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10 Ways to Experience the Arts in Hendersonville

10 Ways to Experience the Arts in Hendersonville

10 Ways to Experience the Arts in Hendersonville

Hendersonville is known for its vibrant arts scene, which includes live theatre and music, art galleries and studios, street art and murals, arts festivals, art class or instruction offerings, and multiple organizations dedicated to supporting the arts in the community.

Arts & Crafts

Western North Carolina has been known for its rich arts tradition for decades. Original settlers developed skills to make utilitarian wares, clothing and household items, which were vital to a family’s survival in this remote region.

Over time, those skills once necessary for daily life evolved into fine crafts and artistic media. Schools devoted to craft and art sprang up, and people from all over the world came to Blue Ridge Mountain communities to develop their talents in pottery, glass, photography, fiber, music, dance and theater, to name a few.

Today Hendersonville is home to a vibrant arts community with a diverse array of media represented. Check out these 10 ways to experience the arts firsthand on your next visit to Hendersonville.

main-street-coffee

Live art

1)  Flat Rock Playhouse, the state theater of North Carolina, is known as the “Little Broadway in the Mountains.” For more than 70 years it has entertained audiences with professional performances of top musicals, comedies, dramas and farces from February through December. In recent years, a popular music series has been added. The theater crafts every element of each show, including the sets and costumes. A favorite annual tradition is “A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas,” a musical variety show that promises tried-and-true classics and new surprises each year. The grounds themselves resemble a work of art with colorful gardens maintained by local Master Gardeners.

driver standing in front of a private van

events that celebrate art

2)  What do you get when you combine fine wines, local artists and a mountaintop setting overlooking acres of rolling vineyards — La Vie En Rosé Art & Wine Festival. The three-day event takes place in mid-June at Marked Tree Vineyard. Take a plein air painting workshop, listen to a poetry reading or symphony concert, and meander through the artist village. All the while enjoy sipping Marked Tree rosé and soaking in mountain views that stretch for miles.

3)  The last weekend of September, Hendersonville’s serpentine Main Street transforms into an outdoor gallery for more than 70 artisans to display and sell their work. Art on Main, a juried event, attracts artists from throughout the Southeast and is regarded as one of the finest outdoor art shows in the region. Artistic media include oil and acrylic painting, clay, metal, wood, fiber, photography and jewelry. Several artists demonstrate their talents and answer questions about their processes. Judges present awards for fine art, fine craft and overall best of show.

pork chop over mashed potatoes on a plate

Art Galleries

4)  Tucked into a small strip of shops in this eclectic village, the Gallery at Flat Rock exhibits 60 regionally and nationally known artists. Many artists live in Henderson County and surrounding mountain towns, which offers a few perks for gallery shoppers. Artists often drop off work in person and interact with customers. The gallery also offers a slew of events, such as artist meet-and-greets, exhibit opening receptions and workshops. Each September, Art in Bloom pairs floral designers with artists to present floral interpretations of various works of art.

5)  See artists in their natural habitat at Art MoB Studios. This downtown gallery has five resident artists who maintain studios in the back of the shop. Visitors may watch them work, ask them questions and purchase pieces directly from the working studios. For a decade, Art MoB has showcased the work of more than 80 local and regional fine artists and fine crafters.

6)  Art on 7th is located in Hendersonville’s up-and-coming Seventh Avenue district, known as downtown’s creative edge. The gallery is the county’s only contemporary art gallery. Exhibiting work from local artists (Hendersonville, Asheville, Flat Rock, Horse Shoe), as well as artists from throughout the Southeast (Texas, Florida, Alabama), Art on 7th adds a distinct element to the town’s arts community. The diverse lineup of artists includes black, Mexican and Japanese artists. Media include glass, sculpture, wood, fiber and numerous forms of painting.

7)  Make a single stop into Horse Shoe Gap Village and discover a collection of artsy businesses. Expect to see hand-blown glass, clay sculptures, antique and vintage home decor, jewelry made by metalsmiths, and inspirational paintings. ShareWell Coffeehouse, also located in the village, serves locally roasted coffee and baked goods to fuel your shopping spree.

8)  For a touch of Hollywood in Hendersonville pop in the cottage-style Sweet Magnolia Gallery. This is the storefront of jewelry artist Melinda Lawton. Lawton’s career started in Hollywood as a graphics artist for the film industry. Along the way, she started making jewelry, inspired by the vintage pieces she had collected all her life. Then one night, Carrie Underwood wore her earrings on live TV when she won “American Idol.” Things took off from there. Now Lawton sells unique pieces to superstars and Hendersonville residents and visitors.

hidden-trails-coffeehouse
hidden-trails-coffeehouse
hidden-trails-coffeehouse

Street and public art

9)  Each May, a new set of 20 bright bear statues hits Main Street for the Bearfootin’ Art Walk. Each bear is decorated by a different artist and dedicated to a local nonprofit. Often the artwork relates to the worthy causes the bears support. These colorful bears have become social media stars, so make sure you snag a selfie with one as you stroll. In October, the bears are auctioned off for charity and go to their permanent homes. The auction brings in more than $100,000 annually for local nonprofits.

10)  An elaborate honeybee mural covers two sides of the building housing Hands On! Children’s Museum in downtown Hendersonville. The mural, which is designed to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators, depicts honeybees, butterflies and native flowers. The mural is part of an international campaign by artist Matthew Willey called The Good of the Hive, which involves painting 50,000 honeybees — the number in a healthy hive — in murals around the world. To see the mural, walk along Third Avenue between Main and King Streets.

 

hidden-trails-coffeehouse

Make ‘Em Laugh!

Make ‘Em Laugh!

Make ‘Em Laugh!

“Her laugh was beautiful,” said Scott Treadway, “and even though I was only 6 years old, I was addicted from that point on.”

Meet Scott Treadway

Scott Treadway grew up in Tennessee, but he began spending summers in Hendersonville as a child, visiting his aunt Louise. His first introduction to Flat Rock Playhouse was an apprenticeship in 1984. Since then, Scott has performed in more than 145 productions across 40 seasons and directed more than 14 shows. Today, theater patrons scan the program to see which character will benefit from Scott’s quick wit and enthusiasm.

Flat Rock Playhouse traces its roots to a traveling troupe of performers known as the Vagabond Players. In 1952, the troupe purchased a piece of property, and a rented big top tent became the first Flat Rock Playhouse. In 1961, the North Carolina General Assembly designated Flat Rock Playhouse as the State Theatre of North Carolina. The playhouse is now a year-round arts hub for Broadway musicals, comedy, drama and theater for young audiences, as well as the Music on the Rock concert series.

Two women pose for the camera, smiling

Caught the bug young

At only 6 years old, Scott received puppets for Christmas, and began performing shows for his sister, who had severe cerebral palsy. 

“She couldn’t walk or talk, but she could laugh. Her laugh was beautiful, and I was addicted from that point on,” said Scott. As he got a little older, he spent his time waiting for Saturday night at 10 p.m. — ‘The Carol Burnett Show.’ It was through these that he developed his love for comedy and his sense of comedic timing.

“I suppose I just have an ear for comedy,” Scott continued, “and to be honest, I feel most worthwhile, most productive when I make people laugh. It’s a feeling of accomplishment, and it feels like I’m doing something good.

A woman puts things into the trunk of her SUV in front of an old stone house

Reflecting on his acting career

Scott got his start at the Flat Rock Playhouse in the ensemble of many productions, but finally got his first “real role” in 1985 portraying Eugene in ‘Look Homeward, Angel.’ 

“It was and still is one of the most important roles for me,” Scott says. “The playhouse performed the show annually for years. I was given the honor of playing the Thomas Wolfe role in the final production.”

With so many roles under his belt, it’s hard for Scott to choose a favorite role. The ‘Tuna’ shows (a series of comedic plays where 2 actors play all the parts) were some of the most popular, and Scott had a lot of fun acting in them.

“I also really loved ‘The Drowsy Chaperone,’ a wonderful musical where I played a role called ‘Man in Chair.’ I literally sat in a comfy chair and talked to the audience while the rest of the cast sweated their butts off, but I got to get laughs,” Scott said. “And my recent role of Michael in ‘God of Carnage’ was an absolute blast. It’s really impossible to pick just one favorite.”

What Makes it the State Theater of North Carolina?

Not everyone realizes that The Flat Rock Playhouse creates every show from the ground up: sets, costumes, music, sometimes even the scripts/plays themselves. There is an entire crew that works tirelessly back stage, creating and moving sets to make each performance magical. And the Playhouse’s culture in the live acting world is one of legend — many actors and crew members come back time and again, or even move here, because they know there is something quite special about this theater, and how each show is approached and crafted.

“Theatre is an artform where every production is blessed by each theater’s personal artistic interpretation and approach,” said Scott. “When the entire Playhouse team gets to formulate the role, environment and interpretation, we all feel as if we are building our own unique show.”

Meaning a performance at the Flat Rock Playhouse is truly one-of-a-kind, and won’t be like one you’ve seen at any other theater. 

Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas season show

Scott's Top 5 Hendersonville Suggestions

Big Glassy at the Carl Sandburg Home
What Scott says about it: “You have to hike Big Glassy at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. It’s my favorite spot on God’s earth.

Three Chopt 
What Scott says about it: “Get a ‘sammich’ at Three Chopt in downtown Hendersonville. So good!”

Downtown Hendersonville
What Scott says about it: “I recommend you take a stroll down our glorious Hendersonville Main Street. I just love it
.

Hubba Hubba Smokehouse and Little Rainbow Row
What Scott says about it: “Partake of Rainbow Row in Flat Rock and get the best barbecue anywhere at Hubba Hubba Smokehouse!”

U-Pick Apples
What Scott says about it: “Pick your own apples at one of our wonderful apple orchards.”

“Summer Camp” Movie Copycat Itinerary

“Summer Camp” Movie Copycat Itinerary

“Summer Camp” Movie Copycat Itinerary

Experience your own “Summer Camp” getaway in Hendersonville and feel like one of the movie’s stars!

Welcome to Summer Camp!

Summer Camp, starring Diane Keaton, Kathy Bates, Alfre Woodard, Eugene Levy and Josh Peck has turned out to be one of the summer’s most endearing comedies, retelling the story of 3 lifelong friends attending a reunion at their beloved summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina, Camp Pinnacle.

While Camp Pinnacle is an actual kid’s summer camp right here in Flat Rock that has been around for almost 100 years and was the setting for most of the film, it isn’t open to the public. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun camp-like getaway just like the stars did!

(Please note: we tried not to give too much away from the movie, but there may be one or two things in this itinerary that could be considered spoilers. Read at your own risk!)

Checking In Please!

While the swanky cabin that Ginny, Nora & Mary stayed in (decorated by Martha!) might have been a little bit of “movie magic,” you will find some equally swanky accommodations at The Horse Shoe Farm (yup, it used to be a horse farm, just like in the movie!!) Check into your plush lodging, there are options ranging from large houses to small cabins and even single rooms, comparable to a hotel room.  And the best part? You won’t need to turn in your devices – though you may want to turn them off, as you dive headfirst into a few days of relaxation and outdoor immersion.

people crossing the street in front of a big coc-a-cola mural painted on a brick building

Day 1

In the movie, the girls spent a lot of time hanging around the gorgeous Camp Pinnacle property and in its outdated computer lab, and at Horse Shoe Farm, you will find similar places to chill out: the pool, sauna, hot tub, cold plunge tub, swimming lakes, nature trails that lead to the French Broad River, and the communal game room. Spending some time on the property will help you to image yourself right there at your own camp reunion! The Horse Shoe Farm also has The Stable Spa right on-site. You are sure to feel like a celebrity while you are pampered in this energizing space.

Two women relaxing at the spa.

To recreate the cocktail reception scene, head to the restaurant at The Farm, The Silo Cookhouse, where you will enjoy cocktails and a delicious dinner prepared with local ingredients.

After supper, head outside to enjoy a crackling campfire – where you won’t be expected to share your deepest, darkest secrets with someone who looks like Kathy Bates!

pork chop over mashed potatoes on a plate

Day 2

In Summer Camp, Mary loved horseback riding. Those scenes were filmed at Shoal Creek Farm, which offers horse boarding and a small cottage for rent, meaning you can’t actually go there to ride, but you can either drive by Shoal Creek to see some stunning horses on your way to a hike at DuPont State Forest, or if you are itching to ride, you can instead head over to the Turkey Pen Gap Trailhead in Pisgah National Forest and go for a trail ride with Saddle Up Trail Rides. Afterwards, head back to The Farm to relax, or grab a coffee and a light lunch at the nearby Cognative Brew House.

4 people sitting on a rock on top of a mountain at sunset

The whitewater rafting scenes were filmed at a location a few hours from Hendersonville, but the girls were expecting a “lazy river excursion,” so instead of driving all the way to Nantahala, find your own lazy rafting day with Lazy Otter Outfitters, where you can float down the French Broad River, right past the Horse Shoe Farm.

CLT-Living-1

While we can’t promise you a food fight like in the movie, we can promise you a similar dining experience right down the road from Camp Pinnacle at the Campfire Grill, owned by a local former summer camper, this restaurant is completely inspired by the summer camp culture and history of the region – but please, no throwing food! (And hey, on your way to dinner, be sure to drive by Camp Pinnacle to see the same sign from the beginning of the film at the entry to camp!)

Also nearby, the Flat Rock Cinema played home to a reception for the cast and crew when the movie premiered, and houses a signed Summer Camp movie poster!

BONUS! Recommendations from the stars

The actors in the movie loved filming in Hendersonville and Flat Rock! Here are some of the things they loved most about their time spent filming here. Many Hendersonville locals also supported the film as extras on the set, and overwhelmingly, the favorite thing the extras loved was filming the food fight scene!

Appalachian Pinball Museum
What Summer Camp actor Josh Peck said about it in a behind the scenes invterview: “I went to the Appalachian Pinball Museum, which was the sickest thing I’ve ever seen!”

Downtown Hendersonville
What Summer Camp actor Josh Peck said about it in a behind the scenes interview: “Hendersonville was beautiful. They have an adorable downtown.”

Spring flowers and nature
What Summer Camp actress Kathy Bates said about it in a behind the scenes interview: “Hearing the birds. Driving in and every day, we would drive in and there would be more flowers — like they bloomed overnight!

Jump Off Rock
What Summer Camp actress Beverly D’Angelo visited and loved were the amazing views, per an Instagram post shared shortly after filming wrapped.

The Fresh Air and Beauty in Nature
What Summer Camp actress Beverly D’Angelo said about it in a behind the scenes interview: “It’s a beautiful atmosphere, the air is fantastic
! Everywhere you look, you see the beauty in nature. And I think that just has a huge effect – the urgency that you feel, kind of floats away.

Downtown Hendersonville & the Bearfootin’ Bears
What Summer Camp’s younger actresses Kensington Tallman, Taylor Madeline Hand & Audrianna Lico visited and loved (besides the laughs and lifelong friendships they made) was visiting Downtown Hendersonville and seeing the Bearfootin’ Bears Public Art Display, per Instagram posts each of them made. 

The Almost Camper — 3-Day Itinerary

The Almost Camper — 3-Day Itinerary

The Almost Camper — 3-Day Itinerary

For the Almost Camper: You enjoy time outdoors and may have fond memories of childhood summer camp, but you aren’t packing a sleeping bag this week! You’re ready to reminisce and relax, while adding in a few outdoor activities.

Engage all your senses

This itinerary offers up a blend of outdoor escapades, re-living childhood favorites, breathtaking views and some darn good food. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a foodie, or simply looking for a good time, this weekend-long schedule has something for everyone. So, buckle up and let’s hit the road!

Friday: Ease into the weekend

Hendersonville has a lot of great vacation rental homes, and one of our favorites is Carolina Wildwoods, because this lovely, clean space can accommodate up to 12 people, the shared space has both a foosball and an air hockey table, the kitchen is stocked with everything you could possibly need, has a great outdoor space with a firepit, and even a few hiking backpacks are provided. They have lots of games and kid’s items too, for those traveling with children.

people crossing the street in front of a big coc-a-cola mural painted on a brick building

Once you check in, head to nearby Sierra Nevada, the east coast headquarters for their brewing operation, where they offer brewery tours, a great restaurant, live music, and grounds and gardens to explore. Be sure to register in advance for your tour, they tend to fill quickly, especially in the summertime. Tours go deep into the story of Sierra Nevada and explain why they chose the mountains of Western NC for their east coast set up. For dinner, you can either sit down inside for small plates, snacks and pizzas, or head outside to their back porch, where they offer a smaller selection of sandwiches and snacks.

people crossing the street in front of a big coc-a-cola mural painted on a brick building

Saturday: Scenic Drive and Local Favorites

Kickstart your day with a delicious breakfast at Fletcher Village Bakery, fueling up for a day of fun ahead. Then, hop in the car and head to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where stunning vistas and historic landmarks await.

