Detail of red rope on a exhibit at the Swannanoa Valley Museum.

The Swannanoa Valley Museum & What You Need to Know

Take a step back in time at the Swannanoa Valley Museum. This Blue Ridge museum is home to countless exhibits, hiking trails, photograph collections, and more. It is the perfect way to gain a new appreciation for Western North Carolina! Read on to learn how to make the most of your trip. And, if you are looking for more ways to appreciate North Carolina history, take a look at our free Chimney Rock/Lake Lure Vacation Guide. Our guide is full of recommendations on art galleries, museums, and more, so that you can spend less time planning and more time exploring!

Everything You Need to Know About the Swannanoa Valley Museum


The Swannanoa Valley Museum is home to an extensive collection of photographs and relics that showcase the fascinating history of Western North Carolina. In addition, every year, the museum mounts a new, temporary exhibit, so you can always look forward to something new! Past exhibits included “Moonshine in the Mountains” and “Artisans of the Appalachians.” Catch a glimpse of what the museum will offer this year by visiting the museum’s exhibits page.


If you’d like to incorporate some exercise into your history lesson, then you need to embark on a hiking history tour. The museum hosts a variety of hiking events each month. Creek and tunnel hikes, waterfall hikes to Catawba Falls, and history hikes to the closed Bee Tree Reservoir to Jack’s Falls are just a few hikes you can enjoy. Driving tours are also offered throughout the year.

From strenuous and challenging adventures to leisurely strolls, you’ll find a journey here for everyone! For more information on events, hikes, book talks, and more, see the Swannanoa Valley Museum events calendar.


  • Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The museum is open from mid-April through November. However, hikes are available year-round.
  • Admission to the museum is by donation. Generally, $5 is recommended. Students and children under 18 are free.
  • If you’d like to visit the archives, we recommend making an appointment. Due to space, the museum can only accommodate a limited number of visitors at a time.


After a day of exploring the Swannanoa Valley Museum, head home to The Esmeralda Inn & Restaurant. Join us for dinner at The Esmeralda Restaurant, reminisce the day, and recount all the fascinating things that you learned about Western North Carolina’s history. Afterward, settle in for the night in The Mountain View Queen. This cozy accommodation features sweeping mountain views, two queen beds, luxury linens, and more. 

Complimentary breakfast and spa services are a few amenities to enjoy during your stay with us. When you are ready to plan your next vacation, check our specials and book your getaway. We look forward to hosting you soon!

Esmeralda Inn Accommodations

If you are looking for more ways to explore NC history, read our blog on the Carl Sandburg House.