Aerial Shot of Downtown West Jefferson NC

30+ Great Things to Do in West Jefferson NC & Nearby | 2024

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West Jefferson is a magical mountain town in a valley area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This small, unique town presents a beautiful combination of stunning landscapes, captivating history, and modern artistic culture. 

As you walk through the city, breathing in the fresh mountain air, you will be happily met with a variety of fantastic things to explore. West Jefferson is conveniently located just 20 minutes from Boone and an hour from Winston-Salem, but you’ll still feel like you’re hidden away in the Blue Ridge Mountains

The history of West Jefferson dates back to the early 1900s when the Virginia-Carolina Railroad (better known as the Virginia Creeper) bypassed Jefferson, NC, and came through this area instead. In turn, many businesses opened around it, and the Town of West Jefferson was incorporated in 1909. 

If you are looking for a quiet weekend getaway or a good place for a day trip, West Jefferson should be calling your name. 

Things to Do in West Jefferson NC

From art galleries and museums to town murals, eccentric mountain restaurants, cafes, and natural wonders, West Jefferson has so much to see for a small town. In the article below, we put together a helpful travel guide for your next trip through this part of Western North Carolina.

Mural in Downtown West Jefferson NC

1. Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

Address: 1481 Mt Jefferson Rd, West Jefferson, NC 28694

The Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is an area of land that encompasses over 1,000 acres of land and has some of the best scenic vistas in West Jefferson. There are over five miles of hiking trails that allow guests to experience over 700 species of plants found onsite. 

Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

Two popular view spots are the Sunrise Overlook and the Jefferson Overlook. The Sunrise Overlook can be reached by a fairly easy, one-mile hike through the woods. The Jefferson Overlook is the opposite trail from the Sunrise Overlook and can also be reached by a one-mile hike. This overlook provides gorgeous views of Mount Jefferson and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Mount Jefferson State Natural Area Overlook
Jefferson Overlook

2. Parkway Theater

Address: 10 E Main St, West Jefferson, NC 28694

The Parkway Theater is a hometown, family movie theater that has been serving the community for nearly 40 years. It is a great place to visit on a cold or rainy day. They play all the newest top hits and special features in an affordable, comfy movie theater.

3. Great Southern Gothic: Escape Room & Curiosity Shoppe 

Address: 103 N Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

The Great Southern Gothic started as the display of a large collection of unique and curious antique and vintage items. Later, the shop owner added a supreme escape room located on the second floor. The escape room changes themes every few months and is open to a maximum of eight guests. Once you make it out, visit the shop for a fascinating souvenir or gift.

Escape Room entrance

4. Museum of Ashe County History

Address: 301 E Main St, Jefferson, NC 28640

The Museum of Ashe County History is a non-profit history museum located in the original 1904 Ashe County courthouse building. The museum features a number of permanent and rotating exhibits that include artifacts, documents, photographs, video clips, and more that display a well-written history of Ashe County. 

Museum of Ashe County History

5. Ashe Arts Center 

Address: 303 School Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

The Ashe Arts Center is a year-round exhibition room, museum, and event center. The center offers a space for local artists to showcase their art, get in touch with other artists, and be inspired by the history of Ashe County. There is a large theater that serves as the Ashe County Little Theater that hosts live musicians, plays, and performances. 

Ashe Arts

6. Ashe County Cheese 

Address: 106 E Main St, West Jefferson, NC 28694

West Jefferson was once the home to the largest cheese manufacturer in the state. Opened in the 1930s, Ashe County Cheese is where all the cheese-making action took place. Today, Ashe County Cheese is the oldest working cheese plant around that still produces the finest quality cheeses. 

Cheese at Ashe County Cheese

The Ashe County Cheese viewing room is open year-round for free to the public, so anyone can come and see how cheese is actually made. There is also a nice gift shop with lots of cheese-related gifts and cheese for sale. Keep an eye out for their food truck parked outside as well, where you can find fried cheese curds, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and more.

Sandwich at Ashe County Cheese
Cheese curds at Ashe County Cheese

7. Backstreet Park

Address: 2nd Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Backstreet Park is a cool downtown pocket park that has a variety of historic attractions. The park also has a performing stage where the popular summer concert series and holiday shows take place. Explore the train caboose as well; you can walk inside it and explore. 

