Attractions and Family Fun
Henderson County offers attractions for all ages and a variety of interests. Festivals, celebrations and special events add even more to the quality of life here. A good place to start exploring local attractions and community celebrations is the Visitor Center.
Henderson County Tourism Development Authority
201 S. Main Street, Hendersonville
828-693-9708 or 800-828-4244
The Visitor Center is the gateway to discovering what Hendersonville has to offer. In addition to brochures and maps, the center’s free Visitor Guide offers the latest information on area accommodations, restaurants, outdoor recreation, family and children’s activities, attractions and events. The center also serves asa ticket outlet for area events and offers assistance in planning reunions, weddings, corporate retreats and group tours.
The center is open 362 days a year, only closing on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Office hours are 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Weekend and holiday hours are 10 am to 5 pm.
Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO
511 N Main Street, Hendersonville
1-5 pm Wed-Sat
Free for children under 2
$4 for ages 2-4
$5 for ages 5-75
$4 for ages 76 and older
Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO islisted as the first inland aquarium in North Carolina andis home to 50 different species of saltwater fish and invertebrates and two dozen reptiles. The Aquarium & Shark Lab features a 2,000-gallon shark behavior study tank where baby sharks are raised.Daily reptile and marine animal talks are held in theExploration Hut and live shark and stingray feedings take place at 1 and 4 pm. Public citizen science activities also are held in the classroom.
95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville
9 am-4:30 pm, Mon-Fri year-round; 9 am-4:30 pm, Sat, March-Oct
Bullington Gardens is a 12-acre public nonprofit garden and horticultural education center with a number of themed gardens featuring perennials, herbs, native azaleas and imported and rare plants. It includes a distinctive collection of Japanese maples, a fairy garden and an extensive dahlia garden. The property also features a therapy garden for those with physical limitations and a nature trail with indigenous woodland plants. Classes and workshops are offered year-round. Programs for school children and horticultural therapy for special-needs high school students are available as well. Operated by a partnership of Henderson County Public Schools and NC Cooperative Extension, Bullington Gardens was bequeathed by Bob Bullington, a New York City policeman who established a nursery on the site. Visitors are welcome in all seasons. There is no charge for admission but donations are welcome. Tours and programs for groups can be arranged.
Carl Sandburg HomeNational Historic Site administered by theNational Park Service
Little River Road, Flat Rock
9 am-5 pm daily
Guided tours9:30 am-4:30 pm
No charge for visiting the grounds, hiking or picnicking
House tours: $5 adults, $3 seniors, children under 15 free
This picturesque home and 264-acre farm called Connemara was the residence of Carl Sandburg – Pulitzer-prize winning poet and author, biographer of Abraham Lincoln, journalist and social activist – and his family from 1945 to 1967. A historic site in its own right, the home was built in 1838 by C.G. Memminger, the first Secretary of the Treasury of the Confederate States. Against the backdrop of Little Glassy Mountain, the house’s peaceful setting and interior remains as it was when the Sandburg family lived there. On the grounds, the park maintains a small goat herd descended from Mrs. Sandburg’s world-renowned herd of dairy goats. There also are more than five miles of trails that lead to wonderful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Throughout the year, special festivals and ranger programs are offered. Carl Sandburg Home NHS is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Hands On! Children’s Museum
318 N Main Street, Hendersonville
(Down the corridor past Black Bear Coffee Co.)
10 am-5 pm, Tue-Sat
Check website for special holiday/summer hours
Children under 1 free, $8 for everyone else
Hands On! Children’s Museum is the place where learning comes into play. Catering to children ages one to 10 and their caregivers, this children’s museum provides educational exhibits and programs that stimulate the imagination and motivate learning. Traveling programs, space rental for events and birthday parties and memberships are also available.
Henderson County Heritage Museum
1 Historic Courthouse Square, Suite 4
Inside the Historic Courthouse on Main Street, Hendersonville
10 am-5 pm, Wed-Sat; 1-5 pm, Sun
From the Revolutionary War to the coming of the train to the area’s Golden Age (1879–1929) to modern day, this museum celebrates the rich history of Henderson County. Its six exhibit rooms contain impressive artifacts and multimedia presentations that inform visitors about the milestone events that shaped this area. Highlights include an interactive scale model of the Saluda Grade railway, the Courthouse room, an exhibit featuring the history and heritage of the Historic Seventh Avenue District, an exhibit on the many summer camps in our area, an exhibit celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the American Red Cross, an exhibit honoring the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, which was June 6, 1944, and a commemoration of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the American Civil War. “The Ridge” exhibit tells the story of communities along the Eastern Continental Divide and includes a working still.
