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Daytrippin’: Black Mountain

Black Mountain is well-known for its Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), however, this small town has lots to offer year-round. Black Mountain Center for the Arts offers reasonably priced workshops and various performance art happenings. Check their website at to see what’s going on during your visit to the area.

During my last visit, a group of people stood on the corner of a major intersection with signs reading “LOVE,” and sympathetic drivers honked as they passed by. The sign-holders are a year-long tradition, and they can be spotted on Wednesdays. This town definitely has a carefree, hippie vibe.

The downtown area is comprised of several blocks of independent businesses, with hardly a chain in sight. Door frames of unique shops are painted in funky shades of periwinkle, kelly green and pink. Hey, Hey, Cupcake (which features a great Boston cream cupcake) has “newspapers” plastering a side window – well, not exactly newspapers. They’re printouts from The Daily Prophet, the fictitious wizarding newspaper in the “Harry Potter” series.

Other establishments include Cherry Street Kids, Black Mountain Books and Seven Sisters Craft Gallery. Note to parents of toddlers: Seven Sisters is full of breakables like glass and pottery. Mountain Me: Gifts for the Good Life has a wide selection of home décor and tea towels and shirts with silly puns. The Curiosity Shoppe is aptly named with its selection of unusual vintage items.

The Town Hardware and General Store is a must-see. This store has everything from art supplies to vintage toys to gardening products and kitchen décor. It’s full of surprises! I saw a few toys I recognized from my own childhood, like Holly Hobby and the original design of Strawberry Shortcake.

The whole family will enjoy dinner at My Father’s Pizza. Try a slice of the carrot cake to share. Chicken nugget and hot dog connoisseurs will dine happily at Worldly Wieners. And there are lots more places to eat if your kids have more adventurous palates.

If kids (or parents) get antsy from shopping, check out the park at Lake Tomahawk, not far from downtown. Watch the kids on the playground and enjoy the lake and mountain vistas. Stretch your legs with a walk around the lake. In summer, there’s a swimming pool available.

Hiking families may also enjoy the Craggy Gardens, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Craggy Pinnacle Trail is a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike. June is the peak time for visitors here because of the impressive display of rhododendrons, but the trail offers views year-round.

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