Black Mountain offers a taste of Asheville without the crowds
Buy gift items imported from dozens of countries like Polish pottery, Italian glass, Swedish Dala horses and French pocket knives at Europa; exceptional and surprisingly varied wines (plus beer, gourmet dishes and hostess gifts) at the Merry Wine Market; books and toys while sipping an espresso at Sassafras on Sutton; and garden plants and whimsical outdoor decor at Mellie Mac’s Garden Shack.
Town Hardware & General Store spans three buildings along Black Mountain’s main thoroughfare. Opened in 1928, it’s a throwback to the past with its ringing bell at the door, creaking wood floors, tin ceiling and vast selection of merchandise. This is the place to buy all kinds of hardware and tools, lawn and garden tools and plumbing and electrical needs, as well as general store style items like kitchen gadgets, kitchen utensils, small appliances, canned goods, cards, home decor and more.
Like Ashville, Black Mountain has its own vibrant food and drink scene. A variety of craft beers fill the taps at Black Mountain Brewing and Lookout Brewing Company in town or Pisgah Brewing Company just minutes west of downtown. For a different taste of Black Mountain, try session dry ciders and meads made from local apples and honey at Black Mountain Cider & Mead or local grain-to-glass gins, whiskeys and ryes at Oak and Grist Distilling Company .
When hunger strikes, Black Mountain offers international surprises, including creative French crêpes and Argentinian empanadas at La Guinguette and South African-inspired cuisine made with local ingredients and garden produce at The Bush Farmhouse. Fine dining at Milton’s at the Monte Vista Hotel includes a burrata salad, Sunburst Farms trout or rack of venison, while classic house burgers and secret recipe hot dogs are refined at the new Foothills Grange, a outdoor restaurant, bar and outdoor site. For dessert, there is Hey Hey Cupcake.
Once you’ve had enough of civilization, it’s time to explore the natural beauty of Black Mountain and its surroundings. Tomahawk Lake Park is a 16-acre oasis in the middle of the city, featuring a lake, a half-mile looping lakeside walking path, playground, tennis courts, gardens, a fishing pier and a picnic pavilion, all with stunning views of the Seven Sisters mountain range.
Nearby Black Mountain Veterans Park has three trails: the River Loop Trail runs along the Swannanoa River; the Oaks Trail connects the park to downtown Black Mountain; and the Community Garden Trail loops around the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden and meadows, as well as nine holes of the Black Mountain Disc Golf Course.
For hikers looking to cover greater distances in a more natural setting, Montreat Wilderness at the Montreat Conference Center, a Christian mountain retreat founded in 1897, boasts 2,500 acres of pristine wilderness protected by a conservation easement. There are over 20 trails spanning over 40 miles, as well as boat rentals on Lake Susan, Jones Wildlife Sanctuary, a nature center, camping and picnic areas.
Many roads can lead to Asheville, but the road less traveled to Black Mountain is full of the same delights plus a few unexpected surprises in this charming western North Carolina town. The scale can be smaller, and that can be a good thing.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
Black Mountain, NC is 211 northeast of Atlanta on I-40
WHAT TO DO
Tomahawk Lake Park. Free. From morning to night. 401 Laurel Circle Drive. 828-669-2052, www.townofblackmountain.org/2474/Lake-Tomahawk-Park.
Black Mountain Veterans Park. Free. From sunrise to sunset (or until field lights go out). 10 Veterans Park Drive. 828-669-2052, www.rockhilleventcenter.com.
Montreat Wilderness. Free. 401 Assembly Drive, Montreal. 800-572-2257, www.montreat.org.
Black Mountain Arts Center. The exhibitions are free. Varied pricing for shows, classes and events. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. 225 W. State St. 828-669-0930, www.blackmountainarts.org.
Swannanoa Valley History Center. Free, donations encouraged. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. 223 W. State St. 828-669-9566, www.history.swannanoavalleymuseum.org.
WHERE TO DRINK
Black Mountain Brewery. Brewery in town with selection of rotating taps and views of the mountains. 131 Broadway Ave. 828-357-5010, www.blkmtnbrewing.com.
Lookout Brewing Company. Craft brewery in small quantities with food trucks and concerts. 103 S. Ridgeway Ave. 828-357-5169, www.lookoutbrewing.com.
Pisgah Brewery. Organic microbrewery just outside of downtown. 2948 US 70. 828-669-0190, www.pisgahbrewing.com.
Black Mountain cider and mead. Cider house and mead made from local apples and honey. 104 Eastside Drive, #307. 828-419-0089, www.blackmountainciderworks.com.
Distillation of oak and grist. Local cereals at the Glass Distillery. 15567 Grovestone Rd. 828-357-5750, www.oakandgrist.com.
WHERE TO EAT
The Guinguette. French and Latin American coffee. Appetizers from $9 to $16. 105, boul. Richardson 888-434-7810, www.laguinguettecreperie.com.
The bush farm. South African-inspired cuisine using local ingredients. Between $18 and $48. 151 S. Ridgeway Ave. 828-357-5367, www.bushfarmhouse.com.
that of Milton. Southern cuisine from seed to fork in the lobby and patio of the Monte Vista Hotel. Appetizers from $21 to $42. 308 W. State St. 828-669-8870, www.miltonsblackmountain.com.
Foothills barn. Extensive restaurant and open-air bar. Appetizers from $8 to $17. 120 Broadway Ave. 828-357-8499, www.foothillslocalmeats.com.
hey hey cupcake. Cupcakery serving other sweets. 102 W. State St. 828-669-2253, www.miltonsblackmountain.com.
WHERE TO STAY
Mount Vista Hotel. Upscale boutique hotel. $159 and more, including continental breakfast. 308 W. State St. 828-669-8870, www.mvhotel.com.
Red Rocking Inn. 1896 Victorian bed and breakfast. $185 and up including breakfast. 136 N. Dougherty St. 828-669-5991, www.redrockerinn.com.
Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce. 201 E. State St., Black Mountain. 828-669-2300. www.exploreblackmountain.com.