A Guide To Black Mountain, NC: Activities, Restaurants, Bars, And Shops

Sometimes, the hustle and bustle of downtown Asheville isn’t the goal of your vacation, but you still want to be able to easily hit a couple restaurants or a show in town. In such a case, it’s hard to do better than a stay in Black Mountain, which is a stone’s throw from the east side of Asheville and easily accessible via 40 and 240 to most of the city. 

At the same time, Black Mountain is its own destination, and over the years, the many things to do in Black Mountain have helped to develop its tourism economy and made it a real small-town destination in its own right. 

If you’re looking for all the comfort and beauty of the mountains with the fun of the big city just next door, consider our guide to Black Mountain as you plan your itinerary!

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Much of what makes Black Mountain so special are the natural attractions nearby. Set among the Blue Ridge Mountains, this town is also home to religious retreat centers and a craft beverage scene, so there are a lot of ways that people are drawn here. If you’re looking to take a little sojourn to Black Mountain, though, you’ll find plenty to engage many different styles and interests.

1. Hike Graybeard or Lookout Trails

Near Black Mountain and Montreat, there are plenty of reasonable walks and gentle hikes, but if you’re looking for spectacular views and don’t mind a bit of a scramble, Graybeard Trail will offer you the excitement of an advanced hiking trail that is 10 miles total when you take it out and back. 

Along the way, there are waterfalls, switchbacks, some steep areas, and some final rocks to climb over to get incredible views of some of the tallest mountains east of the Mississippi. Montreat has maps available online and on paper to help you keep the blazes straight and customize your routes through the area. 

For a shorter but still beautiful trip, Lookout Trail offers stair-stepped hiking for an intense .5 miles uphill, where you can view the beautiful scenery on a clear day before heading back down – all done in only a little more than an hour. The options are various for the rigor level if these hikes sound daunting, and the owner of your rental or another local can give you ideas for other great hikes. 

2. Enjoy Lake Eden and Lake Tomahawk

Private Lake Eden and public Lake Tomahawk Park are great bodies of water around which to gather while you’re visiting Black Mountain. Lodging and events at Lake Eden offer options for weddings, family reunions, and a beautiful place to stay with access to the water. 

Lake Tomahawk has a pavilion, playground, tennis courts, and a walking trail, in addition to horseshoe pits and a fishing pier to help you have a wonderful time. Plenty of families choose to grill out, picnic on the picnic tables, or simply take in the beautiful views while exploring. 

You can’t use motorized boats on the lake, but it’s a lovely place for kayaks and canoes and is all the more peaceful due to the lack of motor sounds. Find your lake fun in Black Mountain! 

3. Visit the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center

If you’ve brought a history buff along on your travels, stop by the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center to learn more about the incredible past of the small towns of Western NC. From temporary exhibitions to permanent exhibits about this valley, you’ll find information about what it has been like to live in the Appalachian mountains for the last few centuries. 

In addition, they offer hiking programs in the nearby area, tours of local treasured trees, a book club focusing on books from this area, and even an antique and collectible sale. Check the schedule on their website before you visit town to make sure you don’t miss what they have going on. 

4. Play a Scenic Round at Black Mountain Golf Course

While it is arguably harder to play golf in the beautiful and hilly scenery of Black Mountain than on a wide flat plain, the views are also far more spectacular. If you love getting out and practicing your swing, stop by the Black Mountain Golf Course to play their 6,215-yard, par 71 course. 

They’re home to one of the longest holes of golf in the world, a 747-yard, par 6 hole that is 17th on the course. Imagine hitting a golf ball more than seven football fields! There’s a pro shop and a Green Tee Grille for getting a bite to eat after a busy round of golf. 

With various fundraising events, you might even be able to set your tee time for a good cause if you’re in town at the right time. Don’t miss the beautiful and unique style of this course. 