 The closest entrance to the famous 469-mile scenic route is at the North Carolina Arboretum, located just south of Asheville. As you wind your way westward, marvel at the 10 hand-built tunnels crafted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Make sure to stop at the Pisgah Inn for panoramic views and photo ops aplenty.

Exit the Parkway onto Route 276 and descend into Pisgah National Forest. Don’t miss the majestic Looking Glass Falls, a roadside waterfall that’s sure to take your breath away. As you journey back towards Hendersonville, you may want to make pit stops at a local coffee shop or art stores, but you must stop at Packa’s Place for a unique farm experience complete with beer, live music, and food trucks – and a herd of beefalo in a nearby pasture.

After lunch, immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at Bullington Gardens, a public garden known for its dahlias and fairy trail. Though it is close to town, these 13 acres feel far from anything.

Quench your thirst with a wine tasting at Souther Williams Winery, a bicentennial farm that has been in the same family for more than 200 years, and offers some truly spectacular wine.

End your day on a high note with a scrumptious dinner at The Silo Cookhouse, a farm-to-table restaurant located at the Horse Shoe Farm, a place that can unironically be called magical, and is one of the best places to see a cozy sunset. Be sure to ask about s’mores by the fire pit after dinner.

Horse-Shoe-Farm-Credit-Jared-Kay-copy3

Sunday: Riverside Relaxation and Downtown Delights

Start your morning off right with coffee and light breakfast at Cognative Brewhouse, gearing up for another day of excitement (pun intended, as they sell mountain biking gear here too). Then, head to Lazy Otter Outfitters for a leisurely paddle trip along the tranquil waters of the French Broad River, one of the oldest rivers in the world. Choose from a 4-mile or 7-mile paddle, and you’ll be picked up after your float.

cognative-brewhouse-jared-kay

You’ll work up an appetite on the river, so refuel with a delicious lunch at Arabella before exploring downtown Hendersonville. Relive your childhood memories at the Appalachian Pinball Museum, where you can play old pinball machines to your heart’s content for a flat fee, try your luck at gem mining at Pisgah Forest Gem Mine, grab an ice cream cone at Kilwin’s and check out the Bearfootin’ Bears, a fun public art installation.

Plan your eclectic Getaway

And there you have it, a perfect weekend getaway filled with scenic drives, outdoor adventures, and culinary delights in Hendersonville. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your adventure today!

wine glasses clinking with mountain view

The Glamper — 3-Day Itinerary

The Glamper — 3-Day Itinerary

The Glamper — 3-Day Itinerary

For the Glamper: You reminisce fondly on your younger days spent at summer camp and in the great outdoors, but these days you crave a nice mix of recreation and relaxation.

Recreation meets Relaxation

This itinerary for 3 days spent in Hendersonville takes you out of the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerses you in the outdoors, while still making time for the restorative power of a vacation. From rustic cabins to scenic hikes, this getaway promises to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. So, pack your bags and let’s embark on a journey of relaxation and adventure!

 

Your weekend starts at Kanuga Conference & Retreat Center, which is nestled amidst 1,400 peaceful, wooded acres. Kanuga has offered summer camp to kids since 1931, and the rest of the property, which offers a mountain bike park as well as the retreat center and conference space, feels like an extension of the summer camp, to the point that it still offers Kanuga toast in their buffet breakfast and plays the bugle call daily.

 

Friday: Cabin Comforts and Downtown Delights

After checking and settling in at Kanuga, head to downtown Hendersonville to take a leisurely stroll, stopping by Mast General Store to step back in time as you peruse their candy barrels, eclectic finds and camping essentials. You’ll want to grab a bottle of wine from Wine Sage Merchant & Wine Bar before indulging in dinner at the well-known White Duck Taco Shop, who offers non-traditional tacos, like Bangkok Shrimp and Mole Roasted Duck.

 

Be sure to save room for ice cream from Celtic Creamery, where the top selling flavor is The Sea & The Bee. Celtic Creamery has a drive-thru window to easily take your treat to go. Head back to Kanuga to enjoy your ice cream and wine on the porch of your cabin.

people crossing the street in front of a big coc-a-cola mural painted on a brick building
people crossing the street in front of a big coc-a-cola mural painted on a brick building

Saturday: Farm Fresh Adventures

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Kanuga, fueling up for a day of exploration. Dive into the local culture by visiting one of the area’s vibrant farmers markets, where you can purchase fresh produce and artisanal goods. There are a few markets to choose from on Saturday mornings, but the Mills River Farmers Market will be the closest one to your destination. 

 

Next, embark on a scenic horseback ride through Pisgah National Forest with Saddle Up Trail Rides, taking in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Refuel with a delicious lunch at The Salty Landing before indulging in craft brews at Sideways Farm & Brewery, where they grow the ingredients used in the beer they brew on-site.

stand at a farmers market on brick road

Spend the remainder of your afternoon back at Kanuga, re-living your summer camp experience. Immerse yourself in nature with kayaking on the 30-acre lake, self-reflect while walking the labyrinth, or relax on the lakeside beach.  

 

In the evening, head back into town for a farm-to-table dinner at Postero, followed by a drive up to Jump Off Rock, a roadside scenic overlook that is the perfect place to watch the vibrant sunset before heading back to Kanuga to turn in for the night.

pork chop over mashed potatoes on a plate

Sunday: Hiking and Vineyard Vibes

After having your fill at Kanuga’s breakfast and checking out, be sure to savor your final moments at this serene sanctuary. On the way to today’s adventures, you’ll want to pick up some sandwiches to have for lunch later, and the Flat Rock Village Bakery offers some delicious options. Next, you’ll embark on a scenic hike to the top of Bearwallow Mountain, where sweeping 360-degree views and grazing cows await. This hike is uphill, but it is only about a mile long each way. You can either hike up the trail or the gravel road.

4 people sitting on a rock on top of a mountain at sunset

Near the Bearwallow trailhead, you will be excited to tour Ellaberry Llama Farm, a working llama farm! Take it easy with a brief tour to meet the llamas, or really experience the farm’s charm with a 1-mile llama trek through their apple orchard. The family that owns Ellaberry shows their 21 llamas, so they even have a llama training area that is a lot of fun to experience! 

By now, you will have worked up an appetite, so move on to Stone Ashe Vineyard, where you can finally break into the sandwiches you bought this morning while you indulge in a taste of Bordeaux in Western NC. Their passion for natural wines with limited additives is reflected in each glass, and a guided tasting will leave you wanting to take home multiple bottles.

CLT-Living-1

Before bidding Hendersonville goodbye, be sure to stop at one of the area’s 20+ apple orchards. Most are only open August through October, but Barnwell’s Apples, which is conveniently located near the highway, is open nearly year round, and offers local produce, canned goods, and sweet apples — a delightful reminder of your time spent in this idyllic retreat.

Make it Happen

And there you have it, a rejuvenating 3-day getaway filled with relaxation, adventure, and the beauty of Hendersonville. So, when’s your next escape?

couple looking out at mountain views from scenic overlook

The Adventure Camper — 3-day Itinerary

The Adventure Camper — 3-day Itinerary

The Adventure Camper — 3-day Itinerary

For the Adventure Camper: The true wild one, who would travel back in time to re-live camp exactly as it was in their youth.

In your Element

We know that the adventure camper is willing to try everything from ziplining to tent camping and cold plunging, whether they attended summer camper as a child or not, you have a heart for adventure. Start your weekend of exploration by checking into Cold Spring Basecamp, choosing either to bring your pop-up tent or 3rd wheel, or to sleep in one of their 3-sided cabins that offer cots. Located in Zirconia, NC, this basecamp is the perfect jumping-off point for a busy, action-packed weekend.

Day 1: Into the Wild

When you arrive to town, head to Cold Spring Basecamp and get yourself set up at camp. On the way there, you’ll want to swing by the grocery store to grab all the fixins to cook out over the campfire. Cold Spring Basecamp has firewood available on-site, so no need to bring that, and if you stay in one of the 3-sided cabins, you will have a camp stove and some kitchen items available to you as well. Here’s your shopping list: hot dogs, buns, marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers (to make s’mores), coffee, a lighter, fire starters, bug spray too, snacks, and beer. Many of the area’s local breweries offer crowlers, which are perfect for camping.

 After you set up camp, it’s time to explore the 38 acres that used to be a children’s summer camp and relax. Take a dip in one of the cold plunge tubs, and hit the trails, either their purpose-built mountain biking trails or hiking trail to a waterfall, and work up your appetite for dinner around the campfire.

people crossing the street in front of a big coc-a-cola mural painted on a brick building

Day 2: Thrills and Chills

Gear up for a busy day with a hearty breakfast at HenDough, where chicken and donuts collide in the most delicious way possible. Fuel up because today is packed with adrenaline-pumping activities!

Next, head down the road to Ride Kanuga, a downhill mountain bike park, designed by a world-champion professional downhill racer to be like a ski slope, with one route up, and 8 routes downhill, all ranging in difficulty levels. Bring your own bike or rent one from Ride Kanuga.

After shredding the gnar at Ride Kanuga, you are going to be pretty hungry, so before you move on to your next adventure, stop by the Campfire Grill in downtown Flat Rock. With a camp theme, you’ll feel a sense of nostalgia while you fill your belly with yummy treats, like blackened boiled peanuts or their “Counselor Burger.”

Your next stop is at The Gorge Zipline, an iconic treetop zipline, where you plunge from the top of the Green River Gorge into the wilderness of the protected Green River Gamelands, an old-growth forest, and descend 1,100 feet from top-to-bottom. You will be led by 2 knowledgeable guides through 11 ziplines and 3 free fall rappels – and yes, the guides will be happy to take your photo to help you remember the exciting day!

The Gorge Zipline takes about 3.5 hours to complete, which means that you’ll be ready for your next meal when you’re done. Head back towards town, and stop for a flavorful meal at Boonchoo Thai Express – in Thai, Boonchoo means good karma, and after your fun day, your karma will be overflowing!  

Walk off dinner at the nearby Park at Flat Rock, which offers 1.5 miles of walking paths at what used to be a golf course, but now is home to beautiful gardens, a great playground for kids, and ponds that are great for taking some time to self-reflect.

After a long day, head back to camp and turn in for the night.

Day 3: Nature's Playground

Rise and shine with a sunrise breakfast at camp, soaking in the tranquility of the morning, and maybe even take a second cold plunge, if you’re up for it. Today you’ll need to break down camp before you get moving, but your day isn’t over yet! Be sure to don your swimsuit, and pack a change of clothes.

Today, you’re headed for a hike and a swim, so you will want to plan ahead for the day by stopping to get some sandwiches to have for a picnic lunch from the Flat Rock Village Bakery. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll find some amazing baked goods here too!

Next, head to DuPont State Forest, known for its waterfalls, being used to film quite a few films, including The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans, and its nationally-renowned Ridgeline mountain biking trail, which if you brought your bike, you need to check out (you’ll want to park at the Lake Imaging Access Area).

If you didn’t bring your bike, a hike is in order for today. You’ll want to park at the Hooker Falls parking area, which tends to fill quickly on weekends, so it’s best to arrive early.

From here, you have a few options: if you already rode the Ridgeline Trail and just want a shorter hike, head to the right side of the parking lot and down the Hooker Falls Trail, a short hike down to a beautiful waterfall that flows into a swimming hole. This is a great spot for a picnic and to take a dip.

If you didn’t bring your bike and are just planning to hike today, you’re in for a longer hike to a more remote swimming hole, and will pass 2 breathtaking waterfalls along the way. Head to the left side of the Hooker Falls parking area and make your way up the Triple Falls Trail. When you come to the High Falls Loop trail, stay left. Take this trail up to the Covered Bridge Trail and cross the covered bridge. Shortly after you cross the bridge, turn right onto Conservation Road. After about a mile, you’ll cross another bridge, the Lake Julia Spillway, and then shortly after crossing, veer left up an unmarked path, and this takes you to Lake Julia, the largest lake at DuPont, where you can stop to eat your lunch and take a dip. All told, you’ll be hiking around 4.5 miles.

After hiking back to the car, make your way to downtown Hendersonville for some pedal-powered fun with HVL Pedal & Brews, Hendersonville’s own pubcycle, which starts and ends at the Blue Ridge Beer Garden, and is BYO. They have a few options for length and whether you want to stop at any of the downtown breweries or not.

Before heading home, treat yourself to a mouthwatering steak dinner at Binion’s Roadhouse – the fried mushroom appetizer is great too! And after diner, satisfy your sweet tooth with ice cream from Piggy’s Ice Cream, which is walking distance from Binion’s. Both spots are local favorites.

Y'all Come Back now, y'hear?

And there you have it, a jam-packed 3-day itinerary filled with outdoor escapades, culinary delights, and small-town charm. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your Hendersonville adventure today!

4 people sitting on a rock on top of a mountain at sunset

Girlfriend Getaways for your Favorite Group

Girlfriend Getaways for your Favorite Group

Girlfriend Getaways for your Favorite Group

When considering a getaway with your best girls, some things are nonnegotiable. Beautiful scenery, spacious lodging, fabulous food and tasty beverages are must-haves. The Blue Ridge Mountain town of Hendersonville checks all of those boxes. From there, you can tailor your experience to suit your group. Check out the custom itineraries below for an escape to suit your style.

Pamper Yourselves In Luxury

Stay: Selena Einwechter planned every detail at the Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill, pulling ideas from Southern Living magazine and personal travels throughout the Southeast. The entrepreneur opened her purpose-built inn in 2009. Rent the entire seven-bedroom inn for your girls’ weekend. Each room is named after a Southern town and reflects its style. Indulge in the three-course “breakfast at Tiffany’s” each morning and wind down in a rocking chair on the front porch in the evenings listening to birds and crickets.

 

Play: Book a spa day at The Horse Shoe Farm, less than five miles from the inn. The former working horse farm along the French Broad River is now a high-end retreat welcoming visitors to lose themselves in serenity. The Stable Spa draws on this area’s long connection to wellness and restoration, and it infuses treatments with a strong sense of place. Book a la carte massages, facials, foot therapies and wellness classes, or choose from a selection of themed packages. Enjoy lunch on property prepared by The Silo Cookhouse.

 

Evening Out: Season’s at Highland Lake Inn offers elegant dining in an upscale yet relaxed atmosphere. Admire bountiful gardens and flowering planters through wraparound windows in the dining room. Wine Spectator Magazine has given the restaurant its Award of Excellence for more than 20 consecutive years. The menu changes regularly to reflect the freshest ingredients, but expect a lineup of soups and salads, beef, seafood and tempting desserts. After dinner, take in a show at nearby Flat Rock Playhouse, the state theater of North Carolina. The theater offers a vibrant lineup of musicals, comedies, dramas, and an annual favorite, “A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas.”

Shop 'til you Drop

Stay: Depending on the size of your group, book one or more cabins at Brightwaters Vacation Rentals. The units range from two- to three-bedroom and are connected by Poplar Park, a private outdoor area with seating, walking paths and a fire pit. Owners Michele Azan and Elisabeth Perez lovingly built the property piece by piece, purchasing a unit at a time, renovating it and outfitting it with eclectic décor from estate sales, antiques stores and thrift shops. Each has its own personality.

 

Play: Feel free to ask your hosts for shopping recommendations, as the local duo has extensive neighborhood knowledge. Horse Shoe Gap Village is located a mile from Brightwaters. There you’ll find artisans working in a variety of mediums, including glass blowing, metalwork, jewelry, ceramics, painting and textiles. Head to downtown Hendersonville, park the car and stroll Main Street’s curvilinear sidewalks to art galleries, antiques shops, clothing boutiques, specialty stores and more. Don’t miss the shrimp and grits at Dandelion for lunch. The café is the job training arm of Safelight, a nonprofit that benefits survivors of domestic violence. Also check out Safelight’s thrift store next door for deals that do good.

 

Evening Out: Head up the steps at Shine to the rooftop cocktail bar and watch the sun drop behind the mountains in the distance. Descend downstairs for dinner, where everything — from ginger beer for your drink to ketchup for your fries — is made in house and served in a warm dining room with low lighting and wooden accents. Walk to dessert. Three stops along the Hendersonville Ice Cream Trail are located on or near Main Street. You can’t go wrong with frozen yogurt at sweetFrog, a homemade waffle cone at Kilwin’s, or extra-thick Irish-style ice cream at Celtic Creamery.

