"I got here in 1986 and thought I had landed in heaven," says basket artist Joe Bruneau, who manages Brevard's arts cooperative, Number 7 Arts (number7arts.com). "It's absolutely beautiful."
With pristine parklands and 250 waterfalls, Brevard and its surrounding Transylvania County beckon both outdoor adventurers and artists. Every summer, 400 promising young musicians are chosen for the annual Brevard Music Center Summer Institute & Festival, with some 80 concerts taking the stage from late June to early August. The BMC's artistic director is alumnus Keith Lockhart, principal conductor of the Boston Pops and the BBC Concert Orchestra in London. Lockhart's parents have lived in Brevard for 30 years, and his grandparents lived there as well. Each summer in the North Carolina mountains is a homecoming for the world-renowned maestro. "Every year is extraordinary," Lockhart says. "All these young people come from diverse backgrounds. They're unsure of themselves and where they fit in. Then we start to make music, and none of that matters anymore."
Sleep under the Stars
Go "glamping" in a whopping four-bed, four-season tent at The Bike Farm, where you can also book guided mountain bike rides. Tents from $100 (extra charge for linens and tours); bikefarmpisgah.com
Choose Indoor Accommodations
The Red House Inn: An 1851 house with additional cottages for rent. Rates from $155 at the inn and from $175 at the cottages; brevardbedandbreakfast.com Bed and Breakfast on Tiffany Hill: Pretty B&B convenient to Brevard attractions. Rates from $195; bbontiffanyhill.com Rental properties: visitwaterfalls.com
EAT & DRINK
Everything is homemade at Bracken Mountain Bakery (brackenmountainbakery.com). Other favorites include The Falls Landing Eatery (thefallslanding.com), The Phoenix (thephoenixbrevard.com), and Rocky's Grill & Soda Shop (ddbullwinkels.com). Stop by Brevard Brewing Co. (brevard-brewing.com) and Oskar Blues Brewery (oskarblues.com) for cold ones.
Explore local parklands, including the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, DuPont State Recreational Forest, and Gorges State Park.
Check performance schedules at the BMC's terrific open-air Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium, which just added a new acoustic shell, and Brevard College's Scott Concert Hall at the Paul Porter Center for Performing Arts. brevardmusic.org; brevard.edu/fineartsevents
Shop for local art at Fourth Friday Gallery Walks, held downtown between April and December, or drive the 13-mile Scenic 276 Arts Corridor, with 10 galleries and markets. scenic276arts.com
The French Broad River Paddle Trail provides public access to over 140 miles of the river, along with campsites. riverlink.org; frenchbroadpaddle.com
Want a guide? Headwaters Outfitters offers guided (wade or float) fishing trips plus tubing, kayaking, or canoeing trips (headwatersoutfitters.com). Davidson River Outfitters has 15 professional fishing guides and access to 6 miles of private trout streams, as well as public parklands. (davidsonflyfishing.com)
For adventures on land—or a place to relax and chat up the locals—head for The Hub. Socialize at its Pisgah Tavern, and find anything you need for hiking or biking. The Hub sits at the entrance to the most popular area in Pisgah National Forest. thehubpisgah.com