Black Mountain’s well-known LEAF festival offers an incredible global music experience, but it’s far from the only option for Black Mountain activities and events. You’ll find that most parts of the year have at least one special event that you could plan a trip around, but our guide to Black Mountain can help you put together a non-event-driven itinerary too, whatever you prefer.

1. Attend the LEAF Festival in October 

The LEAF Global Arts Festival is an incredible music and visual arts and healing arts gathering. In October each year, the long weekend features many musical performers around beautiful Lake Eden, as well as artisans, healers, dancers, and those who love to experience these artistic forms live. 

The community became so popular during the 50 years they’ve been a festival that they’ve added a May event known as LEAF retreat, also full of camping, music, sports, dance, education, and so much more. There are multiple food trucks on-site, making it possible to have a truly immersive experience. 

Black Mountain becomes a thriving metropolis when these events come to town, and you’re likely to enjoy the benefits of a bustling town if you’re around but not actually staying for the whole retreat or festival. 

2. Experience an Arts Legacy at {Re}Happening in April

While the school is no longer in session, the Black Mountain College Campus at Lake Eden continues to have a long-term impact on the local and global community, a reverberation of artistic thought and innovation that happened here. 

Each year, there’s an art event in April called {Re}HAPPENING, which takes place on the campus and is a sight to behold. The dinner and performance event supports the legacy of the college (which includes a museum in downtown Asheville) while also reinvigorating the local artistic community and providing a platform for contemporary artists inspired by the legacy of this college. 

They add new art installations around the old campus and bring people who love art together for a day of experiences. It’s one of the best things to do in Black Mountain if you are a lover of the arts!

3. Take in the Sweetness at the Sourwood Festival in August

Sourwood honey is one of the most lovely products of Western NC, derived from bees that gather pollen from Sourwood trees, giving the honey a distinctive and delicious flavor. To celebrate this product and these trees, Black Mountain throws a city street festival in August, combining arts and craft vendors, live music, and kids’ activities to fill the town with friends, fun, and, of course, delicious treats. 

One of the most unique Black Mountain activities, much of the music has an Appalachian root, but there are quite a variety of genres represented, with unique offerings like a ukulele band, a Celtic band, and some ‘60s tunes. 

Many local businesses extend their hours for the hoopla, and as you shop and explore, you’ll find plenty of bee- and honey-themed fun, as well as face painting and kid-friendly rides. The event is alcohol-free, so even though you can enjoy a drink at one of Black Mountain’s bars, many people appreciate the focus on a family-friendly atmosphere at the Sourwood Festival itself.

4. Deck the Trees for the Holiday Season

In both nearby Swannanoa and Black Mountain, organizations come together to support a good cause and create Christmas-tree art. Each year, a theme is chosen and participating organizations interpret the Deck the Trees theme in an ornately decorated Christmas tree. 

You can donate to vote for your favorite tree, and the donations go to a fund that helps to supply fuel to needy families in the area. Touring the various trees is possible by downloading this year’s brochure, and knowing where each one is can help you pick a few destinations that are within walking distance or on your path during your other travels around town. 

With everything from craft coffee to craft beer and craft liquor, this area has become a true extension of the Asheville “eat and drink local” scene. Black Mountain brings all the small-town charm with some big-city-level quality in their many restaurants, including many casual but also special date-night kinds of restaurants. Like many of the visitors to Asheville, many of the Black Mountain attractions are really delightful food and drink experiences, a draw themselves!

1. Start with the Organic Beers at Pisgah Brewing Company

Images courtesy of Pisgah Brewing

Black Mountain is home to one of the mainstays of the Western NC beer scene, Pisgah Brewing. It all began back in 2005 with the Pisgah Pale Ale and has grown since to be one of the top all-organic breweries in this area. 

