There are so many things to do in Brevard, NC that you’ll need at least a week, and you’ll still miss a few things.
Brevard is known as the land of waterfalls with over 250 waterfalls in the area. To say Brevard is centrally located for all things Western North Carolina is an understatement.
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Brevard sits on the edge of Pisgah National Forest and is less than 30 minutes to Nantahala National Forest and Gorges State Park, 20 minutes to Dupont State Recreational Forest, and 1.5 hours to Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
The city of Brevard is the county seat for Transylvania County, and it proudly showcases the area. Main and Broad Streets are the center of downtown and home to cute shops, awesome food, and great breweries. You’ll have plenty of options for when you take a break from the outdoor fun.
If you’re lucky, you may see one of the white squirrels known to live in the area. While there are many theories on how they came to be, the most likely is that someone was trying to breed them as pets. They tend to cluster near Brevard College.
- The Best Things to Do in Brevard
- Outdoor Adventures Near Brevard
- Where to Eat and Drink in Brevard
- Where to Stay in Brevard
- Festivals in Brevard
- Wrap-Up: Brevard, NC
The Best Things to Do in Brevard
Downtown Brevard has many things to do, and a short drive in either direction on Highway 64 will give you even more options.
One note about parking, it’s not pretty. Parking is free along the street in the downtown area but read the signs. Many spots have 2-hour limits during the day or are for pick-up and delivery. Some restaurants have lots and there are a few public lots, but I didn’t see cars in those. It seems most people prefer to park along the street. The ability to parallel park is essential here.
Be aware that the town closes at 6 pm. Some restaurants may be open but check or make sure you have a reservation before heading out.
Veterans History Museum
The Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas located next to the County Courthouse on Main Street is free to visit.
The small, red brick building has a banner out front identifying it as the museum. Its mission is to honor veterans and educate the public about our country’s military history and the contributions of servicemen and women.
It has a large collection of uniforms, weaponry, newspapers, personal items, and more.
Transylvania Heritage Museum
This is a little tricky to find. Walk down West Main Street, past the Co-Ed Cinema. As you cross England Street, you’ll see the Post Office and the parking lot for the Edward Jones Financial Advisor building. The museum uses the same lot as Edward Jones. Walk or drive into the parking lot and you’ll see the white house in the back.
The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 12 to 4 pm and is free to visit. While they do offer programs, you can wander through on your own. My favorite part was the model train.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Allison-Deaver house is thought to be the oldest standing timber frame house in Western North Carolina.
On the property is the house, gardens, barn, and a walking trail. The house appears to be undergoing renovations and the porch was propped up with wooden braces when I visited. Check the website to see the hours of operation.
It’s free to visit and you can walk the grounds and enjoy the pretty garden. There’s a sign as you drive down 64 on your way to the intersection with 276. If you trust your GPS and keep an eye out, you’ll see it.
Transylvania County Courthouse
The stately, brick building was approved in 1874 and is still in use today. On the corner of Main and Broad Street, it says “I am official.”
The grounds surrounding it are pretty and you’ll see people entering and leaving the building. It must be pretty cool to work in such a historical place.
There are toy stores and then there’s O.P. Taylors. We’re talking 6000 square feet of fun in one place. The company expanded and has three stores, but Brevard is the original. Once inside you’ll find an entire room of Knex and Legos. And don’t get me started on the jigsaw puzzle collection.
Of course, there are the usual balls, rackets, bikes, and other childhood basics. It doesn’t look that large on the outside, but it’s huge on the inside.
I’m a fan of independent bookstores and Highland Books is the perfect reason why. They have a great selection, helpful and friendly staff, and a warm environment. If you know what you want, the staff can help you find it in no time. On the other hand, if you don’t know what you want, they’ll guide you towards the perfect solution.
Crystal Mountain Gem Mine
I went mining for gems once and had to drive hours to a gem mine, then dig dirt, then wash it in a flume. While it was a lot of fun, I was a mess of red clay that never came out of my clothes. Crystal Mountain Gem Mine is the solution to all the fun without the mess.