Wine Your Way Through Crest of the Blue Ridge

Stay: Stay in the middle of Hendersonville’s Crest of the Blue Ridge wine country at The Wallace House. Located next door to Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider and across the road from Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, the five-bedroom farmhouse sleeps 12. Wake up to vineyard views and peaceful mountain mornings on this farm that’s been in the Ward family for centuries.

 

Play: Several tour companies offer winery excursions. Leave the driving to the professionals, and enjoy spending time with friends and admiring back-road scenery as your driver chauffeurs your group from one tasting room to the next. Seven wineries are located throughout Hendersonville’s Crest of the Blue Ridge wine region. Each has its own personality. Admire sweeping mountain views at Point Lookout Vineyards as you sip wine and mead, an ancient tradition of making wine from honey. Have lunch at Burntshirt Vineyards’ Vintner’s Table Restaurant and explore its extensive list of estate-grown wines. Discover less-familiar varietals at Souther Williams Vineyard, which grows grapes originally suited for the cooler climates of Austria, Germany and Russia.

 

Evening Out: After freshening up at the farmhouse, head to Flat Rock for dinner at Campfire Grill. This camp-themed restaurant honors Hendersonville’s history as the summer camp capital of the East Coast. But don’t expect hot dogs and sloppy joes. The menu is built around the restaurant’s wood-fired grill. Think fresh fish, steaks, grilled vegetables and over-the-top burgers. The restaurant continues to expand its wine program and now hosts monthly wine dinners and wine tastings on Wednesdays. The s’mores skillet is a must for dessert.

Discover Gratitude at Altitude in Hendersonville

Discover Gratitude at Altitude in Hendersonville

Discover Gratitude at Altitude in Hendersonville

Welcome to Hendersonville, where charming small-town vibes meet exciting city amenities. We sat down with Camden and Kiersten Diggs, social media influencers from Charlotte, to uncover the best of Hendersonville—a hidden gem less than a 2-hour drive from the Queen City. Join us as we explore their unforgettable experiences and recommendations for your next weekend getaway.

Why Hendersonville Stands Out

Camden and Kiersten love Hendersonville for its perfect blend of small-town charm and urban attractions. It’s a refreshing change of pace from bustling city life. The town’s proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway means stunning natural beauty is just minutes away, alongside fantastic dining options and unique activities.
“Hendersonville has a small-town charm (with such kind locals) while having the amenities of a city. This allows for a great change of pace when visiting from a bustling city.” 

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Unique Adventures: Llama Hiking

One standout adventure in Hendersonville? Llama hiking at Ellaberry Llama Farm! Camden and Kiersten raved about this personal ecotourism experience. Picture yourself choosing your llama hiking partner and strolling through an apple orchard. Making a connection with these gentle animals is truly unforgettable.
Hendersonville offers other great options for those who want to get outside and enjoy the view.

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The Cheers! Trail Experience

Exploring Hendersonville’s craft beverage scene on the Cheers! Trail was a highlight. Camden and Kiersten rode with Van in Black, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey through local wineries, breweries, and more.

 

Vineyard and Cidery Tours

Immerse yourself in Hendersonville’s burgeoning beverage scene with vineyard and cidery tours. Sip on award-winning wines amidst rolling vineyards, all while learning about the winemaking process from passionate vintners. Hendersonville’s fertile soil isn’t just good for grapes, though. Be sure to taste some of the crisp, locally crafted ciders at picturesque orchards, where tastings are often paired with stunning mountain views—a true treat for the senses.

Breathtaking Views from Jump Off Rock’s Scenic Overlook

Drive to the summit of Jump Off Rock for breathtaking views that stretch as far as the eye can see. Perched high above Hendersonville, this vantage point offers a mesmerizing panorama of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Pisgah National Forest. Capture stunning sunset hues painting the sky or simply soak in the tranquility of nature’s grandeur from this iconic spot. Camden and Kiersten shared a magical evening enjoying takeout while taking in the breathtaking mountain vistas.

 

 

 

 

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Exploring Downtown’s Culinary Scene

There are a variety of diverse attractions and flavors waiting to be discovered in Hendersonville. Whether you’re a foodie, art enthusiast, or arcade aficionado, there’s something to delight every traveler in this charming North Carolina town.

Brunch at Arabella

Arabella is a must-visit for brunch enthusiasts in Hendersonville. Camden and Kiersten recommend it for its unbeatable homemade biscuits. Picture fluffy, buttery biscuits served with a variety of delicious toppings like local honey or savory gravy. The cozy atmosphere and friendly service make Arabella the perfect spot to start your day of exploration in Hendersonville.

Handmade Ice cream at Celtic Creamery

Cool off with a sweet treat from Celtic Creamery, where they churn fresh handmade ice cream daily. Camden and Kiersten loved the creamy textures and unique flavors offered here, which include innovative combinations that reflect the local flair of Hendersonville. Whether you’re a fan of traditional vanilla or adventurous enough to sample bourbon-infused scoops, Celtic Creamery promises a delightful experience for your taste buds.

A Memorable Dinner at Postero

For a special evening out, head to Postero, a local favorite restaurant. Camden and Kiersten recommend this spot for its inviting ambiance and exceptional cuisine. From perfectly cooked steaks to creative vegetarian dishes, Postero’s menu showcases the uniqueness of Hendersonville’s culinary scene. Pair your meal with a local wine or craft cocktail for a truly memorable dining experience.

Discover Local Treasures: McFarlan Bakery and Dandelion Café

Explore the flavors of Hendersonville by visiting McFarlan Bakery and Dandelion Café. McFarlan Bakery, in operation since 1930, offers a nostalgic experience with its freshly baked pastries, bread, and cakes. Indulge in classic treats like cinnamon rolls or pick up a loaf of artisanal bread to enjoy later. At Dandelion Café Bakery, not only will you find delicious food, but you’ll also support a restaurant
dedicated to making a positive impact. The café serves up tasty dishes while providing support and education for survivors of violence—a true gem in Hendersonville’s culinary landscape.

 

 

teenage girl wearing an apron holding out ice cream cone with 2 scoops toward the camea
teenage girl wearing an apron holding out ice cream cone with 2 scoops toward the camea

Interactive Fun at the Appalachian Pinball Museum

Step back in time and enjoy a playful visit to the Appalachian Pinball Museum. Camden and Kiersten loved this interactive museum, which features a fascinating collection of vintage pinball machines and arcade games. Learn about the history of these classic games and then try your hand at playing them—all for a single admission fee that allows unlimited play all day!

Carolina Mountain Artists Guild for Unique Local Artwork

Check out Hendersonville’s vibrant arts scene at the Carolina Mountain Artists Guild. This creative cooperative showcases a diverse range of local artworks, from paintings and photography to jewelry and woodworking. Discover unique pieces that capture the essence of the Blue Ridge Mountains and take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir to commemorate your trip.

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Why Hendersonville?

Insider Tips for Hendersonville
To make the most of your trip, Camden and Kiersten recommend:
• Hiring a local driver for the Cheers! Trail
• Embracing Hendersonville’s local charm by exploring without a strict itinerary

“Our biggest recommendation is to hire a local driver to explore The Cheers! Trail with at the start of your trip,” they said. “Planning a tour at the start of a trip is something we always like to do because the locals recommend the best attractions and restaurants for the remainder of your stay.”

With insider tips from Camden and Kiersten, your Hendersonville getaway promises to be unforgettable. From llama hikes to scenic vistas and craft beverages to culinary delights, this charming destination has something for every traveler.

Ready to experience Hendersonville like a local? Plan your weekend adventure now and discover why this vibrant town is wowing its visitors with plenty of unforgettable mountain moments.

2024 Spring Bloom Report

2024 Spring Bloom Report

2024 Spring Bloom Report

From spring through summer, new varieties of flowers are constantly blooming, thrilling your sense of sight and smell. Keep track of what’s in bloom with us here!

Spring has sprung In The Blue Ridge Mountains

It can be hard to choose a favorite time of year to be in the Blue Ridge Mountains, every season brings its own special qualities: Summer offers the warmest weather and lots of opportunities to enjoy the cool mountain water; Fall bursts into life with the apple harvest season and fall foliage color show; Winter bring the warmth of the holiday season followed temperatures that are often mild enough to continue to enjoy the great outdoors; and Spring — well!  Spring may just have the rest beat!

The Southern Appalachian region is known to be one of the most diverse regions in the entire world, in terms of flora and fauna, and every spring, an untold number of different plants burst into life, showcasing their stunning blooms — sometimes small and delicate, and other times called “flame” or “fire” for a good reason.

Follow along with us as we track mother nature’s finest display of blooms all spring and into the summer. Here’s what to expect from this year, but keep in mind that the temperature always dictates the bloom schedule, so some of these may vary from one year to the next:

  • March –  The show typically begins in mid-March, usually the earliest signs are the non-native species, like daffodils, forsythia and Bradford pear trees. As the month comes to a close, more blooms open up, both in locals’ front yards and in our many state and national forests, like violets and trout lilies.
  • April – The tulips and dogwoods typically unfurl in April, followed by the delicate pink blooms across the area’s hundreds of acres of apple trees. Later in the month, scour the forest floor for native blooms including (but not limited to) pink lady slippers, many varieties of trillium, and sweetshrub.
  • May – This is a great time to be on the lookout for Jack-In-The-Pulpits, a native, carnivorous plant, as well as aptly-named, vibrant flowers such as flame azaleas and fire pinks. Towards the end of the month, be on the lookout for delicate mountain laurels as well as some varieties of rhododendron. This is also a great time of year to spot lantern-like Eastern Columbines.
  • June – This is typically prime time to see the rhododendrons blooming, both along the Blue Ridge Parkway and while hiking through rhododendron thickets and tunnels in many of the area’s state and national forests. Tall, yellow mullein plants, with their soft leaves, thrive in sunny spots.
  • July – Drive along any road and around you, the ditches are likely to be filled with vibrant, orange lilies. Along trailsides, be on the lookout for jewelweed — a wonderful, native plant that always grows near and is the cure for getting poison ivy oils off your skin. Coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, milk weed and Joe Pye weed are also found in abundance.  

See below for our weekly updates on what has popped up this week!

(Please note: the photo here and at the top of this page are from previous years.)

Week of June 2nd

This will be our final spring bloom report of the year. Summer is almost here, and  there truly is so much still in bloom, it would make you a little dizzy to see photos of everything (or maybe that’s the pollen)! So to wrap up our 2024 Spring Bloom Report, we offer a simple video of a humble golden ragwort, swaying in the wind atop Bearwallow Mountain.

We hope to see you in Hendersonville this summer, and that you will join us again next spring as we document the stunning blooms our region is known for.

 

Week of May 26th

Downtown Hendersonville’s Main Street turned into a stunning garden festival at Garden Jubilee this past weekend, but even after the plants were sold and the vendors went home, the lovely planters that line the serpentine street are alive with blooms and interesting plants, like Coneflowers, Smoke Bush and even the Southern Magnolia Trees are blooming!

Just down the road from Main Street, Bullington Gardens feels much further from town than it actually is. Its 12 acres are famous for the Fairy Trail and dahlia garden, but lesser known are its wooded hiking trails — and they are the perfect place to spot native wildflowers! This week, we found so many blooms: both pink and white Mountain Laurel, tons of Azaleas in all shades, Star Chickweed, Woodland Pinkroot, Flowering Spurge, Fairy Wands, Bowman’s Root, Partridgeberry, and even ghostly-looking Indian Pipes! In the planted gardens, we found Bluestars, Geranium, Day Lilies, Lupine, Flase Goat’s Beard, Sundrops and so much more.

Week of May 19th

This week, we exploered the town of Laurel Park, situated immediately west of Hendersonville’s downtown. At the well-known Jump Off Rock, we discovered more than amazing views from this roadside scenic overlook! Jump Off Rock also has a few wooded hiking trails where we spotted Fire Pinks, Fleabane, Virginia Spiderwort and more.

Then, coming down the mountain, we veered off to stop by Rhododendron Lake. Once a vast lake and the spot for locals to teach their kids how to swim and couples went dancing at an open-air pavilion, these days, since the dam burst, the small lake it situared in a neighbordoor, and offers a quiet spot to walk, picnic and even catch-and-release fish. Here, we spotted Mountain Laurel, Chinese Privet, Daylilies, Ninebark, early blooms on Hydrangias, Purple Anise, Winterberries and more.

Week of May 12th

At Marked Tree Vineyard in Flat Rock this week, we found lilies, Kousa Dogwoods and honeysuckles in bloom.

In gardens around driving around town, you are sure to see peonies and Bearded Irises in all shades, the Rhododendrons are showing off their luscious blooms, and small fruits, like blackberries and strawberries, have burst open, waiting to be pollinated.

 

Week of May 5th

Driving around town, gardens a bursting with Kousa Dogwoods and Bearded Irises in all shades, and in shadier spots, Rhododendrons in every color can be spotted.

However, stepping out into the woods can be a special treat! This week, at Holmes State Forest, we spotted plenty of Trillium in various shades,  Foamflower, Multiflora Roses, False Solomon’s Seal, White Clintonia, Wild Geraniums, Fringetree, and Flame Azaleas in bloom, as well as quite a few Mayapples that were about to bloom.

Week of April 28th

On a scenic and somewhat strenuous hike up the Strawberry Gap Trail, one of the area’s newest hiking trails, located in the Hickory Nut Gorge area of Gerton, NC, straddling the county line, we discovered Wild Geraniums, early Rhododendrons, Sweet Shrub, Trillium and Golden Ragwort all blooming.

In the heart of Hendersonville’s Apple Country, McConnell Farms, which sells a variety of plants for purchase, had some of the most beautiful Azaleas blooming on their grounds and in their greenhouses.

Week of April 21st

At the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, the short walk from the hiker’s parking lot to the goat barn provided us with a few small but beautiful wildflowers, including Bluebells, Yellow Wild Violets, Pink Azaleas and Mountain Bellwort.

Up at Jump Off Rock, the higher elevation sees a later spring than in the valley, like where downtown is located. At Jump Off, the leaves are only just emerging, and we found a marvelous field of Little Sweet Betsy Trillium and Great White Trillium. 

In downtown Hendersonville, the earlier blooms have all subsided, and things like Bearded Irises and Alliums are beginning to bloom, and while driving throughout the county, by simply looking out your car window, you are sure to find lots of Sweet Shrub, Dogwood Trees and tons of varieties of Azaleas, both native and non-native, in full bloom.

Week of April 14th

Along the Oklawaha Greenway, we found blooming Dogwood Trees, beautiful burgundy Pawpaws, Golden Ragwort, and fields of beautiful Buttercups. This is also a great place for birdwatching, and tadpole finding.

For a flower fanantic, Bullington Gardens just can’t be missed! This week, there were blooms at every level of the forest. Some of the more notable finds included 5 different types of trillium, Eastern Columbines, sweet shrub, dwarf bearded irises, little brown jug flowers, mountain bellwort, and many different varieties of azalea, including some early flame azaleas and rhododendrons.

Week of April 7th

Apple Trees across Henderson County burst into bloom last week and continued to bloom this week. Around the county, we also saw blooming Dogwood Trees, Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Trees, and Mountain Witch Alder, among many other blooms.

Week of March 24th

This week, we had some rain and continued to see more blooms. Front yards of homes and businesses, and area parks continued to show their blooming daffodils, violets, grape hyacinth, ornamental cherry trees, and tulips. A short drive down the mountain, and the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, at its slightly lower elevation than most of Hendersonville, was already quite a sight to see! We spotted tons of daffodils, tulips, Lenten roses, fringe flowers, bugleweed, speedwell and much more.

Closer to town, Bullington Gardens offers a mix of curated gardens and woodland paths, so not surprisingly, we discovered a great mix of native and non-native blooms here, including rare Oconee Bells, yellow trout lilies, Lenten roses, daffodils, tulips, magnolias, Snake’s Head Fritillary, and even some early azaleas! This is a can’t-miss spot if you want to see spring blooms.

Week of March 17th

The week of St. Paddy’s Day and the first week of spring were a great week to be in Hendersonville! Front yards of homes and businesses, and area parks began to show their first signs in the last week or so. Some of the non-native blooms dotting the landscape have included daffodils, violets, grape hyacinth, Bradford pear trees, ornamental cherry trees, and even downtown Hendersonville’s tulips are mostly in bloom already! Heading into the woods, at Holmes State Educational Forest, yellow trout lilies covered the understory, bloodroot flowers were beginning to open, and smaller blooms such as Carolina springbeauty, violas and star chickweed dotted the forest floor.

