Attractions & Events
around Rutherford County, NC

Attractions / Events

Western North Carolina is a paradise of activity, weather, and friendly, welcoming people. Join us in your search for life's meaningful moments! You'll discover so much more than we can possibly describe on this page - not only is there an abundance of things to do, you might sometimes just find yourself stopping to enjoy something as simple as a night sky full of stars, listening to the bird calls, or watching deer run through the woods!

Lake Lure

Lake Lure

The jewel of Rutherford County, Lake Lure was created in 1927 when the hydroelectric dam was built. Original plans for a resort community were permanently interrupted by the Great Depression, so your experience today is a similar one to what folks experienced when it was completed. With homes dotting the shoreline, Lake Lure is considered a private lake with public access.
The lake features two marinas providing support for boaters of every stripe. Available rentals range from boats, kayaks and canoes to equipment for water skiing and fishing. You'll also find a separate public beach, the charming Flowering Bridge, restaurants, lake tours, water park activities, ziplines and plenty of free parking.

State & Local Parks

Chimney Rock Park

Located next to Lake Lure, this natural landmark is one of Rutherford County's tourist destinations. Purchased a handful of years ago by the State of North Carolina for inclusion into the state park system, it features hiking trails and panoramic views of the 404' waterfall, Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge. Use the reconstructed stairs or opt for the elevator (rising 26 stories through solid rock) to reach the famous observation point. (828-625-1823)

Lake James

Just north of Rutherford County on 6,812 acres, Lake James is a man-made lake built by Duke Energy for hydro-electric power. It features two separate State Park areas where you'll find access to the lake for swimming, canoe & kayak rentals, picnic areas and even overnight camping facilities. Beautiful mountain views and hiking trails are laced throughout the park, and you'll find a marina and public boat ramp, too. Call in advance to secure a kayak or canoe rental (828-584-7728).

Grandfather Mountain

While mostly privately owned and home to the Highland Games each year, Grandfather Mountain has 2,700 acres of state-owned lands. Access to the park is through the Blue Ridge Parkway, and using the trail heads at the base of the mountain is free of charge. A small fee applies for cars driving into the famous location, known for the mile-high (pedestrian) swinging bridge. Just follow Main Street in Rutherfordton north to the Blue Ridge Pkwy. (800-468-7325)

DuPont Forest

This slice of heaven is a 10,473-acre area managed by the NC Forest Service, located in Henderson and Transylvania counties, and purchased by the state for public recreation. About an hour and a half's drive west of Rutherford County, DuPont Forest features trails through the forest, and waterfalls. Lots of waterfalls. Bridal Veil Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls, Merry Falls, Wintergreen Falls, and more. You'll spend the whole day here, so bring your camera and a picnic! A popular destination. (828-877-6527)

Linville Falls

Right off the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 316), the headwaters from the high elevations of Mt. Mitchell form a level, rocky pool before falling in two spectacular tiers. Linville Falls is the primary feature of the Linville Gorge, with easy and moderate walking trails following paths of beautiful forested land leading to one of western North Carolina’s most photographed waterfalls. A more strenuous trail leads to the Upper Falls. (828-348-3400)

South Mountains

Forty miles of wooded trails and an 80' waterfall, this rugged area also has equestrian trails, camping areas and a 17 mile loop for mountain bikers! There's trout fishing on the Jacob Fork River and a visitor's center with museum-quality exhibits. (828-433-4772)

Kiwanis Park

Just north of downtown Rutherfordton, the renovated area includes paved parking, a covered pavilion, a wandering creek with a covered bridge, a walking trail, a bricked, gathering area, public restrooms, and more!

Purple Martin Greenway

Rutherfordton's first natural trail system starts in a place where you'll enjoy wildlife, plant life, and a nice-sized creek spilling over boulders. A covered picnic area is located within the sounds of the falling water. Bike, kid and pet friendly as well as handicap accessible, the greenway begins just off US Hwy 221, south of downtown Rutherfordton, and wanders north to finally meet up at Kawanis Park.

Other Municipal Parks, etc.

Several city parks are part of Forest City, Rutherfordton and Spindale, and the 13.36 mile Thermal Belt Rail Trail connects the three towns via an old railroad bed, converted into a paved walking and bike path. Lake Lure also features a couple of parks, including Buffalo Creek Park offering access to the strenuous Weed Patch Trail with gorgeous views from high vistas.


You'll find plenty of good courses around here, and when you've played them all, try the rather majestic course at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, or any of several other options in the area. Want to watch a professional tournament? Take a short drive to watch the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte!

Cleghorn Golf Club

Located in southwest Rutherford County, this eighteen hole course is part of the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The course is challenging and long, with many elevation changes and will require considerable skill.

Meadowbrook Golf Club

Located further south in Rutherford County, this eighteen hole course is a bit more level than Cleghorn, and enjoyed by many. The fairways tend to be firm, the greens are well kept.

Dogwood Valley

A favorite nine hole course in southeast Rutherford County, parts of which are nestled against the Second Broad River.

Apple Valley and Bald Mountain

Two eighteen hole courses in west Rutherford County in the Lake Lure area. Both are semi-private, owned by the Rumbling Bald Property Owners Association. Both are beautiful, excellent, championship courses, superbly maintained.

Municipal Courses

Forest City maintains an inexpensive, nine-hole course, where the greens play surprisingly smooth for a muni!