Caboose at Backstreet Park

8. Ashe County Farmers Market

Address: 108 BackStreet, West Jefferson, NC 28694

The Ashe County Farmers Market is a lovely year-round farmers’ market in an indoor/outdoor setting. There are over 50 vendors that sell everything from local produce, meats, dairy, and fruits to handcrafted items, honey, canned goods, crafts, woodwork, plants, and more.

Open every Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm. The Ashe County Farmers Market is a great place to meet the county’s hard-working farmers and pick up some delicious organic produce or some souvenirs.

Ashe County Farmers Market

9. West Jefferson Park | Bowie-Seagraves Municipal Park 

Address: 201 S Church, West Jefferson, NC 28694

West Jefferson Park is a well-loved town park that stretches almost eight acres and has great activities for people of all ages. Amenities at the park include basketball courts, a playground, a jumbo slide, tennis courts, picnic tables, grills, restrooms, grassy areas, and baseball fields. Dogs are allowed but must stay on a leash.

West Jefferson Park

10. Blue Ridge Movie Lounge

Address: 17 E 2nd St, West Jefferson, NC 28694

The Blue Ridge Movie Lounge is a state-of-the-art movie theater that makes you feel like you’re in your very own living room. This movie theater has extra plush seats and a cozy atmosphere that offers a totally different movie-going experience.

They serve premium concession snacks, wine, and hard ciders. BRML shows both new releases and timeless classics. Private screenings are also available.

Blue Ridge Movie Lounge

11. Unseen Pass 

Address: 421 E 2nd St, West Jefferson, NC 28694

There is no better way to see the beautiful country of West Jefferson than by cruising around on a UTV. Unseen Pass is a street-legal side-by-side rental company with many different sizes and seat options available. Start your rental application online before picking up your four-wheeler.

Unseen Pass

12. Martha Mae’s Emporium 

Address: 204 S Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Martha Mae’s Emporium is a unique antique and gift shop located in downtown West Jefferson. The store carries a variety of handmade items, home decor, clothing, jewelry, antiques, and more.

Martha's Maes Emporium

13. Mountain Aire Golf Course

Address: 1396 Fairway Ridge Dr, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Mountain Aire Golf Course is an affordable public 18-hole golf course. The course is a moderate length and can be played by players of all levels and experiences. 

14. Elk Shoals New River State Park

Address: 349 Methodist Camp Rd, West Jefferson, NC 28694

New River State Park is a large public park not far from the center of West Jefferson. The park spans over 3,000 acres and runs along New River. Activities at the park include swimming, kayaking, 9 miles of hiking trails, fishing, and paddling. There are also some nice backpacking or paddle-in campsites. 

15. CatchLight Gallery 

Address: 118 N Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

CatchLight Gallery is a beautiful gallery dedicated to sharing the art of photography. The gallery includes rotating exhibits that change about once a month and showcase photographers from around the area. 

Aerial Shot of Downtown West Jefferson NC

16. Ashe County Park Disc Golf Course

Address: 527 Ashe Park Rd, Jefferson, NC 28640

Ashe County Park is a free 20-hole disc golf course park. It is said to be one of the best free disc golf parks in the state and has pro and amateur pads. Visitors are also welcome to simply enjoy the park, which has a pond, walking areas, and stunning views. 

Drinks and Restaurants in West Jefferson NC

✅ Craft Bistro in the Old Artists’ Theater
Address: 8 E Main St, West Jefferson, NC 28694

A fine dining restaurant that serves various classic American dishes and seafood. Call ahead to book a table. 

✅ Old Barn Winery and Vineyards
Address: 2152 Beaver Creek School Rd, West Jefferson, NC 28694

A laid-back winery with a beautiful backyard area, lots of seating, great wines, and live events. They are dog-friendly. They have a complimentary trolley that comes downtown and has a stop in front of Ashe County Cheese; they provide transportation to and from the winery, which runs on Fridays and Saturdays.

Old Barn Winery

✅ Bohemia Coffee
Address: 5 N Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Bohemia Coffee is a relaxing town cafe with lots of coffee drink options and baked goods.

Inside Bohemia Coffee

✅ Smoky Mountain Barbecue
Address: 1008 S Jefferson Ave #9729, West Jefferson, NC 28694

If you are looking for a quick and easy barbecue that is still delicious, head over to Smoky Mountain Barbecue. This is a counter-service-style restaurant with decent seating and great prices.

