If you’ve ever thought of going to North Carolina, I guarantee that Asheville has been in your top 5 “Must Visit” cities in NC, and for good reason: Asheville is a cultural and artistic hub nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, nurturing a dedicated and eclectic community of coffee connoisseurs, craft brewery enthusiasts, and outdoorsy adventurers. But less than an hour south of Asheville lies an up-and-coming microcosm of the Asheville scene, without the prices and crowds. Enter: Brevard.
Brevard is known as the “Land of Waterfalls” and is cherished by its residents for its small-town charm, walkability, picturesque streets, budding craft beer scene, proximity to DuPont State Recreational Forest and Pisgah National Forest, and congenial atmosphere. The Hunger Games was filmed locally just minutes away in DuPont State Recreational Forest, making Brevard a fantastic local jumping board for film enthusiasts who are eager to enter the world of one of the most popular films in the world.
Even for North Carolina natives, Brevard is a hidden gem of the state that perfectly walks the line between authenticity and touristic, making it an often preferable and more relaxing destination to the much busier and fast-paced Asheville.
So what should you do during your weekend getaway to Brevard?
Explore the town
Start off your day by grabbing a coffee from one of the many cafes that are present on practically every street. During my week in Brevard, I frequented Cup & Saucer, located on E Main Street. With bright, floor-to-ceiling windows, a wide, high-vaulted space, and vintage paintings, this cafe feels like a true indie hotspot. Their coffee is impeccable and they have a wide variety of food options for breakfast, lunch, or snacking. I have yet to find something that I didn’t like here!
In the alley just to the left of Cup & Saucer is their Mercantile and Market space, where you can peruse products made locally in Western NC, including wine, beer, and more. They carefully select products that align with their mission to promote sustainability and quality, resulting in a space that prides itself on “simple things made well”.
Almost directly across the street from C&S is Brevard Brewing Co, a local craft brew pub that has been around since 2012 and specializing in hand-crafted lagers. Ten years ago, this brewery trailblazed the craft beer scene in Transylvania County, and is now firmly seated as one of the best places to grab a brew in Brevard. With unbeatable prices of $4 per pint, this brewery is a great choice for both your palate and your wallet!
Also located on E Main Street are several boutiques and shops stocking everything from fashionable women’s clothes to outdoorsy gear, from tourist tchotchkes to a fantastical toystore. The best part? Every shop is locally owned, so every purchase directly benefits the local economy!
Go on tasting tours of the local vineyards and wineries!
There are at least ten vineyards within easy driving distance from Brevard, all of which are highly rated on Google and Yelp. You’ll definitely want to bookmark Burntshirt Vineyards, which is located less than 40 minutes away from Brevard in nearby Hendersonville. This vineyard, named North Carolina’s Winery of the Year, is a picture-perfect vineyard that features sweeping views of the grape vines on the backdrop of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.
You can schedule everything from vineyard and wine-tasting tours to weddings and bachelorette parties! The best selling point? Tours of the winery are free on a first-come, first-serve basis, and tasting flights of 7 wines will only set you back $10!
While access to the vineyard itself is restricted from the public, you can schedule private vineyard tours with the winemaker for $175 for 2 people (or $87.50/person), which includes a stroll through the vineyards, a private winery tour with the winemaker, two cheese boards, and a bottle of wine to enjoy on the terrace!
Explore local pisgah national forest!
Within North Carolina’s largest hidden gem, Pisgah National Forest is a must-visit if you’re staying in Brevard! Whether you’re an avid outdoorsman or a casual sightseer, there’s something to do at Pisgah for everyone. Love water slides? Pisgah’s Sliding Rock is a natural 30ft waterslide that drops you into a deep pool at high speed! Love waterfalls? Looking Glass Falls is a breathtaking waterfall that might deceive you into thinking you’ve been transported to Hawai’i. There are dozens more waterfalls packed nearby (this area isn’t called the Land of Waterfalls for nothing: Pisgah’s collection of waterfalls are North America’s largest concentration of waterfalls!), and you can choose falls that feature hikes for every endurance level.
Visit local culture and heritage sites
If you love history and cultural destinations, then Brevard is the perfect choice for you. At 200+ years old, the Allison-Deaver house is a gorgeous monument to the past and is the oldest standing-frame house west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here, you can travel back to the 19th century, picnic in the gardens, and explore its gardens.
The Cradle of Forestry is a fantastic opportunity to explore NC’s history, featuring unique tours, hikes to several historic buildings, a 107-year old train, and 6,500 acres to explore!
If you love astronomy, then the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (or PARI) is a must-visit. This site is a former NASA tracking station and offers opportunities to stargaze with professionals, sign up for Space Camp, or even stay overnight for the entire weekend to engage in tours of the grounds, and view the stars through their vast array of NASA-grade telescopes!
Brevard is a criminally-underrated North Carolina hidden gem, and with opportunities to shop, hike, camp, stargaze, and drink all within a 30-minute radius, Brevard offers a little something for everyone!