles and candied…crickets. Pick up wine and wine taste at B & C Winery (2427 Soco Rd). For littles, mine for gems and shop for jewelry at Blue Earth Traders Rock Shop & Gem Mine (3894 Soco Rd).

Tour The Motorcycle Museum

One of the more unique things to do in Maggie Valley includes visiting Wheels Through Time, especially if you enjoy rare motorcycles, antique cars, and even a Harley Davidson-made plane. This is a 38,000-square-foot building and one of the world’s top Vintage American Transportation collections. It’s impressive, even if you aren’t interested in the subject.

For bikers, you’ll be at home the second the gasoline smell hits your nose. Gain insight into how the motorcycle and automobile industry has evolved. Find helpful staff who love to playfully show off. We heard the occasional engine revving and horns honking. And, if antique transportation systems are your jam, you might also enjoy one of Asheville’s most unique museums, Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum.

Wheels Through Time | 62 Vintage Ln, Maggie Valley, NC 28751

Ski, Snowtube, and Snowboard

During an Asheville winter, visitors and locals flock to the area’s ski resorts. One of the biggest winter attractions in Maggie Valley, Cataloochee Ski Area promises just that. From skiing to snowtubing and snowboarding, Cataloochee Ski Area is a hot spot for groups, families, and solo skiers. They offer ski lessons, host family days, and have classes. Rent ski equipment on-site, and check out their lodging partners.

Cataloochee Ski Area | 1080 Ski Lodge Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751

Climb The Soco Crafts Tower

I saw reviews that said Soco Crafts & Tower is “awful” and “skip it.” For 50+ cents, we had a good time and would recommend it. Sure, this might be one of the cheesiest things to do in Maggie Valley, but it’s fast (under 30 minutes) and budget-friendly with incredible views.

Park at and enter Soco Crafts, and pay your entrance fee at the counter. The store is family-owned, and they sell crafts, t-shirts, souvenirs, rock candy, and jewelry. Head to the back for their rickety outdoor tower, which reminds us of Fryingpan Mountain Tower near Mount Pisgah. Climb the grated stairs, which go about 9 stories high. The top is a little shaky and overlooks all of Maggie Valley. Spy parts of Ghost Town in the Sky too. Of course, this isn’t the best thing to do on a foggy/rainy day or if you are scared of heights.

Soco Craft & Tower | 6638 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751

Spy Elk In The Smokies

While in the area, you have to see Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of America’s most-visited national parks. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Smokies are full of biological diversity, largely untouched land, and breathtaking landscapes.

We suggest starting at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, which is close to Mingo Falls. Here, grab information from the rangers, use the facilities, and shop for local gifts and trail snacks. Behind the visitor center, stroll the Oconaluftee River Trail, home to one elk-spotting area. They once casually crept up on us mid-trail (I thought they were funky llama or camels, whoops!). Please just remember to keep your distance; it’s the law.

Then, head to the Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill – both of which are free. See the log farmhouse, barn, and apple house that showcase older Appalachian life. In the summer, enter the firefly viewing lottery, and throughout the year, explore the Smokies’ hiking trails and waterfalls. Visitors love Clingmans Dome. and the National Park Service have a plethora of information to help you plan your trip.

Attend A Festival Or Fair

Tom at the Maggie Valley Arts and Crafts FestivalPin
Maggie Valley Arts and Crafts Festival

WNC is notorious for its fabulous seasonal festivals. For popular events in Maggie Valley, in April, Maggie Valley hosts a car and truck show, the Annual Southeastern Mini Truckin’ Nationals. Of course, attend multiple motorcycle rallies, Thunder in the Smokies. Around the 4th of July, catch fireworks, and in both the summer and fall, shop at an Arts & Crafts Festival; we scored beautiful hand-blown glasses and painted tile coasters at fair prices. Also in July, attend the Hillbilly Jam featuring music, food, and crafts. Mid-fall, attend the Smoky Mountain Elk Fest and the Smoky Mountains Bluegrass Festival.

