From our correspondent Paul Viera, filed appropriately on Valentine’s Day 2019
Many small towns near popular Asheville have become destinations in their own right, not only for visitors, but also for permanent transplants who find real-estate prices more affordable. After living in Asheville for nine years, I am one of those who found solace in a 55+ community in Hendersonville, about 20 miles south of Asheville. After one year, I have absolutely no hesitation in suggesting that this small, growing town should be visited by tourists and potential residents alike. Strolling down the long, wide, tree-lined and pedestrian friendly downtown with ample outside seating in which to enjoy drinks, pastries, chocolates, meals and shopping surrounded by authentic early 20th century small mountain town architecture, can sooth our modern day sensory overload and still excite our imagination. The free seasonal fairs, art exhibits, and music that occur in downtown draw upwards of thousands of residents and visitors with many stopping by the Visitor Center on South Main St. and the Henderson County Heritage Museum.
The downtown is always the first thing I mention when I’m asked about Hendersonville, but beyond that area is a real town with real services and very friendly people. I have been pleasantly surprised by the wineries, breweries, cider mills, and abundant apple orchards that offer tastings and samples, and the array of goods and services that pretty much meet all my needs. If wanting to explore a bit more without having to pack a lunch, Hendersonville is a short drive to Brevard, Asheville, Flat Rock and Lake Lure. Likewise, Greenville, SC is a beautiful drive south off of I-26 and has a downtown worthy of a leisurely visit.
Seeing mountains in the distance is a regular occurrence in Hendersonville and I’m often reminded of their changing appearance as the seasons meld from one to another, and I have come to take comfort in their stature and strength. Their presence balances the jarring effect of cement, black top, traffic and the ever expanding visual remainders of a town’s growth and development. Although this little town is not exactly a well-kept secret, it seems to reflect the kind of growth that balances governmental fiscal responsibility, business expansion, and civic responsibility. Non-profit agencies, churches, lectures and classes at the local community college, and an excellent hospital with its resident medical practitioners, provide an underpinning of support and help when needed for its expanding retirement community as well as its immigrant residents.
People find communities that fit their needs at certain points in their lives, so as people change so do their interests in the characteristics of the community in which they either want to explore as visitors, or in which to live. Hendersonville is therefore not an ideal community for everyone but it is an ideal community for those seeking a more relaxed and balanced atmosphere that harks back to our idealized view of small town simplicity, serenity and genuineness. Stripped down and natural, Hendersonville cuts through the ostentatiousness and hyperbole that bombards our daily lives and leaves us confused, self-doubting and exhausted. Hendersonville is refreshing … where an occasional brilliant sunrise anchors you to yourself and to the mysteries of the heavens without seeming contradictory. Hendersonville is real, unpretentious and distant enough so as not to draw attention to itself, and yet, this “City of Four Seasons” is secure in its traditions and measured in its future. So if at this point in your life Hendersonville seems like it might be just what you are looking for either as a get-away or more permanently, then what are you waiting for?
Paul Viera, feeling at home in Hendersonville, NC