They claimed Black Mountain as home because the water was very good and they saw this space as an incredible place to start a top-notch brewery. They offer a variety of canned and draft beers, including refreshing options like the Blueberry Wheat and the Greybeard American IPA, as well as darker options like Turtleback Brown Ale, their Vanilla Porter, and a delicious Russian Imperial Stout called Chocolatized

Their big draw at the brewery itself includes the open-air outdoor bar with live music on the outdoor stage. If you’re looking for fun Black Mountain activities, fairly big-deal artists play with a cap of 2,250 people, so this can be a real place to get out and enjoy a festival-like atmosphere while drinking a wonderful cold one. 

Location: 2948 US-70, Black Mountain

2. Taste the Authentic Flavors at Cousins Cuban Cafe

Images courtesy of Cousins Cuban Cafe

Two cousins whose parents are originally from Cuba came together to bring the Black Mountain community a taste of their Cuban heritage. The Cousins Cuban Cafe breakfast menu has many familiar favorites, but with things like guava jelly for your toast, sweet plantains and mojo pork for your breakfast bowl, or yucca fries as a side. 

For lunch, sample the mouthwatering pressed sandwiches or sample creole shrimp in sofrito, flavorful grain and bean bowls, or salads. The snacks menu will have your mouth watering, too, with tostones and croquetas taking the cake every time. They even have beer, wine, and coffee drinks to refresh you as you eat!

Location: 108 Broadway Avenue, Black Mountain

3. Enjoy a Great Meal at Trailhead Restaurant and Bar

This local mainstay, Trailhead Restaurant and Bar, offers fresh, made-to-order meals with a full bar, all focused on providing local, delicious options whenever possible. You’ll find simple and delicious options like the IPA battered onion rings or the tasty Black Mountain Chili, but also fine-dining favorites like The Black Balsam Knob rare tuna filet or the Hickory Nut Falls 8-ounce steak. 

Each dish is thoughtfully seasoned, and the whole menu offers themes from the local hiking and nature scene, making it a great fit if you’re headed to this area specifically to scale some mountain peaks anyway. Their peanut butter pie with house-made chocolate sauce drizzle has a reputation for being the perfect and decadent finish to a great meal. 

Location: 207 W State Street, Black Mountain

4. Step Away to France at La Guinguette

This romantic little French and Latin Cafe will transport you from the mountains of NC to the romantic countryside of France, with drinking, dancing, and eating all as the orders of the day. La Guinguette’s classy and airy space is just the beginning, with delicious food options, including incredible soups, tasty empanadas, and flavorful crepes. 

You’ll find something to meet any taste, with the tamales being a real favorite on the menu: try them filled with mushrooms if you’re vegan or cheese and black beans if you’re vegetarian. With flavors you might not have found before, this spot will make your trip to Black Mountain even sweeter than a crepe full of Nutella and fruit.

Location: 105 Richardson Boulevard, Black Mountain

5. Enjoy Unique South African Flavor at Bush Farmhouse

Farm to table is the name of the game at Bush Farmhouse, a delicious restaurant that focuses on local ingredients and flavors inspired by South African roots. From flavorful lamb chops to unique cocktails, you’ll find tastes that will make you want to come back for more. 

There are also African music nights, adding to the already unique and pleasant atmosphere of the restaurant. They offer a Sunday brunch market during the spring and summer, complete with live music and dancing. From their own private-label wines to flavorful burgers and wings, you’ll find that the Bush Farmhouse is a little slice of local color that you’ll be glad you included on your trip. 

Location: 151 South Ridgeway Avenue, Black Mountain

While interesting shops dot the landscape of Black Mountain, there is a nice walkable concentration in the downtown historic district. Here are just a few of the kinds of specialty shops you can find while exploring and shopping in Black Mountain. It’s a particularly nice little district for checking off gift shopping, I think, since so much is handmade and unique but also themed around the timeless looks and styles of mountain handicrafts.

