By Andrea Nordstrom Caughey
With a population of just under 8,000, the quaint mountain town of Brevard, North Carolina, has entertainment clout that belies its small size. Perched at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest, Brevard is surrounded by hundreds of spectacular waterfalls, plus streams, 300 miles of single track and hiking trails. It also hosts one of the most popular outdoor summer music festivals in the country.
Brevard Music Center Summer Festival
More than eighty years strong, the international Brevard Music Center and Festival pairs talented young musicians with professional legends such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, opera star Renée Fleming and others. World class performances showcase symphonies, as well as chamber, opera, and jazz ensembles. It’s conductor, Keith Lockhart, has led both the venerable Boston Pops and BBC Concert Orchestras. This year, due to COVID, high student residencies are cancelled but college and professional engagements are ongoing.
Located in gorgeous natural forested and lake settings, concerts are staged at four performance venues, including the 2200-seat open air Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium and the new waterfront 400-seat Parker Concert Hall.
This year concerts run July 9 through August 8 and tickets (purchase online) are reasonably priced, starting around $20. BrevardMusic.org
Along with the festival, check out in town music venues and clubs that offer an endless array of performers, including local, but lauded talents like the Steep Canyon Rangers — of Steve Martin fame!
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Falling for the Falls
Apart from the music, visitors are drawn to Brevard’s more than 250 waterfalls, including the tallest falls east of the Rockies. A favorite of hikers in Pisgah National Forest, Rainbow Falls offers a dramatic 150 foot drop as a reward for the 3 mile round trip trail within Gorges State Park. Also, be sure to hit Looking Glass falls, touted as the most photographed cascade after Niagara.
For a bracing twist, Transylvania County’s Sliding Rock is both a waterfall and a slide of sorts, where trekkers can jet down the water to a plunge pool below. ExploreBrevard.com
If relaxation is more your bag, consider the most zen of activities…squirrel watching! Brevard is known as the home of white squirrels, who have been steadily multiplying for more than 80 years. Best viewing is on the scenic Brevard Campus and its lovely meandering creek.
Rock collectors and treasure seekers may not know that Brevard’s Western North Carolina mountains are flush with geological bounty. Precious as well as semi-precious gems have been unearthed by die hard sifters at various small mines and mineral panning sites open to the public.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
If a day trip simply isn’t enough time, consider an extended getaway in the region. From rustic to luxurious, Brevard offers lodging to fit any taste or budget, including many charming inns and B&Bs.
Arguably North Carolina’s most luxurious lakefront retreat and less than a half hour drive from Brevard, the Greystone Inn offers guest rooms and suites carved out of an original 1915 mansion. Nestled along historic Lake Toxaway, the resort offers lakeside fine dining, a spa, private lake access, plus mountain and sports activities.
Brevard College Campus Housing
During specific weekends spring through fall, Brevard College’s 181-acre campus offers reasonably priced cabins nearby trails and overlooking stunning scenery. They are also within easy walking distance for Music Festival attendees.
FUN AND FILLING FARE
Hometown restaurants, many long standing community staples, line the quaint streets of downtown Brevard.
Rocky’s Soda Shop
A beloved Brevard icon, Rocky’s Soda Shop, is straight out of the 60’s, with an original soda fountain and a menu of nostalgic comfort foods. RockysSodaShop.com
For picnic fare, the local downtown Transylvania Farmer’s Market offers goat cheeses, baked goods, veggies, meats and eggs, jams and jellies, breakfast and coffee every Saturday. Handcrafted items and weekly concerts and demonstrations round out this lively scene. TransylvaniaFarmersMarket.com
Square Root Restaurant
Located in a beautifully restored historic building, down a quiet alley in the heart of Downtown Brevard, The Square Root Restaurant offers American, fusion, and barbecue offerings with indoor and outdoor seating. SquareRootRestaurant.com