Black Mountain – The “Front Porch” of Western NC

Black Mountain, North Carolina is known as the “Front Porch” of Western Carolina.  Only 30 minutes from Asheville, 15 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and 35 minutes to Chimney Rock state park, you can see why. 

Black Mountain decorated for fall with a scarecrow on a bench.

On a recent trip to the Asheville area, we only had 3-4 hours and were looking for something to do nearby.  Someone mentioned Black Mountain and off we went. 

I can say it’s definitely worth a visit. 

Just a few of its rankings:

  1. One of the 50 safest towns in North Carolina
  2. The Best Town in Western North Carolina
  3. Voted the Top Prettiest Small Town in America to Vacation 2017 by Trip Advisor readers

Getting to Black Mountain and Parking

Getting there was surprisingly easy. 

I used my little trick of Googling the city, finding shops and restaurants, then getting the address for a business that seems to be on one of the main streets. 

Plug in that address into your GPS and off you go.

This strategy gets you to the heart of downtown. 

GPS Note

If you type a city name and state into GPS, it will take you to the center of the geographical city/town limits. You could end up in the middle of a pasture, a random house, or halfway down a winding road. 

Parking was the easiest I’ve come across anywhere.  As you pull into downtown, there’s a Visitor Center and across the street is a free lot. 

It even has a sign that says “free parking”. 

I was starting to really like Black Mountain. 

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. 

You’ll also find rocking chairs randomly stationed on the sidewalks around town. 

It’s difficult to describe Black Mountain.  The best I can offer is that it’s a quaint downtown full of local, independent shops, has 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.

View of downtown street in Black Mountain, NC with mountains behind the stores.

I envy people that 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 basic. 

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. 

Red rocking chair with hand painted photo of a bear on the street in Black Mountain, NC.

Our Favorite Things in Black Mountain

Number 1:  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. 

Learn more about the store here.

Number 2:  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 then became a slightly bigger store.   

They really care about animals and the community.  To learn more about their mission, you can read their story here

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. 

Here’s a link to their website.

Number 3:  Common Housefly

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 that loves to cook, this independent store is where you get their holiday gifts. 

Check out their cool website.

Number 4:  Veranda Restaurant

There are so many restaurants to choose from, but we went with Veranda.  The menu had something for everyone. 

Friendly staff, great sandwiches, and a down-home atmosphere made for a perfect meal. 

We each got something different and no one would share.  We’re a little competitive and somewhat greedy that way. 

There’s also a small gift shop with tea and honey, but what caught our 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. 

You can peruse their menu and store here.

Number 5:  Europa

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. 

Check out their great items on their website here.

Number 6:  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. 

Definitely stop in.

Learn more about their wines on their website.

Number 7:  The Old Depot Gallery

Art Gallery housed in the old yellow and grey train depot.

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. 

You can learn more about the Old Depot Association here.

Number 8:  Dripolator Coffeehouse

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.   

Check out Dripolator’s Facebook site here.

Number 9:  Kilwins

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.

You can learn more about Kilwins and shop online here.

Number 10:  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. 

Learn more about BAD Craft and check on their current drafts here.

Number 11:  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.

Learn more about The Hop and order online here.

So Much More

There were so many other places deserving to be on the list, but we ran out of time and couldn’t visit them all. 

Fall is a great time to visit. The town decorates the main square with scarecrows. There was one sitting on a bench that looked like a person until you got closer.

I will definitely be coming back and hope to grow this list.  I’m fairly certain every store and restaurant in Black Mountain could be on the “Favorite” list. 

Visiting Black Mountain is a reminder of why Western, NC is so special. 

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3 Responses

  • I am very intrigued by that “Don Draper approved cocktail cart” at the Common Housefly, and Europa totally sounds like a place I’d want to visit!

    • Thanks so much. All the little towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway are worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

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