Life in Western North Carolina

Although popular with retirees, Western North Carolina is far from just another retirement destination. The towns and cities in this historic region provide unlimited opportunities to reinvent, recharge, and enrich the lives of both its year-round and part-time residents. And since Balsam Mountain Preserve is located just off the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway instead of an isolated two-lane mountain road, the charming towns in close proximity to the community are utilized and enjoyed by our residents on a daily basis.

Click on the topics below to read more about the fantastic lifestyle that awaits you in this special part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.


In the Spring, Summer, and Autumn months, there is literally a festival happening every weekend in mountain towns large and small. 

One of the most popular events is Folkmoot, an annual happening in Waynesville.  Folkmoot is North Carolina's Official International Festival, and is a two-week celebration of the world's cultural heritage through folk music and dance.  The festival features performances and workshops by more than 350 performers from a dozen or so countries. During its 25-year history, over 200 folk groups from more than 100 countries have shared their heritage and culture at Folkmoot. Downtown Waynesville is also home to the annual Haywood Apple Harvest Festival. With over 40,000 festival goers, this one day festival has grown into the region's premier juried arts and crafts event and celebration of all things apple.

Sylva's annual Greening up the Mountains Festival features mountain music on two stages, homemade baked goods, and fun and games for children. Concerts on the Creek provide live music and entertainment every Friday night from May through September at Sylva's Bridge Park Pavilion.

Dillsboro's Luminaries and Lights festival weekends in December illuminates the town with thousands of lights and candles.

Asheville's most popular summer family happening is Shindig On The Green, a weekend event that runs from July through September, and features an always enjoyable variety of mountain dancers, bluegrass bands, and storytellers.

Performing Arts

There is an impressive variety of live theatre, symphony, ballet, and other cultural events within a short drive of Balsam Mountain Preserve.  The Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University is an exciting new cultural arts and education destination for Western North Carolina and the surrounding region.  Set in a beautiful valley between the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains, the center combines state-of-the-art educational opportunities for students and instructors with a fresh and inspiring venue for world-class performers and artists.

The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre (HART) located in Waynesville is one of the treasures of Western North Carolina.  HART, founded in 1985, is a volunteer-based community theatre showcasing the talents of the people of the region.  It has grown into one of the most active theatres in the Southeast, producing a year-round schedule of plays and musicals from its home, The Performing Arts Center at the Shelton House.  Opened in 1997, and funded by the support of people throughout the community, HART's home is a stunning facility constructed in the style of the traditional Summer Stock playhouses of the 1920's.

About 40 minutes away in Asheville, you'll find a symphony orchestra, the Asheville Community Theater, and the Diana Wortham Theater, a performing arts center that is home to the ballet, the lyric opera, and hundreds of live theater and musical performances throughout the year.

Arts and Crafts

Western North Carolina is known across the U.S. for its remarkable arts and crafts, an industry nurtured by the legendary George Vanderbilt.  In building the Biltmore Estate, Vanderbilt brought in artisans from around the world who stayed and prospered in the region long after the estate was completed.  Today, local shops offer fine works from talented artists who bring their visions to life right here in the area.

Check out some of the galleries in Downtown Waynesville - Twigs and Leaves, Studio 33 Jewelry, and Burr Studio and Gallery are a few local favorites.

The New York Times, Travel and Leisure magazine, and many other publications have recognized Asheville as a premier arts destination.  Asheville's River Arts District is comprised of 13 unique storefronts that offer visitors the opportunity to meet and talk with artists in their studios. and to experience the magic hidden inside the time-worn factories and warehouses along the French Broad River. The Asheville Downtown Galleries Association features 24 galleries that offer glass arts, sculptures, pottery, fine paintings, jewelry, and much more.


Western North Carolina is widely recognized as one of the nation’s top recreation areas.  Among the nearby outdoor persuits that residents can enjoy are whitewater rafting on Class 1 through 5 rapids at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, mountain biking, hiking the Appalachian or any number of area trails, boating, horseback riding, snow skiing, camping, and fly fishing. The Blue Ridge Parkway is only four miles from Balsam Mountain Preserve, and is truly one of this country's national treasures.  Driving the Parkway is a unforgettable way to spend time admiring the awesome wonders of nature.

Health Care

A major benefit for the residents of Balsam Mountain Preserve is the accessibility of skilled health care facilities. Harris Regional Medical Center in Sylva is the closest hospital, located just 5 minutes from the main gatehouse.  Harris Regional is an 86 bed acute care facility that has experienced strong growth in recent years, with four major expansions since the 1980s.

Haywood Regional Medical Center is 11 miles away.  The center is a nearly 200 bed acute care hospital with an ER, Urgent Care Center, Home Care Center and a large 54,000 square foot Health and Wellness Center.  In addition to hospital care, there are over 25 private medical practices in Waynesville.

Asheville’s Mission Hospital complex is consistently rated among the top 100 heart and orthopedic hospitals in the U.S.


Interested in continuing education?  There are several universities close by, including Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.  Located about 15 minutes from the main gatehouse, this college is home to about 9,000 students, and is preparing for some major expansion projects. Haywood Community College in nearby Clyde offers over 50 cirricular programs.  Asheville’s Center for Creative Retirement at the University of North Carolina-Asheville offers an impressive array of continuing education programs for adults of all ages.

Explore These Great Towns

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