✅ New River Brewing Taproom & Brewery
Address: 833 U.S. Hwy 221 Business, West Jefferson, NC 28694

New River Brewing is a new brewery that opened in 2021. Their taproom is a laid-back, dog-friendly space with lots of seating and 18 freshly brewed craft beers on tap. This is a popular spot for events and live music.

30+ Great Things to Do in West Jefferson NC & Nearby | 2024

✅ New River Brewing Smokehouse & Eatery
Address: 108 South 3rd Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

The New River Brewing Smokehouse was opened shortly after the opening of their taproom. Located in downtown West Jefferson, the smokehouse has a large menu and a comfortable atmosphere, and they are family-friendly. 

New River Brewing Beer

✅ Hillbilly Grill
Address: 601 S Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

A classic small mountain town breakfast and lunch restaurant that has been serving the community since 2009.

✅ Sweet & Savory Bakery & Deli
Address: 6 S Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Sweet and Savory Bakery & Deli is a hidden gem of West Jefferson. This small shop is one of the best places to find local organic produce, eggs, and baked goods. They also have a fantastic selection of sandwiches, soups, and desserts.

✅ Oshu House
Address: 920 S Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

A Japanese restaurant with a great hibachi menu, freshly made sushi, and other classic Asian dishes. Oshu House is a local favorite and serves some of the best Japanese food in Ashe County.

Mural in Downtown West Jefferson NC

✅ Havana Cafe
Address: 109 BackStreet, West Jefferson, NC 28694

A unique Cuban restaurant with deliciously authentic Cuban flavors and traditional Cuban dishes. 

✅ Boondocks Brewing – Taproom & Restaurant
Address: 108 S Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

They have two West Jefferson locations; you’ll find hearty dishes paired with a vast craft beer selection. They provide full-service dining, catering, special events, private parties, and brewery tours. Enjoy wings, burgers, and more in a lively atmosphere with outdoor seating and TVs.

Boondocks Brewing

Brew Haus & Event Venue Address: 302 S Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Boondocks Brewing

✅ Bobby D’s
Address: 588 S Main St, Jefferson, NC 28640

Bobby D’s is a local favorite hangout spot and sports bar. They have a large beer selection, handcrafted cocktails, karaoke, live music, pool, and a great weekday happy hour.

✅ Thong Summit Thai & Sushi
Address: 401 S Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Thong Summit Thai & Sushi is an authentic Thai restaurant with fast service and flavorful dishes.

✅ Kristin’s Hook’d On Smoke
Address: 602 S Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Kristin’s Hook’d on Smoke is a locally-owned, award-winning barbecue food truck. They have their very own smoker on-site and outdoor tables placed wherever they are parked. Check online for their next location! 

Mural in Downtown West Jefferson NC

✅ Southern Scoops and Sandwiches
Address: 215 Long St, Jefferson, NC 28640

A small, family-owned neighborhood ice cream parlor and sandwich shop. They have a fun selection of Hershey’s ice cream and a nice menu with handmade sandwiches. 

✅ Rodie’s Parkway Restaurant
Address: 10101 NC-16, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Rodie’s Parkway Restaurant is a West Jefferson staple. This old-timey, classic American-style restaurant has a comforting atmosphere and the best kinds of fried foods, burgers, hot dogs, barbecues, and handmade desserts.

✅ Louise’s Sweet T Cafe
Address: 425 E 2nd St, West Jefferson, NC 28694

A homey breakfast and lunch cafe located inside the People’s Drug Store.

Mural in Downtown West Jefferson NC

✅ Kitchen Table Games & Bistro
Address: 926 U.S. Hwy 221 Business, West Jefferson, NC 28694

The Kitchen Table is a hip eatery and game room. They focus on healthy-minded organic meals and smoothies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As you dine, guests are welcome to choose from the large number of games they have available to play and enjoy. 

✅ Black Jack’s Pub & Grill
Address: 18 N Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

A casual bar and grill with classic American-style bar foods and a full bar.

✅ Backstreet Subs
Address: 209 BackStreet, West Jefferson, NC 28694

A fun local deli with sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and ice cream. 

