I spent last weekend on a quick family retreat to Saluda, a tiny mountain town (pop: 713) 30 miles south of Asheville. From Charlotte, it’s a quick, easy trip west on Highway 74 but feels like it’s a world away.
Saluda is slow and quiet, especially in the winter off season when some shops have limited hours or are closed altogether due to reduced tourist traffic. But you’ll find plenty to keep you busy for a weekend. Main Street has a handful of gift shops, restaurants and unique old general stores as well as a bakery, coffee shop and craft beer bar. There are also nearby hiking trails, zip lines and tubing adventures.
We stayed at The Hilltop House, a gorgeous Airbnb rental courtesy of the property’s very generous Agenda-reading owners. Although we had planned to travel alone, we loved the house so much we immediately invited my brother and his family to come join us when we walked in the door.
Here’s a look at what we explored in Saluda…
Eat & Drink
Breakfast, lunch, brunch and special pizza nights on Wednesdays and Fridays. Popular morning stop for area cyclists — bike rack was packed.
We ate lunch and dinner here in one day. If you ask locals where to eat, this is where they point you. It’s definitely an all-in-one kind of place with a full espresso bar in the front and a stage for nighttime live music in the back.
A Saluda staple since 1984
Cozy wine, beer and specialty foods shop next to Wildflour. Love that it’s lined wall to wall with bottles.
Extremely dog-friendly craft beer bar. This place was crawling with locals and their dogs and felt like hanging out on someone’s back porch.
Unfortunately, the local coffee shop was still closed for the season but Purple Onion and Wildflour held it down for us on the caffeine front
Welcome to the oldest grocery store in North Carolina. Thompson’s dates back to 1890 and today still functions as a grocery, butcher, general store and diner.
Old school general store dating back to 1899
Contemporary crafts gallery featuring handmade ceramics, jewelry, glass and more from local and regional artisans
Antique furniture, gifts, plants and landscaping accessories
A combo thrift shop, candy store and ice cream counter rolled into one
America’s steepest canopy tour covering 1.25 miles
Hands-on, kid-friendly activity mining for gems and minerals
A two-mile out and back trail featuring a 50-foot waterfall. We saw a huge snake and I made us turn around. My middle name is Buzzkill.
Header photo of the soda shop counter at Somewhere in Time