Mine for (and keep) geodes, rocks and fossils!
Apr 7, 2021 at 7:10 AM
Small-town America. That’s so much of what we love when touring, that’s so much of what we love here at Discovery Map. Most of our destinations, in fact, feature picture-postcard small towns that could make for perfect stage sets for movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life or TV shows like Mayberry R.F.D. These towns embody the heart and soul of America. And fortunately they are appreciated more than ever these days.
Brevard, North Carolina, a town of less than ten thousand inhabitants, is featured prominently on the hit list of happy American havens and it comes as no surprise that it’s a popular place for visitors, second home owners and retirees. Why, there’s even a Mayberry’s restaurant in the heart of town that serves up comfort food that Andy, Aunt Bee, Opie and company would likely gobble up with great glee.
What makes Brevard so special? First consider its history. Named after an important Revolutionary War colonel, Brevard has stood the test of time and today boasts many historic buildings that contribute to its small-town charm. Native Americans inhabited the area originally, then the making of everything from fur hats to guns to wagon wheels established it as an important city center in this part of western North Carolina. Ironworks became big during the Civil War, followed by logging and tanning. You can trace much of this history and more at the Transylvania Heritage Museum, an 1890s house that showcases artifacts, photos and a variety of exhibits about the life and times of Brevard and the surrounding area.
Located at one end of Main Street, a visit to this museum sets you up nicely for strolling down this fine thoroughfare to take in more of Brevard’s places of interest, restaurants, bars and shops. (Don’t forget to hit the side streets, too.) Visiting Mantiques is a must. Part living museum to the culture, history and way of life of this part of the South, part gift emporium, the best part about Mantiques is that most everything in this boutique is for sale. You’ll find all kinds of fun and interesting furnishings, home décor items and knickknacks to outfit your man cave, she shed or just ordinary den here.
Highland Books is another not-to-be-missed institution in Brevard. Independent booksellers are to be saluted, honored and patronized, so stop in here, buy a book or two and maybe a cool gift item. Founded in 1976, Highland Books has been a terrific supplier of all kinds of reading material for exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of the region or just finding a good read to enjoy while lolling in a hammock at your place of lodging.
The nearby Crystal Mountain Gem Mine also reflects the character of the region. Believe it or not, you can actually keep the gems that
you mine here and also shop for other treasures such as geodes, rocks and fossils within this unique place. Kids love it!
Cat lovers can easily make Pisgah Paws Cat Cafe one of their best-loved kitty-themed destinations within the good ‘ole U.S.A. Shop for all kinds of kitty fun, sip a cat-uccino and pet a few putty tats all within this one cheery space. And you thought you only could find this kind of unique cattery in Japan?
Whether you’re into cats or not, you might want to pick up a fuzzy white squirrel, the iconic mascot of Brevard. Legend has it that they were introduced to the area years ago when some of these unusual creatures escaped from a carnival caravan; they’ve been associated with the area ever since. You’ll find lots of places around town where you can pick up a stuffed animal version of these unique white squirrels and also find their image emblazoned on all kinds of memorabilia as well. What’s really special, however, is to see one in person and immortalize it in a picture. (Best not to try a squirrel selfie though.) Try going to the Brevard College Campus to find a more robust population of them. But remember, don’t feed the wildlife. Definitely just let them do their thing and observe them from afar.
Mountain biking and road riding are as much a part of the fabric of life in Brevard and beyond as waterfall touring and hiking. You’ll find lots of cool shops that can set you up with a quality rental, a sweet purchase or that special jersey that will forever remind you of your visit to this lush land. Don’t forget the footwear either! Have fun shopping and touring and know that you’ll find lots of places to toast your time in beautiful Brevard at most every hour of the day.