Black Mountain, NC is a great place to enjoy laid-back adventures in the mountains. I mean it is known as the “Front Porch” of Western North Carolina which sums up the vibe.
It’s centrally located and easy to get to. Only 30 minutes from Asheville, 15 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and 35 minutes to Chimney Rock State Park, there are adventures everywhere. Nearby towns include Hendersonville, Saluda, Old Fort, Marion, and plenty more.
In my humble opinion, this little town is in the top five of my favorite NC Mountain towns to visit.
If you enjoy visiting North Carolina’s small towns, then this gem is definitely worth a visit.
Just a few of its rankings:
- One of the 50 safest towns in North Carolina
- The Best Town in Western North Carolina
- Voted the Top Prettiest Small Town in America to Vacation 2017 by Trip Advisor readers
- Getting to Black Mountain and Parking
- First Impressions of Black Mountain, NC
- Something for Everyone
- Best Things to Do in Black Mountain
- Places to Eat and Drink in Black Mountain
- Wrap Up: Things to do in Black Mountain
Getting to Black Mountain and Parking
Getting to Black Mountain is surprisingly easy. It’s right off Highway 40. You can Google a local shop that you know is downtown and that will take you there. Dripolator Coffee and the Visitor Center are both good options.
Free parking is available in the Visitor Center lot and there is also street parking. Check the signs if you’re parking along the street. If every spot is taken except one, it may be a loading zone or pickup-only spot.
If you’re looking for great places to eat, check out Stuck On The Go’s List of the Best Black Mountain Restaurants.
First Impressions of Black Mountain, NC
The city is not only known as the “front porch” of Western NC but as “the city that rocks”. They play on this with two giant rocking chairs in the middle of the town square.
When I say giant, I mean you have to put your bags down and climb into them. I think it may be a take on the Three Bears. It looks like there’s a Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear chair.
You’ll also find rocking chairs randomly stationed on the sidewalks around town.
Black Mountain is a quaint downtown full of local, independent shops with a bustling art scene, and is set in an area with beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Somehow this mashup works into a picturesque area with a lot to keep everyone occupied.
Here’s an example:
You’re walking down the street with your impulse purchases, admiring the art through the windows, enjoying your locally made ice cream. You get ready to cross the street and look to your right to check for traffic. But instead of seeing cars, there’s a beautiful mountain scene beyond the town. The kind you usually only experience after a long drive or hike.
I envy people who live like this where these views are their everyday.
Something for Everyone
I know you’re thinking, “Can I really find something for everyone in my family?”
Downtown Black Mountain is lined with gift shops, art galleries, an old-fashioned general store, and art and crafts stores. Plus there’s a lot of food. And coffee.
Did I mention the fudge and ice cream?
If you’re hungry, good luck deciding which one of the 30 restaurants you want to try.
There’s also a wine store for wine lovers and a refuge for your beer aficionados.
Plus stores you didn’t even know existed, like a high-end kitchen store carrying items beyond the basics.
Hopefully, that covers something for everyone.
If for some reason there’s an unhappy camper, just get them some ice cream and park them in a rocking chair.
Best Things to Do in Black Mountain
You can shop downtown, visit a local park, enjoy a brew or cider, or head to a nearby town.
Town Hardware and General Store
Made up of three historic buildings, there is a lot to peruse. They have toys that will have you reminiscing about your childhood like Lite-Brite and ColorForms.
Walk to the back and grab a cold Cheerwine in a glass bottle from the fridge. Keep going and check out the small book department upstairs.
Wind through to the second building for gardening items and shelves lined with high-end sodas. All in glass bottles.
There actually is a hardware section too, just in case you did want to repair something.
You can spend a lot of time in this store getting lost in the past while enjoying a sip of the future.
Bone-A-Fide Pet Boutique
You’ll find Bone-A-Fide tucked into Cherry Street Square.
What started as a local, independent pet bakery soon blossomed into a little store that became a slightly bigger one.
They really care about animals and the community. Bone-A-Fide has almost anything you need for your four-legged friend. Carrying mainly dog supplies, they have toys galore, and, of course, a doggie bakery section.
If you have a furry child you want to spoil, this is where you go.
Referring to itself as, “A toy store for foodies”, Common Housefly has everything you need for your kitchen and stuff you didn’t know you needed, but you do.
First of all, any place that has a “Don Draper-approved cocktail cart” is A-Okay in my book.
I don’t really cook, but walking through the store and seeing all the gadgets made me think I could give it a go. You just want to find ways to use all the fancy toys and high-end pots and pans.
If you have a friend or relative who loves to cook, this independent store is where you get their holiday gifts.
Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center
Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center is the home for local history in Buncombe County. They were founded in 1989 and opened the museum in the old 1921 fire house designed by Richard Sharp Smith. He was the supervising architect on the Biltmore Estate.
While they have permanent and temporary exhibits, the museum also sponsors hikes to historic locations throughout the valley and other events outside the museum.
If you’re waiting for a table at Veranda, head over to Europa next door for a little taste of European artistry.
It almost looks like someone mashed up a little of each souvenir shop in every country but took all of the higher-end items.
Europa is literally overflowing with handmade, artisan gifts from Poland, Germany, France, Sweden, and more.
You’ll find pottery, wooden ornaments, fine soaps, lamps, Swiss knives, beautiful glass, teas, and so many additional items I don’t think I could list them all.