Hendersonville Train Depot
650 Maple Avenue, Hendersonville
1-3 pm, Wed; 10 am-2 pm, Sat; 10 am-4 pm the Friday after Thanksgiving
Built in 1902, the historic depot has been lovingly restored to its original glory. Today it houses the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club’s HO Scale model railroad. With more than 2,000 feet of track and 225 switches, its layout represents Henderson County, the Saluda Grade (the steepest railroad grade in the US) and the towns of Western North Carolina. Visitors can also enjoy running “Thomas” on his track, climbing aboard the restored Southern Railway caboose, and touring the G-scale outdoor garden railroad, featuring the logging railroads that existed throughout the region more than 100 years ago.
Historic Johnson Farm
3346 Haywood Road, Hendersonville
Call for guided tour times. Tour prices: $5 adults, $3 students, free for ages under 5
Grounds open 8 am-4 pm, Mon-Fri
No charge for visiting grounds
A late-19th-century/early-20th-century farm and summer tourist retreat, Historic Johnson Farm covered 500 acres in its prime. The main house was constructed in 1876 of handmade bricks and is believed to be Henderson County’s first brick house. Sallie, Vernon and Leander Johnson opened up the house to summer guests in 1913 to bring in additional income. In 1987, the farm was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Vernon and Leander Johnson, willed the house to the Henderson County Board of Education. Today the farm serves as a hands-on museum and heritage education center. The farm hosts numerous events each year, including two festivals. On the last Saturday in April, the Historic Johnson Farm Festival fills the grounds with craft demonstrations, bluegrass music, old-fashioned wagon rides, farm animals and more. In December, the farm is dressed for the Christmas season and visitors are invited to step back in time and enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas. Throughout the year, a variety of educational activities occur at the farm with the main focus on family fun. The Heritage Weavers and Fiber Artists now occupy the former boarding house and offer a variety of classes through the year.
Mineral andLapidary Museum of Henderson County
400 N Main Street, Hendersonville
1-5 pm, Mon-Fri, March-Dec (opens at 11 am during summer)
10 am-5 pm, Sat
Closed Sun, Mon and Tue, Jan-Feb
Home of the Hendersonville Meteorite, the museum also features North Carolina minerals, fluorescent minerals, replicas of world famous diamonds, a display of the lapidary arts, geode cracking, fossils and a T. rex skull replica.The museum offers free tours for schools and other groups.
Self-Guided History, Art andScenic Tours
828-693-9708 or 800-828-4244
Downtown Hendersonville and its surrounding areas are museums unto themselves and the VisitorCenter has several online self-guided tours to allow visitors to see all that the area holds – historic sites, unique architecture, art, breweries, natural landmarks and more.
Western North Carolina Agricultural Center
1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher
The Western North Carolina Agricultural Center is an entertainment venue that hosts a variety of community events, expos, workshops, musical performances, horse shows and more year-round. Since 1994, the WNC Agricultural Center has also hosted the annual NC Mountain State Fair, beginning the first Friday after Labor Day, that celebrates the region’s people, agriculture, art and tradition.
Western North Carolina Air Museum
Adjacent to the Hendersonville Airport
1340 E Gilbert Street, off Brooklyn Avenue
Open year-round, weather permitting
10 am-5 pm, Sat
Noon-5 pm, Wed and Sun, April-Oct
Noon-5 pm, Sat, Sun and Wed, Nov-March
Known as the first air museum in the “First-In-Flight” state, the Western North Carolina Air Museum displays restored vintage airplanes as well as replica antique planes and aviation memorabilia. The collection includes a three-quarter scale model of the 1903 Wright Flyer and a full-scale 1915 Sopwith Baby replica. The museum hosts an annual air fair on the first weekend in June with tours, rides in vintage aircraft, food and fun. During the North Carolina Apple Festival on Labor Day weekend, the museum is open and vintage-aircraft rides are available. Schools and other groups are welcome and tours can be arranged.
