Hendersonville

Hendersonville (“the city of Four Seasons”) is a historic city located right in the heart of Western North Carolina. The city is home to several tourist attractions including a gem mine, museums with a Tyrannosaurus skull and antique airplanes, main street dating back to the early 19th century  and restaurants with painted bears. This is our list of 8 great places to visit around Hendersonville. There are many great places that were not mentioned including the Hendersonville Train Depot (1879) as well as the Johnson Farm which is popular for farm tours and retreats. While visiting dont forget to visit the Western North Carolina Air Museum, the first of its kind in North Carolina the first in flight state

Hendersonville is surely a perfect place for your next family vacation.

Downtown Hendersonville

Recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Hendersonville downtown has many great things to see and taste. Its serpentine streets are filled with lush landscaping, museums,  antique stores and (free wifi) restaurants. The Downtown also plays host to several annual street festivals and events such as the Apple Festival, a four day event which takes place during Labour Day weekend featuring a street fair, live music, special exhibit and parade. Over Memorial Day weekend there is a Garden Jubilee Festival with exhibits arts, crafts, plants and garden accessories from hundreds of vendors. 

Elijah Mountain Gem Mine

About 2 miles from downtown is Elijah Mountain Gem Mine where you can explore (and keep) rare gemstones like Emeralds, Opal, Amethyst, Sapphires and Rubys! Visitors are also encouraged to picnic by the nearby mountain creeks. During the winter months you can stay warm by doing your mining indoors. Elijah Mountain Gem mine is open year round from 10am to 6pm. Admission is free!

The Mineral and Lapidary Museum

Back to the downtown, we are off to see the aptly nicknamed "Geode Cracking " Museum established in 1997. The museum features a variety of minerals, geodes, gems and fossils from all over the world. On display is a six-foot-tall amethyst geode from Brazil,  two dozen pairs of quartz and calcite from Mexico, four replicas of Hope Diamond, a replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull from the Mesozoic era and a skull of a Smilodon. The museum is also home to authentic fossilized dinosaur eggs, laid by a Hadrosaur from China. Side note, children are actually allowed to touch these eggs!

Wolfe's Angel

This particular spot will be more appreciated by the fans of the world famous novelist: Thomas Wolfe. Serving as an inspiration to his maiden novel, "Look Homeward, Angel", was the Italian marble angel statue located at the Oakdale Cemetery, west of downtown. The angel was sculpted holding a lily in her left hand with her right extending upward. It is protected by a wrought iron fence and it has a historical marker on the highway. Also close by is the boyhood home of the author furnished with family possessions and open for public tours.

Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards

This is a 10-acre, family-owned vineyard situated right in the middle of city's apple country on an elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level. The vineyard grows 14 varieties of some of the county's best wine producing grapes. There is a tasting room serving red cabernets, riesling and chardonnays with versions of dry and semi-sweet. The winery  has a walnut bar, indoor seating and an outdoor patio. It is opened year round and you can check their website for hours of visitation. 

Great Smokey Mountains Railroad

The Railroad station is located in the heart of the neighboring Bryson City, but the line 53 miles including 2 tunnels and 25 bridges. Operating year round, the trip takes visitors right through Hendersonville.  The railroad takes visitors through historical and scenic journeys  to some of the most beautiful landscapes in America, with an exotic mix of romance and mystique of antiquity.  It is indeed a scenic trip through time. You will encounter 125 varieties of trees including yellow buckeye, umbrella magnolia, birch, and the christmas tree Fraser firs. The railroad has been featured in several blockbuster movies including "The Fugitive" and "The Force of Nature". Tickets and scheduling information is available on their website.

Hands On! A Child's Gallery

After a jolly ride round about town, we take are headed back into downtown and step back into the Children's Gallery! This museum is combines learning with play to encourage young people to explore new areas of knowledge. Featuring imagination stimulating exhibits and programs the museum is a popular destination for area school trips. Hands On! also has a Lego ramp, costume theatre, vet hospital and a grocery store. You can visit them online for exhibit information and news.

Hands On! A Child's Gallery

Just down the road from the Children’s museum is the Henderson County Heritage Museum. Constructed in 1905 this building used to be the county courthouse and now hosts a gallery of the  City's history, artifacts, libraries, archives, collections, demonstrations and several exhibitions. Each exhibit is designed to tell the history of Hendersonville, Henderson county and North Carolina as a whole. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm and 1pm-5pm on Sunday.