Spring Drive Through Apple Country

Spring Drive Through Apple Country

Spring Drive Through Apple Country

Every spring, Hendersonville’s apple country is abuzz with pollinators, as the fruits the area is famous for start their journey from flower to fruit.

starting point

Hendersonville Welcome Center
201 S. Main St.
Hendersonville, NC 28792

Total Mileage

  • 28 Miles
  • Approximately 1 hour

scenic drive description

Spring in Henderson County brings a breathtaking sight: the blooming apple orchards, painting the landscape with hues of pink and white. Embark on a Spring Blossom drive through the picturesque countryside. The apple blossom season typically spans from late-March to mid-April, but it’s all dependent on the weather. To start your adventure, head to the Welcome Center at 201 South Main Street in Hendersonville. From there, follow these directions to see the orchards filled with delicate, pink blossoms.

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driving directions

  1. Depart from the Welcome Center, turning right out of the parking lot onto S Main Street, continuing south. Follow this until it intersects with S Church Street, where you will make a left, and then quickly, another left onto Spartanburg Highway / US-176 E
  2. Follow Spartanburg Highway to Upward Road, where you will turn left
  3. Continue on Upward Road for about 5 miles, and you will see both Lively Orchards and Holt Orchards on your left
  4. Almost a mile beyond Holt Orchards, Upward Road changes to Ridge Road — at this intersection, you will see a large church, a post office and a historic gas station
  5. About a mile after the road name changes, take a slight left turn onto Academy Road
  6. When Academy Road ends, turn left onto Sugarloaf Road, and a quick right onto Hyder Allen Lane, then turn right onto Pace Road, where you will pass Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard on your left
  7. 1 mile beyond Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard, Pace Road ends; Turn right onto Chimney Rock Road / US-64 E
  8. Drive for a little more than a mile, passing Coston Farm & Apple House on your right, and turn left onto S Mills Gap Road, which is right next to the Apple House & Owenby Orchards
  9. After 0.3 miles, turn right onto Bearwallow Road — in this area, you will pass many apple orchards, most are packed and sold to grocery stores or turned into apple juice, so they are not open to the public, but offer a beautiful view of the spring blooms
  10. After 3 miles, Bearwallow Road ends; Turn left onto Old Clear Creek Road, where you will soon pass Bearwallow Valley Farms, a small, 4th generation family farm that offers CSA, sells at local farmers markets, and, if you are lucky, may have their pop-up roadside stand open as you drive by
  11. Remain on Old Clear Creek Road for about 2 miles, and be on the lookout for 2 giant bull statues on your right and one giant Paul Bunyan statue on your left (both are on private property, but can be seen from the road)
  12. Turn left onto Garren Road and pass Justus Orchard, and then right onto S Mills Gap Road
  13. After 0.7 miles, turn left onto College Street, at the Fruitland Baptist Bible College, and left onto Gilliam Road, which takes you back to Chimney Rock Road / US-64 E
  14. Turn right onto Chimney Rock Road / US-64 E, and as you drive back towards downtown Hendersonville, you will pass a number of orchards and produce stands, including Linda’s Plants & Shrubs, Wilke’s Produce, J&M Farms, Grandad’s Apples N Such, Barnwell’s Apple House and Mountain Fresh Orchards
  15. Follow Chimney Rock Road / US-64 E and after 4.3 miles, you will find yourself back on Main Street in downtown Hendersonville, a few blocks north of the Welcome Center

Enjoying what spring brings

As you travel this scenic route, be sure to roll down your windows and breathe in the fragrant air. Keep your camera handy to capture the stunning vistas of blooming orchards against the backdrop of the mountains. Don’t forget to stop at roadside stands along the way that are open in the spring, like Barnwell’s Apple House and Linda’s Plants & Shrubs, to get a “taste” of Apple Country, and purchase souvenirs to remember your journey. An Apple Blossom Ride through Henderson County offers an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts alike.

 

hidden-trails-coffeehouse

Outdoor – Weekend Itinerary

Outdoor – Weekend Itinerary

Outdoor – Weekend Itinerary

Find your perfect mix of heart-pounding adventure and relaxing, scenic views in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Welcome to Hendersonville

Surrounded by Pisgah National Forest and minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hendersonville welcomes travelers seeking to disconnect from daily worries and reconnect with the natural world. The Blue Ridge Mountain terrain creates an ideal setting for hiking, mountain biking, paddling, ziplining and the overall enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Friday Afternoon & Evening

When you arrive, get into the flow of an outdoor weekend with a visit to Ride Kanuga, a downhill mountain biking park that’s a good fit for both beginners and advanced riders. They have everything needed to outfit inexperienced riders, including instruction, while veteran riders can mount their bikes and go.

That evening, check into a Mill House Lodge lakefront condo in Flat Rock managed by WNC Mountain Rentals, then head to Hendersonville’s Main Street for your choice of restaurants and breweries.

people crossing the street in front of a big coc-a-cola mural painted on a brick building

Saturday Morning

Grab a quick breakfast and coffee from the nearby Blue Ruby, which offers sit-down or counter service options for both breakfast and lunch.

After breakfast, head down the mountain to Saluda, and go rafting with Green River Adventures. Or if everyone is up for it, check out their sister attraction, The Gorge Zipline. It is one of the steepest and fastest zipline adventures in the nation — a great way to build connections with your travel companions and maybe even face your fear of heights as you (safely and securely) fly through the tree canopy.

Saturday Afternoon

Back in Flat Rock, do lunch in the outdoors at Hubba Hubba Smokehouse. This courtyard eatery is walking distance from Mill House Lodge and wows patrons with slow-cooked, hickory-smoked Carolina barbecue, accompanied by an impressive array of sauces and sides.

After a tasty lunch, go on a half-day guided fly-fishing trip with DB bar D Outfitters in Mills River. Enjoy access to private waters where the average size of the trout caught is 17 inches. DB bar D accommodates anglers of all skill levels and offers shorter, two-hour guided lessons for beginners, and provides all of the necessary equipment you’ll need, including your NC Fishing license.

Saturday Evening

Take in a gorgeous sunset at Jump Off Rock, a small mountaintop park just 15 minutes from downtown Hendersonville. Afterward, go casual with patio dining at White Duck Taco Shop in the Historic 7th Avenue District. White Duck is also walking distance to two breweries, Southern Appalachian Brewery and Guidon Brewing Co., a distillery and NC’s first brandy bar.

inside historic building and brandy bar

Sunday

Get going early with a pastry and coffee from nearby Flat Rock Village Bakery, then head out for an early morning hike at DuPont State Recreational Forest in order to beat the crowds at this popular state forest. Park at the High Falls access area, which has clean restrooms and a Visitor Center, for a three-mile hike to three scenic waterfalls along Little River. Highlights include a swimming area below Hooker Falls and great views of Triple Falls, featured in The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans. Mountain bikers should also consider the slick rock trails at DuPont, some of the best of their kind on the East Coast.

As a reminder, please practice Leave No Trace Principles while you visit DuPont, and be sure to pack out your waste, respect wildlife, give others space, stay on the trails and leave only your footprints. Additionally, DuPont is one of the most popular parks in the region, so it is recommended to make an alternate plan if you can’t find parking at the High Falls parking area, and either find parking at one of DuPont’s other parking areas or check out one of the many other trails in the region.

Additionally, always practice waterfall safety, and please note that e-bikes, alcohol, drones, camping and cookouts are prohibited at DuPont.

For The Love: History, Mountain Magic and Attention to Detail

For The Love: History, Mountain Magic and Attention to Detail

For The Love: History, Mountain Magic and Attention to Detail

“The mountains worked their magic, and we never looked back,” Michele says. “This is the place we were meant to settle.”

Meet Michele Azan and Elisabeth Perez

In 2007, Michele Azan and Elisabeth Perez made their first visit to Hendersonville for a four-day weekend with friends. The New York City residents were so charmed by Hendersonville’s warm and friendly people, they called a real estate agent on a whim and wound up putting an offer on a house during their vacation.

Not able to replicate their NYC careers here, they opted for a new take on something they dabbled in years earlier in Florida – vacation rentals. They knew how to renovate and decorate properties. Now the digital age made it easier to reach customers. With keen eyes and a love of history, they came across a group of cottages and cabins surrounding an old stone guesthouse in an area known as Brightwaters.

And Brightwaters Vacation Rentals were born.

Two women pose for the camera, smiling

A Lesson in History & Community

When they bought the property, Michele and Elizabeth immersed themselves in its interesting history. Both are history buffs and were intrigued to learn about the property.

In the early 1920s, a former shoe salesman from Pennsylvania named Samuel Childs purchased 400 acres west of Hendersonville from which he carved a 100-acre resort. He named it Brightwaters after an area near Tampa and promoted the resort to Floridians seeking to vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The resort consisted of 25 cabins, an eight-bedroom hotel, plus lodge and dining hall.

Today, the two-story, 1938 former hotel is the centerpiece of the property.

Michele and Elisabeth found it important to connect with the descendants of Mr. Childs, so they had their new neighbors connect them with Martha Pryor, Samuel Childs’ granddaughter, and were thrilled to hear Martha’s stories and pore over old photos and brochures of Brightwaters Resort.

“We’re forever grateful for her generosity in sharing so much info,” said Michele. “It’s important to us to be good stewards of the legacy created by Samuel Childs and maintain the stories of this key part of Hendersonville history.”

A woman puts things into the trunk of her SUV in front of an old stone house

Inviting Atmosphere

Michele and Elisabeth are often complimented on the interior design of their properties. “Our philosophy is that each home has its own personality, designed to be warm, comfortable and inviting,” said Michele. “Our style has several components: thoughtful attention to detail; uncluttered spaces; texture and layering that delight the senses; decorative accents and large-scale artwork to add flair and drama; and mixing high/low, modern and vintage furniture to create interest and make the spaces feel like home.”

People also love that some of the Brightwaters properties are dog-friendly, a big part of what makes Hendersonville a unique place to visit. 

Lots to Love

Over the years, Michele and Elisabeth have welcomed guests from across the globe. Some of their notable mentions include: Alaska, Canada, Venezuela, Germany, Sweden, Ecuador, Argentina, Australia and China.

“We love meeting new people and offering help where we can,” says Elisabeth. “Over the years, many guests have become Hendersonville residents and we’ve helped them get settled. We support and share advice with local business owners, and partner with them to provide memorable visitor experiences.”

Why Hendersonville?

Our guests frequently tell us they come here for the plethora of outdoor activities our area offers – from pristine lakes, rivers and waterfalls to forests that welcome hikers, bikers and nature lovers. In particular, they also choose Hendersonville for U-pick apple orchards, and charming, family-friendly downtown Hendersonville, which is full of art galleries, unique boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops and breweries.

If there was one “secret” we could let potential visitors “in on,” it would be that September is one of the best times to visit. In September, it still feels like summer, but with a hint of fall. Plus, it’s easier to get reservations at popular destinations in our area.

Great for Groups

One thing that really makes Brightwaters stand out is that it offers 9 properties that neighbor one another and can accommodate up to 46 people. The property also offers a shared public, outdoor space, making this a great option for family reunions, bridal parties or small, destination weddings, as well as for other smaller sized groups and clubs visiting the region.

Each home comes with the amenities you would expect, like TVs and Wi-Fi, but also offers some extras, such as fully equipped kitchens, locked storage for outdoor gear, gas grills, and top-notch personalized, concierge-like services from Michele and Elisabeth — as much or as little as you would like. 

red Adirondack chairs surrounding a firepit without a fire

Michele & Elisabeth's Top 5 Hendersonville Suggestions

Jump Off Rock
What Michele & Elisabeth say about it: “This is one of the few peaks from which visitors can experience amazing views and sunsets without having to hike.”

Umi Japanese Restaurant
What Michele & Elisabeth say about it: “Umi offers consistently delicious food and great service seven days a week.

The Horse Shoe Farm
What Michele & Elisabeth say about it: “The
Horse Shoe Farm provides guests with luxury accommodations, a restaurant and spa, on an 85-acre riverfront estate.

Marked Tree Vineyard
What Michele & Elisabeth say about it: “They serve award-winning wines in a thoughtfully designed setting, including spectacular views from every angle.”

Packa’s Place
What Michele & Elisabeth say about it: “This beer garden welcomes everyone like family, offering music, food trucks and agritourism on their beefalo farm.”

Scoop There it is: Visit the Hendersonville Ice Cream Trail

Scoop There it is: Visit the Hendersonville Ice Cream Trail

Scoop There it is: Visit the Hendersonville Ice Cream Trail

The sweetest trail in North Carolina churns out tasty adventures on a daily basis. Chill-seekers, both young and old, follow the Hendersonville Ice Cream Trail to more than a dozen spots for spoon-licking scoops of their favorite flavors.

What's Cooler than Being Cool?

There are homemade ice creams, brand-name ice creams, soft-serves, frozen custards, frozen yogurts, banana splits, milkshakes and sundaes, as well as authentic Mexican sorbets and paletas (ice pops).

“We recommend a lot of trails in our area of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but the Ice Cream Trail is the one you’ll want to take after completing the others,” says Hendersonville tourism director Michelle Owens. “Who hasn’t earned the right to enjoy a scoop or two of ice cream after a long hike, trail ride or paddle?”

Several trail locations craft ice cream from scratch, including Celtic Creamery, El Rio Ice Cream & Paleteria, La Vida Loca Ice Cream, McConnell Farms, The Baker’s Box and Whit’s Frozen Custard.

main-street-coffee

Ice Cream with a Chef’s Kiss

The Baker’s Box is the only trail stop featuring chef-driven ice cream. Co-owner Mara Nicholas is a culinary school graduate of Johnson & Wales University. She focuses on ice cream and pastries, while her husband, George, also a Johnson & Wales grad, handles the savory side of the restaurant.

Mara serves six homemade ice creams at all times. Chocolate and vanilla are constants, interspersed with creative combos like spicy butter pecan, blueberries and cream, and Baileys Original Irish Cream and chocolate swirl. Enjoy her ice cream by the scoop (toppings available) or in tasty milkshakes. The restaurant also displays Mara’s collection of more than 150 LEGO sets.

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Figs and Farm Fresh Ingredients

At McConnell Farms, long-time owners Danny and Kathryn McConnell dipped into the ice cream game in 1999, making strawberry ice cream with an antique hit-and-miss engine attached to an Amish freezer. They have since attended four ice cream schools to significantly upgrade their equipment and output.

McConnell Farms typically offers 14 flavors made with fruit and other items from the farm, like cherries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, figs, honey and ginger. Danny is also known for concocting unusual combinations like rum raisin, blackberry chocolate chip and fig mascarpone.

“We use the best ingredients we can find,” Danny says. “Our mixer turns slower, putting less air into the product and making it denser.”

International Flavors from Ireland and Mexico

Celtic Creamery scoops extra-thick Irish-style ice cream. Everything is made in-house, including waffle cones. The Hogan family regularly visited Ballybunion, Ireland, where they fell in love with McCarthy’s Ice Cream and worked with owner Joanna McCarthy to duplicate her recipe’s amazing texture and taste in Hendersonville. Celtic Creamery also has freshly cooked mini donuts.

El Rio Ice Cream tempts the taste buds with more than 30 flavors of extra-creamy homemade ice cream and a delicious selection of Mexican paletas (popsicles) in flavors like mango, pineapple, strawberry, vanilla raisin, pistachio, guava, watermelon, cantaloupe, lemon and key lime.

Another Mexican ice cream shop, La Vida Loca Ice Cream, offers paletas and chamoyadas — the perfect combination of sweet, salty, creamy and spicy!

 

hidden-trails-coffeehouse

Main Street Treats

If you’re feeling froggy, hop on down to Main Street for two nationally known ice cream shops.

Hendersonville’s sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt has 21 daily choices: 14 individual flavors and seven “twists” that combine two flavors such as peanut butter and pomegranate raspberry for a PB&J.

A toppings bar contains 40-plus options. Frozen yogurt is lower in fat than ice cream and there’s always at least one no-sugar-added flavor, plus gluten-free options and dairy-free sorbets.

