Bear Lake Reserve, NC

Local Attractions

Nearby towns and attractions in Western North Carolina.


The closest town is only 15 miles away from Bear Lake Reserve and was the 2016 filming location for Academy Award winning movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO”. Its typical high country Main Street offers an array of eclectic shops and restaurants. The town hosts the Mountains Festival in April, a 4th of July celebration, Western Carolina’s Homecoming Parade, Christmas Parade and a Farmers Market every Saturday.


Two miles west of Sylva’s downtown is Dillsboro, a quaint 19th century small-town America. This Carolina town is the railway depot for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad and the home of the infamous train wreck scene in the 1993 blockbuster movie “The Fugitive” starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. The Dillsboro Arts & Music Festival in June, Taste of North Carolina in July and the Western NC Pottery Festival in November are but a few of the special events not to miss.

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University is a co-ed, 9500 student, residential, public university within the University of NC system. Its campus encompasses 600 acres in Cullowhee, only minutes from Bear Lake. Their $30 million Fine & Performing Arts Center offers a full season of cultural events while the school’s baseball, football and basketball games keep the town hopping during seasons.

Western Carolina University


The town of Cashiers sits at an elevation of 3,485 feet and is only a 30 minute drive from our spacious rental cabin. It is known for its natural beauty, numerous prestigious gated communities, exclusive country clubs and its summer attraction of nearly 10,000 people. Cashiers also hosts several special events throughout the year.


The charming mountain town of Highlands is a 40 minute ride (approx. 20 miles) from Bear Lake Reserve and sits on a plateau in the southern Appalachian Mountains within the Nantahala National Forest. Its elevation is just over 4100 ft. and contributes to wonderfully cool summers. The town offers an array of award-winning restaurants, exclusive high-end boutique shops, gift stores, performing arts theatres, antique shops and several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic Highlands Inn and Old Edwards Inn are landmarks not too miss!


Historic Waynesville, founded in 1809 by Colonel Robert Love, a Revolutionary War soldier, was named after Love’s commander, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. Waynesville is now a larger mountain town with a population of 10,000 and is known for its scenic Main Street with charming antique shops and restaurants. It’s only a 40 minute drive north of Bear Lake Reserve.


Asheville, North Carolina, is located 60 miles northeast from Bear Lake Reserve. Numerous tour books have named Asheville “a must-see destination”. The city has a lively and welcoming downtown and is proud of its thriving arts community, historical attractions and unique shopping and dining.

Asheville is also home of the Biltmore Estate, a French Renaissance-style mansion with 250 rooms and 8,000 acres. It was built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800’s and was permanently opened to the public as a house museum in 1956. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964, the Biltmore, its 75 acres of formal gardens and the Biltmore Winery are visited by more than 1 million people year-round.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a major tourist attraction in the region and is the most visited national park in the U.S. — 9 million visitors a year. The two main park entrances are along U.S. Highway 441 at Cherokee, NC, only a 30 minute drive from our cabin, and at Gatlinburg, TN.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway, completed in 1987, extends 470 miles from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky National Park in NC. The year of 2010 marked its 75th Anniversary. An entrance to the parkway is only 12 miles from Bear Lake Reserve, at Milepost 443.1.

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