Driving Distance: A weekend in Saluda, 90 miles west of Charlotte

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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, my husband and I 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

Wildflour Bake Shop

Breakfast, lunch, brunch and special pizza nights on Wednesdays and Fridays. Popular morning stop for area cyclists — bike rack was packed.

The Purple Onion

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.

Green River BBQ

A Saluda staple since 1984

Meanwhile, Back in Saluda

Cozy wine, beer and specialty foods shop next to Wildflour. Love that it’s lined wall to wall with bottles.

Green River Brew Depot

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.

Steamy Mug

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

Thompson’s Store & Ward’s Grill

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.

Shop

M.A. Pace General Store

Old school general store dating back to 1899

Heartwood Gallery

Contemporary crafts gallery featuring handmade ceramics, jewelry, glass and more from local and regional artisans

The Gardener’s Cottage

Antique furniture, gifts, plants and landscaping accessories

Somewhere in Time

A combo thrift shop, candy store and ice cream counter rolled into one

Explore

The Gorge Zip Line

America’s steepest canopy tour covering 1.25 miles

Saluda Gem Mine

Hands-on, kid-friendly activity mining for gems and minerals

Little Bradley Falls

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

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Katie Levans Loveluck
| @katie_levans |
Co-Founder and Creative Director