Located downtown (Yes downtown!) Brevard, the store has a huge water flume where you can be a prospect and mine for gemstones. You get to keep what you find. If you’ve ever thought of giving mining a try, this is the perfect way to do it.
The Haen Gallery
The Haen Gallery in Brevard is an expansion of the original gallery in Asheville. Opening a second location allowed the owners to expand the number of artists represented. I would also say the Haen Gallery in Brevard is heavier on sculptures than Asheville.
I love sculpture and this was a fun gallery to peruse. They even have art outside near their sign.
The pretty building with the bright blue garage door is also a work of art itself.
DD Bullwinkel’s Outdoors
I must admit, I can’t pass up an Outfitter, I have to go inside. DD Bullwinkel’s is a ton of fun. They have everything from shoes to tents to clothing to just stuff. And It has that great woodsy outdoor store smell. If you’re a hiker or backpacker, you know what I mean.
With Pisgah National Forest nearby, DD Bullwinkel’s is your safety net if you forgot something or decided to extend your plans and try something new.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with a park and historic home in downtown Brevard, but it’s more park than anything else. The Silvermont Mansion, a 33-room Colonial Revival is off to the side with a large lawn. There are also paved walking paths, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a playground.
I would say this is more of a community park that just happens to have a mansion in the middle of it. Lots of locals enjoy the area and go for walks in the morning.
Brevard Music Center
A little outside of the downtown area, Brevard Music Center is a 180-acre wooded campus in Western NC. They offer training, festivals, and concerts. If you enjoy live music, check out their schedule and buy a ticket if there’s a concert you think is interesting.
Outdoor Adventures Near Brevard
With Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest, Dupont Recreational Forest, Gorges State Park, and the Great Smokey Mountains all within an easy drive, there’s plenty of outdoors in Brevard.
Hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, sliding down a waterfall, and even ziplining are at your fingertips. The only issue you’ll have is what to do next.
Want to see waterfalls? Head up 276 where you’ll pass so many waterfalls you won’t be able to keep them straight.
Forest Heritage Scenic Byway
The Forest Heritage Scenic Byway is a 79-mile loop through Pisgah Ranger District. You can get a pamphlet with the route and key things to see on the National Forest Service Website. You’ll head up 276, go past the Blue Ridge Parkway, then turn onto 215 and make your way back own 215. Along the way, you’ll pass many of the places below including Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock.
Looking Glass Falls
Just before you reach Brevard on Highway 64, there’s a turn for 276. This is where the fun starts. The road is paved and well-maintained, but it has a lot of curves and a steady incline. You’ll see a sign for Looking Glass Falls with a small gravel lot, keep going unless there are cars in this lot. Up the road a bit is roadside parking closer to the falls. Pull in here and walk up the sidewalk.
You’ll see quite a few people, just follow them to the stairs. You can walk down and get close to the falls or hang back and enjoy the view of the cascading 60-foot waterfall.
Moore Cove Falls
Continue 276 from Looking Glass Falls for about 2 miles and you’ll see a small gravel parking lot on your right. This is Moore Cove. You’ll have to hike about 1.5 miles round-trip to see the waterfall. It’s an easy trail with some incline, but not too bad.
There’s a kiosk at the start of the trail on the far end of the lot by the bridge. The path is well-marked and I can’t see anyone getting lost. You can go to the base of the fall, and even behind it for great photos.
Every North Carolinian knows about Sliding Rock. You can pay good money to stand in line slide down a waterfall into 10 feet of ice-cold water, then do it again. While you may think this is just for kids, the adults tend to outnumber them.
In order to slide down the fall, you must be able to swim. Flotation devices are not allowed. This makes sense because the pool at the bottom is deep and the shock of the cold water can affect some people.
There’s a bathroom with a changing room, plenty of room to park, and friendly staff. If you don’t want to slide, you enjoy the show from the observation deck.
Cradle of Forestry
The first school of forestry was started by Carl Schenck on the Biltmore Estate. More precisely, in the part of the estate that is now Pisgah National Forest. The Cradle of Forestry is the home of that school. Several of the original buildings are still there or were rebuilt.