On the opposite side of Main Street, Kilwin’s has been a popular stop for lovers of ice cream – and fudge – since 2000. The shop carries 32 flavors crafted from a proprietary recipe that’s famous throughout the country. Flavors include cappuccino chocolate chip, cookies ’n’ cream, toasted coconut and sea salt caramel. Another confection, made in-house, is Kilwin’s signature Mackinac Island fudge.

jeter-mountain-orchard-coffee-house

Pardon Me, Could You Pass the Premium Custard?

Whit’s Frozen Custard always offers four fresh options: chocolate, vanilla, a flavor of the day and flavor of the week. The custard is made daily via a process that uses less air than ice cream, resulting in a thicker, creamier product. Whit’s also serves gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and low-sugar options, plus custard cakes and pies.

Another trail highlight is the warm, fresh waffle cones made daily at Luv Ice Cream, who also offers a variety of savory treats on their menu.

jeter-mountain-orchard-coffee-house

Topped with a Cherry!

The final few stops on the Hendersonville Ice Cream trail all offer both sweet and savory options, and are great 1-stop shops. Check out the long-time summer camper’s favorite, Harry’s Grill & Piggy’s Ice Cream. Part of its charm comes from the large signs and characters that adorn its roof, part comes from the thick-spun milkshakes they proudly serve.

Baabal’s Ice Cream Shoppe & Family Grille is another family-owned operation. They offer a whopping 36 flavors to choose from – perfect for a large group or family with differing tastes.

Dairi-O, one of the locations of a small, North Carolina-based chain of restaurants, also offers a large selection. Choose between 30 flavors of premium ice cream, including hand-scooped and soft-serve. Plus, they serve up some major nostalgia, offering to dip your cone in a hard coating of chocolate or butterscotch.

 

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“The trail highlights mainly local shops, sprinkled with iconic stores that visitors look for,” Owens says. “Because there are stops on Main Street, out at farms and everywhere in between, the experience takes you beyond ice cream to all that’s great in Hendersonville and Henderson County.”

woman holding ice cream cone

Sip, Savor, and Warm Up: A Town-by-Town Guide to Henderson County’s Coffee Shops

Sip, Savor, and Warm Up: A Town-by-Town Guide to Henderson County’s Coffee Shops

Sip, Savor, and Warm Up: A Town-by-Town Guide to Henderson County’s Coffee Shops

In the heart of Henderson County lies a hidden world of coffee delights, waiting to be discovered by locals and wanderers alike. From the streets of Hendersonville to the tranquil corners of Flat Rock, and Horse Shoe, each town in the county boasts its own unique coffee scene. Join as we navigate through the diverse offerings of Henderson County’s coffee shops, grouped by town, and discover the distinct flavors each one brings to the table.

Walkable Downtown

Art & Coffee Bar: Nestled in the heart of downtown Hendersonville, Art & Coffee Bar is a haven for art enthusiasts and coffee aficionados. The establishment combines a gallery showcasing local artists with a cozy atmosphere, making it the perfect spot to appreciate both creativity and quality coffee.

Black Bear Coffee Co.: Nestled in downtown Hendersonville, Black Bear Coffee has been a cherished staple since 1993, offering a warm ambiance and exceptional brews. Their commitment to sourcing high-quality, globally-sourced beans reflects an active life mission to provide the most flavorful, full-bodied coffee experience. Located right on Main Street, this coffee haven not only serves delightful pastries, cookies, sandwiches, and more but also creates a welcoming space for those seeking an authentic and enriching coffee experience.

The Buzz: Step into the vibrant and eclectic world of The Buzz for a unique coffee experience in the heart of Hendersonville. Known for its lively atmosphere and diverse menu featuring classic espresso drinks and inventive specialty concoctions, The Buzz offers more than just coffee—it provides a safe, non-triggering space for individuals exploring a sober-curious lifestyle. Located in the quintessential mountain town, this alcohol-free environment not only caters to those seeking a break from stressors but also contributes 100% of its proceeds to support recovery and prevention programs through the Hope Coalition.

Independent Beans: Independent Bean’s brick-and-mortar tasting room and roasting operation capture the essence of the city’s original downtown. Situated near the Hendersonville Train Depot, the shop pays homage to the area’s history with a beautifully preserved carved tin roof. Offering whole bean coffees, traditional espresso drinks, pourover, and drip coffee, along with delectable pastries from Underground Baking Co., Independent Bean invites patrons to savor their flavorful offerings in a cozy atmosphere, allowing a glimpse into the bygone era of Hendersonville.

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Flat Rock

Blue Ruby Kitchen: Tucked away in Flat Rock, Blue Ruby Kitchen is a culinary delight that also excels in the coffee department. With a focus on quality and flavor, it’s a go-to spot for those looking to indulge in a sensory experience.

Flat Rock Village Bakery: A beloved establishment in the heart of Flat Rock, the Village Bakery is a charming spot where you can enjoy freshly baked treats alongside your favorite cup of coffee. The combination of delectable pastries and a relaxed ambiance makes it a local treasure.

Sharewell Coffee Co.: Sharewell Coffee Co. isn’t just a coffee destination; it’s a hub for community engagement and coffee excellence. Originating from roasting beans at Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Cidery, their dedication to education for those selling their coffee sets them apart. The passion for coffee and unparalleled commitment to education make Sharewell a unique and inviting space for both connection and caffeine appreciation.

Horse Shoe

Sharewell Coffeehouse: Sharewell opened their second location in a quaint cottage in the charming and artistic Horse Shoe Gap Village. Here, they offer their artisanal, single-origin coffee, which is roasted at their original location in Flat Rock. The Coffeehouse is a great spot to get a cup to go or to cozy up by the fire and take a break from the trails to savor the unique coffee experience. What sets Sharewell apart is its commitment to precision in every cup, their love to educate about coffee, and the inviting atmosphere, amid a community of artists.

Cognative Brew House: Cognative Brew House in Horse Shoe is more than just a coffee shop; it’s a reflection of the owners’ deep connection to the area. Beyond serving unique coffee blends in a thoughtfully curated space, they showcase their commitment to the community by selling mountain biking apparel, with 2% of sales contributing to trail building and maintenance. Since 2017, they’ve donated over $70,000, emphasizing their passion for mountain biking through various initiatives, including training for kids and active involvement in local community events.

hidden-trails-coffeehouse

Across the County

The Ugly Mug: Don’t let the name fool you – The Ugly Mug is a hidden gem known for its charming ambiance and top-notch coffee. This quirky spot embraces individuality and serves as a welcoming space for coffee lovers of all kinds. In a hurry? No worries, swing by the drive-thru!

Jeter Mountain Orchard Coffee House: Indulge in the exquisite flavors of handcrafted specialty coffee at Jeter Mountain Farm Orchard Coffee House. Savor the richness of beans freshly roasted every week by independent coffee roasters, offering a delightful selection of both hot and iced beverages.

Fletcher Village Bakery: Experience a culinary journey at Fletcher Village Bakery, where the mission is to enhance the community through scratch-made foods crafted with local and organic ingredients. Founded in 2001 as a small brick oven bakery, it has grown into a beloved establishment, offering artisanal bread, wood-fired pizzas, and a diverse menu. Whether in the historic Flat Rock location with its iconic brick oven or the expanding Fletcher location with added seating and a full lunch menu, both Village Bakery locations provide a friendly atmosphere for customers to enjoy handcrafted, wholesome, and organic delights.

Black Bear Coffee Co. (Hooper’s Creek): Enjoy the taste of Black Bear Coffee Co. in Hooper’s Creek, where the passion for coffee is a vibrant life mission. Since 1993, they’ve been dedicated to serving the Hendersonville area with fresh, globally sourced blends, expertly roasted by Counter Culture Coffee. Each cup reflects their commitment to bringing customers the most flavorful and full-bodied coffee, making every sip a journey through rich and delicious aromas.

All Is Well: All Is Well Café in Arden is the perfect hangout spot, where you can indulge in a delightful array of offerings. From delicious sandwiches to tempting pastries, the café caters to a variety of tastes. What sets it apart is its commitment to inclusivity, providing great gluten-free and vegan options for those with dietary preferences. And to top it all off, the café serves up delicious coffee, making it an ideal destination for a flavorful and enjoyable experience.

jeter-mountain-orchard-coffee-house
Henderson County’s coffee culture is a tapestry of flavors, aromas, and community spirit. Whether you find yourself in the artistic streets of Hendersonville, the serene corners of Flat Rock, or the scenic landscapes of Horse Shoe, each coffee shop has something special to offer. So, grab your favorite mug, embark on a caffeinated journey, and immerse yourself in the rich coffee culture that is Henderson County.
hidden trails coffee

Foodie – One Day Itinerary

Foodie – One Day Itinerary

Foodie – One Day Itinerary

Whether you are looking for a scrumptious meal, fresh produce, locally roasted coffee, or a carefully-created craft beverage, your tastebuds will be delighted in Hendersonville.

Morning

Begin your day in the rolling horse country of rural Mills River at the elegant Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill. At this purpose-built inn the first B&B inducted into the Southern Living Hotel Collection and on Southern Living’s short list of places to stay in all of North Carolina luxury feels effortless, and hospitality awaits at every turn. Each day begins in the sunlit dining room with a threecourse “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” In the belief that every day is a celebration, even breakfast ends with dessert. A guest favorite is the inn’s signature pineapple pudding.

main-street-coffee

Afternoon

After a leisurely morning, venture over to Bold Rock Hard Cider. In late 2015, Virginia-based Bold Rock opened its second production facility in Mills River, along with an apple-pressing barn, tasting room and cider garden. The area’s orchards provide a ready source of fresh apples, which helped the Mills River location outpace its Virginia predecessor within the first three years of operation. Take a tour to learn how apples are pressed into juice, which goes through a fermentation process similar to winemaking and is kegged or bottled on-site. Participate in a tasting to try several of the dozen ciders on tap, from the original Carolina Apple to ciders flavored with blackberry, pineapple, herbs and spices. Bold Bites mobile kitchen serves a menu of burgers, wings, nachos, sandwiches and wraps.

After taking in the all that Bold Rock has to offer, head to downtown Hendersonville for the afternoon and pop into Wine Sage Merchant + Wine Bar on Main Street. The wine shop and bar focuses on vintages from smaller wineries, and also sells culinary-related gadgets and gifts, as well as offers tastings and classes.

driver standing in front of a private van
driver standing in front of a private van

Evening

Make dinner reservations at Postero, located across the street from Wine Sage Merchant + Wine Bar, in a former bank building. The smartly designed dining space features an open kitchen as its centerpiece. The restaurant maintains strong relationships with area farmers, calling them out on the menu when possible. Menu items honor Appalachian food traditions, while incorporating unexpected ingredients and elevating the presentation to something that resembles artwork on a plate.

pork chop over mashed potatoes on a plate

Vineyards, Tranquility, and Culinary Delights: A Bachelorette Escape in Hendersonville

Vineyards, Tranquility, and Culinary Delights: A Bachelorette Escape in Hendersonville

Vineyards, Tranquility, and Culinary Delights: A Bachelorette Escape in Hendersonville

Before you say “I do,” it’s time to celebrate on a bachelorette trip you’ll never forget. Skip the hustle and bustle! Hendersonville will feel like a breath of fresh air, with its perfect blend of picturesque landscapes, charming wineries, rejuvenating spas and delectable restaurants. Join as we explore the ultimate bachelorette destination that promises relaxation, laughter and unforgettable memories!

Discover the allure of the Crest of the Blue Ridge AVA

The Crest of the Blue Ridge was officially designated as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the summer of 2019 – a mark of distinction that solidifies Hendersonville’s reputation as a must-visit wine destination. This prestigious recognition is a testament to the region’s unique soil, climate, and elevation, creating the perfect terroir for grape production. With warm days, cool mountain nights, and pristine water quality, Hendersonville provides an idyllic setting for crafting exquisite wines, predominantly of the drier variety. And with views for days, it is the perfect, Instagrammable getaway with the gals.

Bonus! If your squad loves more than just wine, check out the Cheers! Trail. 

 

main-street-coffee
main-street-coffee

Getting Around Town

Because so much of the area surrounding Hendersonville is rural, it’s true that you can’t always catch an Uber, but thankfully, you can explore the local wineries worry-free with these convenient transportation services, any of which will ensure a smooth and delightful journey throughout your Hendersonville bachelorette bash!

  1. The Regal RideExperience tailor-made excursions to Western North Carolina’s vineyards, breweries, and distilleries with The Regal Ride. Travel in style aboard a new Mercedes Sprinter van, immersing yourself in the stunning local scenery. Offering customized tours for groups ranging from 2 to 26 persons.
  2. The Trolley Company Enjoy guided tours of Historic Hendersonville, Wine Tours, and special events with The Trolley Company. Arrange group transportation year-round for 1 to 200 passengers.
  3. Van in Black Choose from their fleet of spacious Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans and luxurious Cadillac Escalades, with easy online booking, pricing, and availability for your convenience.”
driver standing in front of a private van

Culinary Delights:

A special weekend away calls for a little indulgence! Treat your taste buds to the culinary wonders of Hendersonville during your bachelorette celebration. From farm-to-table delights to creative culinary experiences, savor every moment of this delectable adventure with your bride tribe. Looking for something more low-key? Check out our entire list of dining options!

 

  1. Season’s at Highland Lake Inn: Gather your squad for a delightful dining experience at Season’s. Located at Highland Lake Inn, this restaurant offers farm-to-table cuisine in a charming setting. Savor delicious dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, accompanied by a carefully curated wine list.
  2. Postero: For a chic and contemporary dining experience, head to Postero in Downtown  Hendersonville. This restaurant combines modern flavors with Southern hospitality. With a diverse menu and craft cocktails, it’s the perfect spot to celebrate your last days as a bachelorette.
  3. Shine: Experience culinary excellence at Shine in Downtown Hendersonville. This restaurant is known for its creative dishes and warm ambiance, offering a unique and memorable dining experience. Celebrate with your friends and toast to the future with a curated selection of cocktails and wines.
pork chop over mashed potatoes on a plate
pork chop over mashed potatoes on a plate

Stay a While

Get the gals all together and choose from a large selection of whole-home vacation rentals tailored to your desires. Whether it’s a gracious mountain house for bride squad, a charming treehouse nestled in the woods, or a cozy cottage just steps away from main street dining and shops, the options are nearly endless.

Know your friends prefer a more traditional lodging option? Hendersonville also offers a great selection of both locally-owned and chain hotels, and even a few resort-style options, where you can really put all cares aside. 

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"Bach"-tivities

From pedal-powered fun with HVL Pedal and Brews to llama farm hikes at Ellaberry Llama Farm, your bachelorette trip promises a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation, with artsy classes, scenic biking or hiking, kayaking, shopping, tea service, and farm experiences waiting to be explored.

  1. HVL Pedal and Brews: A lively 14-person pedal-powered vehicle with room for 10 Peddlers, 4 Non-Peddlers, and your entertaining conductor, offering downtown Hendersonville tours with humor, style, and BYOB fun, starting and stopping at Blue Ridge Beer Garden.
  2. Ellaberry Llama Farm: Check out Ellaberry Llama Farm for bachelorette-friendly tours, llama hikes, and even running the llamas through an obstacle course – a unique and delightful experience. Reservations required.
  3. The Art Place: This rotating gallery offers many special events, classes and workshops – a perfect bachelorette haven for art enthusiasts and to create unforgettable memories with your closest friends.
  4. Lazy Otter Outfitters: Offers kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle-boarding on the “undiscovered” and most tranquil stretch of the French Broad River – a scenic journey past wildlife and farmland that perfectly blends relaxation and outdoor recreation. Reservations required.
  5. The Book & Bee Café & Tea: An English-style café and tea room that offers literary-inspired décor, a delightful menu of sandwiches, salads, soups, assorted teas, scones, sweets, fruit, and more to indulge in.
  6. Jeter Mountain Farm: This 400-acre family farm is now a haven for U-pick apples, peaches, blueberries, flowers and more. Each fall, indulge in a variety of delights, from savoring traditional BBQ at the 1813 Smokehouse to enjoying locally roasted coffee at the Jeter Mountain Orchard Coffee House. With a hard cider tasting room, wagon rides, live music, and a market featuring apple cider donuts and handcrafted treasures, the farm offers a perfect blend of fun and relaxation for your celebration.
  7. DuPont State Recreational Forest: Did you really visit Western North Carolina if you didn’t take time to see a waterfall? DuPont is home to 6 waterfalls, including its most popular 3-mile waterfall hike, which includes Hooker Falls, Triple Falls & High Falls. Park at the Hooker Falls Access Area or High Falls Access Area.

hidden-trails-coffeehouse
hidden-trails-coffeehouse
hidden-trails-coffeehouse

Make Planning a Breeze

Not sure how to fit all these activities into one trip? No worries, Juniper, a local travel planning business, offers curated and crafted experiences that will save you time, help you discover local gems, and allow you to be more present! Juniper is run by a true Hendersonville native, so you are sure to find the best everything Hendersonville has to offer on your weekend getaway.

