Hendersonville is a city home to more than 15,000 people with an overarching view of southern mountains in the western part of North Carolina.
It owes its name to Leonard Henderson, a Supreme Court Justice of North Carolina, who donated 50 acres of his land to establish the foundation of this city.
Formally chartered in 1847, Hendersonville boasts of its innately fine weather—with always just the right temperature, changing throughout the year—leading to its title as the “City of Four Seasons.”
The city is also rich in history and contains many tourist sites for knowledge.
There are also unique establishments and dynamic locations for people who prefer exciting activities and outdoor experiences.
Overall, Hendersonville has a diverse enough selection of tourist attractions that can intrigue guests with different hobbies.
If this has piqued your interest, continue reading this list of the 16 best things to do in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Learn from the Mineral and Lapidary Museum
Since 1997, volunteers of the Mineral and Lapidary Museum have worked for a noble cause: helping people discover the wonders of the hidden world beneath the solid ground you walk on.
The museum is free and welcomes people of all ages in line with this.
From sparkling minerals to unique ancient fossils, the non–profit organization curates its exhibits to ensure a variety of items for all types of people.
They also procure and rotate rare and pricey artifacts through loans so that the museum will always have something new for its guests who visit frequently.
If you visit this museum, don’t forget to check out their gift shop!
Feed Sharks and Stingrays at the Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO
Team ECCO's Aquarium & Shark Lab is a haven for ocean lovers and future marine scientists!
It’s the first indoor aquarium in North Carolina and has improved so much that Everything Fishkeeping eventually added this aquarium to their list of Top 150 Aquariums in the USA.
Annually, the aquarium welcomes an average of 10,000 people, marking it as one of Hendersonville's most sought-after locations.
Besides their collection of ocean creatures, guests can also safely feed certain animals such as sharks and stingrays with guidance from one of their staff.
Adorable ocean critter plushies are also available in their gift shop!
Who can resist such cute creatures?
Head on over to this lab and be amazed by their assortment of marine animals.
Mine Treasures at the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine
Considered one of North Carolina’s most premium mining destinations, Elijah Mountain Gem Mine has an assortment of exciting activities in store for you.
Gem mining, their most sought-after venture, allows you to mine and test for genuine gemstones and gold, which you can eventually convert to pendants in their souvenir shop.
They also have friendly goats, which you can pet, feed, and take pictures of within their petting area.
The establishment also features a habitat for peacocks and game birds, all of whom you can visit.
With such lively activities, it’s no surprise that the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine has become a popular tourist stop in Hendersonville.
Enter the gem mine and figure out whether the hype is worth it!
Drink Award-Winning Wines at the Saint Paul Mountain Farms
Travelers passing through Chestnut Gap Road can come across this award-winning vineyard that’s already won several wine competitions in the North Carolina State Fair Wine Competition.
Established in 2008, Saint Paul Mountain Farms was the first vineyard and winery in Henderson County.
Since then, it has evolved into a place that can hold special events like wine-tasting and live music concerts with invited food trucks.
You can buy their award-winning wines—Laurel Hill and Sparkling Chestnut Gap Cottage—from their store with other available wines, ciders, and spirits.
Enjoy the wines at one of their vineyard’s tasting areas and unwind with the view of green foliage and the smell of fresh air that's rare nowadays.
Admire the Beauty of Ornamental Plants in Bullington Gardens
Those who visit the Bullington Gardens can expect a show of vibrant and colorful foliage—proof of nature’s beauty, especially when humans provide exceptional care.
Previously, this lush garden was the nursery of Bob Bullington, who collected and cultivated unusual plants and trees in the area, which contributed to a unique collection of diverse plants.
It opened in 1979 as Flora Knoll Farms but has since gone through renovations, including a name change.
Today, Bullington Gardens comprises several gardens and facilities that focus on different themes.
Some examples of their themed gardens are the Therapy Garden and the Reflection Garden, which houses a gazebo for personal meditation.
One of their goals is to introduce horticulture and basic gardening to their guests so that more people can grow, cultivate, and enjoy nature in the comforts of their homes.
Plus, they sell a wide selection of their foliage, such as trees, plants, flowers, shrubs, and even herbs.
Reminisce in Downtown Hendersonville
Walking along the path of Downtown Hendersonville can feel like traveling back in time.
The Mayor and Council of Hendersonville have recognized the significance of preserving historic structures and have avoided the total reconstruction of certain architectural gems within the vicinity.
For example, Erle Stillwell House, located west of Downtown Hendersonville, has earned admiration for its Tudor Revival style, reminiscent of 19th-century architecture.
Other historical landmarks within Downtown Hendersonville make it a treasure for history and architecture fanatics.