Asheville

Asheville is indeed a very unique city. Popular attractions include: a Basilica, ghost walking tour, outdoor gardens, breathtaking outdoor adventures and a 60 foot water slide. Asheville is also host to America’s largest private home, the Biltmore Estate which is open to the public year-round. These places mentioned are just the beginning! Shortened for brevity we would be remiss if we did not mention in passing the La-zoom big purple tour bus and hop-on-hop-off trolley tours. Also worth noting is the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway and its accompanying hiking and bike trails. Not too far from Asheville is Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of Mississippi. Folk Art Center is home to locally handmade arts and crafts of the region. There is a Stand-Up Paddle boarding, tubing, boating and many other water sports. Asheville has an active Kayaking community as well. Have an interest in the weather? The United States National Climatic Data Center, the world's largest active archive of weather data is also in Asheville.

Asheville is the perfect location for your next sight-seeing adventure.

Downtown Asheville

Asheville’s downtown serves as a historic centerpiece for the city (list historical things here). Encircled in beautiful mountain views the walkable neighborhoods of  downtown are adorned with impressive architectural collections of the Deco era. It has one of first indoor shopping malls in America, the Grove Arcade. During the warmer seasons there is a monthly "Downtown After 5"outdoor musical concert that features several touring musicians and popular local acts. Every Friday evening be sure to check out the Drum Circle. The Twin Rivers Media Festival is an annual film festival (add dates here for when it is). In Asheville Downtown, arts, culture and history blend into one to serve you an unforgettable experience.

The Biltmore Estate

Located at 1 Lodge Street the Biltmore Residence is the largest private home in America. Built in 1889 by George W. Vanderbilt the home features among other things an extensive private art collection. The entire estate spans about 10.8 square miles and the home itself is over 178,000 square feet. Visitors to the Biltmore Estate also have the opportunity to tour outside the gardens, winery, village, historic farm, 4-star inn, shops and multiple restaurants. Famous past visitors include: Henry James, Theodore  Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Edith Wharton. The Biltmore Estate was also showcased in feature films: The Swan, Riche Rich, Forrest Gump, One Tree Hill, Hannibal, The Last of the Mohicans, Patch Adams and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Tickets, Hours and Special Events are listed on the website.

North Carolina Arboretum

Travel south along the Blue Ridge Parkway to view acres of cultivated gardens featuring a diverse selection of cultivated plants. The Arboretum is home to over 2,000 samples of seeds and endophytes. On display are "Wicked Plants" (inspired by Amy Stewarts). And yes, it is also the perfect location for a destination wedding. The Arboretum has special seasonal events that you might enjoy as well. A full schedule is available on their website website. 

The Basilica of Saint Lawrence

Constructed in 1905 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places the Basilica is a popular destination for visitors to Asheville. Each of the several side chapels depicts a different saint and features beautiful stained glass windows. The Basilica holds the title of the largest freestanding elliptical dome in the whole of North America.

Ghost Tour and Mystery Museum

After more than a full day at the Biltmore Estate, Basilica, Arboretum and downtown the sun begins to set and it is time for some great Asheville nighttime activities. One of our favorites is the 2-hour guided tour called “Haunted Asheville”. Covering several parts of the city prepare to be regaled with hair raising tales and adventures  of ghosts and apparitions. You will learn about the Pink Lady of the Grove Park Inn, ghosts spotted at the Helen Bridge, several paranormal adventures and the reported "vortex" energy. Take it from us, this tour will surely send some chills down your spine!

Chimney Rock Park

After a scary tour it is time the next day for a refreshing hike in the woods. Chimney Rock Park is a 996-acre living classroom that features a 404 foot waterfall, 315-foot rock formation and a granite monolith. Perfect for bird watchers, it is a favorite spot for summer breeding birds like Scarlet Tanagers, Cerulean and Swainson's Warblers, etc. Not just that, Chimney Rock is also famed for its over 550 known species of vascular plants, including several that are on the State and Federal list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

Natural Water Slide- Pisgah National Forest

Up for some water slides? Then we have located the perfect recreation for you. Located deep in the Pisgah Forest, this adventure will simply take your breath away. A 60 foot natural water slide with a 8 foot deep pool of water.  It is known as the king of all swimming holes. What if you don't fancy getting wet? Then there is a hiking trail to the top of the waterfall which can take about 1 hour with the help of a ranger.

The Omni Grove Park Inn

If you are brave enough to go back after the Ghost tour consider the Omni Grove Park Inn as your last stop in Asheville. Built over a hundred years ago the inn has a majestic sunset view overlooking the mountains. The inn is host to a day spa rated 13th among the World's Best Hotel Spas. Past guests include 10 U.S Presidents. The Inn is also home to collections of art and hosts the annual Gingerbread House tour in the winter time.

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