The undisputed western North Carolina “Apple Capital,” Hendersonville’s youthful energy and retiree-friendly climate is beloved by children ages two to 102. The city, like Henderson County, was founded in 1838, and named for N.C. Superior Court Chief Justice Leonard Henderson. With a population of 13,137 according to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city with the inviting Main Street historic district and collaborative business community has grown five-fold over the past century.
Hendersonville is known for its North Carolina Apple Festival and Apple Parade, which attract upward of 50,000 people each year. But locals also enjoy the Oktoberfest fun and frolic for the leiderhosen set. Plus, a “legacy” Haywood County Curb Market, in continual operation since 1924, offers the handmade, locally grown products by third and fourth generation residents.
Inquisitive kids will find several hidden gems. The Mineral and Lapidiery Museum showcases a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull, dinosaur eggs, and an array of minerals and geodes. The Western North Carolina Air Museum offers insights into early aeronautics. Team Ecco for Ocean Awareness is a public aquarium with more than 20 displays of ocean animals, including the elusive sea horse. Finally, Hands On! Is a child-friendly gallery with touchable, interactive exhibits.
Several of the region’s breathtaking waterfalls, such as Looking Glass Falls, in Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Forest, are convenient to Hendersonville and accessible by walking or hiking trails.