We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving a little over six hours southwest of Charleston takes you to Murphy, North Carolina. This quaint town in the western part of the state may seem small, seeing that you can walk around the town square and do many things, but it is mighty and has a fierce sense of community. Murphy has pristine landscapes, locally-owned boutiques and antique stores, waterfalls, dense forests, and river activity choices. You are in for a real treat when you visit this unique mountain town, located two hours from Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN MURPHY
With two famous mountain ranges to choose from, hiking is a primo activity. You can also hike the beautiful landscape of the Nantahala National Forest, which has an abundance of trails. It is easy to get your nature fix in this part of the state.
There are three lakes to choose from (Hiwassee, Apalachia, and Cherokee) in the area, so boating, swimming, inner-tube floating, water skiing, fishing, whitewater rafting, and kayaking are popular activities. Camping around these lakes would be a great alternative to typical lodging.
A cool thing to do in Murphy is to dig for gems and pan for gold at Salty Dog Gem Mine at Wagonmaster Adventure Ranch. You can also charter boats, play mini-golf, skeet shoot, and go for a wagon ride. There are even Power Wheels dune buggies and Jeeps for the little ones to enjoy.
Do a little shopping in downtown Murphy at Marketplace Antiques, Curiosity Shop Bookstore, Bless My Stitches Quilt Shop, or Simply Sweet Baby Boutique. The scented body products and jewelry at Serenity Mountain are worth a look, too. Art classes are offered, or you can watch artisans at work at MAC, the Murphy Art Center. Hanging Dog General Store is a local favorite, with dipped candles, retro candies, and ice cream.
Two unique attractions in Murphy are Fields of the Wood and the John C. Campbell Folk School. Fields of the Wood is a nature park based on the Holy Bible. Rock formations and creative displays depict God’s word at a free attraction that is fun and beautiful for all denominations. The Ten Commandments display is stunning! The John C. Campbell school offers 800+ year-round classes related to art, music, gardening, dance, crafts, photography, writing, and much more. It has been in business and supporting/teaching with a hands-on learning curriculum for almost 100 years.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
For a town the size of Murphy, there is a large number of good dining choices. For breakfast, pop in The Bakeshop for homemade quiche, donuts, pastries, aromatic coffee, cold brew, espresso, and tea in a gorgeous space. You can find more good coffee, delicious appetizers, and tasty sandwiches at The Daily Grind & Wine, where Ma’am’s hot jam spread with crackers is a must. Royal Waffle King is a Murphy staple with dozens of breakfast platter meals.
Get your Mexican food fix at Monte Alban Restaurante Mexicano for lunch, or try the raved about “overstuffed sandwiches” from Red Brick Deli, the #1 rated restaurant in town per TripAdvisor. Satisfy your sweet craving afterward with ice cream from The Sweet Tooth.
Both The Chowder House and The Parson’s Pub are excellent dinner options. The Chowder House specializes in chowders, bisques, and Fish & Chips, while Parson’s Pub has an extensive beer menu and German favorites, like Bangers & Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, and Corned Beef and Cabbage.
Visit Andrews Brewing Company for craft brews and try the local wines from Nottely River Valley and Valley River Vineyards. All three may be running at limited capacity due to COVID19, but do appear to be open on weekends.
WHERE TO STAY IN MURPHY
You will find comfortable and clean accommodations at the Stonebrook Lodge (free Wifi and breakfast) and Holiday Inn Express & Suites Murphy (with a lovely indoor pool). If casino action interests you, check out Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River, with 1,000+ slot machines and 70 table games. Harrah’s also has a food court, several restaurants, and rooms for under $100 per night.
Add some romance to your mountain visit at Angels Landing Inn, a 115-year-old Victorian home turned bed and breakfast in 2002. It offers a gourmet breakfast, fresh flowers in each room, vintage clawfoot tubs, and turn down service, to name a few of the enticing amenities. A second romantic choice would be to rent a rustic cabin from Mountain Country in the stunning Appalachian Mountains. You’ll have privacy galore and all of the comforts of home in this peaceful setting.
A STUNNING MOUNTAIN TOWN
Between the beauty of the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains, local attractions, acute town square, the lakes, and scenic vistas, you will find Murphy, North Carolina, to be a great weekend getaway no matter what time of year you visit.