BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC
If you only have 36 hours to spend in the North Carolina mountain village of Black Mountain, you must choose among lots of ways to enjoy yourself. Luckily, it’s all good.
Plan to arrive early and plot your strategy to get the most out of this small town, which is only a few short miles from Asheville’s splendors, but has a panache all its own.
Start at the circa 1918 restored coffee house which serves as the visitors’ center. The large red rocking chair identifies this town as the “front porch” of Western North Carolina. A friendly volunteer will help you pinpoint the attractions that fit your style and personality. For sure, wear your walking shoes, and plan to stroll these colorful streets.
You may want to begin at the Old Train Depot, which houses a non-profit gallery with more than 90 artists selling handmade arts and crafts (open April – December). There’s bound to be a one-of-a-kind treasure to tuck in your bag and take home. Historic Cherry Street is home to a number of shops, including Ivy Corner, a turn-of-the-century livery stable which now houses antiques and more. If you’re of a certain age, the Old Town Hardware store will take you back to a simpler time. Children and grandchildren will be amazed at the store and its contents.
The Song of the Wood and Acoustic Corner specialize in handmade dulcimers and mountain music. These sounds of the mountains will delight your friends and remind you that this is one special little town. Depending on your interests, you may stop by Black Mountain Yarn Shop, CW Moose, Take a Hike, New Earth or Bramblewood Cottage. (Even the names are intriguing!)
Lunchtime requires more choices, including Black Mountain Bistro where you may want to consider ordering the Black Mountain Burger with its Cajun spices and blue cheese crumbles. Yum! The North Carolina BLT includes apple smoked bacon and fried green tomatoes on sourdough with fixings. Major yum!!
Another option is Veranda’s Café and Gifts. Here’s how one Trip Advisor reviewer described it: “Three friends and I traveled about 75 miles to eat at Veranda’s and to visit Black Mountain. It was a very rewarding experience!! The food was excellent, the service could not have been better and the atmosphere was delightful …”
After lunch, you may want to see one or more of the memorable attractions around Black Mountain, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, Biltmore Estate, Lake Lure and Chimney Rock State Park – all amazingly beautiful and different.
The golfing enthusiast may want the challenge of hole #17, with the longest par 6 in the United States, found at Black Mountain Links. A quality course with conditioned greens, this course can prove surprisingly challenging, amidst the backdrop of rolling hills and meandering creeks. There are a number of excellent courses within driving distance that will test your mettle and please your eyes.
A late afternoon pick-me-up can be found at Chocolate Gems, where you should be tempted to sample their small-batch, handmade chocolate truffles such as the Chocolate Margarita – really! Kilwins is another possibility for excellent ice cream.
Clearly, you’ll want to spend the night, so do it in style at one of the Black Mountain B&Bs. The Bella Luna Inn is a beautiful arts and crafts-style inn, known for its gourmet breakfasts and friendly hosts. It gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor.
The Red Rocker Inn is another possibility, and has been chosen one of the three best inns in the south by readers of Southern Living magazine – three years in a row. Now you really do have a dilemma: stay in and enjoy gracious Southern dining in a setting that will remind you of those wonderful days spent at Grandma's; where the Atlanta Journal recently described dinner at the Red Rocker as "truly a feast!"
Or, go to town for more strolling and dining at Que Sera. Some say it’s the best restaurant in the area – impressive with the number of excellent restaurants within 10 miles. Recommended: the crab-stuffed banana pepper, picked from their garden and served chilis rellenos style.
Entertainment? Can’t find better than White Horse Black Mountain, open Thursdays through Saturdays and offering great music in a convivial atmosphere. It may be a late night, but you’ll sleep well knowing that tomorrow brings more adventures.
Up bright and early? Enjoy a gourmet breakfast and then set off to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway, or perhaps take a hiking trail and lose yourself in the beauty of the mountains.
Hiking and biking trails are abundant within minutes of the Red Rocker, from up in the fringes of Montreat, to across Ridgecrest along the pass to Old Fort, to the trails behind Route 9. They vary in skill level, from an hour's easy hike to Lookout Point, to an all day strenuous trek across the Seven Sisters mountain range.
Soon it’s time to eat again, and perhaps make the decision to stay another night or two. You may find yourself looking for a second home to enjoy this area again and again.