Two women relaxing at the spa.

2024 Vision: A Look Ahead at Hendersonville’s Events and Festivals

2024 Vision: A Look Ahead at Hendersonville’s Events and Festivals

2024 Vision: A Look Ahead at Hendersonville’s Events and Festivals

Get ready for an exciting year in Hendersonville! This blog previews the upcoming signature events and festivals that really shape Hendersonville. From music festivals to community gatherings, discover the highlights that promise a year of entertainment and unforgettable moments. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, stay in the know with our guide to Hendersonville’s must-attend happenings.

Spring

April 19-21 – Cider, Wine and Dine Weekend

Henderson County wineries and cideries partner together to present a weekend filled with a long list of activities including tastings of artisan hard cider and award-winning, local wines, food pairings, educational programs, live music, tours and more; events take place at each of the scenic and unique local wineries and cideries.

May 5 – Fiesta Hendersonville

Fiesta Hendersonville is a cultural celebration featuring live music, dance, food, and art that highlights the diverse heritage of the community. Attendees can experience a vibrant atmosphere with a variety of entertainment right in Downtown Hendersonville, on the South end of Main Street.

May 25-26 – Garden Jubilee

Garden Jubilee is a springtime celebration of gardening and horticulture. Western North Carolina’s premiere lawn and garden show transforms Hendersonville’s Main Street into the biggest and best garden center you’ve ever witnessed! Plus, enjoy educational sessions on the stage at the Welcome Center.

May – October – Bearfootin’ Bears on Main Street

Bearfootin’ Bears are fiberglass outdoor bear sculptures that are painted and decorated in different themes by local artists, and displayed along the sidewalks of Main Street as a public art display. A new set of bears is released each May, and the bears are auctioned off each October to benefit local non-profit organizations.

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main-street-coffee

Summer

May – October Summer Concert Series

Every summer, Hendersonville is filled with the sound of live music! Downtown, enjoy the danceable Top 40 hits at Music On Main, groove to modern regional performers at Rhythm & Brews, and experience the sound of the Southern Appalachian region at the 106-year-old Street Dances. A little further out, relax while enjoying a variety of music at Music by the Lake, remember the days gone by with oldies performed at Fletcher Park Concerts, and enjoy the view and the sounds at the Jump Off Rock Concert Series. (All music acts TBD at time of publication.)

July 4 – 4th of July Parade, Concerts & Fireworks

The July 4th parade includes inflatables, kid’s games, and activities, food trucks, and 2 stages featuring live music. The evening will be capped-off with fireworks display that can be seen from either concert area. Located on Main Street in Downtown Hendersonville.

July 13 – Chalk it Up!

Narnia Studios presents the 27th annual Chalk it Up! Watch as Downtown Hendersonville’s sidewalks are transformed into beautiful murals. Located on Main Street in Downtown Hendersonville.

August 30 – September 2 – The North Carolina Apple Festival

The annual NC Apple Festival includes a street fair, arts & crafts, live music and entertainment, children’s activities and rides, parade, food & much more — all in celebration of our rich apple growing heritage here in Hendersonville. Festival located on Main Street in Downtown Hendersonville; plus, there are other special events that take place throughout the weekend across town.

bear statue in Hendersonville nc
bear statue in Hendersonville nc

Fall

 

September 28 & 29 – Art on Main

Celebrate fine art and fine craft on the last weekend of September each year at Art On Main, a gathering of distinctive local and regional artists from across the southeast US. More than 70 juried artists bring their wares to Main Street to sell works of fine art paintings, clay, metal, wood, fiber, photography, jewelry and more.

October 5 – Farm City Day

Farm City Day, held the first Saturday of October each year, offers a unique look into Hendersonville’s agricultural roots, with rural and educational displays, antiques and modern farm equipment, craft vendors, a special youth area with hands-on activities, a farm animal petting zoo, old-timey demonstrations, games and a fishing pond, plus there will be live music and food trucks. Located at Jackson Park in Hendersonville.

child looking at baby animals

Winter

 

November 15 – December 31 – Home for the Holidays

From mid-November through New Year’s Day, Hendersonville invites visitors to come “Home for the Holidays” in this special town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Main Street’s shops, galleries and boutiques are decorated in holiday splendor, while large wreaths with big red bows hang from streetlights. Add in the twinkling lights and decorations along the serpentine street, and you get a scene straight out of a Hallmark movie.

December 31 – New Year’s Eve Apple Rise

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Historic Courthouse at a family-friendly celebration which counts down to the GMT midnight — or 7pm locally! Enjoy live music, noisemakers, glow sticks and hot beverages, and count down as you watch the apple rise!

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Hendersonville NC
New Year's Eve Apple Rise family fun Hendersonville, NC

Quirky Hendersonville: Interesting and Often-Overlooked Attractions

Quirky Hendersonville: Interesting and Often-Overlooked Attractions

Quirky Hendersonville: Interesting and Often-Overlooked Attractions

There are many well-known ways to enjoy a day exploring Hendersonville, North Carolina. But for those fascinated by quirky, overlooked, off-the-beaten-path attractions, here’s a list of interesting places and things that make the City of Four Seasons unique.

Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward, Angel” Statue

One of the greatest novelists in American history was born and raised about 20 miles from Hendersonville in Asheville. As a boy, Thomas Wolfe was fascinated by the Italian marble statue of an angel displayed at his father’s funeral monuments shop. As an adult, Wolfe penned a detailed description of the angel in a short story titled “An Angel on the Porch,” which formed the basis for his famous novel, “Look Homeward, Angel,” in 1929.

The statue Wolfe admired as a boy was sold by his father in 1906 to a family in Hendersonville. It has stood ever since in Hendersonville’s Oakdale Cemetery, marking the grave of Margaret Bates Johnson, wife of the late Dr. H.F. Johnson, a minister and former president of Whitworth College in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

Wolfe’s father actually sold several marble angel monuments to families in the North Carolina mountains, and for many years after the book was published, debate raged as to whether the Hendersonville statue was indeed the inspiration for his novel. Literary historians researched the statues, which each had different characteristics, and determined in 1949 that the muse for the book was the Hendersonville statue. Oakdale Cemetery is located adjacent to U.S. 64 West, just a short distance from downtown. A wrought iron fence protects the statue, a few dozen yards from a state historical marker located on the side of the highway.

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Woodmen of the World Memorial Water Fountain

An oft-overlooked water fountain, carved from white granite to resemble a tree stump, has stood near the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street since 1947. The beautiful fountain serves as a memorial to Joseph Cullen Root, a Massachusetts native who founded the Modern Woodmen of America in Lyons, Iowa, in 1883, and also founded the Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1890.

So why in the heck was a memorial to Root, known as one of America’s most prolific founders of fraternal societies, erected 34 years after his death in the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Hendersonville? As it turns out, it marks the approximate location of his untimely death.

Root traveled to Hendersonville from Omaha in December 1913 for a gathering of thousands of the Woodmen of the World in which 200 new members were to be initiated. Unfortunately, Root fell sick with a bronchial infection during his travels and was committed to a bed at the St. John’s Hotel on the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street, where he died on Christmas Eve 1913.

Thirty-four years later, members of the local camps of the Woodmen of the World dedicated the fountain in his memory. Inscribed on the fountain are the words “dum tacet clamat,” Latin for “though silent, he speaks.” The Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society was established by Root to make life insurance available to everyone, particularly families of hourly workers. The company, much like the water fountain dedicated to its founder, is still operational today.

main-street-coffee2

Local Depot is Home to One of the Nation’s Largest Model Railroads

At its peak, the historic Hendersonville Trail Depot (circa 1902) served as a stop for six passenger trains a day, boarding and discharging passengers from such distant cities as Cincinnati, Ohio, and Charleston, South Carolina. Passenger service ended in 1968. The depot sat empty for more than 20 years, until the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club received permission from the City of Hendersonville to move into the depot in 1992. Not only did the club likely save the depot from a wrecking ball, but it also filled the depot with one of the most impressive model railroad layouts in America.

Just like their heroes who, bit by bit, laid railroad tracks from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the members of the Apple Valley club continually added more and more track inside the depot until they achieved a replica of the entire railroad system in the mountains of Western North Carolina, complete with depots in places like Hickory, Marion, Asheville, Saluda and yes, Hendersonville. The depot is open, with free admission, every Wednesday and Saturday and has become a popular spot for railfans of all ages.

“There are a lot of great layouts around the country, and this is one of the larger ones,” says Larry Morton, former president of the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club. “The public is very complimentary. They tell us this is one of the best model railroad clubs they’ve seen anywhere in the country, and I seriously believe we are in the top 10 percent.”

boy watching model trains

Together, They Held the Record as the World’s Largest Twins

Identical twins Benny and Billy McCrary, born in Hendersonville in 1946, contracted measles at age 4, which damaged their pituitary glands and contributed to excessive weight gain. By age 10, then weighed 200 pounds each and eventually reached a combined weight of 1,598 pounds. A photographer for Life magazine snapped a photo of them riding minibikes one year during the N.C. Apple Festival parade in Hendersonville. This was a common occurrence as they loved their minibikes and often rode them in parades and at other celebrations. Someone with the Guiness Book of World Records saw the photo and that’s how they became world record holders as the heaviest twins.

During the peak of their fame in 1970s, the McCrary twins rode their Honda minibikes from New York to Los Angeles to appear on the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. They became pro wrestlers, using the name the McGuire Twins, wrestling in the U.S. and overseas. Billy died in 1979 during a minibike stunt at Niagara Falls. Benny continued with other wrestling partners, including Andre the Giant, before easing into a life focused on golf and evangelism before passing away in 2001.

Their fame continues after their deaths, including scenes in the popular TV animation shows “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.” They lived their entire lives in Hendersonville and are remembered with a three-ton, 13-foot-wide memorial at Crab Creek Baptist Church Cemetery that is believed to be the world’s largest gravestone, featuring two minibikes and “THE WORLD’S LARGEST TWINS” in capital letters. A national magazine included the twins’ gravesite in a 2005 article titled, “Hit the Road,” which featured 25 unusual tourist destinations across the United States.

hidden-trails-coffeehouse

Ukrainian Mosaic on Hendersonville’s Main Street

An interesting tie to Ukraine can be found at 318 North Main Street, at least for those willing to look up.

High on the façade of the Hands On! Children’s Museum building is an intricate and colorful tile mosaic. Titled “Nature in North Carolina,” the 18-foot square mosaic was created in 1993 by Ukrainian artists Vasily and Julia Polevoy, who fled Vasily’s homeland after being displaced in Ukraine by the Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown and also suffering years of persecution in the Soviet Union for their religious and anti-Communist beliefs.

The Polevoys, who lived in Hendersonville for quite some time before relocating to South Carolina, hand-placed 250,000 small glass tiles to create the beautiful design, which depicts mountains, rivers and other aspects of nature. The glass in the tiles is known as “smalti,” a traditional mosaic material ordered in 116 colors for the project. At the time, the building was known as Rosdon Mall and the artwork was commissioned by the building’s owners, Rose and Don Gladieux.

The building eventually became home to the Hands On! Children’s Museum, Black Bear Coffee Co. and High Country Style. There was a brief uproar in 2018 when the museum released a rendering of its major expansion plans, and that rendering showed the Hands On! logo in place of the mosaic. However, locals were quickly relieved to learn the logo was placed in the rendering as an oversight and the mosaic was always intended to remain on the façade.

hidden-trails-coffeehouse

Many of our quirkiest attractions are right under your nose, hidden in plain sight. But these are just a starting point to explore all of the wonderful culture, arts, history and fun that Hendersonville has to offer.

boy watching model trains

Brightening the Season: Exploring Enchanting Holiday Light Displays

Brightening the Season: Exploring Enchanting Holiday Light Displays

Brightening the Season: Exploring Enchanting Holiday Light Displays

As the holiday season descends upon us, make Hendersonville your homebase to see the many festive sights the Western North Carolina region has to offer.

Christmas Time is Here, Happiness and Cheer

Each December, Hendersonville turns into a winter wonderland, and a festive spot to start your exploration of the region. From the serene landscapes of the North Carolina Arboretum to the festive ambiance of downtown tree lighting ceremonies, each location offers a unique and enchanting experience for visitors of all ages.

Hendersonville offers a wide variety of lodging options at all price points, so you are sure to find something that will fit your travel personality and your wallet.

Keep reading to discover the best spits in and around Hendersonville to see festive light displays.

inside of biltmore house at christmas

1) Downtown Tree Lighting Ceremony: November 24

The heart of any festive community celebration is the traditional downtown tree lighting ceremony. The air is filled with holiday cheer, and the glow of the lights casts a warm and inviting ambiance. Enjoy Christmas songs, hot drinks and delicious treats from Black Bear Coffee, shopping and a countdown as Santa arrives to light up Main Street. Festivities kick off at 5pm, which includes live music, free visits with Santa and free carriage rides, in addition to the tree lighting itself.

If you miss the event itself, the tree and all of downtown Hendersonville remains festively lit all December long!

 

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Hendersonville NC

2) Henderson County Light Trail: December 1-26

This year, homes and businesses across the county are festively decorated, and welcome visitors to view their holiday displays. Follow the trail for a fun evening with your loved ones, driving to view the best lights the area has to offer. There is no competition here, just a bunch of people who love this time of year! This self-guided tour is free, a suggested route will be available here on December 1st

3) The North Carolina Arboretum: November 17 - December 31

Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the North Carolina Arboretum provides a picturesque setting for a holiday lights extravaganza. As daylight fades, the gardens come alive with a breathtaking display of lights, illuminating the trees, trails, and sculptures. Visitors can stroll through the Winter Lights exhibit, marveling at the synchronized light displays that create a whimsical atmosphere. The Arboretum’s commitment to sustainability is evident, as many of the lights are energy-efficient LEDs, adding an eco-friendly touch to the festivities.

mother and daughter walking through christmas light display

4) Marked Tree Vineyard: November 25 – December 31

The month-long event kicks off each year on the day after Thanksgiving with the lighting of OTTO, rumored to Western NC’s largest Oak Tree! Otto was dressed in 2022 with over 6K lights! As you drive up to the tasting room, where Otto is located, you will be treated to a modern lit holiday landscape, where more than 50,000 twinkling lights adorn the property! Daily during December, guests can drive or hike around the property enjoying lighted vignettes around the landscape – in the meadow, the pines, the winery shed, Otto, and the Ghost House — and pick up a few bottles of their award-winning wine to gift your friends, family and self.

5) Shadrack's Light Show: November 17 - January 1

For a truly immersive experience, Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland offers a one-of-a-kind drive-through light show. Located in Tryon, NC this synchronized spectacle dazzles spectators with an impressive array of lights choreographed to festive music. From dancing snowflakes to animated Christmas characters, Shadrack’s Light Show is a sensory delight, enchanting audiences of all ages. The convenience of enjoying this display from the warmth of your car adds an extra layer of comfort to the holiday experience.

Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland

6) The Biltmore Estate: November 3 - January 7

What trip to Western NC would be complete without a stop at America’s Largest Home, the Biltmore Estate? Be transported to a truly magical day as you take in the majestic Norway spruce inside the home, countless Christmas trees, thousands of lights, and miles of ribbons and garland that adorn the 8,000 acres. In the evenings, take in the soft glow of candles, fireplaces, and twinkle lights. 

Family – Weekend Itinerary

Family – Weekend Itinerary

Family – Weekend Itinerary

For families looking to spend a weekend in Hendersonville, you are sure to find something to suit every family member’s tastes. You will enjoy everything from ice cream to burgers, hiking to model trains, and picking apples to a show at the Flat Rock Playhouse.

Friday Night

Kick off your weekend with dinner at Campfire Grill in the quaint Village of Flat Rock. The restaurant recreates the summer camp experience in its dining room. Hendersonville is the camp capital of the Southeast, with approximately 20 youth summer camps. Standout menu items include the towering counselor burger and s’mores skillet served with graham crackers for dipping

Walk to an evening show at the Flat Rock Playhouse. The State Theatre of North Carolina specializes in musicals, comedies and shows for young audiences. The professional theater merges top talent with an approachable, laid-back vibe for a bit of Broadway in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Allow everyone in the family to unplug at Kanuga, a sprawling campus that includes public accommodations, a Conference and Retreat Center, bike park, children’s summer camp and more. Located on 1,400 acres, the resort encourages outdoor exploration and quality time with loved ones. Book a hotel-style room in the main inn, or choose from multi-bedroom historic cottages and guesthouses with various amenities, such as fireplaces, screened porches and kitchens.