1. Find Something One-of-a-Kind at The Curiosity Shoppe

Images courtesy of The Curiosity Shoppe

In the antiquing world, there is a term, upcycled, that applies to many of the items in The Curiosity Shoppe in Black Mountain. Upcycling involves finding an antique or older item that is in need of repair and not only fixing but improving it: making it a cooler color, adding new features, or creating design elements that take it from fine to fabulous. 

Items that are locally handmade, upcycled, or simply unique are all welcome at this shop, which features traditional antiques but also one-of-a-kind jewelry and is a great option for finding a gift that will be the talk of any party. 

Location: 118 Cherry Street, Black Mountain

2. Find Your Book and Toy Needs at Sassafras on Sutton

Images courtesy of Sassafras on Sutton

When traveling with kids, finding a local toy store can be a way to make the day quite special. You’ll be able to fill lots of people’s to-buy lists at Sassafras on Sutton, since they have an extensive toys selection, as well as a bookstore section, a gifts section, and a full espresso cafe. 

It’s a combination that satisfies a lot of people, plus it’s a nice break if you’ve got a busy itinerary of hiking and sightseeing. Another fun aspect is that the Sassafras team can curate a personalized gift box for you based on the tastes of your gift recipient and your budget. 

They even have a personal handmade soy candle collection called Southern Lit Candles. There’s a reason that when people are asked about things to do in Black Mountain, many of them recommend a visit to Sassafras!

Location: 108 Sutton Avenue, Black Mountain

3. Get Your Next Project Started at the Black Mountain Yarn Shop

 Images courtesy of Black Mountain Yarn Shop

While plenty of yarn crafters, like knitters and crocheters, pick up a skein or two at a big-box craft store, most of us will jump at the chance to try truly local, high-quality hand-dyed yarns. 

At Black Mountain Yarn Shop, you can get all the supplies to try your hand at these wonderful craft styles but also pick up totally unique patterned yarn skeins, dyed with natural colors and using fibers like wool, cotton, bamboo, and more. 

There’s also cute Yarn Shop merchandise like coffee mugs and plenty of needles and kits that include the right yarn and a pattern to follow. Exploring the world of knitting and crocheting is even more fun with the experienced workers at the shop, who can help you learn a bit more about whatever project you’d like to embark upon. Young, or old, they cater all knitters!

Location: 104 E State Street, Black Mountain.

4. See 40 Years of Handmade Artistic Beauty at Seven Sisters Gallery

 Images courtesy of Seven Sisters Gallery

This woman-owned craft gallery is a great take on an art gallery, since every item conveys both a beautiful handmade style and a bit of artistic flare, all while serving a function. 

From whimsical wall mirrors to beautiful pottery and crockery, from handbags you won’t find anywhere else to carvings for your walls that are inspired by the nearby woods, you’ll find all kinds of beautiful items here curated by the owners and employees who have made this a standout Black Mountain shop for 40 years. 

The Seven Sisters Gallery jewelry counter is absolutely beautiful, and the employees can help you pick something out that you’ll personally treasure or that will dazzle someone you love.

Location: 119 Broadway Avenue, Black Mountain. 

5. Show Your Outdoorsy Side at Take a Hike Outfitters

If you’ve been hoping to find a wonderful ENO hammock for stringing up between two trees or the perfect breathable all-weather gear to wear while doing a multi-day trek in the mountains, stop by Take a Hike

They carry some of the most well-known brands of outdoor clothing, as well as Black Mountain souvenirs, camping essentials like water bottles, and even snacks like Clif Bars, perfect for keeping your energy up while you’re out on the trail. 

If you’re not quite sure what your hiking itinerary is yet, stopping into this shop is a great way to find exactly where you ought to go because they’ve got some serious history hiking in this area. They’ll be able to help you get the right boots for the task while also figuring out which gorgeous views you want to find. 

Location: 100 Sutton Avenue, Black Mountain

We hope you enjoy your trip to Black Mountain, NC! What are your favorite things to do in Black Mountain? Let us know in the comments.

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