Backstreet Subs

✅ O’s Thai Express
Address: 108 3rd Ave, West Jefferson, NC 28694

An authentic Thai restaurant that uses fresh, local produce in all their meals. They have a great outdoor patio with a relaxing atmosphere. 

✅ Kalman’s Get Smashed
Address: 833 U.S. Hwy 221 Business, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Many say Kalman’s is the BEST place to get a burger in Ashe County. They serve gourmet smash burgers, delicious sides, taters, and desserts. 

✅ High Country Seafood Co
Address: 215 Beaver Creek School Rd, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Ashe County’s best seafood market and restaurant. They have a great selection of fresh seafood and meats.

✅ Watson Foods
Address: 11 E 2nd St, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Discover a gourmet grocery store that exudes charm and elegance – Purveyors of Fine Foods. Provisions, Sundries & Accoutrements. At this upscale establishment, you can explore a wide variety of unique food items. You’ll find a diverse wine selections, truffles, aioli, and more!

Watson Foods

Things to do near West Jefferson NC

Here are some great ideas for a short-day trip just outside of West Jefferson.

✅ Drive the Scenic Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most famous parkways in the country. This 469-mile drive starts in Waynesboro, VA, and ends near Cherokee, NC, and offers some of the most spectacular sights, interesting attractions, and tons of history. The Blue Ridge Parkway actually runs along Ashe County for 20 miles, and these are our favorite stops along the parkway in this 20-mile stretch. 

🚶 Jumpinoff Rock | Milepost 260.3 
🚶 Mt Jefferson Overlook | Milepost 266.8
🚶 The Lump Overlook | Milepost 264.4
🚶 Lewis Fork Overlook | Milepost 270.2
🚶 Cascade Falls | E.B. Jeffress Park – The Cascades Trail | Milepost 271.9 
🚶 Tompkins Knob Overlook | Milepost 273
🚶 Elk Mountain Overlook | 274.3

Blue Ridge Mountains

✅ New River State Park

Address: 358 New River State Park Rd, Laurel Springs, NC 28644

New River State Park is a 3,000-acre state park around the New River, one of the oldest rivers in the United States. There are many miles of hiking trails, swimming, camping, fishing, paddling, and kayaking opportunities. 

✅ Day Trip to Lansing, NC

Lansing, NC, is a very small town just 15 minutes outside of West Jefferson. This town has a population of just over 100 people but has some fascinating heritage, cute shops, and some nice attractions. Here are some you should check out while passing through.

👉 Molley Chomper Hard Cider | 165 Piney Creek Rd, Lansing, NC 28643

Molley Chomper Flight

👉 The Liar’s Bench | 144 S Big Horse Creek Rd, Lansing, NC 28643

Sandwich at The Liar's Bench

👉 Old Orchard Creek General Store | 9350 NC-194, Lansing, NC 28643

Old Orchard Creek General Store

👉 Good Ashe Lavender Farm (Seasonally) | 225 Joe Hampton Rd, Lansing, NC 28643

✅ Day Trip to Boone, NC

The home of Appalachian State University, Boone is a well-known and well-loved mountain town that is located about 30 minutes from West Jefferson.

Like many of the mountain towns in the area, Boone is known for having supreme outdoor activities and is the area where Appalachian Ski Mountain is located.

Other popular attractions in Boone include the Tweetsie Railroad, several local breweries and taprooms, Foggy Mountain Gem Mine, and the Hickory Ridge History Museum.

Lost Province 2 Beers

✅ Grayson Highlands State Park
Address: 829 Grayson Highland Ln, Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363

Grayson Highlands State Park is over 4,500 acres and is known for being the gateway to Virginia’s highest peak, Mount Rogers. While this state park is located in Virginia, it is only about a 40-minute drive from West Jefferson.

This beautiful park has many miles of hiking trails, mountain biking trails, fishing, swimming, chances to see “wild” ponies, and stunning scenic views of the mountaintops. If you are thinking of taking a day trip to Grayson Highlands, these are a few of our favorite hikes that you should definitely consider checking out.

🚶 Wilson Creek Trail
🚶 Rhododendron Trail
🚶 Mount Rogers Trail

Annual Events in West Jefferson NC

Here are some of West Jefferson’s best annual events that you don’t want to miss.