Saturday

If you’re in Hendersonville from August through October, spend Saturday morning at an apple orchard. Hendersonville leads North Carolina in apple production, and many orchards invite customers to pick their own fruit. Other farm adventures include hayrides, apple cannons, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and bakeries with fresh apple treats. If apples aren’t in season, head to Elijah Mountain Gem Mine and search for gemstones and gold. Covered outdoor flumes are open seven days a week year-round. In addition to mining, visitors can pet and feed the goats and admire colorful peacocks and pheasants in the aviary.

 

Spend the afternoon in the Seventh Avenue Historic District. The Apple Valley Model Railroad Club is located in the former train depot. The museum has a working HO-scale model train that depicts Western North Carolina circa the 1950s. A larger, all-weather G-scale display runs outside with plants and water features.

 

On Saturday evening, White Duck Taco Shop makes taco night an easy dinner choice. Adults will like the variety with everything from jerk chicken, lump crab, Korean beef bulgogi and lamb gyro filling tortillas. And kids will like the familiarity of chicken or cheese quesadillas. End the night with ice cream at nearby Celtic Creamery. The shop uses an Irish recipe and local ingredients to create an exceptionally creamy ice cream that is made, churned and frozen daily in-house.

 

Sunday Morning

After checking out on Sunday, take one final stroll around the Kanuga campus, taking time to meditate by the lake or walk the labyrinth before making a final jaunt to Holmes Educational State Forest, which opens on Sundays at 11am, for a hike around the Talking Trees Trail. Along the half-mile loop, different species of trees share a bit about themselves, including their distinct characteristics and helpful uses. Holmes also makes for an excellent picnic location after your hike.

Great Spots for Pumpkin Picking

Great Spots for Pumpkin Picking

Great Spots for Pumpkin Picking

Hendersonville is known for its apples and wine grapes, but truly, just about any fruit or vegetable grows well in this climate. Each fall, you can find your ideal pumpkin-picking-spot right at one of Hendersonville’s farms.

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

Summer’s warmth has given way to fall, and the mornings now bring a crisp, smooth, coolness to the air, fog often clinging to the mountain peaks, adding a surreal feeling to the already breathtaking landscape. As you break out your flannel shirts and fall boots, and begin day dreaming about the picture-perfect fall day, there is no better time to start immersing yourself in the quintessential fall farm activities.

In Hendersonville, we are known for apples, wine grapes and mountain cabbages, all of which ripen this time of year, but we are also lucky enough to be a great spot to grow pumpkins. And because of this, there are lot of wonderful places to make memories and pick pumpkins.

Keep reading below for 3 great locations in Hendersonville to purchase or pick your own pumpkins.

1) The Nix Pumpkin Patch

The Nix Pumpkin Patch is a one-of-a-kind farm stand that offers U-pick pumpkins and winter squashes, as well as u-pick flowers and sells a wide variety of local produce, local meats and dairy, handcrafted gift items, coffee, baked goods and so much more in the farm store. You will also find a great selection of pre-picked pumpkins in all shapes, sizes and colors.

2) Linda's Plants & Shrubs

Just outside the greenhouse doors, you will find a sprawling pumpkin patch, with pumpkins of all shapes and sizes waiting to be picked. Be sure to stop inside for the indoor hay maze, apples, seasonal décor, fall plants and house plants.

3) Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard

Everyone loves Stepp’s because of their wide variety of fall activities, including pick your own pumpkins and apples, and that they are a little off-the-beaten-path. Like all of the apple orchards in Hendersonville, this orchard is family-owned and operated, and when you are here, you will feel like part of their warm family. Be sure to check out the corn maze and the bakery, where you can get both apple cider and pumpkin donuts!

2023 Fall Color Report

2023 Fall Color Report

2023 Fall Color Report

Every fall, Hendersonville gets cozy in a warm hug of vibrant fall colors. While Mother Nature likes to keep us guessing, read along to see what our Fall Foliage is looking like at locations across the county!

Fall Foliage In The Blue Ridge Mountains

Each fall, the entire region gets nice and cozy, wrapped up in a warm hug of vibrant fall colors! While Mother Nature likes to keep us guessing, here is a general timeline of when the fall foliage typically shines its brightest in Hendersonville:

  •  Late September – Head up to the high spots, 6,000 feet and above in the Blue Ridge Mountains, for the start of the color show.
  • First week of October – Colors start to paint the Blue Ridge above 5,000 feet, and the mountains get a bit cooler.
  • Second week of October – Now the trees between 4,000 and 5,000 feet are strutting their stuff in full color.
  • Third week of October – The colors start trickling down through the 3,000 to 4,000-foot range. This is your prime time for Blue Ridge Parkway drives and amazing views.
  • Fourth week of October – Hendersonville and the lower Blue Ridge hills (2,000 to 3,000 feet) hit their peak of colorful awesomeness. The town dresses up too!
  • First week of November – Down in the valleys (1,000 to 2,000 feet), the colors hit their stride. You’ll see the full splendor from the mountain tops, through the vineyards and orchards, and into town.

See below for our running updates on where things stand for this year’s color show!

(Please note: the photo here and at the top of this page are from previous years.)

Final Update: November 6th

While there are still some trees holding on to their copper, burgundy and brown leaves, continuing to dot the landscape with one last hurrah of color, the 2023 Fall Foliage Season is truly at its close. It was a beautiful season, and we enjoyed chasing the color for you. Be sure to plan to join us next October to see the beauty the landscape has to offer — each year is its own special surprise! Pictured above is a recent drone shot from Bearwallow Mountain, and here is what we think was one of the best fall foliage photos this season had to offer, shot at High Falls at DuPont State Forest a few weeks ago!

Update: October 30th

The leaves are continuing to fall, but that offers a different kind of magical fall activity: driving through falling leaves — which feels like something out of a movie. Currently, your best options for the most vibrant foliage seem to be the lower elevations around the county, driving through town and getting lucky to see brightly colored trees and bushes in yards of homes, or looking out at the rolling hills from scenic overlooks, like Jump Off Rock, where the mountains are dappled in a variety of colors, and you can’t quite tell that the leaves are beginning to come down. From close up, it is more obvious that the 2023 leaf season is approaching its close.

Update: October 26th

While leaves have continued to fall across the county, there is still plenty of vibrant color to see right now. In Etowah, along the French Broad River, there is still some color to enjoy if you take a paddling trip. In Horse Shoe, the drive along Route 64 is lined by rolling hills still covered in bright colors. In Laurel Park, Rhododendron Lake is seeing quite a few leaves on the ground, but the lake and its surrounding paths are still filled with beauty and a wide variety of types of trees and their differing colors. At Mills River Park, which is in a flat valley, you can see the vibrant mountain peaks of Pisgah National Forest in the distance. In Downtown Hendersonville, many of the later-changing trees have finally shown their true colors, while some of the earlier-changing trees have begun dropping leaves.

Update: October 23rd

Driving through the greater Hendersonville area, you are sure to see foliage that will knock your socks off right now. Each day seems more beautiful than the previous, hard as that seems to be. DuPont State Recreational Forest is bursting with color at every level, from the the lowest shrubby plants on up. Not far from there, Kanuga’s vast property, which includes a conference center, accommodations, camp, bike park and more, is beginning to showcase a lovely display of colors around its lakefront. From above (via drone), you can see plainly why the foliage in the Blue Ridge Mountains is so popular — the wide variety of types of trees and the differing colors they display each autumn.

Update: October 19th

At Jump Off Rock, the leaves are only just beginning to change, but it is still very much worth the drive up to this scenic overlook for the spectacular views and the vibrant foliage you will see on your drive up the mountain. In Downtown Hendersonville, there are many maple trees showing off nearly full transformations, like pictured here, in front of the courthouse on Grove Street. Up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the foliage continue to be more and more rich, with some stretches of road being further along than others (as is common in the mountains), and Skinny Dip Falls, which is running low, due to a recent lack of rainfall in our region, is absolutely bursting with color. The famed, roadside Looking Glass Falls, located just down the road from the Parkway in Pisgah National Forest, is also showcasing a stunning display of yellows.

Update: October 16th

About an hour northwest of Hendersonville, Maggie Valley (and areas further west) saw snowfall on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This could signal trees to begin dropping leaves in those areas soon. Meanwhile, the stretch of the Parkway that is closer to Hendersonville, which winds its way along the edge of the county, is still seeing beautiful, vibrant foliage, though it did also get a light dusting. Closer to town, the cool evenings have encouraged the trees on the outskirts of town to eek ever-closer to their peak foliage, and many of the trees in Downtown Hendersonville are already fully changed to their reds, oranges and yellows. Next week looks promising for even more vibrancy downtown, the cooler evenings and little bit of rain we have seen has helped improve this recent color development.

Update: October 14th

Up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the foliage is at or about to reach peak color saturation! Something that makes living in the Blue Ridge Mountains so interesting is that there are so many micro-climates, meaning that along your drive, you may go around a curve and find a stretch where the foliage is more vibrant than the last! Today, thanks to the rich biodiversity our area supports, reds, yellows, oranges, burgundies, bronzes and greens in all shades can all be spotted.

Update: October 12th

In Flat Rock, just south of downtown Hendersonville, the foliage is starting to become more vibrant. Along roadsides, dogwood trees are already showcasing their deep burgundies and the elm trees are shining their sunniest yellows, while some of the later-turning trees remain mostly green. Much of the historic Flat Rock area is private property or summer camps, like Camp Ton-A-Wandah, but The Flat Rock Playhouse and Carl Sandburg Home are both great public places to see the foliage.

Update: October 10th

To the north of Hendersonville, Fletcher, NC, is not yet seeing as vibrant of foliage as the higher elevations. At Rutledge RV Park, the lake is mostly surrounded by green, while at Bill Moore Park, a few trees are beginning to show off their reds and yellows, while the majority of the trees that surround the park, and the mountains around are only showing early stages of the leaves changing color.

Update: October 6th

Mills River Park is undergoing a gradual transformation as autumn takes hold. While the leaves have started to change, they are still working their way towards their peak of vibrant fall colors. The park’s trees are slowly shedding their summer greenery and adopting shades of red, orange, and gold, promising a breathtaking display in the coming weeks. Visitors to Mills River Park can anticipate the evolving beauty of the changing foliage.

In Downtown Hendersonville, some of the maple trees are beginning to show their reds and oranges, but the majority of trees remain green. 

 

Update: October 5th

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, colors are beginning to show, and we anticipate peak color will be on display soon. The Parkway is a quintessential part of any visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains, especially in the fall, when “America’s Most Popular Roadway” is ablaze with the vibrant colors.

The stretch of roadway closest to Hendersonville features nearly a dozen tunnels, which were expertly crafted by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, an effort by President FDR to get Americans back to work.

A Different Kind Of Camping Experience

A Different Kind Of Camping Experience

A Different Kind Of Camping Experience

The Cold Spring Basecamp team is a vibrant ensemble of individuals who share a deep-rooted love for this pristine wilderness.

 

Guest Writer: Hartwell Carson

Meet the People Behind Cold Spring Basecamp

Cold Spring Basecamp is a family-owned business spearheaded by partners Steve Waggoner and Hartwell Carson. Steve knows the basecamp like the back of his hand, as he grew up camping on this property as a kid. His father, Bill Waggoner, was the owner of Camp Windy Wood on Lake Summit, and the Cold Spring property was used for overnight camping and adventures. Bill and Steve built some of the original cabins by hand.

Steve Waggoner: A native of the area, Steve’s upbringing was steeped in the wonders of camping and adventure as he spent his days exploring every nook and cranny of this pristine property, starting with his time as a camp counselor and over the next three decades, through his career as a land surveyor. His journey of discovery has made Steve intimately familiar with the lay of the land. Today, he serves as the “President of heavy equipment, surveying, and rock hauling” at Cold Spring Basecamp.

Hartwell Carson: Hartwell has worked for almost 20 years to clean up and protect the waterways in Western North Carolina as the French Broad Riverkeeper for MountainTrue. This work involves monitoring our waterways, pulling tires and trash from the river, and building the French Broad River paddle trail, a series of campsites connecting over 150 miles of the river. Hartwell is also the founder of Clean Water for Africa, which support African Riverkeepers with drinking water wells, water tanks and water filters. At Camp, Hartwell heads up the cleaning up messes division, among other duties.

Teela Waggoner: A true local, spent her childhood camping on these grounds. She brings her expertise as one of the area’s finest mortgage brokers to the table, along with a knack for style and invaluable advice.

Wilder Carson: In charge of excavators and skilled in “shredding the gnar,” adds an adventurous spark to the team.

Evan Carson: The vice president of plant relocation, step building, and entertaining his little brother, rounds out this dynamic group.

A Basecamp for Your Adventure

After a health scare a few years ago Hartwell and Teela decided they wanted to build something together that would stand the test of time. They both love camping and biking, so a campground with trails was a natural fit. 

For Steve, this land had been in the family for decades and had been a huge part of his upbringing. He wanted to keep the property, which once served as a youth summer camp and later, a local hangout spot for teens and young adults, in the family, but loved the idea of again sharing it with others. They beauty of the property helped make it an easy decision to partner.

The property offers rustic camp sites for tent camping, three rustic 3-sided cabins, miles of mountain biking and hiking trails, a beautiful waterfall, trickling creeks, cold plunge tubs, and an overwhelming feeling of peace and stillness throughout the 38 acres. They have plans to add treehouse camping in the near future.

Cold Spring Basecamp makes a great central place to stay because they are located so close to the many outdoor recreation opportunities that the Green River area (nestled between Hendersonville and Saluda) has to offer, as well as the many other things that make the region a draw, like apple picking and leaf peeping in the fall, the craft beverage scene, Hendersonville’s quaint downtown and so much more. See Hartwell’s top local picks below!

unique cabin experience

The filters used for the drinking water at Cold Spring Basecamp — which comes straight from the property’s creek — are the same filters used for clean water projects in Uganda, Kenya and Togo and a portion of the proceeds from each booking will go to support Clean Water for Africa.

The rustic and historic cabins that were rehabbed by Steve and Hartwell managed to keep all their old charm, with their wooden walls and furniture. They offer the feeling of being out in the open wilderness, but with a roof over your head. The cabins have a kitchen, eating area, and bunk beds (with queen on the bottom and twin up top). Cook over the stone fire pit or on cast iron pots and pan on the propane stove in the fully-equipped kitchen, which includes a French press, teapot, utensils and more. Relax under the solar lights and charge your devices using the solar-powered charging station — allowing you to be connected to the outside world as much or as little as you want.

Spacious, private Campsites are all nestled in the woods, next to the creek. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring with grill for cooking, and a water filter is provided for purifying drinking water from the creek.

Cold Spring Basecamp is also dog-friendly, meaning you can launch any adventure, whether you are visiting with 2 or 4-legged friends, or both.

Hartwell Carson's Top 5 Hendersonville Suggestions

Ride Rock Creek
What Hartwell says about it: “World class downhill biking for all skill levels, with a shuttle to the top, on a beautiful property.

Green River Adventures 
Hartwell says: “Rappel down a waterfall, paddle class 1-3 rapids in the beautiful Green River Gorge.

Flat Rock Village Bakery
Hartwell says: “Great coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries on a relaxing deck.

Carl Sandburg Home
What Hartwell says about it: “Explore the history of the home, but also enjoy the beauty of the property and the trails.”

DuPont State Forest
Hartwell says: “Waterfalls, hikes and stunning mountain views is why Dupont is world famous.”

 

A Dog’s-Eye View

A Dog’s-Eye View

A Dog’s-Eye View

One of Hendersonville’s goodest girls shares her favorite things to do in and around her hometown.

Meet Evie

Hi, I’m Evie, a native North Carolinian – a Tar Heel, through and through. When I was a young wire fox terrier/boxer mix pup, my parents adopted me and took me to spend my puppy-hood in another state, but after 10 long dog years of sad puppy eyes and sitting pretty, I finally convinced them to move us back to my home state, and my tail hasn’t stopped wagging since. There’s nothing like a homecoming.

Growing up, we spent a lot of time outside, which was where I developed a deep love for all things outdoors – running, jumping, fetching, digging, swimming, hiking, even gardening!