This is the perfect store to find that gift for the “but I don’t need or want anything” person you struggle with every year.
The Merry Wine Market
I was expecting North Carolina wines and was surprised to find some of our favorites from Napa Valley and Europe in this understated store.
The owners know their wines and are happy to answer questions and help you find the right bottle.
We were actually thinking of visiting a winery but found they were closed until Wednesday. The owner of The Merry Wine Market offered to double-check the information for us.
It was very kind of her to go above and beyond.
The Old Depot Gallery
The gallery is housed in the original train depot.
It’s run by volunteers from the Old Depot Association. They have artwork and crafts representing over 125 local and regional artists.
Visit Lake Tomahawk
Lake Tomahawk is a small park in Black Mountain. There’s a half-mile walking trail that goes around the lake. Along the way, you’ll pass the recreation center, tennis courts, small gazebo, and playground. There’s also a pool, although it was closed when I visited.
This is a popular park for families, dog walkers, and runners. The tennis courts were also full when I visited. The best time to visit is early dawn or near dusk.
I may (may), have a wee bit of a coffee problem. But that’s okay with me. It means I get to check out fun coffee shops like Dripolator.
Now I’m not a huge fan of the usual Pumpkin Spice Latte. I hate that syrup the chains put in it. It has a weird, bitter taste.
But guess what happens if you don’t add the syrup, but instead use pumpkin puree, vanilla bean caviar, honey, and spices? You get a PSL that’s perfect for walking around a small town in the Appalachian Mountains.
And a huge grin on your face.
While not exactly local or independent, Kilwins is still a treat for anyone visiting the area. They’re known for their fudge, chocolates, and ice cream.
Even if you didn’t see the storefront and logo, just follow the people with giant waffle cones topped with a huge scoop of ice cream.
Now I do love my fudge and I have to say, their chocolate fudge is some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s not grainy or overly sweet like some others.
It’s silky smooth, just sweet enough, bursting with chocolate, and just a tad gooey. This is how you do fudge.
BAD Craft (Beer, Art, Desserts)
First of all, you have to appreciate the name. Some marketing genius came up with this.
A small, understated store, they have a lot of craft beers in cans for your family beer connoisseur. They also have a few on tap and do tastings.
If you’re not a beer drinker, they have a few desserts. Or, you could peruse the art that’s for sale from paintings to stickers.
Before you finalize your purchase (because you will make one), check out the chocolate from Conjure. I guarantee there are some flavors you’ve never seen before like goat milk chocolate.
The Hop Ice Cream
You have to stop and appreciate the flavors at The Hop Ice Cream. They have gluten-free and vegan ice cream in wild flavors.
Think along the lines of blueberry pepita milk, or palmetto peach pepita milk.
Their dairy flavors include options like salted caramel, Thai curry, and mocha Oreo.
Of course, you can always go with death by chocolate or vanilla bean.
They’ll serve it in a cone, cup, or make you a milkshake. The options are almost endless.
Places to Eat and Drink in Black Mountain
Black Mountain has tons of restaurants, a brewery, a cidery, and a distillery. Of course, there are also coffee shops and ice cream places. You’ll want to pace yourself.
Veranda is where to go if you have a group with different tastes and preferences. Friendly staff, great sandwiches, and a down-home atmosphere made for a perfect meal.
There’s also a small gift shop with tea and honey, but what caught my attention were the beautiful umbrellas. So many different patterns and yet I’d never seen any of them before.
If you’re heading for lunch, get there early because they sell out of the specials quickly.
The Trailhead Restaurant
This is a local favorite and perfect for anyone who’s been out hiking or mountain biking all day.
They’ve got specialty tacos, steak, fried chicken, and salmon. Big plates of food to satisfy big appetites after a day of adventure.
Open for breakfast and lunch every day except Tuesdays, this is a popular place. It’s a mix of waiting to be seated but then you order at the counter and put your number on the table.
When it’s crowded, to ensure everyone who orders has a table, they take your name, then put the number on the table for you and tell you which one it is. You then order your food and find the right table. It’s actually a good system that works well.
I fancy myself an eggs benedict aficionado and I have to say that this was the best hollandaise sauce I’ve ever had. Slightly tangy, not too heavy, but still with the hollandaise character.
Black Mountain Brewing
This brewery sits right at the edge of downtown. You can easily locate it by looking for the picture of Roberta Flack on the side of the building. This is an amazing piece of art.
Besides serving great beer, they have plenty of covered seating and a food truck that lives on-site. This is a great place to end your day.
Black Mountain Ciderworks
All I can say is to trust your GPS. It’s going to take you into an industrial park and around metal buildings and it looks like you shouldn’t be there, but just trust in the force.
As you round a corner, you’ll see the picnic tables and umbrellas telling you it’s okay.
Black Mountain Ciderworks makes a cranberry cider that is phenomenal. I used to get it at a bar near Roan Mountain, TN but they stopped carrying it and it took me forever to locate the source. Now I stock up.
Wrap Up: Things to do in Black Mountain
Black Mountain is one of those special places I know I’ll keep coming back to time after time. There are old favorites and, as it grows, I’m sure I’ll find a few new ones. I
Visiting Black Mountain is a reminder of why Western, NC is so special.