Maggie Valley Festival Grounds | 3374 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751

Walk Lake Junaluska

Memorial Chapel Columbarium at Lake JunaluskaPin

Lake Junaluska is one of my favorite places to decompress. Under a 15-minute drive from Downtown Maggie Valley, find a lakeside hotel, spy blooms along the Rose Walk, and enjoy plenty of recreational outdoor activities like boat tours, kayaking, mini-golf, and paddleboarding. I prefer a stroll along the lake’s loop with coffee from the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat’s souvenir shop. Find public restrooms around the outdoor pool area and tennis courts as well as at the Conference and Retreat Center. Park in numerous free lots around the lake. Explore even more of the beautiful lakes around Asheville & WNC.

Lake Junaluska | 91 North Lakeshore Drive in Lake Junaluska, NC 28745.

Another great stop, we love Waynesville, which is about 20 minutes from Maggie Valley. Boojum Brewing is a delicious place for lunch. Find a Mast General Store – getting lost for hours buying stuff you don’t need but want – and for book lovers, Wall Street Books has a terrific used book selection.

Channel Your Inner Dark Tourist With This History Lesson

Ghost Town in the Sky buildingPin

Ghost Town in the Sky (also known as Ghost Town Village) was one of the most famous former attractions in Maggie Valley. Unfortunately, you cannot visit the former Wild West town – once accessible by chair lifts – and may even get arrested for trespassing if you try (there are cameras!). From their parking lot and the road, though, the abandoned ticket office sadly awaits a potential but unlikely re-opening. There are always rumors. Ghost Town Village sits at an elevation of 4,600 feet on Buck Mountain. If you love ghost stories and tales of monsters, be sure to check out these NC urban legends.

Ghost Town In The Sky | 16 Fie Top Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751

Cessna Plane CrashPin

We are fascinated by the history and ghost stories of North Carolina’s abandoned places. One of the most somber Maggie Valley things to do was visiting the abandoned plane crash site for a Cessna 414 (the hike there was pretty brutal and treacherous). However, for safety and out of respect, the plane has been removed.

Flying from Illinois, Pilot Ernest Martin (53) and his secretary “Centa” Eggar Jarrett (42) should have landed at Jackson County Airport. Unfortunately, they didn’t file a flight plan, flew too low, and the weather and potential drinking weren’t in their favor. Their plane crashed just outside of Waterrock Knob, killing both Martin and Jarrett.

Christine and Tom selfiePin

Christine Frascarelli

Christine (pronouns: she/her) is the owner and lead writer of Uncorked Asheville. After falling in love with those gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Christine and her husband Tom decided to call Asheville, North Carolina home. When her pointy Italian nose isn’t stuck in a book, Christine is adopting all of the kitties, getting lost in the forest, and drinking an ESB. She has a BA in English and History from Smith College, her MLIS from USF-Tampa, and is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar - Indonesia. Christine also owns The Uncorked Librarian LLC with books and movies to inspire travel.


  1. We have the Maggie Valley Fly Fishing & Outdoor Festival next Father’s Day Weekend (June 15th & 16th 2024) in Maggie Valley at The Festival Grounds. Gates open at 9:00am-4:00pm. Admission is $10.00 with kids 12 & under free. Local fly-fishing vendors, kids Korner, casting contest, live music and food vendors on hand. Fly fishing in the Smoky Mountains is a a very old tradition and we celebrate this tradition at North Carolina’s largest fly-fishing festival.

  2. My brother & I are only staying 3 nights to get out of the city. We love restaurants with views , love to see waterfalls and good mountain views without hiking too far,. I would like to buy an appalachian quilt or Cherokee one.

    1. Waterrock Knob is a hike close to Maggie Valley that’s not too difficult or long with great views. For waterfalls, Soco Falls is right there – but a short and tricky descent. Nearby, we love Lake Junaluska; stroll around the lake. If you plan on going to Cherokee (there are shops there), take the short hike up to Mingo Falls. Maggie Mountaineer Crafts in Maggie Valley might have quilts – if you have a chance maybe call them ask, though, at (828) 926-3129. As Asheville locals, we really love the Omni Grove Park Inn for drinks, food, and mountain views: Edison has an outdoor patio and casual fare, or grab smaller bites at The Great Hall Bar/second level terrace. Also in Asheville, Hemingway’s Cuba has Cuban cuisine and stellar rooftop views.

  3. We have been coming here since 1986. Maggie has grown a lot, perhaps too much. But the mountains are timeless, (the parkway and Smokey Mountain park are imbedded in our hearts and minds.

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