Content Produced in Partnership with Visit Waterfalls
If “hip, fun and funky town in western North Carolina” were a question on Jeopardy! you might buzz in with “Asheville.” Though it's a good guess, the answer we're looking for is “What is Brevard, North Carolina?” This 100,000-acre playground is full of personality, spunk and adventure. It’s a college town with Brevard College just a few blocks from downtown. Nicknamed the Land of Waterfalls and home to Brevard College, Brevard is a thriving mecca of arts and culture. It’s a place where white squirrels live and are celebrated (we’re not joking) and where hiking and biking trails abound. If we had to sum Brevard up in one sentence though, it would be this: It’s just the North Carolina vacation you’ve been looking for.
As mentioned earlier, there are more than 250 waterfalls scattered across Brevard and Transylvania County. Many of the waterfalls are easily accessible — it really just depends on how much of a workout you'd like to get to see them. The area's most visited waterfalls include Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls (pictured above), and — luckily — they are all located along the same three-mile hiking loop with an entrance at the Hooker Falls parking area. Other DuPont waterfalls, like Bridal Veil Falls and Grassy Creek Falls, can be found on other, slightly longer trails. You can extend your waterfall hunting excursions by checking out nearby Pisgah National Forest and Gorges State Park, which boast an impressive array of cascades. You can find a full list of the area's waterfalls plus a designated Waterfall Guide (with a map!) here.
There’s also no shortage of breweries in Brevard. For locally crafted drinks, Brevard Brewing is downtown and has everything from a great pilsner to a tasty porter. If you’re in the Lumberyard Arts District, Peaks & Creeks Brewing is the way to go. A little north of downtown is Ecusta Brewing, which is a great stop after an afternoon in Pisgah National Forest Forest on your way back into Brevard. Oskar Blues also has a taproom and brewery in Brevard, if you want to see a massive operation for a nationally distributed beer. Oskar Blues offers brewery tours, so you can get a peek at the process. After a weekend of eating and drinking your way through Brevard, you’ll want to book another trip just to hit the spots you missed.
Brevard has a thriving arts scene with a lot of local pottery and sculptures, especially. While you’re visiting, drive and visit spots along the Scenic 276 Arts Corridor, which winds south of Brevard and travels alongside mountains. You’ll find houses converted into shops with local pottery, paintings, sculptures — you name it. Also take some time to appreciate the downtown Brevard sculpture walk and try to see all 19 animal sculptures in the area. There are, of course, white squirrels, monarch butterflies, and a bear, just to name a few.
If you’re looking for a cool place to stay while in Brevard, book a room at the Sunset Motel. The Sunset is designed like a roadside motel of the 50s and 60s, though the rooms are modern and comfortable. The best part about the Sunset though is that downtown Brevard is only a half mile away. Park your car and make the easy walk into downtown for a weekend of fun.
Flourishing Culinary Scene
Brevard has a lot of locally-owned shops, and restaurants are no exception. Locally sourced is the name of the game in Brevard, and you're bound to find plenty of delights to sample for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These are just a few of our favorite spots around town:
To start your day, stop by Bracken Mt. Bakery in downtown Brevard for a sweet or savory pastry and a hot cup of coffee. It’s a quaint bakery with indoor and sidewalk seating, so you can enjoy the first meal of the day with a view of bustling Brevard. We tried the key lime and coconut Danish with a latte, and it was the key to a great day.
After a morning of trying to snap the perfect picture of those adorable white squirrels, stop for a midday meal at The Square Root. This alleyway eatery is in a restored historic building and feels like an upscale take on the hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Sample the fried green tomato BLT with goat cheese, crispy sweet potato chips, and a local beer.
Another great option for lunch is the Jordan Street Café, also in downtown Brevard. Jordan Street offers everything from sandwiches and burgers to pan seared trout and upscale seafood plates. The cocktails really shine at this place. If you want a midday drink, be sure to swing by Jordan Street for a “Gin & Not Tonic” which includes bitters and syrup made in-house.
The Marco Trattoria is a converted house with indoor and outdoor seating just a few blocks from the heart of downtown Brevard with a great atmosphere and an equally great Italian menu. This restaurant is focused on authentic Italian fare, but the ingredients are fresh and local. We sampled the trout cakes made with Carolina trout and pickled okra for an appetizer. For our entree, pasta puttanesca was calling out from the specials menu. Head chef and owner Marc Dambax happened to be in the kitchen while we were visiting, and it was a real treat.
Magpie is in the Lumberyard Arts District of Brevard and is a take on the Southern “meat and three” (a choice of meat and three vegetables, for those not familiar). Magpie wouldn’t be a true Southern joint if it didn't offer up standards like boiled peanuts and fried okra. If you’re looking for an appetizer, try the deviled eggs with a little bit of hot sauce. It doesn’t get much more authentic North Carolina than that.
To get out and explore more of Transylvania County, drive out 25 minutes away from downtown to Lake Toxaway and The Blind Mule. The Blind Mule feels like a pleasant English pub, but with views of Lake Toxaway instead of the foggy streets of London. The Mule offers a rotating list of entrees, so there’s always something new to sample. There are some menu staples though, including pizza and an angus short rib burger on a brioche roll with Applewood smoked bacon, goat cheese, and bourbon onions.