Skip to main content

Day trip: The home of author Carl Sandburg is perfect for kids

When talking with my children’s doctor about looking for day trip ideas, he immediately suggested that we visit Carl Sandburg’s home outside of Hendersonville, North Carolina, less than an hour from the Upstate.

So, I can honestly say that this excursion is pediatrician recommended. At least by my pediatrician!

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carl Sandburg’s picturesque home is nestled in the North Carolina foothills on what is now a 264-acre national park. The property is stunning. There’s a good walk up a hill on a paved path to get to the house and the goat farm.

As a writer and a book nerd, I was ready to pack my bags and move in. Nearly every wall in the home is covered with bookshelves, and as expected, most of those shelves are filled with volumes of reading material. Right now, all of the home’s furnishings are in storage for safekeeping while some repairs and restorations are completed.

But don’t let that stop you from visiting.

You’re going to want to go back anyway, and saying that you didn’t get to see the home with the furniture is a great excuse.

Take the tour of the house. The docents clearly love sharing the story of how a great American writer and his goat-raising wife moved from Michigan with their children and started the Connemara goat farm — and gave Carl the quiet writing environment he craved. There are still goats on the property today, and thanks to Lilian Sandburg’s meticulous breeding and sales records, the National Park Service was able to track down actual descendants of the goats she raised, and bring their offspring back to the property. The latest crop of kids were born around March 31, which will make for a fun Spring visit.

Plan to spend at least two hours touring the house, grounds and goat farm. There is water for purchase in the gift shop, but bring cash or checks. Cards aren’t accepted.

Great ’cue

Huntin’ Camp Bar B Q & Grill is another one of those spots I’ve driven past a dozen times and thought it would be fun to check out. This locally-owned, Southern strong-hold is exactly what a barbecue joint should be, and worth the stop on your way to or from the Carl Sandburg Home.

There’s an all-you-can-eat buffet with the fixings, and the waitress will bring hush puppies to your table. The owner walks around and chats with customers about everything from politics to the weather — when he isn’t in the kitchen cooking.

If you go…

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

  • 1800 Little River Road, Flat Rock, NC 28731
  • 828-693-4178
  • Guided house tours $5 for ages 16 and up, free for ages 15 and younger; cash, checks only

Huntin’ Camp Bar B Q & Grill