Last Updated on March 21, 2023
Sylva’s tree-lined streetscape, dotted with benches, provides visitors with an afternoon of easy walking. And the vibrant downtown boasts an assortment of art galleries, bookstores, farm-to-table restaurants, craft breweries, and coffee shops. Best of all, this bustling mountain town is surrounded by nature, offering a plethora of outdoor adventure opportunities.
Ready to spend an amazing day on the town? Here’s what we’d do on the perfect day out in Sylva, NC.
Start strong with freshly brewed coffee
Every great day starts with a great cup of coffee, right? Known simply as The Coffee Shop, one local landmark opened in 1926 and hasn’t changed much since. You’ll get a serving of nostalgia with your morning cup of joe and vintage menu of home-cooked favorites.
Looking for something more contemporary? City Lights Cafe was created as a community gathering place and eatery. Today, locals consider it their favorite coffee stop for daily coffee options, as well as an array of lattes, cappuccinos, and other frothy drinks. Another great spot is White Moon. This community-driven cafe offers a simple and nutritious menu inspired by Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
Hit the trail!
No matter your interests, we bet you there’s a trail in Sylva that strikes your fancy. Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, there are myriad outdoor adventures awaiting within steps of town! If you’re looking for a challenge, hike the West Fork Trail to the top of The Pinnacle (elevation 5,008 feet). Those who want a more serene experience of the mountains would enjoy one of the 15 prime trout spots along the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail®.
Even on soggy winter days, there are still trails to explore. Lovers of the WNC Movie Trail will recognize at least one scene from the 1993 movie “The Fugitive.” Much of the movie was filmed around the area, and it’s easy to find what remains of the film’s iconic train crash. And there’s one trail in town that’s fun to explore even after the sun sets: The Jackson County Ale Trail. Experience more than 100 beers on tap along Sylva’s Historic Main Street. Or pick up the official field guide for the trail’s suggested top 10 local brews.
Connect with history
The area around Sylva has a long and vibrant history. And there are many local landmarks and museums available to help you connect with the past. Take a short drive from town to Judaculla Rock. This sandstone boulder features hundreds of petroglyphs carved into it by the Cherokee, dating back 1,500 years. Follow up your visit with a trip to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, which offers a cultural and historical tour without equal.
Closer to town, several museums and historic displays are open for viewing. The Appalachian Women’s Museum celebrates prominent women in the arts, government, education, and social sphere. The American Museum of the House Cat features 5,000+ feline artifacts and curiosities, including a statue of the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet from 600 B.C. And Sylva’s Freedom Park behind the Historic Courthouse and Library features life-sized replicas of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
Enjoy an unforgettable meal
Southern Living Magazine called Lulu’s on Main their “Favorite Restaurant in the Region,” and we know you’ll love it, too. They serve up fantastic, out-of-the-ordinary eclectic fare and great service in an edgy, retro atmosphere. Foodies will also love Guadalupe Cafe, housed in a restored 1920s drugstore and soda fountain shop. This farm-to-table, tropical fusion restaurant features an innovative menu filled with internationally-infused dishes.
For an option with heart and history, we also love the Italian-Appalachian fusion at Ilda. Whether she was from the Old World or the Blue Ridge, husband and wife team Chef Santiago Guzzetti and Sommelier Crystal Pace recreate the comfort you found at your grandmother’s kitchen table.
Wind down with a craft cocktail
The Appalachians may be infamous for their ‘shine. But Sylva’s palate has matured considerably in recent years. In addition to the fine craft beer available on the Ale Trail (see above), the town offers several options for fine wines and cocktails.
Circle back to White Moon after dusk, and maybe you’ll see Dark Moon, a secret speakeasy in the back of the coffee shop that focuses on handcrafted cocktails, as well as carefully sourced wine and beer. We also enjoy The Cut Cocktail Lounge, located on West Main Street. And nearby, The Wine Bar & Cellar offers a fantastic selection of wines from around the world in a great atmosphere. Buy wine by the bottle or glass and pair it with one of their perfectly curated tapas or tastings.
Spend more than one day in Sylva, NC!
From its verdant outdoors opportunities to its innovative craft brewing and culinary scene, there is much to love about Sylva. With about 2,600 residents, the town of Sylva serves as the county and cultural seat of Jackson County. And its historic courthouse is the most photographed courthouse in the state. Sylva’s eco-friendly initiatives—including being a certified Tree City and maintaining a 1.2-mile tree walk featuring 50+ species—have earned it a reputation as one of the “Top 10 Cleanest Cities in the US” by Expedia.com.
Does that sound like the perfect lifestyle for you? Find your dream home in Sylva now!