✅ Saved By a Salamander Day | May 18th, 2024
Address: 710 Grassy Creek Rd, Grassy Creek, NC 28631

Saved By a Salamander Day started in 2023 as a day to raise awareness and celebrate the New River and wildlife conservation. The inaugural event included a full day of live music, paddling the New River, workshops, vendors, and food trucks. The 2024 event will again take place at the Old Store at Grassy Creek.

✅ Christmas In July Festival | July 5-6, 2024

The classic Christmas in July Festival has been bringing joy and celebration to the community for over 35 years. The popular event takes place in downtown West Jefferson for two days at the beginning of July. There is lots of yummy food, games, crafts, live music, and non-stop entertainment for everyone of all ages.

✅ BackStreet Park Summer Concert Series 

Every Friday from the end of May to early August, concerts are held on the stage in BackStreet Park. Live bands locally and from around the county play at 5 p.m. Guests are welcome to bring blankets, chairs, beverages, and snacks.

✅ Ashe County Corn Maze & Pumpkin Festival | October 2024

The Ashe County Corn Maze is an age-old family tradition that thousands of families enjoy each year. Each October, the corn maze holds a pumpkin festival with vendors, food trucks, trips to the pumpkin patch, and tons of fall activity fun. 

✅ West Jefferson Christmas Parade | November 18th, 2023

In November each year, the town of West Jefferson goes all out to start the celebration of the holidays. Hundreds gather on the streets to the parade with local bands, floats, dance groups, fire trucks, police cars, and Santa himself. 

✅ Hometown Christmas – Tree Lighting | November 24th, 2023

The official Christmas Tree Lighting takes place in downtown West Jefferson right around Thanksgiving each year. Witness as the grand tree is lit with thousands of Christmas lights and stay to enjoy warm refreshments and the Christmas lights strewn around the town. 

Aerial Shot of Downtown West Jefferson NC

Read More: Things to Do in North Carolina in December

​​Where To Stay in West Jefferson NC

📍Holiday Inn Express West Jefferson, an IHG Hotel – The Holiday Inn Express in West Jefferson is a great, inexpensive way to spend a clean, comfortable vacation. These modern-style rooms are perfect for passing through or if you want to spend a weekend visit with the family. Amenities at the Holiday Inn Express include a pool, continental breakfast, laundry facilities, and a gym.

📍Walking Distance to Downtown/Beautiful Mountain Views – This stunning mountain home is the perfect house for your next family vacation! With three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a spacious kitchen, and a backyard and patio, there will be plenty of room for everyone. Guests can feel tucked away in the mountains (with fantastic mountain views) while still being a short walk to downtown West Jefferson.  One pet under 30 pounds is welcome.

📍Downtown Cabin – If you are looking for a romantic, quiet cabin in the hills of West Jefferson, this downtown cabin should be your top choice! The rustic-style cabin has the coziest atmosphere, including mountain views, a hot tub, and a patio to enjoy. Get lost in the mountains while being only three minutes from all of downtown West Jefferson. Dogs are allowed (rules apply). 

📍Bearadise at Blue Ridge The Bearadise at Blue Ridge is truly the ultimate vacation dream. This rustic, log-cabin-style home sleeps up to six guests and is just minutes away from places like Ashe Lake and Elk Shoals. Your stay here will include access to the beautiful land, spacious rooms, a front porch, and all the cozy, relaxing mountain vibes. Dogs are welcome.

West Jefferson NC: FAQs

📌 What is West Jefferson known for?
West Jefferson was once known for having the only cheese factory in the southeastern United States. Today, it is a famous historic railroad town.

📌 Is West Jefferson, NC, in the mountains?
West Jefferson is a mountain town nestled right in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina.

📌 What is the elevation of West Jefferson, NC?
The elevation of West Jefferson is 2,986 feet.

📌 Who was West Jefferson, NC, named after?
The nearby Town of Jefferson, NC, was named after Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. The town was founded in 1799 while Thomas Jefferson was the Vice President of the United States, two years before he became President.

📌 What mountains surround West Jefferson, NC?
West Jefferson is situated in a valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with Mount Jefferson to the east and Paddy Mountain to the west. 

Final Thoughts

West Jefferson might not be the first name you hear when you are asking about what towns to visit in Western North Carolina. However, this little town has such a big heart and so many beautiful things to discover. Put it on your travel list today!

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