Water Fun

Lake Lure is available for swimming (public beach and water park), wake boarding, skiing, kayaking, boating, and fishing. There are two marinas, rentals of just about everything, and various vendors to make life a beach!
On the other side of Rutherford County in Golden Valley is Jellystone Park with it's family themed water park, camping, and so many activities!
Just northeast of us is Lake James, which covers over 6,800 acres, with the same kind of lake activities available, including a free, public boat ramp.
If you're looking for Category 2 and 3 white-water adventures, try a French Broad Rafting trip on the north-flowing French Broad River, just north of Asheville, near Marshall, NC.
The Green River, the Broad River and the Rocky Broad River all offer fishing, plus you'll probably find a few swimming holes, too.
Sliding Rock near Hendersonville is certainly worth a visit. Not only is it in a beautiful slice of the Pisgah Forest, there is nothing quite like seeing children turn a shade of blue as they slide into the icy water during the summer months.

Local Sports

The Forest City Owls baseball team provides entertainment through the summer, offering plenty of sparkle with after-game fireworks frequently displayed after a fun evening challenging their minor league opponents. Many Rutherford County residents drive to Charlotte to watch the Carolina Panthers. Into snow skiing? When winter shows up, we put on our boots and ski apparel, and head for the slopes just north of here. Sugar Mtn, Beech Mtn and several other ski resort mountains are just over an hour’s drive.
If dirt bikes make you whoop and jump, you'll find a couple of motocross parks here, too!

Equestrian/Horseback Riding

Maybe all things horse related are more your thing? With three riding/training/boarding stables in Rutherford County, and the annual Steeple Chase next door in Polk County (at last count there are 3.6 horses for every person), horse enthusiasts will quickly feel welcome here. Northwest of Rutherfordton is Cedar Creek and Riverside Stables, and a next door neighbor to the Clearwater Creek community is Puddlefoot Stables.
From dressage to polo to jumping, the Tryon International Equestrian Center has brought additional attention to an already popular location for equine lovers. Open to the public, you'll find free seating for events, along with concessions, restaurants, and more. TIEC is just one exit west of Rutherford County on Highway 74.

Other Attractions

Probably the most well-known attraction in all of western North Carolina is the Biltmore Estate, an hours' drive, in Asheville.
A local place children love? KidSenses museum and toy store in downtown Rutherfordton. If you want a little more action in your family fun time, try Carowinds theme park in Charlotte.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is always a nice escape, too. Two lanes, no trucks, beautiful surroundings, tunnels and an abundance of scenic overlooks.
While you're going north on Hwy 221 to get to the Parkway, you'll pass Linville Caverns. This underground 'museum' is well maintained, an unusual treat and worth the stop!
To keep abreast of what is going on with various projects the county is working on, check out the website Rutherford Bound.


Each year our towns hold spring and fall festivals, craft shows and so much more... for instance, you will not want to miss the Christmas Lights in Forest City! And the town of Lake Lure hosts an annual Dirty Dancing festival (the movie was filmed here), plus there's an annual Soapbox Derby in downtown Rutherfordton. With so many events each month all over this beautiful county, we think it's just easier to follow these links:
Chimney Rock Park | Forest City, NC | Lake Lure, NC | Rutherfordton, NC


Below is a partial summary of what is available, but really, we're only scratching the surface. Western North Carolina is well known for its outdoor recreation of all kinds, its amazing natural beauty with the mountains, rivers, and waterfalls, and its unmistakable value. Come have some fun!


The waters of Lake Lure are a prime area to fish for both Largemouth and Smallmouth bass, as well as White bass, Rainbow and Brown trout. Fly fish the Rocky Broad river just north of the lake for Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout. The Green River on the east side of Polk county is a state-stocked trout river, and there's great fishing in Lake James in McDowell County. North Carolina fishing licenses are required. Guided fishing tours are available.


From Chimney Rock to Grandfather Mountain, there's plenty of trails to hike in western North Carolina. We love the moderate trails at Linville Falls and DuPont Forest's numerous waterfalls (both are NC State Parks). For a workout, consider the Calloway Peak Trail at Grandfather Mountain, where cables are attached to rocks assisting your climb.

Breweries and Wineries

If the spirits move you, visit one of the many breweries or wineries in western North Carolina. From the organic Pisgah Brewery in nearby Black Mountain, to Highlands Brewery in Asheville (and about 35 more), you'll smell the roasted barley and hops and crave a pint of something cold.
South Creek Winery just north of us in Nebo, NC, and Lake James Cellars in Glen Alpine both offer excellent wines and are joined by another dozen wineries in our area!


Many local bands express their creativity on weekend nights. The most consistent venue featuring live music is Barley's Taproom. Thursday evenings (each month during summer), the town of Rutherfordton hosts a musical event in front of the courthouse.

Arts & Crafts

With the downtown Rutherfordton gallery of the Rutherford County Visual Arts Guild, and events such as MayFest, there are beautiful creations to discover from local artisans. Pottery, metal work, wood work, photography, and textiles are always on display.

Antiques & Shopping

Find a hidden treasure, take a walk down memory lane, or scratch a shopping itch. Several antique stores and local boutiques offer hard-to-find items, in addition to one-of-a-kind original creations from local artists. Explore downtown Rutherfordton, Spindale and when you're in Forest City, treat yourself to homemade potato chips made-to-order at the cafeteria inside Smith's Drugs!