Black Mountain has been welcoming travelers for hundreds of years.

By Melissa Locker
March 10, 2020
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Credit: Black Mountain Chamber of Commerce

Back in the 1800s, wagons carried visitors to town as they made their way over the Swannanoa Pass to or from Western North Carolina. These days, visitors come to the small town to enjoy the outdoors, wander the historic streets, and enjoy the lively community.

Perched in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Black Mountain is just 15 miles east of Asheville, making it an ideal day trip for anyone looking for their new favorite small town. And it really might be your new favorite: It was named one of the best small mountain towns in the South by the readers of Southern Living.

Here are some of the best reasons to visit Black Mountain, N.C.:

Credit: Black Mountain Chamber of Commerce

Rock out

While Black Mountain does have a long and storied musical history, we’re not talking about rock n’ roll. Instead, dozens of rocking chairs have been scattered around the streets of downtown Black Mountain, including a few massive ones near the Visitors’ Center. From late spring through early fall the rockers appear, each decorated by a local artist and each designed to invite a visitor to come and sit a spell. It has helped the town earn the nickname as the region’s “front porch.” When the weather gets cooler around October, the rockers are auctioned off to make way for a new batch of chairs.

Run for the Hills

Each February, intrepid runners flock to the annual Black Mountain Marathon to run to the peak of Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain in the Eastern United States. Runners start in Black Mountain and make a dash to the mountain’s peak and then run back in a grueling 40-mile run. It is reportedly one of the toughest races in the USA, so sign up or go cheer on the runners.

Music is in the Air

Whatever time of year you visit Black Mountain, you’ll most likely be able to see some live music on stage at the White Horse Black Mountain. As for what type of tunes you’ll hear, well, let’s just say the performance space offers an eclectic lineup. You’ll hear bluegrass, jazz, classical, or even Celtic tunes depending on when you wander in. If you’re visiting in summer, check out the town’s annual Park Rhythms Summer Concert Series featuring live music, food vendors, and beautiful views of the Seven Sisters mountains.

Shop Til You Drop

Cherry Street is a window shopper’s dream. In fact, there are enough gift shops, galleries, antique shops, and stores filled with locally-made crafts that they just might turn window shoppers into actual purchasers. Shoppers of all types will want to peruse the wares at Town Hardware, which boasts an inventory of 35,000 items from over the years.

Eat, Drink, Be Merry

Despite being a small town, Black Mountain has a lot of restaurants—35, according to the visitor’s board. Grab lunch at Blue Ridge Biscuit Company, get a burger at The Trailhead, or a snack at Hey Hey Cupcake and a cup of coffee at Dynamite Roasting or Dripolator Coffeehouse. And of course there are plenty of places to find a drink to wash down the food: Lookout Brewing Company , Pisgah Brewing Company, Black Mountain Ale House, and the Black Mountain Ciderworks are all good options. Or go straight to the source and stop by the Round Mountain Creamery for fresh goat cheese.

Get Involved in the Arts

The town’s distinguished history as an arts destination goes back nearly 100 years to the former Black Mountain College. The now closed experimental liberal arts school fostered the talents of some of the most influential artists of the 20th century including musician John Cage, architect Buckminster Fuller, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and artists Josef and Anni Albers. These days, the legacy lives on in the {Re}HAPPENING, a contemporary art event that honors the college’s avant-garde legacy, and at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Visitors can also visit the Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center or visit the many galleries and shops that showcase the work of local artists and craftspeople.

Take A Hike

Black Mountain is a hiker’s paradise as it is surrounded by mountains criss-crossed with trails. Visit DuPont State Forest Waterfalls or Catawba Falls, or hike up Mt. Mitchell or Chimney Rock or take to one of the many trails that run through the Pisgah National Forest. If you prefer to explore nature from the comfort of your car, Black Mountain’s proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway makes sightseeing easy.

Fish or Cut Bait

Anglers will find plenty of new favorite fishing holes thanks to Black Mountain’s proximity to the 10-acre Lake Tomahawk. The picturesque lake is surrounded by walkways that are a favorite spot for local fishermen—or for people looking for a pretty place for an afternoon stroll or a quiet boat ride.

WATCH: 2020 South's Best Mountain Towns

Be Festive

Events like LEAF Festival (celebrating its 50th year!) and the annual Sourwood Festival draw thousands of visitors to the town each year, but they aren’t the only festivals in town. Taste of Black Mountain brings food lovers to town in May; Art in Bloom takes over Black Mountain Center for the Arts in June; and come December, there’s the Holly Jolly Celebration and Christmas Parade.