Hendersonville is full of surprises. The town includes a great combination of old-timers and newcomers, and everyone is friendly and welcoming. Usually, we seek out one B&B that receives great reviews from friends and insiders, but this town has several charming inns, plus lots more accommodations, so to begin this road trip, you’ll have no problem finding perfect accommodations. Here are three of many possibilities:
The historic Melange Bed and Breakfast Inn is conveniently located very near to downtown Hendersonville’s Historic Main Street. It’s a popular destination for weddings so make reservations early. Its secluded gardens, magnificent and inviting main rooms, and beautifully appointed guest rooms attract return visits and splendid reviews.
The Bed and Breakfast on Tiffany Hill is another excellent choice and has been noticed by Southern Living, CNN and Money. The property has six acres for wandering and a secret garden. It’s a destination in itself for folks who want to relax and restore.
The 1898 Waverly Inn is another historic property in downtown Hendersonville. It’s been a fixture in the area for years and has its own group of devotees who wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. (Their spa might be one attraction, so consider some serious downtime pampering when you go.)
Hendersonville is one of those in-the-middle-of-everything mountain communities, but there’s plenty going for it at home. We asked around and discovered one newcomer who’s made a business out of finding all kinds of ways to have a good time here.
Steve Wike has been involved in publishing in one form or another for his entire career. He and his wife, Mickie, thought their move to Hendersonville, specifically the community of Carriage Park, might be the ticket to their sought-after low-key lifestyle which had been interrupted before.
The Wikes fell in love with their new home town as well as the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. They wanted to share what they found, and started a website, called BlueRidgeTravelGuide.com. People began to find them, and soon, they were attracting 5,000 unique visitors every month. Logically, they decided to produce a printed version of their guide and with the help of a good friend, negotiated the maze of publishing to create a guide for families planning a visit. The result was an annual hard back book titled Blue Ridge Travel Guide, which gave them more reasons to learn about what was just around the corner from them.
When we chose Hendersonville for our next road trip, they were just the people who could share insider information.
“When we first retired, we moved to Wilmington,” Mr. Wike explained. “We loved it there, but our three grown sons and nine grandchildren were in Greenville, SC. Five hours apart was too much for us.” They began to look in the Western NC mountains, and soon found Hendersonville. It reminded them of Roanoke, where they had raised their family, with the hills and beautiful surroundings. Then, they discovered Carriage Park. “We found a homesite with a wonderful view, bought it, and began to build,” he said. “We rented a house while we were building, so we had the opportunity to get to know the town and the people as we watched our home take shape.”
They’ve enjoyed the many activities in their community, as well as throughout the area. They’ve found a wonderful home church and explored as many nooks and crannies as possible. And important for us armchair travelers, they have favorite restaurants, attractions and more and they’ve been willing to share their newfound knowledge with the rest of us.
We began with food. So where should road trippers dine? Here are their suggestions.
Square Root Restaurant Although they are known as an excellent fine-dining restaurant, Mr. Wike raves about their hamburger – the best, he says.
Mrs. G and Me. Chicken and dumplings is their most popular menu item (I guess so, with homemade dumplings and all sorts of good things), but we hear the Northern Indian chicken curry is outstanding.
Never Blue. Chef Jesse Roque calls her signature culinary style "Low Mex" because of her inventive blend of Lowcountry South Carolina dishes with Mexican traditions. We’re intrigued with the Cocas (Spanish style flatbreads), but we’ve been told their specialty brownie is worth the wait while it cooks, and the calories, when you devour it.
Mezzalunas Brick Oven and Tap House. The pizza comes highly recommended (and with creative toppings), but I’d be tempted to try the house-cured tuna with olive chili tapenade bruschetta.
Black Rose Irish Pub. we’ve been told they have superb fish and chips but folks on the foodie boards also rave about their reubens and various other delectables. Of course, man (and woman) does not live by bread alone, and sometimes, an Irish Pub is just the thing to help unwind, make new friends, and enjoy a pint.
WHAT TO DO HERE
So many choices – and lots of reasons to return again and again. Hendersonville is easy to find and very centrally located for excursions farther afield.
Flat Rock Playhouse. A professional-grade, thoroughly entertaining jewel – and North Carolina’s State Theatre. It is, arguably, one of the best reasons to move to the area.
Music on Main. It’s one of Hendersonville’s best loved summertime events and happens every Friday evening during the summer. Bring a chair, but leave the puppies (and alcohol) at home. This one is free, and always well attended.
Heritage Museum. It’s an educational and entertaining way to spend an hour or two. Filled with “evidences of yesterday” the collections reflect how people in the county responded to their environments. A new Civil War exhibit and an educational exhibit offer interesting tidbits of life here, before.
Western North Carolina Air Museum. The Air Museum was established to preserve the Aviation heritage of North Carolina in general and of Western North Carolina in particular. You can see a variety of planes – antiques and reproductions. For aircraft enthusiasts, this is lots of fun.
Historic Hendersonville Train Depot. Today, it houses the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club, which showcases more than 2,000 feet of track and 250+ switches and turnouts. Take the children. They’ll love operating a Thomas the Tank train!
DuPont State Recreational Forest. Picture 10,268 acres with waterfalls, forests and trails wandering through mountainous terrain. Hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding are allowed. Added attraction: many scenes from The Hunger Games were shot here.
Hands On! This is a child’s gallery in a children’s museum, for ages 1-10 (and their adults). Steve and Mickie Wike’s grandchildren love this place. (They spent hours there.) Your little ones will, too.
Golf Courses. There are almost 20 golf courses open to the public within 20 miles of Hendersonville. Perhaps that’s one reason golf enthusiasts love this area. Of course, the natural beauty adds another element to being outdoors with that little white ball. Learn more.
Hikes and waterfalls (and hikes to waterfalls). When creeks cascade down hill, the result is usually a waterfall. The western North Carolina mountains have more than their share, and many are quite accessible – no difficult hiking required. In summer, wading beside a clear mountain waterfall feels simply divine. Picnics and cameras welcome.
Hendersonville has a pretty downtown. What’s perhaps more important is that it’s an interesting downtown as well, with lots of unique shopping experiences.
Mast General Store isn’t unique, of course, but it’s great fun to visit (try a bag of old-fashioned candy).
Younger members of the Wike family love the little boutiques. The Dancing Bear Toy store is always an attraction as is Kilwin’s of Hendersonvillefor chocolates, fudge and ice cream (and edible chocolate boxes) andMcFarlan Bake Shop.
Everyone agrees that the town has done a super job renovating the downtown area to become a destination for dining, strolling and enjoying the atmosphere.
Steve and Mickie Wike are really enjoying living in an area with so much that attracts their family. And they love the friendliness of folks in town as well as back at Carriage Park, where the community is constantly in motion, with supper clubs, luncheons, groups, clubs and general get-togethers – in the middle of gorgeous mountain scenery everywhere you turn. “We prayerfully considered what to do and where to go, and Carriage Park in Hendersonville is exactly where we should be,” Mr. Wike shared. We couldn’t agree more.
PLAN YOUR VISIT SEVERAL WAYS
Learn more about these wonderful attractions at the Historic Hendersonville Visitors Center. Historic Hendersonville
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