Downtown Hendersonville has the second largest downtown in western North Carolina (Asheville is the biggest) with many things to do, see and taste. Beautiful Main Street serpentines around planter boxes and lush landscaping. With more than 100 shops and 20 restaurants, it is a delight to explore the big variety of locally-owned, high-quality stores and galleries. And see their famous painted bears!
Hendersonville's downtown is part of the Main Street Program, the National Trust for Historic Preservation's program to revitalize the nation's central business districts through historic preservation, attention to design, thoughtful recruitment of businesses and promotion. And it shows!
Since most businesses are along a six block section of Main Street and its intersecting streets, it's easy to explore. Mast General Store (527 North Main) is always a favorite stop. On the other end, stop at the Visitor Center (201 South Main) for plenty of information about things to do. Don't stress out trying to get one of the free parking spots on Main Street since there's much more parking on the parallel streets one block away.
Inside the Courthouse is the interesting Henderson County Heritage Museum (1 Historic Courthouse Square), open Wednesday-Sunday. Admission is free, so it's definitely a must-stop. Be sure to break for some sweets at the old-fashioned McFarlan Bakery, a fixture there since 1930. The Curb Farmer's Market has been going strong since 1924, with its selection of baked goods, handmade crafts, jams, etc. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Another great stop is the Mineral & Lapidary Museum (400 North Main). See exhibits from North Carolina, replicas of world-famous diamonds, English minerals, Indian artifacts, a dinosaur egg nest, fossils, fluorescent minerals, gems and faceted minerals. The museum's specialty is Geodes, which are sold, cracked and/or displayed. Admission is free and it's open Monday-Saturday. Hands On Children's Museum (318 North Main) offers an affordable, educational and fun way to spend the day with your children, grandchildren and students ages 1-10.
Some of the grand historic homes in downtown are now bed and breakfasts. Our favorite is the 1898 Waverly Inn with 15 unique rooms, afternoon social hour and farm-to-table breakfast. For much more info, go to their website.
Flat Rock Playhouse’s downtown Hendersonville satellite theatre (125 South Main Street) features plays, musicals and concerts in an intimate theater.
Just outside of downtown Hendersonville is a famous angel. Author Thomas Wolfe’s first novel was Look Homeward, Angel. In the book, there are constant references to an angel statue carved from Italian marble. This is the angel Wolfe placed in American literature. Thomas Wolfe’s father, W.O. Wolfe, sold the statue to the Johnson family to mark the family plot in Oakdale Cemetery. The angel is holding a lily in her left hand and extending her right hand upward. Oakdale Cemetery is located on US Highway 64 West, just a short distance from downtown.
Apples: This is apple country! In late summer and fall (August through early November), visit many orchards and take home a big variety of apples, pumpkins and more! Many are located along US Highway 64 East toward Chimney Rock. See our Apple Orchard Guide.
Wineries: Taste some local wines at nearby vineyards. Burntshirt is a must stop! See the Top 12 Wineries.
Jump Off Rock: This drive-to scenic overlook provides a panoramic view of rolling pastures, the Blue Ridge and Pisgah mountain ranges. Jump Off Rock is located just 5 miles from downtown (4433 Laurel Park Hwy, Laurel Park, NC). The park is open daily, sunrise to sunset. No admission charge. Read more.
See more of our Top NC Mountain Small Towns.
Downtown Hendersonville Annual Street Festivals
- Garden Jubilee Festival: Spectacular two-day festival, held on Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. The ideal festival for passionate gardeners searching for the perfect plants, unique lawn and garden accessories, and arts and crafts with 200 vendors. Speak with the experts at the garden clinics and gather tips and advice.
- Apple Festival: Labor Day Weekend: A four-day celebration in honor of the North Carolina Apple, featuring a street fair on Main Street with continuous live music and entertainment, arts & crafts, apple products, children activities, special exhibits, food and King Apple Parade. See our Apple Festival Guide.
- Street Dances: Monday nights, 7-9 PM, mid-July through mid-August
- Music on Main Street: Free live music Friday nights, 7-9 PM, mid-June through mid-August.
- Rhythm & Brews: Music and beer on the third Thursdays in May-September with local breweries.
- Art on Main: Fine art and craft along Main Street, 10 AM-5 PM on the first Saturday/Sunday in October.
- Home for the Holidays: Many events from Thanksgiving through New Year's including ice skating at the Visitor Center.