By Bonnie & Bill Neely
The historic town of Flat Rock, established in 1807, is just what an ivy and pine mountain village should be with unique little shops, and delightful restaurants. Golf courses are nearby. In most seasons you can enjoy plays and concerts at Flat Rock Playhouse, well-known for their excellent performances (purchase your tickets ahead.) Art lovers will be thrilled inside the Gallery at Flat Rock, which has finely curated art and crafts of accomplished creator from the surrounding miles. The Gallery holds so many items of many varieties for sale, all very professionally finished and beautifully displayed.
History buffs must spend a couple of hours at Connemara, a National Historic Site, the home of Carl Sandburg, who was awarded several Pulitzer prizes for his writing, including the biographies of Abraham Lincoln and poetry about The People of America. The working goat farm has delightful little animals to watch and even enjoy petting them. These are progeny of the dairy herd of 200 which Mrs. Sandburg transported by railcar when the family relocated here in 1945 from Michigan. Plan to enjoy the rest of the day with a picnic and follow the hiking trail through this farm to the top of Glassy Mountain.
A fascinating larger mountain town which almost runs into Flat Rock is Hendersonville, NC. The Main Street is filled with fun places to visit, varied types of shops owned by locals, many restaurants and art galleries. We were fascinated to learn of the local Gem and Mineral Society with many members who meet regularly to learn about the finds of amateur rock hunters who search the mountains nearby.
Do not leave Hendersonville without spending at least an hour or much more at the free Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County. You will see hundreds of beautiful gems, precious and semi-precious, including part of the rock which became the largest diamond in the world. Specimens of minerals and gems from around the world are displayed in this little basement museum you could have missed because the entrance is not very inviting. It is sponsored by the Society and the attendants are volunteers from their membership. There is even the fossilized head of a T-Rex dinosaur! We were fortunate to be there when a family had brought a few friends to enjoy their nine year old daughter’s birthday. She selected an ugly round geode and bought it for about $10. The very nice pros there told her to look for a light-weight one and they would crack it for her. The men were so entertaining as they locked the rock in the vice and helped the girl to push the lever to crack her prize. And with the cracking sound her fairyland within was revealed! Blue and white quartz in two hemisphere caves of spectacular beauty were hers to keep and remember her special birthday. The docents give excellent tours and inform you about all the displays, and a three-minute video recording reveals the secrets of many collected geological specimen revealed under black light and another spectrum of light. We were completely fascinated and learned so very much in a short visit and so look forward to returning again. The museum is free an open Monday – Friday 1 – 5 pm and on Saturday from 10 – 5.
Be sure to take in the lovely Village Green Antique Mall. Buy some beautifully handmade leather items from the little shop with no name on Main Street. Stop for an ice cream or candy at Kilwin’s and for coffee and pastries at Black Bear Coffee. You will want to spend a week on Hendersonville Main Street any time of year! In fall enjoy the Apple Festival on Labor Day weekend and pick your own apples in one of the many orchards nearby.
If You Go:
Enjoy your next get-away at Pura Vida Cottage in Flat Rock, NC.