Sylva is an eclectic community that’s a blend of a local, tourist and college feel surrounded by towering mountains.
The tree-lined downtown streetscape, dotted with benches, provides visitors with an afternoon of pleasant strolling. Sylva boasts an assortment of art galleries, bookstores, furniture and antique stores, clothing stores, excellent restaurants, a coffee shop, bars, two breweries, music store, outfitter’s shop and bike shop.
The majestic Jackson County historic courthouse overlooks downtown, with the building also serving as the public library. The Bridge Park Pavilion is a gathering place for events in downtown and is just a block off Main Street. The covered stage and grassy lawn is home to the weekly Friday night Concerts on the Creek series in summer.
• Jackson County Library and Courthouse — The historic courthouse on the hill overlooking Main Street has been painstakingly restored to its former glory. A stunning library was built alongside the courthouse to its rear, with architecture to match the historical icon.
• Tree walk — There is even an official 1.2-mile tree walk, featuring 44 of the more than 50 species in Sylva, designated a Tree City USA. Pick up a guide booklet at the Friends of the Library Used Book Store on Main Street in Sylva or the Jackson County Visitor Center in the Hooper House.
• The Hooper House — At the bottom of courthouse hill on Main Street sits this Victorian home. The home contains a county museum and is home to the chamber of commerce and the travel and tourism association. 828.586.2155.
• Heinzelmannchen Brewery — This local microbrewery offers smooth, German-style beers and root beer. The owners are happy to provide taste tests, or take your brew with you in a signature Heinzelmannchen growler. Stop in on Mill Street (which parallels Main). 828.631.4466.
• Innovation Brewing — Sylva’s newest brewery with around a dozen handcrafted beers at any given time. The outdoor patio overlooks a river and borders Main Street. Located at 414 West Main St. 828.586.9678.
• Judaculla Rock — A mysterious collection of Native American petro glyphs located on Caney Fork Road off N.C. 107 outside of town in Cullowhee. In the late 19th century, Cherokee groups were known to have ceremonial assemblies around the rock. Some say the rock is a map of a 1755 battle between the Cherokee and Indian rivals. Archeologists who have perused the stone claim it was carved sometime in the Late Archaic Period about 5,900 to 3,200 years ago when evidence first appears of Native American societies forming mound societies, or towns that took root around ceremonial Indian mounds. www.judacullarock.com.
• The Mountain Heritage Center — Located on the nearby Western Carolina University campus in Cullowhee, this museum features exhibits, demonstrations and educational programs on mountain society, past and present. 828.227.2179.
• Bardo Fine Arts Center and Museum — This state of the art teaching facility at Western Carolina University also has an art museum with a permanent collection and visiting exhibits, an outdoor sculpture garden, and a performance venue. 828.227.2479.
• Pinnacle Park — Located 10 minutes from Sylva, and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, this park offers panoramic views of the town. See the list of recommended hiking trails in this guide.
• Visitor Center — The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce is located at 773 West Main St. in downtown Sylva. 828.586.2155 or www.mountainlovers.com.