Harvest Season Getaway in Hendo
- October 18, 2021 |
The arrival of railroads in the western part of North Carolina was a lifeline for farmers and loggers. They also opened up these once-isolated communities to travelers and adventurers from the lowcountry, the piedmont, and even places in the nearby foothills. The scenery was inviting, the weather was temperate, and the hospitality was warm. These same qualities attract thousands of tourists to Hendersonville more than 140 years later.
The Hendersonville Train Depot, which welcomed tourists on the Carolina Special, is restored and features an HO-scale railroad layout for model train enthusiasts along with relics of the area’s railroading past. The museum has limited hours (Wednesdays and Saturdays), but it’s worth a stop just to imagine the romance of the rails and how it impacted the town of Hendersonville.
The mountains of North Carolina are perfect for apple orchards. Around 65% of the state’s apple crop is found in Henderson and Polk Counties. From heritage varieties like Limber Twig and Stayman to newer kinds including Jonagold and Mutsu, apples love the warm days and cool nights at higher elevations. September and October are harvest time for mountain apples, and it’s celebrated with the North Carolina Apple Festival in Hendersonville over Labor Day Weekend. While that event closes with the King Apple Parade, the harvest season is far from over. Head out to Grandad’s Apples & Such or Sky Top Orchard for a day amongst the apple trees. You-Pick may not be available because of a freeze earlier in the year, but you can still purchase locally-harvested apples to bite into or to whip up into your favorite sweet treat. Be sure to try an apple doughnut or a cider slushie during your visit.
Jump Off Rock is located in the small town of Laurel Park, just five miles from Downtown Hendersonville. It provides a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains, including Cold Mountain and Mount Pisgah. The overlook is easily accessible, and there are a few short hiking trails. Legend has it that a Cherokee maiden heard that her beloved died in a battle. Struck with grief, she climbed to Jump Off Rock and plunged to her death. On certain moonlit nights, it is said, you can see her ghost standing on the ledge.
For a little longer hike to spectacular waterfalls, take the short drive to the Dupont State Recreational Forest. The shortest hike is to Hooker Falls, with Triple Falls and High Falls not being too much farther away, but the approach is a little more difficult. Bridal Veil Falls is very picturesque, and you may recognize it from The Last of the Mohicans. *You may want to put the Winter Solstice Hike on your calendar. It is a nighttime hike that meets at Hooker Falls on the evening of the solstice. Please check the website to verify it is being held.
Main Street in Downtown Hendersonville is a fun place to explore. Check out the murals and other artworks, enjoy the flowers and beautiful leaves, sip a hot coffee or cold drink at one of the tables. Now here’s what we think is really fun – practice your pinball wizard skills at the Appalachian Pinball Museum. The storefront is filled with classic machines and you can play all day for one price.
So, you want to learn a thing or two while you’re in town? Then you need to stop in at the Team ECCO Aquarium & Shark Lab. Yep, an aquarium in the mountains! This is a great stop for families, but adults can learn a few things, too. The whole thing started in 2001 as an idea to bring an ocean learning program for youth and adults to Western North Carolina. The first classroom opened in 2009, and the first inland aquarium opened in 2011. Today, you’ll find two dozen exhibits including a 2,000-gallon shark study tank. We are always surprised by the level of knowledge the youngsters who volunteer at the aquarium have. They can answer some pretty complicated questions.
And, of course, we can’t let you go away hungry. Might we suggest a meal at Mike’s on Main? Located at the corner of Main Street and 3rd Avenue in the Justus Pharmacy building, Mike’s serves up a heaping helping of nostalgia alongside burgers, BLTs, patty melts, soups, salads, all-day breakfast, and milkshakes. The jukebox features songs from the '50s and '60s, and you don’t even have to feed it a nickel to hear your favorite. It’s definitely a cool visit to yesteryear.
With Halloween on the horizon, a tour of the Oakdale Cemetery is a perfect adventure. Led by local historian Mary Jo Padgett, you’ll learn about Hendersonville’s buried past, walk by the marker made famous by Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel, and hear whispers from yesterday. The next tour is scheduled for November 13.
Hendersonville is known as the City of Four Seasons, and fall is certainly its most colorful. For more information to plan your trip, go to Visit Hendersonville.