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March 29, 2023, 9:20 p.m.

Day Trip: Black Mountain

A bird's eye view of Black Mountain

Just 13 minutes from Old Fort lies Black Mountain, an idyllic small town with a very big art scene. Black Mountain’s history of creative expression began at Black Mountain College, an experimental liberal arts college on the forefront of the avant-garde movement. While no longer open, the college laid the groundwork for today’s art schools, museums, galleries, musical performances, and festivals.

An Eye for the Arts

Black Mountain musuem

Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center

Welcoming over 200,000 visitors annually, the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center should be at the top of your list of places to see. Explore over 4,000 pieces of artwork, many derived from the center’s collaboration with local artists and organizations.

Their main event is the {Re}HAPPENING at Lake Eden, the site of the original Black Mountain College. Every April, organizers host a one-day dinner and performance event that allows contemporary artists to share the legacy of the school through installations, new media, music, and performance projects. Look for details at Black Mountain College.

Black Mountain Center for the Arts

Established in 2000, the Black Mountain Center for the Arts (BMCA) brings stimulating gallery exhibits, concerts, theater, and special events to both residents and visitors. BMCA also offers numerous classes for those interested in visual arts, music, dance, and theater. Their mission is to “bring arts to the people and people to the arts.”

BMCA’s Upper Gallery features vibrant and diverse exhibitions with free admission. The works of local and regional artists, including group and solo shows that celebrate student artwork, are on display. .

BMCA’s premiere happening is Art in Bloom, now in its 17th year. This series of events includes a Regional Artists Gallery Exhibit and the floral arrangements they inspire. Take a tour of local gardens to be inspired by the art. Click here for more information.

Swannanoa Valley Museum

Swannanoa Valley Museum is situated in Black Mountain’s former 1921 fire house, designed by Richard Sharpe Smith who was the supervising architect of the Biltmore Estate. The first-floor gallery is dedicated to one major temporary exhibit each year. Currently it is displaying the history of Beacon Blankets with historic spools, robes, and blankets. Its second floor permanent exhibit space explores the area’s fascinating general history.

The Old Depot Gallery

The Old Depot Gallery, housed in the historic 100-year-old Black Mountain Train Depot, exhibits master crafts and works of fine arts. The Old Depot Gallery Association protects and maintains the depot while supporting the teaching of mountain and heritage crafts in local schools. Once a year, they host Art by the Tracks, a bi-annual juried art show that raises funds to continue their projects.

In Addition…

Continue your journey and purchase art at the plentiful art galleries and showrooms around the town. A few we like are Red House Studio and Gallery, Seven Sisters Gallery, and Flood Gallery Fine Arts Center.

Festivals and Live Music

Black Mountain signage with mountain in the background

Some of the most famous festivals and concert events in the country occur in Black Mountain. Check out these favorites.

Sourwood Festival

The Sourwood Festival, named for the pure, raw honey from the NC Appalachian Mountains, has everything you’re looking for and then some. Live music and dancing, arts and crafts, children’s rides, and hundreds of vendors provide a whole day of family fun. Scheduled for the 2nd week in August, the festival celebrates its famous honey with ongoing tastings and bee demonstrations. Admission is free.

Leaf Festival

The annual LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) was created in 1995 to build community and connect cultures through world music and the arts. The next LEAF is slated for October on the site of the historic Black Mountain College. The festival features 6 stages showcasing a wide variety of musical genres, including Bluegrass, Appalachian, Haitian, Techno, Americana, and dozens more.

Explore different world cultures through culinary tents, dance, healing arts, an African drum circle, and slam poetry and puppetry. Family fun also includes games, water sports, ziplining, a Foamy Homies experience, and the Jelly Dome, an interactive art installation. And there is so much more!

LEAF attracts more than 12,000 participants over a 3-day weekend. Many people camp out or rent onsite lodging to make the most of their time. Proceeds benefit LEAF’s mission to empower youth across the globe as agents of positive change.

White Horse Black Mountain

The White Horse is a unique concert and event venue hosting world-class live music. Some of the performances include the Irish Music Circle, Celtic music, acoustic blues, orchestras, and Open Mic. For a full list of upcoming concerts, follow this link.

my fathers pizza in black mountain nc

Where To Eat

It won’t be easy to decide where to dine amongst so many wonderful options. Here are a few of our favorites.

When you see a line wrapped around the block, you’ll know you found Open Oven Brunch and Bakery. We love their fresh omelets and avocado toast! Ask to be seated at their new rooftop bar.

Refuel after your exciting day with burgers and brews at Trailhead Restaurant & Bar. Expect to meet a lot of hikers and locals soaking in the relaxed yet lively atmosphere. You’ll find excellent prices and portion sizes.

If you’re searching for fine dining without all the fuss, look no further than Que Sera for world-class food. They serve an outstanding selection of seafood options, including an oyster bar. They are also well known for their authentic Southern dishes, such as Blackened North Carolina Redfish with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat. Reservations are highly recommended.

Immerse yourself in kitschy German culture at Berliner Kindl. Open for lunch and dinner, they serve up the best schnitzels, bratwursts, knackwurst, and Reubens with sides of potato salad, sauerkraut, and red cabbage. Reservations for dinner are recommended.