There are pretty walking trails, interactive exhibits along the way, a huge building with information about forestry, a museum, and a gift shop. I thought it would be a quick 2-hour stop, but it really takes 3 to 4 hours to truly enjoy the site.
Frying Pan Tower
This is pushing the limits on being in Brevard, but it’s only 30 minutes from the Cradle of Forestry on the Blue Ridge Parkway so why not?
Your GPS will take you right to it but claim you have another mile. That’s because it doesn’t realize you can’t drive up the road. You’ll have to park and hike. The trail is gravel and an easy 1.5-mile round-trip.
The top deck is boarded off to prevent people from staying overnight, but you can climb the five sets of stairs. I found it a little rickety, but I don’t like heights. If you can get over that, the views are fantastic.
When you arrive, there’s a green sign and a paved driveway, but it looks like you’re heading to the lot for Looking Glass Realty. Trust in the GPS and make the turn. If you miss it, you can make the next right but that lot is full of potholes.
It’s a short walk to the falls on a wooden bridge. When you get there, it’s a shock. I think (it’s not entirely clear) that you’re standing on top of and next to Connestee Falls and looking across at Batson Creek Falls. It’s a double waterfall where they both lead to the same pool and creek.
Gorges State Park
Gorges State Park has two entrances, Frozen Creek, and Grassy Creek. The Frozen Creek Entrance is more deserted with long trails that were old roadbeds. It’s about 20 minutes from Brevard. The more exciting Grassy Creek entrance is about 30 minutes away and offers a 3-mile round-trip hike that takes you to 2 beautiful waterfalls. There’s also an easier 0.5-mile round-trip hike to a smaller waterfall you can see in the distance.
You’ll also find options for car camping, RV camping, and even basic cabins in the park.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway passes above Brevard. It’s about a 45-minute drive. If you’d like to experience a section of the road, this is a good spot to do it.
Frying Pan Tower is easily accessible from this stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway as is the view of the Pink Beds and an overlook where you can see the Cradle of Forestry.
If you visit in the fall, the leaf color along the Blue Ridge Parkway is amazing.
Tons of Waterfalls
This is the Land of Waterfalls. If you follow the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, you’ll pass more waterfalls than you’ll know what to do with. Besides the ones mentioned above there are also Log Hollow Falls, Twin Falls, Cedar Rock Creek Falls, French Borad Falls, Bird Rock Falls (Cathedral Falls), the waterfalls at Dupont State Forest, and Slick Rock Falls just to name a few.
Nantahala National Forest
Brevard is close to where Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests meet. And while I enjoy Pisgah, I really love Nantahala. In my opinion, it’s more rugged than Pisgah, so be prepared. The Shining Rock area with Black Balsam knob is a favorite among hikers and backpackers. If you’re up for the challenge, you can take on a piece of the Art Loeb Trail.
For a different perspective, head to Panthertown Valley (Hogspur A parking area at Cold Mountain) for a pretty hike down to Schoolhouse Falls.
Dupont State Recreational Forest
Often called Dupont State Forest, you’ll find a large Visitor Center, hiking trails, and six waterfalls. Part of The Hunger Games was filmed here as were scenes from The Last of the Mohicans. You may recognize some of the waterfalls from those movies.
There is a hike you can do that takes you to High Falls, Triple Falls, and Hooker Falls. You can also just go to High Falls and Triple Falls, then drive to the parking lot near Hooker Falls if you want to shorten your hike.
Where to Eat and Drink in Brevard
There are several well-known breweries in Brevard as well as places to eat. If you’re looking for a place to eat and drink in Brevard, check out some of my favorites.
Brevard is known for its breweries and beer drinkers seem to agree that Ecusta is worth the stop. Located on Ecusta Road, the brewery is a great place to grab a beer, cider, or ginger beer. They also have Gordingo’s restaurant (closed Tuesdays) where you can grab a bit to go with your drink.
The local bike trail is right out front. I’ve heard that cyclists enjoy making a stop at Ecusta towards the end of their day.
