Brevard, North Carolina is an Asheville suburb nestled in the valley below the Blue Ridge Parkway. Brevard College and Steve Martin’s backing band, Steep Canyon Rangers, call Brevard home and are both part of the quirky community brimming with year-round activities and events year-round. For a well-rounded cultural experience, head for the hills of Transylvania county and forget the Deliverance stereotype of Appalachia.
Photo: Warren Reed, CC-BY
This locally owned café serves up regional pastries like bumbleberry—a combination of fresh-picked blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry compote—pies and coffee. If one slice of pie doesn’t cut it, make a reservation to take part in one of the weekly cooking classes. With a wide variety of options (think Afghani dishes to Greek desserts), each class is worth the $40 fee. Across the street from Co-Ed, Brevard’s movie theatre containing a single screen, Blue Ridge Bakery is one and a half blocks from the city center crossing between Main and Broad Streets. For more than a caffeinated kick-start, be sure to visit on Friday mornings to witness the small-town color in full action with tunes to send toes tapping.
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A mid-morning stroll from shop to shop may not sound like the perfect plan to everyone, however Brevard’s diverse community offers something for anyone who visits. Knick-knack collecting matriarchs are happiest at White Squirrel Shoppe which is prominently positioned at one of the center’s four corners. With the exception of the kitchen sink, all things decorative from glasswork, jewelry, tree- and lawn-ornamentation are available (and there is sure to be something to decorate the sink too). Artsy-types should head to Local Color for handcrafted artisan work, dope-on-a-rope soap, and repurposed items. Penny Lane Exchange is the place to browse top hats, an array of hued wigs, and go-go boots for a newly-inspired look. Readers and vintage shoppers will find Brevard Antique Mall is lined with everything from architectural oddities and Beatles memorabilia to stacks of National Geographic and Time magazines from the 1920s onward. Lastly, music lovers can be found at Rockin’ Robin Records and CDs. Browse shelves of records or sit in a rocking chair to attempt a tune on one of the folk art inlaid banjos or guitars hanging from the left-hand wall. Be sure to sort through the free record bin outside the front door.
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An experience that inspires the idea of walking into one’s own home, dining at Hobnob epitomizes Southern hospitality. Housed in a former Craftsman bungalow with a stone-paved terrace for dining in cool mountain air, this restaurant, with vegan and gluten-free options, offers fresh eclectic entrées thanks to home-grown produce in true farm-to-table style. Try the smoked Sunburst trout salad with roasted beets and a pecan vinaigrette for a lean and filling lunch. A short walk from the center, Hobnob bookends the downtown area on Main Street.
Avoid a food-induced nap by visiting the popular and well-maintained trail to Looking Glass Falls or cool off on Sliding Rock. A short drive from the heart of Brevard on Highway 64 to 276, both hikes to either the falls or the aptly named natural slide are convenient ways to appreciate Western Carolina’s natural beauty in the adjacent Pisgah National Forest. For a more adventurous afternoon jaunt, follow Highway 64 back toward Rosman to catch 215 which leads to the foot of Balsam Grove within the Blue Ridge Parkway. This hike winds through heavily wooded forests to reach the top of the mountainous landscape with a view over Graveyard Fields below.
Step off of Main Street and down an alleyway to The Square Root which offers a range of international fare including Polish Boy sandwiches, lamb gyros and Southern staples such as fried green tomatoes. The restored building’s exposed brick is brightened by vibrant paintings and photography as well as the art deco bar just inside the door. This quiet location provides a chance to rest, and is strategically located across from Downtown Chocolates. With a handcrafted confection in tow, trace the “Beethoven Lives” murals through town to encounter the evening’s main event.
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Brevard Music Center is celebrating the 80th Brevard Music Festival this year. Concerts ranging from classical and jazz to chamber and pops take place on the lawn under the stars as well as within an intimate hall. The institute works with high school and college students from all over the world toward preserving and perfecting the musical arts. Guest soloists at recitals in the past have included Yo-Yo Ma, and will feature Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Pride and Prejudice’s soundtrack composer) this year. Many concerts are free to the public, but some events require tickets starting at $15. The season finale will be August 7th conducted by Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops Orchestra and BBC Concert Orchestra.
Photo: Heather Paul, CC-BY
If the glass of wine or one of Brevard’s own Oskar Blues brews during the performance was not enough, stop in The Phoenix for a wide selection of nightcaps accompanied by more live music. A micropub and neighborhood favorite, this lofty space provides a comfortable end to the day with a couch corner to take in the exhibit of artists’ stylized paintings of musicians like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles hanging from the walls.
Top Image: Osajus
Molly Harris is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.