Western NC is the place to be in the heat of the summer.
“…because time on trails, rocking on front porches, and cruising along mountain roads is something you won’t want to miss here.”
Crisp summer nights under an endless shimmering sky and dips by day beneath cascading waterfalls after long treks are, as with most mountain trips, Blue Ridge vacation essentials. But, wait. This is western North Carolina – home of Hendersonville, Asheville, The Blue Ridge Parkway, Chimney Rock, Triple Falls, world-famous state parks, apple orchards, wineries, and breweries. And, as of 2018, it’s home to four James Beard semi-finalists. Seriously, is there time for all of that enjoying-the-scenery stuff in a place like this?
Naturally, one is apt to fear that they’ll miss the best spots on the mile-long list of western North Carolina must-sees if they stick to old mountain vacation standards.
So let’s hone in a bit to ease the anxiety, because time on trails, rocking on front porches, and cruising along mountain roads is something you won’t want to miss here.
Here are a few stops, day trips, and events that could help balance out your trip and leave you feeling either complete, or, completely committed to buying a second home in western North Carolina.
Bears on Main Street
While Hendersonville is home of the second largest downtown in western North Carolina, next to Asheville (only 30 minutes away), bears still hang out regularly along Main Street. Brightly painted bear statues, that is. These flashy figures adorn most Main Street corners as part of the annual “Bearfootin’ on Mainstreet” fundraiser to benefit the Main Street America program.
Hendersonville has that Mayberry-meets-Asheville feel. It’s a hipper-than-most city on the rise that’s also steeped in mountain tradition and the ways of long-time locals. Modern cafes, award-winning restaurants, and boutique shops line Main Street not far from local artisan and farmers markets held daily to weekly in downtown Hendersonville. Mike’s on Main, a Main Street corner classic, still serves sodas, floats, and milkshakes from the 50s-style soda bar.
Anywhere in the greater Hendersonville area, or in nearby Flat Rock, are ideal places to hang your hat while exploring western North Carolina. Sky Top Apple Orchard in Flat Rock and the Hendersonville Hard Cider Tour will give you a proper taste of Henderson County – known as the apple capital of North Carolina.
Big City Theatre in a Town of Ten Thousand
Sometimes you can sense the history in a place. And, this is definitely true at the Flat Rock Playhouse, in Flat Rock, NC, located just a few minutes up the mountain from Hendersonville. A post-WWII troop of actors put this tiny mountain town on the map when in 1961, by Act of the North Carolina General Assembly, Flat Rock Playhouse was officially designated The State Theatre of North Carolina. This summer, catch performances you won’t soon forget at Broadway on the Rock in June or Mama Mia in July and August.
The French Broad River is the longest free-flowing river in North Carolina, and it’s thought to be the third oldest river in the U.S. Spending a day in a raft, on kayaks, or in an inner tube is highly recommended. Tranquility, adventure, and remnants of age-old secrets are promised.
Looking to see more from the road? Take the 1-2 day trip of lifetime along the Waterfall Byway. Also known as Highway 64, the byway will take you through 150 miles of western North Carolina where you’ll have the chance to experience some of the most gorgeous waterfalls, trails, and small towns that the area has to offer.
Don’t miss Looking Glass Falls and a slide or two down famous (or infamous!) Sliding Rock.
Make it an Event
A trip to the Sierra Nevada Brewery in West Asheville is an event in and of itself. Take some time to see how the big boys brew while you’re in the area. Then continue your tour to four other area breweries on the Hendersonville Brewery Tour.
If you want a true taste of mountain life in western North Carolina, you may want to plan your trip around one of the area festivals.
The Annual NC Apple Festival, one of Hendersonville’s most popular events, takes place every Labor Day weekend in downtown Hendersonville and attracts people from around the world.
But, always be prepared to fall completely in love.