When we first moved to Hendersonville, my parents and I made a du-claw-promise to only hike new trails for the first year, so we really got to see some sights.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Nowadays, I also have two human siblings who are fun but are a little loud sometimes, so I’ve continued to relish any time I have outdoors. As a mature woman (I’m planning my 56th birthday celebration at the time of transcribing this article), I don’t get into as much mischief as I used to, and I’ve found a good nap in a sunny spot has become something of a ritual for me.

But when we do get out to explore Hendersonville, there is so much to sniff, it can be hard to decide what to do. On a hot day, I can’t resist going for a swim, so I will typically just check out one of the rivers in the area, but if there’s time for a hike and a swim, my top choice is always Lake Julia at DuPont State Forest. Speaking of hiking, in my younger days, one of my all-time favorite hikes was Looking Glass Rock in Pisgah National Forest, the views were amazing, but it was a grueling 6-mile trek.

These days, my old bones crave something a little easier, like Bearwallow Mountain, where cows graze at the summit and the smells are amazing, or the Perry N Rudnick Nature Trails at the Kellogg Center, where there are plenty of creeks to splash in. For an easier walk at a park, my people love The Park at Flat Rock because of its paved and fine gravel, stroller-friendly trails, and I love it for all the dogs I get to meet. There are a few dog parks nearby too, but paws-down, my favorite has got to be the one at Mills River Park – the other dogs there just can’t keep up with me when I get a case of the zoomies, but they sure do try!

You're going to love it here

 Sometimes, on very special occasions, I get a 1-on-1 day with my mom, and we go for a nice drive to visit Wag! A Unique Pet Boutique in Downtown Hendersonville, where I get to pick out a whole bag full of treats, a fun new toy, and sometimes even a new collar or leash. Downtown is also a really great place to dog-watch, you should see some of the harnesses some dogs will wear when going out to lunch at one of the many restaurants with outdoor patios! Un-bark-leaveable!

I really do love Hendersonville, and I think you will too.

Evie's Top 5 Hendersonville Suggestions

Wag! A Unique Pet Boutique
Evie says: “There are so many choices! Literally every flavor, every scent, every squeaker type, and every collar and leash pattern you could ever wish for. And they sell my favorite mini squeaky tennis balls.”

Barkwells
Evie says: “This place has literally gone to the dogs. 100% of patrons must bring their dog. Plus, there is a lake for swimming, and everything you need for your dog: a place to bathe them, a dog bed, a dog door, everything is fenced in — they thought of everything!”

Mills River Park
Evie says: “This is one of the best dog parks around! There are always friendly dogs, lots of room to run, plus there are walking paths and there’s river access! What more could you need? (Well, cheese, for one thing.)”

DuPont State Recreational Forest
Evie says: “I’m an avid hiker and swimmer, and there are so many trails to choose from here. My personal favorite things here are swimming in Lake Julia and seeing horses. Those things are huge!”

Bold Rock Hard Cider
Evie says: “Most of the cideries, wineries and breweries are dog-friendly, but this one ALWAYS has lots of other dogs, plus there are always kids playing, so you are pretty likely to find a free snack dropped your way.”

Ramble from Orchards to Vineyards

Ramble from Orchards to Vineyards

Ramble from Orchards to Vineyards

Enjoy a drive through Hendersonville’s agricultural countryside. Known for both apples and wine grapes, Hendersonville will delight any palate.

Starting Point

Hendersonville Welcome Center
201 S. Main St.
Hendersonville, NC 28792

Total Mileage

25 miles

Scenic Drive Description

Wind through Hendersonville’s apple country, starting on the southeastern end of the county and weaving your way north. Rows of apple trees fill the fields on both sides of the road. In the spring, pink-and-white blossoms cover the branches; come fall, the limbs hang heavy with ripe fruit. A few vineyards dot the landscape along the way, hinting at your final reward, sipping wine at Stone Ashe Vineyards. Sit outside on the patio with a sweeping southeastern view that provides a different vantage point of the hills and valleys you traveled.

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Driving Directions

  1. Begin at the Hendersonville Welcome Center in downtown. Public restrooms and printed maps, brochures and guides are available.
  2. Head south on Main Street. At the stoplight, turn left onto U.S. Highway 176, known as Spartanburg Highway.
  3. After 2 miles, turn onto Upward Road, headed east.
  4. Discover the first orchard about 3 miles on the left. Lively Orchards sells freshly picked apples and apple cider August through December.
  5. Continue along Upward Road as it runs through the rural communities of Dana and Blue Ridge. The name changes to Ridge Road after you pass the Dana post office, which has an iconic “Sinclair” sign from its time as a service station.
  6. Continue for 3 miles, after passing Sugarloaf Baptist Church, look for Union Hill Church Road on the right. Make a loop down Union Hill Church Road, passing farm fields, orchards and quaint country churches. When you come to the stop sign, turn left on Union Hill Road, which will run back into Ridge Road (also known as Lamb Mountain Road). Take a left and a quick right on Pilot Mountain Road.
  7. Pilot Mountain Pears is located about 1 mile on the left in the Edneyville community. The blue, metal barn opens in August for you-pick Asian pears, as well as pre-picked fruit and baked goods, including fried apple pies. The season runs until October.
  8. Continue 1.3 miles and turn left on Gillam Mountain Road. Cross U.S. Hwy. 64 onto St. Paul’s Road.
  9. About 1.5 miles up the road, take note of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on the left. The church has operated since the late 1800s. The current granite structure was built in 1910 and is designated a Henderson County Historical Landmark.

Meet Hendersonville’s Pinball Wizard

Meet Hendersonville’s Pinball Wizard

Meet Hendersonville’s Pinball Wizard

“I’m having the time of my life,” says John French, the owner of Hendersonville’s Appalachian Pinball Museum. “I have a jobby – not a hobby, not a job.”

Meet John French

As an eight-year-old in Boulder, Colorado, John French would go after school to his father’s electronics company. He found it too boring to sit around and do homework, so he befriended the women who built circuit boards and they taught him the trade.

It didn’t take long for young John to become a wizard with circuit boards. Then, at age 13 while hanging out in a Boulder arcade, he was bothered by how many machines were out of order, so he asked the owner if he could repair them.

The owner skeptically agreed to let John attempt to fix one machine. The youngster whipped a soldering iron out of his backpack and wound up repairing everything in sight.

“By the end of the week, I had the keys to the arcade,” John says.

That ability to fix circuit boards and electronics eventually led to a job in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. On the side, he would restore vintage pinball games until his wife complained that their house was full of the machines. That provided the impetus to partner with a friend to start a pinball museum in Asheville before launching his own endeavor, the Appalachian Pinball Museum in Hendersonville.

Unlike Other Museums

The Appalachian Pinball Museum encourages visitors to touch (and play!) the exhibits. At any given time, there are more than 80 pinball and electronic arcade games on the floor. Patrons pay an admission fee and can play all the machines as many times as they want that day.

There’s also a snack bar with sodas and snacks for kids, and the owner recently added craft beers for adult kids.

“My philosophy is you can’t play pinball without beer,” John says with a laugh. “It has added to the camaraderie of the place because adults can come in and relax a little bit and have a beer while they’re playing.”

John French also has a philosophy for how his business is supposed to make you feel.

“When people come in here, they’re not coming to talk to somebody about their taxes, they’re coming in to have fun and have a good time,” he says. “They are smiling when they come in and I want to make sure they are smiling when they leave.”

Because he can fix almost any pinball machine, he rescues them from people’s garages and basements, applies his magic touch, and puts them on the museum floor. Among the 50-plus pinball machines are several classics.

“We have a good old-fashioned Theater of Magic from 1995, and it’s everybody’s favorite,” John says. “We’ve got Addams Family and Twilight Zone from 1993 or 1994. We have an Incredible Hulk from 1979, Police Force from 1989, Harlem Globetrotters from 1978, and a lot of electro-mechanical games from the 1970s.”

In the arcade section, there are legendary games like Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger and Galaga.

Stop On In

Next time you’re in Hendersonville, stop by the Appalachian Pinball Museum at 538 North Main Street. There’s no charge to walk around and check out the vintage games. If you want to play ’em, just pay the admission fee and you can play all day – even leave and come back later.

Oh yeah, if you would like to meet the Pinball Wizard, aka John French, he’s usually there. Just look for the man in the APM t-shirt with a smile on his face.

John French's Top 5 Hendersonville Suggestions

Hands On! Children’s Museum
John says: “Cool place where kids – and adults – learn by doing. Lots of space and educational, fun activities.”

Arabella Breakfast & Brunch
John says: “Great fresh-made food and cocktails at a reasonable price. The loaded waffles are wonderful!”

Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO
John says: “Educational and fun. Lots of displays and shark feedings!”

Mast General Store
John says: “OK, so I just go for the bulk candy.”

The Kingmaker’s Draft
John says: “Board Games and beer. Who could ask for more?”

Foodie – Weekend Itinerary

Foodie – Weekend Itinerary

Foodie – Weekend Itinerary

Whether you are looking for a scrumptious meal, fresh produce, locally roasted coffee, or a carefully-created craft beverage, your tastebuds will be deligthed in Hendersonville.

Friday Evening

Wind down on Friday evening with drinks and a sunset view at Shine’s rooftop bar in downtown Hendersonville. Everything here is scratch made, from cocktail mixers to ketchup. Choose from 24 taps, including many locally produced beers and ciders, or a handcrafted cocktail. Dinner is served downstairs in a lively space with a speakeasy vibe. The American menu is familiar yet creative; escargot and a crusty hot pretzel share space on the appetizer list, while larger plates include burgers and banh mi, steaks and frog legs.

Check in at The Henderson, located a block off of Main Street. Co-owner Michael Gilligan, an award-winning chef, brings a culinary focus to the historic B&B. The inn’s on-site restaurant, Harvey’s Al Fresco, regularly serves breakfast and an evening menu of small plates, as well as Sunday brunch and monthly wine dinners.

Saturday

After breakfast on the inn’s spacious front porch, spend Saturday morning wandering through downtown Hendersonville’s shops and galleries. Several locally owned coffee shops fuel your excursions. Have a light lunch at Dandelion, which serves fresh-made salads, sandwiches, quiches, fruits and vegetables. The nonprofit restaurant not only prepares delicious food, but also serves as a job-training program for victims of domestic violence.

Spend the afternoon exploring Hendersonville’s Crest of the Blue Ridge wine region, which is home to seven vineyards. Book a trip aboard The Regal Ride for a safe, carefree option to taste your way from one stop to the next. Admire mountaintop vistas and savor red blends at Point Lookout Vineyards, try a pleasantly sweet apple wine at Burntshirt Vineyards, and listen to live music while sipping an award-winning vidal blanc at Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards.

Season’s at Highland Lake provides a serene setting for dinner. Sit by a window for lovely views of the property’s lush landscapes and gardens. Continue the theme of the afternoon by selecting a bottle from Season’s extensive wine list, which has received the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator for more than 20 years. The menu changes often to reflect the freshest ingredients. Classic desserts, such as crème brûlée and chocolate torte, round out the evening.

Sunday

After checking out on Sunday morning, walk to one of four downtown coffee shops for a Joe-to-go, then swing by local favorite restaurant, HenDough Chicken & Donuts, which offers just what you would guess, chicken and donuts. They have both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a walk-up window to take food to go. But warning: you may have trouble deciding between the Donut Breakfast Sandwich, the Cluck Madam Sandwich and the one of their ever-rotating menu of specialty donuts.

Another great option is the Hendersonville Community Co-op, a local icon known for its deli stocked with grab-and-go items, freshly made hot soups, and daily changing selection of baked goods and bread. Whether you’re going for a hike or hitting the road back home, the co-op makes it easy to stock up on snacks and meals for the trip.

Family – One Day Itinerary

Family – One Day Itinerary

Family – One Day Itinerary

For families looking to spend a day in Hendersonville, downtown is the best bet. The pedestrian-friendly Main Street lined with shops, galleries, restaurants and attractions is ideal for parking the car and walking to a variety of destinations.

Morning

Start the day at Hands On! Children’s Museum. The custom kids’ play place encourages children to use their imaginations as they explore 20 different interactive exhibits, each mimicking a real Hendersonville business or landmark. Kids can try out occupations, such as a dentist, doctor, firefighter, apple grower or ice cream shop worker.

Other features include a water table, mini stage and an indoor mountain to climb. Don’t miss the lifelike honeybee mural on the backside of the building, which is part of a worldwide initiative to raise awareness about pollinators.

The center of town is not typically a place for gem mining, but families can enjoy panning for gemstones at Pisgah Forest Gem Mine on Hendersonville’s Main Street. Open year round, Pisgah Forest has a large area for sifting for treasures, and a gift shop to get your gemstones cut and made into jewelry or a keepsake.

As you navigate downtown, participate in the Apple Quest scavenger hunt. Designed by a local Girl Scouts troop, the search involves a dozen brass apples hidden at landmark locations. A brochure with clues is available for download online, or you can pick up a printed copy at the Welcome Center on Main Street.

Pisgah Forest Gem Mine on Hendersonville's Main Street.

Afternoon

Take a lunchtime break at Mike’s On Main. The 1950s-style soda fountain serves sandwiches, soups and salads. You can’t go wrong with a burger (beef or veggie) and fresh-squeezed lemonade. For dessert, order a sundae or banana split with lots of spoons.

At the Appalachian Pinball Museum, visitors of all ages enjoy playing 85 pinball machines and vintage video games. Parents and grandparents are as excited as the kids when they enter the arcade-like museum with flashing lights and sounds of flippers flipping furiously. Play all day for one fee, and once you have wrist bands, the family can come and go as you please.

An unexpected find is the Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO. North Carolina’s first inland aquarium transports visitors to the coast with more than 275 fish, invertebrates, reptiles and salamanders. Every afternoon, staff members conduct public feedings of sharks and sting rays in the 2,000-gallon tank.

The family always appreciates a sweet treat, so be sure to stop by McFarlan Bakery. A downtown institution since 1930, the shop is famous for doughnuts, bear claws, giant cookies and, really, any type of baked confection.

A hidden “gem” on Main Street is the Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County, when visitors learn about the beauty and diversity of the world beneath our feet. One of the popular displays is a booth with fluorescent minerals under black light.

Evening

Mezzaluna is an easy crowd pleaser for dinner. Parents choose from 50 draft beer options and a menu of wood-fired pizzas and homemade pasta dishes. Kids have their own Italian selections, including fettuccine alfredo, ravioli, and spaghetti and meatballs.

Where to stay

While you are in town, make a whole weekend of it! There are plenty of things do do and just as many options for where to stay. Whether you prefer vacation rentals that fit the whole family, a hotel with adjoining rooms and an indoor pool, a resort that has it all, or even an RV Park where you can bring your own home on wheels, Hendersonville is sure to have exactly what your family needs. 

Outdoor – One Day Itinerary

Outdoor – One Day Itinerary

Outdoor – One Day Itinerary

The Mills River area, including the town of Mills River, is an ideal base camp for outdoor adventure. This rural region, shaped by its namesake river, as well as the French Broad River, spreads across a mostly flat valley framed by Blue Ridge Mountains. Lodging is plentiful at Horse Shoe Farm, dog-friendly Barkwell’s retreat and the upscale Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill.

Morning

After breakfast, go flat-water paddling with Lazy Otter Outfitters on the French Broad. The Sierra Nevada Express excursion allows you to park at Westfeldt Park near Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and catch a shuttle to the put-in location at Lazy Otter’s headquarters. From there, it’s a seven-mile paddle (3-3.5 hours) back to the park, where Lazy Otter picks up the equipment and you hop in the car for a two-minute drive to the brewery.

Afternoon

Enjoy lunch at Sierra Nevadas spacious restaurant, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and sip the freshest Sierra Nevada ales on the planet. All beer is made on-site at the brewery’s colossal East Coast headquarters.

At the traffic circle just outside the brewery, veer right for a fun afternoon of mountain biking and climbing at The Riveter. This unique facility brings together a covered and open-air bike park with an indoor gym for climbing and bouldering. The Riveter’s instruction-based environment allows beginners as well as experts to enjoy all activities. There is also a yoga studio.

After riding the dirt trails at The Riveter, cool down with a refreshing dip at North Mills River Recreational Area & Campground. For a minimal parking fee, this area of the river is open to the public for swimming, tubing (bring your own) and trout fishing.

Evening

The Mills River area is fast-becoming a hot spot for craft beverages. Stop by Appalachian Mountain Brewing, Bold Rock Hard Cider or Mills River Brewing for a beer or hard cider, and a great meal. Each of the locations are family and pet friendly, and often host live music or special events.

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