Oskar Blues Brewery
Oskar Blues has a permanent food truck on-site and a large, covered, outdoor patio. You’ll hop off Highway 64 onto Ecusta Road (towards Ecusta Brewery) and keep going. There are signs here and there, but they’re missing at a key turn. I found the GPS was accurate.
It’s located in an industrial building so don’t panic as you start winding through a parking lot towards a warehouse with trucks.
Brevard Brewing Company
When you hear Brevard Breweries, Brevard Brewing Company tends to be the one people picture. Located in downtown Brevard, right on Main Street, it’s a popular spot. While they don’t serve food, they offer good beer and games in their pub.
Okay, I’m pushing this because it’s not really a restaurant, they sell ice cream, chocolate, and fudge. But the ice cream is well-earned after a hard day of hiking. Kilwins is a chain, but it’s also one of the few places to get a quick snack after 6 pm in Brevard.
You’re walking down Broad Street and you see the sign for Papa L.E.W, but it’s pointing to a set of stairs that go down to a dark door and you’re thinking, Nah. Don’t do that. Go down those stairs to one of the best restaurants in Brevard.
The restaurant is small, and you may have to wait for a table. Better yet, make a reservation online. You’re in for a treat of friendly service, a full bar, and good food. Don’t ask me how they do it, but those French fries had a perfectly seasoned crunch on the outside and were soft but not mushy on the inside.
And the burger. OMG. I had been backpacking so I was hungry, but I don’t think that was it. The burger is cooked to perfection and served on a brioche roll that is the perfect complement. I’m going back and bringing people with me.
I asked around for the best breakfast place and Morning Social kept popping up. It’s a little outside of downtown on King Street, but well worth the 10-minute drive.
Parking is along the street, but I didn’t have any issues. The only problem I had was finding it. You need to walk around the side of Squatch Bikes and Brews. There’s a sign if you look for it with an arrow pointing to the restaurant. You’ll see a small covered seating area.
The food was fast and good, and the service was exceptional. They have a full bar, but I stuck with coffee. There are also baked goods including homemade pop tarts. You heard me right. The flavor of the day was pineapple peach. I’m watching the waistline but that was pushing my willpower.
Where to Stay in Brevard
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There are several accommodation options in Brevard. You can camp, glamp, or stay in a hotel. The sky’s the limit and there’s something for every comfort level.
Since it sits next to two National Forests, you can camp for free in the backcountry. This will be primitive camping and you’ll need to check the rules for parking and any other restrictions.
If you prefer camping with more amenities or need a space for an RV, there are plenty of campgrounds around including Davidson River Campground and Pisgah Forest RV Park and Campground.
If I’m not camping, then I use Airbnb or VRBO when traveling to the mountains. Western North Carolina is a hotbed of tiny homes and cabins which I really enjoy. I like to bring my own food to save on money and having a small kitchen, or at least a hot plate, helps.
Mountain bikers will also find a lot of places offer places to wash and store their bikes.
Festivals in Brevard
This is North Carolina and we love our festivals. You can bet that Brevard throws a few good ones. If your schedule is flexible, try to visit Brevard during one of these festivals.
White Squirrel Weekend
This is Brevard’s premier festival held at the end of May. There’s a car show, bands, an art walk, local vendors, good food, and sometimes a Hula Hoop Dance party.
Arts in March
Held the last weekend in March, several businesses participate with deals and events. Local artists provide demonstrations, and you can walk through and enjoy many of the galleries and studios.
Held at the end of October, Halloween Fest is geared towards kids and families but it’s fun for everyone. There’s a costume contest, bounce houses, and a parade. Local businesses participate in a Spooky Open House Stroll and give out candy to little trick-or-treaters.
Wrap-Up: Brevard, NC
Smaller than Asheville, but larger than many other towns in Western North Carolina, Brevard has it all. It’s one of my favorite small towns in North Carolina.
Between a downtown bursting with places to explore, great food, and outdoor adventures everywhere you turn, there are tons of things to do in Brevard, NC.
The outdoor explorers can hit nearby Dupont Recreational Forest or Pisgah National Forest, while those who prefer a more urban experience can shop, enjoy museums, and get a cup of coffee. This is truly a town for the entire family.