Visitor Guide

Madison County and Marshall, North Carolina

With the French Broad River at its feet, the steep rocky edge of a mountain at its back, a railroad passing through, and a pillared court house, the county seat of Marshall is the epitome of a picturesque mountain town.

Marshall has that warm, small-town feeling while art galleries, high ceilinged apartments rich with brick and wood, restaurants with fresh menus, and unique stores begin to fill the century-old brick buildings. Spend an evening or an afternoon exploring Main Street and Blannerhassett Island.

Where to Eat

Smack those lips and come our way whether you are looking for a burger, pizza or good country cookin’ Madison County is known to be versatile and our food makes no exception.

Things to Do

Just minutes from Asheville, NC, Madison County is full of ways to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Within the Pisgah National Forest, the Appalachian Trail and hiking trails provide a wide range of opportunities for hiking. Other outdoor activities include whitewater rafting on the French Broad River, bicycling on scenic and lightly-traveled mountain roads; horseback riding on trails which provide unique vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains; fishing in our mountain streams and rivers.

Arts and Craft

The Blue Ridge “hills are alive” not only with the sound of traditional music, but also with the sound of various artists and craftspeople working in their medium to create a unique product which displays their particular talent.


At one time, Madison County landscape was covered with acres of tobacco fields and the farm economy relied heavily on burley tobacco. Agriculture in western North Carolina has changed quite a bit. Today, the old-time farmers and newcomers to the trade have responded to the market trend and the county now has more organic farms than any other county in North Carolina.


Shopping in a rural county certainly does not include the usual retail stores that you would find in nearby Asheville. But, if you are looking to buy a unique purchase such as the work of local artists or antiques to take home or just a souvenir of your stay, there are several choices to find something perfect for your needs.

Pop Culture of Madison Co

If your visit to Madison County inspired you to learn more, there are many ways to get a view of the county and its culture. Or, if you want to do some “research” before you travel to spend some time, your visit will be enhanced by the perspectives provided. You can get a literary view by reading books about the county or by authors who live in Madison County, a musical view by listening to music recorded by local musicians who grew up listening to generations of traditional musicians or a “Hollywood” view by watching movies that were partially filmed here.

Mermaid Parade

The 12th Annual Mermaid Parade and Festival takes place all over Downtown Marshall on June 8! Splash Island for the kids and kids at heart with an 18′ water slide, bounce house and inflated slip and slide, Food fundraisers! Pirate and Mermaid Story time all on Blannahassett Island 11 am to 5 pm, Don’t forget your swim suit! Arts and Crafts Vendor area is across the street from Mad Co Brew House, 12 pm – 7pm with Live Local Music in the vendor area and on the Court House Steps! 1st Annual Seafood Competition Cook Off with Local Professionals and Amateurs! We will have live music, beer and wine for purchase.

Bluff Mountain Festival

The festival on June 15 is FREE to the public and features some of the region’s best Traditional Old-Time and Bluegrass Music, ballad singing and clogging followed by an evening Square Dance until dark! Bring the family and the lawn chairs to enjoy a day full of music under the shade trees! This year’s festival will be held on the grounds of the Hot Springs Spa and Resort in Hot Springs, NC.

Since 1999 the Bluff Mountain Festival has been a major “fun”-draiser for the MCAC and its many programs and is one of the largest shows in Madison County.  The performers still donate their time and talents; artists and businesses from around the county and region donate items for the Silent Auction and local non-profit organizations sell food to benefit their cause. In recent years artist booths have been added to the festival, giving attendees a chance to see and purchase local crafts.

Art on the Island

The Madison County Arts Council is pleased to present the 7th annual ‘Art On The Island Festival’ on beautiful Blannahassett Island in downtown Marshall on Saturday, September 29. This all day affair presents artists, crafters, food, hands-on  fun, and kid’s activities from 10am until 5pm and is free and open to the public.

In addition to the festival, Blannahassett Island is the home of Marshall High Studios, located in the renovated 1925 building that formerly housed Marshall High school. The studios house a wide variety of working artist studios. The festival will take place on the grounds of the island, with plenty of space for artist’s booths, playground joy, and picnic fun. There will be local and regional  artists displaying their wares in this amazing riverside setting. There will also be food and special activities on Main Street in downtown Marshall the day of the festival.