Allow plenty of time for your visit to the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Hendersonville, North Carolina. An easy drive from larger metro areas, such as Atlanta and Charlotte, the small town lies just south of Asheville.
Thanks to its setting in a valley surrounded by mountains and hundreds of acres of preserved forest, Hendersonville offers an oasis for hikers, cyclists and all-around outdoor enthusiasts. The vibrant Main Street is a destination for shopping and dining. And the area’s rich arts tradition attracts some of the finest artists and crafters in the Southeast.
For an easygoing afternoon, hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, located minutes from Hendersonville, and wind your way along the linear National Park. Overlooks offer opportunities to soak in the scenery.
Hiking in Hendersonville comes with rewarding views. In DuPont State Recreational Forest, one trail leads to three waterfalls — Hooker, Triple and High falls — each more stunning than the last. At Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, where the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet lived and worked, five miles of trails meander through the 264-acre estate. Hike to the top of Glassy Mountain and walk onto the rock outcropping for a bird’s-eye view.
Jump Off Rock is a scenic overlook just 15 minutes from downtown that provides a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains. On a clear day, four states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee — are visible from this peak. The name comes from a Cherokee legend of a heartbroken maiden jumping from the rock after learning her lover was killed in battle.
When Hendersonville was established in the 1840s, one of its founders decreed that Main Street should be wide enough to turn around a coach pulled by four horses. Although the horse-and-buggy days are long gone, that foresight continues to serve the town well. Today, Hendersonville’s curvilinear Main Street is lined with wide sidewalks, trees, brick planters and public art.
Window shop as you stroll and then pop into boutiques and galleries. At Mast General Store, an iconic WNC retailer, you’ll discover two floors of outdoor gear, home decor, mountain souvenirs and barrels filled with old-fashioned candy. Wine Sage & Gourmet stocks cookbooks, kitchen gadgets and culinary gifts upstairs, while its wine cellar is located downstairs. For those with four-legged family members, don’t miss Wag! A Unique Pet Boutique.
When all that shopping makes you hungry, choose from 25 independently owned downtown restaurants. Casual spots serving barbecue, deli sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs and milkshakes make for a lovely lunch. For dinner, step it up a notch with authentic Italian, elevated farm-to-table fare or wood-fired specialties.
Follow a craft trail
WNC is a haven for artists who draw inspiration from the surrounding natural beauty and find quiet spaces to create. Earlier this year, the Blue Ridge Craft Trails of Henderson County were introduced. The craft trails include 16 studios and galleries, showcasing nationally renowned artists, and are divided into three itineraries based on geography. Visitors can watch a potter pull a vase from a piece of clay spinning on a wheel, see designers create timeless jewelry, or browse gallery-curated collections of pieces by regional artists.
Choose to travel down scenic byways and through the countryside as you explore more rural trails. Or walk to different stops along the downtown trail. Brochures are available online or at the visitor center in downtown Hendersonville. Purchase a piece of artwork directly from the artist for a one-of-a-kind souvenir with a distinct sense of place.
To plan your Hendersonville adventure and browse lodging options, go to www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or call (800) 828-4244.