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Photo courtesy of visitnc.com / Founder and curator Dr. Harold Sims stands in front of the American Museum of the House Cat in Sylva, North Carolina.

The small Western North Carolina town of Sylva is home to the American Museum of the House Cat, which traces the history of the American house cat through more than 15,000 works of cat-related art and artifacts, including a mummified cat and cat drawings by Andy Warhol. The museum — one of only two museums in the country dedicated to the house cat — helps support owner and curator Harold Sims' no-kill, free-roaming shelter, Catman2. Previously located in an antique mall, the museum moved in 2020 to a new location across the street (5063 Highway 441 S). The business was hit hard by the pandemic, but its 86-year-old owner hopes to fully reopen by this summer. Until then the museum is offering tours by appointment only.

> Drive time from Chattanooga: 3 hours

Other claims to fame:

> Sylva is home to a bevy of breweries, including four of the six breweries on the Jackson County Brewery Trail: Balsam Falls Brewing; Innovation Brewing; Nantahala Brewing's Sylva Outpost; and Lazy Hiker Brewing's Sylva Taproom.

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Photo courtesy of visitnc.com / Innovation Brewing in Sylva, North Carolina, is one of six breweries located on the Jackson County Brewery Trail.

> Pinnacle Park's more than 1,000 acres boast waterfalls, streams and panoramic views from the 5,008 foot elevation of the Pinnacle. The steep hike to the craggy peak is about seven miles roundtrip. Free camping for up to three nights is available on a first-come, first-served basis at five designated sites.

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Photo courtesy of visitnc.com / A group forest bathes underneath foliage at Pinnacle Park

> Sylva's Main Street is what you'd picture when you think of a small town main street, only cuter and with more breweries. Stroll around to all the galleries, restaurants and shops, such as the City Lights cafe and bookstore, and in the summer, check out the weekly Concerts on the Creek.

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Photo courtesy of visitnc.com / City Lights cafe and bookstore is a cute downtown stop in Sylva, North Carolina.

Where to stay:

> For $15 a night, you can pitch your tent in a pasture by the Tuckasegee River, which you can access for kayaking, fishing or tubing. You can also fish on the pond on the property, which is being developed into a sustainable farm and currently home to horses and goats. Book on Airbnb.

> If you want to stay in town, the Blue Ridge Inn has all the basics in a great location on Main Street across from Nantahala Brewing's Sylva Outpost and close to lots of shopping and dining options.

> For a more luxurious stay, area cabin rental companies and short-term rental sites have plenty of options to choose from, with many boasting amenities such as hot tubs and pool tables.

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Roadside attractions: See the American Museum of the House Cat in Sylva, North Carolina

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