This year I’ve had an amazing opportunity to explore the beautiful town of Cashiers, NC. I’ve spent four weekends here 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. 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
Although I’m not much of a player, I have a fondness for golf stemming from my time working at a golf course during college. I’ve seen some beautiful courses in my day but none compare to the lovely ones in Cashiers with their mountainous courses and stunning 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. On the way back from Lake Glenville to head towards town, you pass a landscaping company called “Scotlyn’s Yard” that during Dahlia season 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.
Boating and Water Sports
This town sits right on the edge of Lake Glenville, which is a gorgeous untouched 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 (pictured), to steep inclines with impressive waterfall views, there is no shortage of trails to go on.
I’ve heard the joke that Cashiers is like a rain forest too often to count and it’s true! This place gets a lot of rain and the vegetation is so lush, it’s no wonder the joke is made. That’s possibly why there are so many Garden stores to poke around in. I like stopping at them because they always have impressive displays of antique hydrangeas, impatiens, and seasonal dahlia’s, it makes for a fun pit stop between all of the antique stores. I really enjoyed the display at Chattooga Gardens, 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 numerous 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), Dovetail 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. The Village Hound really speaks to the equestrian in me, and I think that store causes my wallet the most hurt.
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. Ever. 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”. It’s a no-frills barbeque kind of place which I appreciate. They let the food do the talking, and it talks right to your southern soul. They have two sauces to choose from however I’m a fan of Carolina sauce so I can’t speak to the other kind. 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.
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 agreeable mountain air. 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 cold) cup of coffee in hand. They have a bevy of sandwiches and sweet treats on hand to facilitate curing any sort of “munchies” you may find yourself with while wandering the stores.
Cream & Flutter Bake Shop
This little slice of heaven for some reason is tucked off the street, not in plain sight like some of my other staples in Cashiers. The exterior of Cream & Flutter is charming with its little cafe chairs and tables and hand scribed chalkboard menu. As soon as you walk inside, it’s a Pinterest dream kitchen with white cabinets and white marble everywhere. You can watch from behind a glass the pastry chefs whipping up all sorts of delectable treats from giant macarons to large format gooey brownies. The best part is they have ice cream, coffee, and almost everything in their store is under $5.
Places to Stay
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)
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.