Travel Guide by Monique LaBorde
In the 19th century, wealthy Southerners from as far as Louisiana sought refuge from sweltering summers in the shaded, cool mountainsides around Hendersonville and Flat Rock. Today it's most often the mountain air, outdoor adventures, craft beer and local food of Asheville that draw travelers from around the globe. But, known for attracting free spirits and open-minds, the city's vibrant arts, cultural and food scenes are flowing into surrounding small towns, including historic Hendersonville.
Once a seasonal haven for Antebellum Southern elites, Hendersonville is becoming a destination for nostalgic travelers willing to venture beyond western North Carolina's largest city in search of good food, beautiful sights and culture. Here's our guide to exploring Hendersonville destinations, the scenic and the delicious.
MORNING: stock up on wood-fired baked goods before your trek
Flat Rock Bakery — 2710 Greenville Hwy
People flock to Flat Rock Bakery for its brick-oven breads, buttery, handcrafted pastries and dark roasted organic coffee. The bakery’s shaded outdoor seating pavilion is the perfect place to enjoy a caramel pecan sticky bun on a cool fall morning.
Photos courtesy of Flat Rock Bakery
MID-MORNING: A Peak into a Poet’s World
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site — 81 Carl Sandburg Ln.
Carl Sandburg lived much of his adult life in Hendersonville. The Pulitzer-Prize winning poet and writer’s historic estate, Connemara, remains in-tact as a National Historic Site. Named after a region of Ireland, Connemara was a refuge for Sandburg. Visitors can tour the preserved Sandburg residence (and behold his favorite writing chair), pet the beloved Sandburg goats, or hike up to the bald face of Big Glassy Mountain. Children will love the Saturday morning performances of his Rootabaga Stories, performed in the author’s backyard.
Photos by Sam Dean
MID-DAY: lunch like a local
Three Chopt — 103 East 3rd Ave Hendersonville
Head to historic downtown Hendersonville for lunch at Three Chopt, a local institution. The sandwiches, soups, and salads have nourished the town’s professionals, retirees, and visitors for 35 years. The restaurant’s menu is a love-letter to locals. Their sandwiches are named after Three Chopt regulars and the founder’s children, like the Apple Raisin Annie sandwich. A bowl of popcorn welcomes all guests, and rest assured your home-brewed sweet tea will always be refilled. Three Chopt’s simple sandwiches, and welcoming wait staff will instantly make you feel at home.
AFTERNOON: Explore Main Street Shops
Mast General Store — 527 N Main St.
Mast General Store may be North Carolina’s favorite general store. Founded over a century ago in Valle Crucis, Mast General has several shops across Western North Carolina, including one situated squarely in the heart of Hendersonville. Visitors and locals frequent the “modern” general store for outdoor gear, kitschy gifts and barrel candy. Part outdoor outfitter, part nostalgic snapshot of a small-town North Carolina from long ago, Mast General has just about everything you need for a weekend camping trip in the state parks surrounding Hendersonville.
Photos courtesy of Mast General Store
Gypsy Heart — 238 N Main St
Get real about self-care and alternative healing at Gypsy Heart, a small shop on the town's Main Street that offers incense, essential oils, crystals and meditation guides. If you’re looking for supplies to kickstart your meditation practice or essential oil therapy, Gypsy Heart is an unintimidating starting point.
All Nations Trading — 514 N Main St.
All Nations Trading has an incredible collection of Native American artwork, crafts, and jewelery
All Nation’s collection of turquoise jewelry. Owners Jim and Anita Earnest have spent 20 years connecting with native American artisans. Notably, All Nations carries a jewelry collection of Navajo jeweler, Calvin Begay. The shop sells pottery, zuni fetishes, artifacts, dream catchers, beadwork from Cherokee, Navajo, Lakota and Creek tribes among many others.
Photos courtesy of All Nations Trading
LATE AFTERNOON: Local Beer Stop
Sanctuary Brewing Co. — 147 1st Ave E
Western North Carolina has become the beer capital of the South, and Sanctuary Brewing’s arrival last year filled a much-needed role as Hendersonville’s first brewery. Founder Joe Diamond transformed an old mechanic’s garage into the town’s beloved pet-friendly brewsky headquarters. Stop in for a great beer that supports animal protection and adoption.
Photos courtesy of Sanctuary Brewing Co.
EVENING: Scenic Sunset without The Hike
Jump Off Rock — Laurel Park
A day in Hendersonville isn’t complete without a scenic drive. Head out of town up Laurel Park Highway to reach Jump Off Rock, a panoramic overlook ideal for watching sunsets. If you make it to the top before the sun sets, hike on one of the three short trails. Jump Off Rock is a storied place in and of itself. The legend of Jump of Rock goes that when two lovers were forbidden from marrying, the woman jumped off the cliff to her death.
Photos by Sam Dean
NIGHT: Dinner Date
West First Wood-Fired — 101 1st Ave W.
The lively, ever bustling West First, is one of Hendersonville’s only restaurants open past 9pm. In the open kitchen, chefs stoke the tall wood-fired oven, toss dough into the air, and prepare fresh pasta. The restaurant’s unique art and tile work bring a creative atmosphere to the dark, spacious interior. West First’s homemade bread, fresh herbs, and craft drinks are a Hendersonville must. In the fall, try their local apples and roasted beets. Before you leave, ask if they’re making homemade s’mores. You won’t regret it.
Photos courtesy of West First Wood-Fired
Umi Japanese Fine Dining — 633 N. Main Street
Umi introduced Japanese food to Hendersonville nine years ago. Today it satisfies sushi snobs and sushi first-timers. Umi serves dozens of creative sushi and sashimi combinations (like their sea urchin and eel) alongside hometown favorites: the bento and spicy crab salad. Sit at the sushi bar to talk directly with the chef who can recommend dynamic sushi and sake combinations.
Photos courtesy of Umi Japanese Fine Dining