Pull up a seat and stay awhile in charming Hendersonville, NC
In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, good food and warm hospitality are traditions locals hold dear and graciously extend to visitors. No place shows off those Southern hallmarks better than the small town of Hendersonville.
A vibrant downtown — anchored by a curvilinear Main Street lined with shops, flowering planters and public art — is surrounded by quaint communities and acres of natural forest and farmland. The area’s rich agricultural heritage shows up in restaurants that source directly from local farmers.
Hendersonville has always been a vacation destination. In 1820, the Buncombe Turnpike brought visitors from the South Carolina Low Country who sought refuge from sweltering summer heat in the cool climes of the Blue Ridge. Today many stately homes from centuries past serve as elegant bed-and-breakfasts, and retreat centers allow world-weary travelers to reconnect with nature.
Downtown Hendersonville is home to 25 independently owned restaurants. One standout is Shine. Exposed brick and low lighting give the place a speakeasy feel. A rooftop bar provides views of Main Street and mountains in the distance. Everything here is scratch made. The menu is described as New American with a French flair. A creative cocktail lineup features classics as well as house specials, such as a favorite gin drink called Corpse Reviver.
North Carolina is known for its barbecue, and Hubba Hubba Smokehouse in the village of Flat Rock serves some of the finest in the region. Smokey aromas from wood-fired pits waft through the open-air restaurant as diners dig into plates of pulled pork, sliced brisket and ribs. Although no one would blame you for skipping the meat all together and filling up on side dishes of pimento cheese grits, collard greens and cornbread.
Season’s at Highland Lake presents locally sourced fare in an upscale dining room. As the restaurant name implies, the menu changes with the weather to reflect the freshest ingredients. Trout from mountain streams is a frequent standout. For more than 20 years, Season’s has received the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine for its diverse yet approachable wine list. Adjoining Highland Lake Inn offers a variety of accommodations, from rooms in the historic lodge to cozy cabins and pet-friendly cottages.
Room with a view
Echo Mountain Inn overlooks downtown Hendersonville from its mountain perch. Four generations of the Bonnema family run this 1896 property with spacious rooms complete with fireplaces. Watch the sun rise as you enjoy breakfast in the window-walled dining room looking east across the mountains. For sunset, head two miles farther up the mountain to Jump Off Rock to enjoy one of the best views in WNC as the sun drops behind the Blue Ridge. The family recently opened a full-service restaurant on property that serves dinner Thursday through Saturday and Sunday brunch.
Kanuga Conference & Retreat Center is a Hendersonville treasure. Located on 1,400 acres, Kanuga was established in 1928 by the Episcopal Church. Kanuga allows visitors to disconnect from daily distractions and reconnect with nature, family and friends. The property’s centerpiece is a 30-acre lake where visitors kayak or canoe. Twenty miles of hiking trails traverse the property. The newest addition is Ride Kanuga mountain bike park, which features 12 downhill-specific trails. Recently renovated Kanuga Lake Inn accommodates couples and individuals, while 43 historic guest cottages work well for families and friend groups.
Hendersonville is only 20 minutes from Asheville Regional Airport. By car, Hendersonville is located just off Interstate 26 between Asheville, North Carolina, and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
For more information, go to www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or call (800) 828-4244.