The Curb Market
221 N Church Street, Hendersonville
8 am-2 pm, Thu and Sat, Jan-March
8 am-2 pm, Tue, Thu and Sat, April-Dec
The Curb Market is a farmers market with everything being either homegrown or homemade by the sellers. Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, pickles, jams and jellies are offered along with freshly picked flowers and handmade arts and crafts. The Curb Market began on Main Street in 1924 with eight sellers. Today about 100 sellers – some fourth generation – occupy 137 spaces. The Curb Market hosts special events during the year including Ol’Timey Days, held the first Saturday in June and the last Saturday in September. A special Ol’Timey Christmas is held the first Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Flat Rock Farmers Market
Rear parking lot of Pinecrest ARP Church, 1790 Hwy 225, Flat Rock
Thursdays, 3-6 pm, May-Oct
The market offers locally grown seasonal produce, perennials, herbs, mushrooms, artisan breads and baked goods, honey, jellies, goat cheese, grass-fed beef, seafood and more. Market-goers also can find locally made arts and crafts items.
Henderson County Tailgate Market
100 N King Street, Hendersonville (parking lot of County office building)
8 am-Noon, Sat, April-Oct
The Henderson County Tailgate Market opened in 1979 featuring fresh county grown produce. Vendors set up from the back of vehicle tailgates or under canopies and offer fresh Henderson County produce, plants, baked goods, handmade Appalachian crafts and more. The Market offers SNAP/EBT recipients a chance to use their benefits to purchase Henderson County grown goods. The Duke Endowment “Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas” grant is helping purchase equipment for the transactions and in return will also allow vendors to accept tokens purchased with debit and credit cards at the Market’s information booth. The Market also has themed weekends, live music and nonprofit spotlights.
Mills River FarmersMarket
Mills River Elementary School Parking Lot
94 School House Road, Mills River
8 am-noon, Saturdays, May-Oct
Mills River Farmers Market features fruits and vegetables, plants, honey, crafts, meat products and more grown and made within a 50-mile radius of the Town of Mills River. The Market accepts SNAP/EBT benefits as well as debit and credit cards and is proud to offer a Double Dollars program to SNAP/EBT customers. Vendor applications are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main Street from Sixth Ave to Caswell Street,Hendersonville
Sat and Sun of Memorial Day Weekend
Named by the Southeast Tourism Society as a Top Twenty Event, Garden Jubilee Festival has been the place for one-stop shopping for garden lovers. The two-day Festival is held on Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. More than 200 vendor booths line Historic Main Street filled with annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, trees, and all sorts of other delights for the garden, from art to furniture. Garden experts on hand offer helpful gardening tips.
Music on Main Street
VisitorCenter, 201 S. Main Street, Hendersonville
7-9 pm, Fridays
June through mid-Aug
Music On Main Street is like one big block party on Fridays from June to mid-August in downtown Hendersonville. Music on Main Street features a diverse line-up ranging from pop, oldies and rock to contemporary music. Car Shows are held most evenings in conjunction with Music on Main Street. Admission is free.Bring a chair. No pets, alcoholic beverages, coolers or backpacks are permitted.
North Carolina Apple Festival
Main Street, downtown Hendersonville
Labor Day weekend
Every year since 1947, Hendersonville literally has been dancing in the streets on Labor Day weekend in celebration of the apple and its important role in the local and state economy – Henderson County is first in the state in apple production. Through the years, this event has grown into a four-day festival that attracts people from all over the region. Main Street is blocked off and lined with food vendors, arts, crafts, games and, of course, apple stands. Entertainment ranges from apple recipe contests to musical acts on the stage at the historic courthouse.
Rhythm & Brews
South Main Street, between Allen and Caswell
Third Thu, 5:30-9:30 pm, May through Sept
The Rhythm & Brews concert series kicks off each May and features an eclectic mix of local and regional Americana, R&B, funk, bluegrass and Southern rock. Local food vendors, breweries, a kids’ play station, a nonprofit vendor space, a misting station and beer, wine and cider vendors also are featured. September’s event includes a Studio Tour.
Visitor Center, 201 S. Main Street, Hendersonville
7-9 pm, Mon, July through mid-Aug
828-693-9708 or 800-828-4244
The Street Dances started in 1918 to welcome home World War I soldiers and have been part of summer in Hendersonville for more than a century. The Street Dances feature alive bluegrass band playing traditional music while a square dance caller prompts dance figures for participants to follow.Those who don’t know how to square dance can come at 6:30 pm for basic lessons. Clogging teams perform twice during the evening with stomping routines. Admission is free.Bring a chair. No alcoholic beverages, coolers or backpacks allowed.