Day Trips Near Asheville, NC
PHOTO CREDIT: Wes Aldridge
With so much to see and do in Asheville, you may wonder why you’d ever want to leave town. But a short road trip yields any number of unique destinations – with great shopping, entertainment, history and dining.
Nearby Hendersonville, the second-largest downtown in western North Carolina (Asheville is first) can keep you busy for days with historic sites, great outdoor vistas and fun things to do. Its historic downtown was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
“I think our biggest attraction is our Main Street,” says Bob Williford, president of the Greater Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a walking Main Street, with nice, wide sidewalks and lots of landscaping. You can do anything, from visiting Mast General Store to having an ice cream to antiquing.”
Be sure to visit the angel from Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel in Oakdale Cemetery on U.S. Highway 64 West. And don’t miss exhibits at the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design at the University of North Carolina Asheville Kellogg Center, or the produce, baked goods, arts and crafts and other goodies produced by local residents at the Henderson County Curb Market.
Ten miles north of Asheville lies Weaverville, population 2,500. This quaint town was a popular 19th-century resort, complete with grand hotels. Today, it still welcomes visitors to its antique shops, restaurants and B&Bs. Look for architectural antiques at Preservation Hall, where you might run across an antique mantle or the perfect old-time brass fixtures for a claw-foot tub.
Hungry? Try the Weaverville Milling Co. restaurant, set in an old grain mill and famous for its North Carolina mountain trout. Brevard, long known as a vibrant arts and music community, is also home to the rare and much-admired white squirrel. In fact, the unusual critters are so treasured that an entire festival is devoted to them each year. You can try to spot one while you graze at one of the charming downtown sidewalk cafes.
Don’t pass up the chance to hear great music at the Brevard Music Center, where, during its annual summer season, you might catch such names as Midori, Joshua Bell or André Watts. Brevard College’s Parker Center offers performances ranging from the Second City Touring Company to Doc Watson. Take time to explore the Crafters’ Corridor on U.S. Highway 276, between Brevard and the South Carolina state line, where artists and craftspeople open their studios to visitors.
“Drive 20 minutes west on I-40 to Haywood County, and you feel that you have entered into another world,” says CeCe Hipps, executive director of the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce.
“Many visitors and residents say that this is where the mountains grab you and never let go.”
With its stunning outdoor setting, a visit to Waynesville is a great day trip. Its historic downtown offers fine art galleries, outstanding places to eat (try Whitman’s on Main for a pastry or sandwich) and unusual shops.
On Main Street alone, you can browse for cigars (Good Ol’ Days), holiday goodies (Christmas Is … Everyday) and antiques (Olde Brick House), among many other treasure troves. Black Mountain, 15 miles east of Asheville on the shores of Lake Tomahawk, has been called “The Front Porch of western North Carolina.”
A renowned center for high-quality regional arts and crafts, its charming shops and galleries are set against a beautiful mountain backdrop. Don’t miss the Town Hardware & General Store, a real, live, old-fashioned hardware store with everything from apple peelers and corncob pipes to tools, toys and modern housewares.
Read about more fun things to do around Asheville, NC.