Don’t miss out on this history-rich destination!
Look at Old-School Aircraft in Western North Carolina Air Museum
Across E Gilbert Street, three Western Carolina aviation community members—Dennis Dunlap, Bill Schreier, and Ken Stubbs—established this museum in 1989.
Intending to preserve the aviation heritage of North Carolina, this museum continues to take care of its acquired aircraft carefully.
Visiting this museum entails a day of looking into aircraft history in North Carolina.
Moreover, visiting this museum is a homage to the past, when flying was not as developed as today.
Their collection of rare, old-school planes reminds people and teaches children of the past that you can no longer observe in commercial airports.
It’s a great way to look back on history and hear inspiring tales from the older generation about what life used to be like for them.
Visit the Hendersonville City Hall
Erle Stillwell designed the Hendersonville City Hall in 1927, which has become an architectural work of art.
The use of red brick and a prominent portico tie the building together in the classical style.
Inside, there are historical items and artifacts, such as monumental statues of the three former US presidents born in North Carolina.
Historical fans shouldn’t miss this majestic structure.
Head towards Maple Drive N to find this historical landmark.
Learn from the Historic Johnson Farm
The Historic Johnson Farm is part of the National Register of Historic Places and is one of North Carolina’s Cultural Treasures.
Why is this farm a cultural and historical treasure?
Finished in 1880, this handmade brick farmhouse, located along Heywood Road, managed to endure decades of history.
Currently, the Historic Johnson Farm offers historical tours where staff will guide guests inside the farmhouse.
This farm also contains a gallery of heritage weavings that local weavers personally craft and sell in their gift shop.
Weavers and fiber artists produce Appalachian fiber crafts, preserved due to their cultural and historical significance.
Hike at the Holmes Educational State Forest
If you like outdoor activities with a bit of thrill, the Holmes Education State Forest may be the best tourist destination.
The forest has rough terrains and tricky rock formations, challenging average and inexperienced hikers.
The right path is sufficiently marked, so you won’t get lost if you follow the designated trail.
The Holmes Education State Forest, situated near Crab Creek Road, is also home to a beautiful array of plant and tree life scattered around the vicinity.
One thing's for sure in this forest.
Guests will witness a stunning view of the forest’s natural environment.
Explore the Henderson County Heritage Museum
In the middle of Courthouse Square #4, you’ll find the Henderson County Heritage Museum.
First, this museum was a courthouse in 1842, estimated to cost $8,000.
Over time, the government made several renovations, and officials were torn on the best use for the courthouse, whether it should continue to function as a courthouse or get converted into a different building.
County Commissioners voted to renovate it with two core functions: a working government office and a heritage museum.
The museum is home to multiple exhibits related to North Carolina and is open to the public.
Exhaust Your Stamina at the Hendersonville Family YMCA
Located along 6th Avenue W, Hendersonville Family YMCA is a community center that contains amenities that most people can enjoy.
Members can use their extensive equipment and facilities such as gym supplies, courts, yoga room, children’s playroom, and an indoor swimming pool.
They also offer a variety of group lessons for activities like swimming, fitness, and yoga.
You can find all your needs to keep up with your fitness routine in this community center.
Head on over to Hendersonville Family YMCA and make new friends!
Feast in Never Blue
As the name suggests, this quirky and vibrant restaurant is never blue!
You’ll find this unique restaurant in downtown Hendersonville.
Award-winning chef Jesse Roque built this establishment in 2008 after falling in love with the city.
With colorful design schemes, global cuisines, and locally sourced ingredients, this restaurant offers its customers the best dining experience they can provide.
If you’re feeling hungry and unsure where to go, head towards Never Blue and try the exquisite meals from an award-winning chef.
Buy Some Local Goods at the Henderson County Curb Market
The Henderson County Curb Market has a fascinating tradition—they only allow residents of Henderson County to be their produce sellers.
All the products you’ll encounter in this market—from fruits and vegetables to crafted items, baked goods, and jams—are guaranteed to be grown, produced, and handmade locally.
This market tradition seems to work well in their favor because the Henderson County Curb Market has successfully operated since 1924.
Are you curious about the taste and flavor of Hendersonville’s products?
It’s a perfect time!
Head towards this county market, near N Church Street, to try out their local cuisine.
There’s no doubt that Hendersonville in North Carolina is a city rich in history with plenty of educational places to visit, from museums and historical landmarks to learning venues for horticulture and marine biology.
The city balances history and education with casual activities like mining treasures, feeding sharks, trying local products, and wine-tasting.
There are also active ventures for people who prefer to explore the outdoors.
Overall, Hendersonville offers diverse activities to satisfy people of different preferences.