Highlands got its start in 1875 when two developers from Kansas predicted that the area would become a major trade route in the future. They came to that conclusion by drawing lines from New York to New Orleans and from Chicago to Savannah. The lines crossed in what is now known as Highlands. The developers were slightly off, however, as Highlands rests about 120 miles from Atlanta, but their logic was sound.
After Highlands was founded, the community became a health and summer resort atop one of western North Carolina's highest crests. As the highest incorporated town east of the Rockies, Highlands became a popular option for pioneers settling after the Civil War. By the 1880s, nearly 300 people called Highlands home.
Today, Highlands serves as a cultural center for authors, photographers, musicians, scholars, scientists, and artists. It's just isolated enough to retain its small-town charm and just cosmopolitan enough to attract visitors from all over. If you're looking for a memorable getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains that lies beyond the overcrowded and touristy Asheville, give Highlands a try.
Whatever drew you to this beautiful nook in western North Carolina, it's important to find the right hotel that allows you to experience everything Highlands has to offer.
When is the best time to visit Highlands, NC?
The best time to visit Highlands is in the summer when the weather is warm enough to enjoy the area's outdoor attractions. Given Highlands' elevation of 4,118 feet, summers are quite mild. In fact, average highs top out at 78 degrees Fahrenheit in July, with lows dipping just under 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind, however, that summer is peak tourist season in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hotel rates increase with the influx of visitors, so you may want to reserve your room well in advance.
Fall is a breathtaking time of year in western North Carolina. From late September through November, brisk temperatures provide an ideal environment for hiking and viewing the changing leaves. Pack a few layers and book your hotel early, especially if you're visiting when the leaves are at their most colorful.
Spring warms up slowly in Highlands, giving you the perfect chance to save money on your hotel and beat the crowds. April and May experience average highs in the mid-to-upper 60s, and the mountains come alive with greenery and blooms. Just be sure to pack a raincoat and umbrella, as Highlands gets an average of 81 inches of rain per year.
Wintertime in Highlands is quiet and hotel rates hit rock bottom. If you're wanting to visit the area on a tight budget, you can't beat a wintertime getaway. Temperatures fluctuate between the mid-20s and upper 40s all winter, so dress accordingly and book refundable flights if necessary. As long as any inclement weather stays at bay, you can still enjoy a brisk stroll in the Nantahala National Forest.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Highlands, NC:
Highlands, NC: Prices by Star Rating Class
Below are 3 charts illustrating avg. rate trends by star rating class in Highlands, NC. Browse these line graphs to determine the least expensive time period to stay in Highlands for upcoming travels.
Are there any luxury hotels in Highlands, NC?
4 Star Average Prices: $159.00
Most folks visiting Highlands do so to experience a luxurious mountain getaway. With so many upscale accommodations available, you can have your pick of rooms and amenities no matter your travel preference.
The Old Edwards Inn and Spa is a charming accommodation in downtown Highlands. The property boasts outdoor mineral pools, a whirlpool, farm-to-table restaurants, a destination spa, an 18-hole golf course, a game room, a fitness center, and electric vehicle charging stations.
Choose a room in the Hickory Cottage, the Historic Inn, the Lodge Cottages, Church Street Cottages, the Estate Rental, or one of the inn's many other delightful properties. Each luxury guest room is individually decorated with European-style decor, Italian bedding, and period antiques. Featured amenities include ironing facilities, fireplaces, blackout drapes, hot tubs, bottled water, flat-screen TVs with cable, in-room safes, mini fridges, designer toiletries, bathrobes, and slippers.
Old Edwards' sister property, Half-Mile Farm, is another luxury inn worth considering. The country retreat is located just three minutes from downtown Highlands and boasts a complimentary evening reception, a full bar with craft beverages, daily chef-made breakfasts, a heated mineral pool, a private lake with paddleboards and canoes, and access to recreational amenities at Old Edwards Club. The spacious rooms and guest suites feature top-of-the-line amenities like HDTVs, fireplaces, heated marble bathroom floors, deep soaking tubs, furnished balconies, and voicemail.
The Park on Main is an exceptional accommodation within a 15-minute drive of both Nantahala National Forest and Chattahoochee National Forest. Enjoy a beautiful garden and terrace, complimentary Wi-Fi, a lobby fireplace, concierge services, free parking, a 24-hour front desk, an elevator, and multilingual staff. A complimentary continental breakfast is served daily. Guest rooms feature pillowtop beds with Italian sheets, iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs, satellite programming, hair dryers, and designer toiletries.
Are there any affordable hotels in Highlands, NC?
3 Star Average Prices: $136.12
While there are plenty of upscale accommodations in Highlands, you'll want to look outside the community for a more budget-friendly option.
Situated about 10 miles from Highlands, Colonial Inn Franklin is an affordable roadside lodging close to Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. On-site amenities include guest laundry facilities, a vending machine, complimentary wireless internet access, and a restaurant. Guest rooms feature deep soaking bathtubs, irons, ironing boards, work desks, satellite TV, mini fridges, microwaves, and phones with free local calls.
Mountain Valley Inn Dillard is another smart option close to Highlands. Enjoy a 24-hour front desk, multilingual staff, a vending machine, ample parking, a picnic area, barbecue grills, a seasonal outdoor pool, and a complimentary continental breakfast. Guest rooms are basic but feature LCD TVs with cable programming, work desks, microwaves, mini fridges, and hair dryers.
Rodeway Inn offers a convenient location on Main Street in Franklin. Featured amenities include ample parking, a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and a complimentary continental breakfast. Guest rooms feature 39-inch flat-screen TVs, cable programming, work desks, ironing facilities, deep soaking tubs, and toiletries.