The Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO is the only public aquarium in Western North Carolina, The Aquarium houses 20+ displays showcasing dozens of tropical fish, eels, sting rays, sea horses, turtles and fish, a touch tank, a 2,000-gallon shark study tank with bamboo sharks, and much more! It is recognized as the first inland aquarium in North Carolina.
The Blue Ridge Parkway follows the mountain ridges from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. The Parkway’s 469 toll-free miles combines natural beauty, mountain forests, wildlife, wildflowers and magnificent views. Located 15 miles north of Hendersonville.
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site is where Carl Sandburg, American poet, historian, author, and lecturer spent the final 22 years of his long and productive life at his estate, Connemara. The home, originally built in 1838, displays the Sandburg’s furnishing as they lived at Connemara from 1945-1968, including Carl Sandburg’s collection of 12,000 books. Tour the home for a small fee, and learn about Sandburg’s life as a writer, journalist, folk singer, social activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and biographer. Visit the barn and descendants of Mrs. Sandburg’s champion dairy goat herd and hike over five miles of trails. Access to trails, grounds, barns and public areas is free.
Open year-round. closed Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Day
The Cradle of Forestry in America is a 6,500-acre Historic Site within the Pisgah National Forest, set aside by Congress to commemorate the beginning of forestry conservation in the United States. Outdoor activities include two guided trails, which lead back in time to seven historical buildings, including a 1915 Climax locomotive and an old sawmill.
Reservations or Fees
You can call the Cradle of Forestry during their normal business hours at 828-877-3130, or when they are closed, please call the Pisgah Ranger Station at 828-877-3265.
DuPont State Recreational Forest encompasses 10,268 acres in Henderson and Transylvania counties that include waterfalls and 80 miles of roads and trails wandering through mountainous terrain. Open to the public for hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and horseback riding. Fishing is allowed with a valid NC fishing license. Hunting is by special permit only. Many scenes from the 2012 hit movie, The Hunger Games and the 1992 film, The Last of the Mohicans were shot in DuPont State Recreational Forest. The Hunger Games were filmed entirely in North Carolina. Download the Hunger Games film locations.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park covers seven counties in North Carolina, with the northern fringe of the Smokies in Tennessee. The 520,000-acre park is one of the largest wilderness areas in the Eastern United States, covering more than 88 square miles. The park contains some of the highest peaks in the East, with elevations in excess of 6,000 feet. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, campgrounds, nature trails, trout fishing and several visitor centers.
Historic Johnson Farm is a fine example of a late 19th and early 20th century farm & tourist retreat. The entire structure was handmade from bricks that were fired on site from French Broad River mud. Over the years many outbuildings were constructed, including a tool shed/blacksmith shop, barn, boarding house, and a cottage. The property offers historic home tours, nature trails, picnic tables, animals and 10 historic structures on 15 acres filled with trees in a natural setting.
The Heritage Weavers and Fiber Artists have transformed the boarding house into a fiber arts center, which includes weaving, rug hooking, bobbin lace, spinning or knitting.
Holmes Educational State Forest offers a series of well-marked trails, firefighting equipment, accented by exhibits and displays depicting ecology of a managed forest. Picnic sites with tables and a spacious picnic shelter (with grills) are also available. Located about 8 1/2 miles from downtown Hendersonville.
Jump Off Rock is a scenic overlook, which provides a panoramic view of rolling pastures, the Blue Ridge and Pisgah mountain ranges. Jump Off Rock also holds an Indian legend that has been passed down for many, many years. Over 300 years ago a young Cherokee Indian maiden received word that her young Indian Chief had been killed in battle, so she climbed to the edge of the rock and jumped off. Indian legend has it that on moonlit nights you can see the ghost of the maiden on Jump Off Rock. Jump Off is located about 5 miles from downtown at the end of Laurel Park Hwy. The park is open daily, sunrise to sunset. No admission charge.
There are three hiking trials at Jump Off Rock, varying in length and difficulty. Blue Trail – easy trail, takes about 8 minutes, Yellow Trail – moderate trail, takes around 15 minutes & Red Trail – is the most difficult and the longest. See the sign at the entrance to the walkway leading to Jump Off Rock.
Lake Julian Park is a family recreational facility located on the banks of 300-acre Lake Julian in Arden, off of Long Shoals Road. The park offers picnicking, boating, fishing, a playground, outdoor games and special events.
The Lake Lure 27 miles of shoreline was selected by National Geographic as one of the Ten Most Spectacular man-made lakes in the World. The lake offers a marina, boat tours and a sandy beach. Located 14 miles east of Hendersonville
Lazy Otter headquarters is located at the end of Horse Shoe bend along French Broad River. Lazy Otter offers commercial-quality tubes with back rests, a cup holder and handles, a variety of kayaks, and canoes. Reservations are suggested.
The Oklawaha Greenway Trail stretches 3.25 miles, connecting Jackson Park, Patton Park, Berkley Park, Sullivan Park & William H. King Memorial Park. It is a relatively flat paved trail and is handicap accessible. The Greenway is a 10-foot-wide asphalt path for cyclists and pedestrians. Mileage signs have been installed every quarter of a mile along the trail to help trail users know how far they have traveled and how much farther it is to their destination. Benches, water fountains, and three bicycle FixIt Stations are available along the trail. Blue light phones have been installed along the greenway using grant money from the state Department of Transportation.
Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education is located in Pisgah National Forest. The Center’s indoor and outdoor attractions include: aquariums, hands-on exhibits, garden display, special programs, viewing and feeding of the hatchery trout. Free admission.
Open year-round: December – March: Open Monday – Friday 8 am – 4:45 pm April – November: Open Monday – Saturday 8 am – 4:45 pm
The Pisgah National Forest’s 501,691 acres stretches across the eastern edge of Western North Carolina’s mountains. The Forest offers hiking trails, fishing, camping, picnic sites, and spectacular waterfalls. The closest section to Hendersonville is the Pisgah Ranger District, which includes attractions such as Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, Pisgah Forest State Fish Hatchery, Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, The Cradle of Forestry and the North Mills River Recreational Area.
REEB Ranch also offers guided Mountain Bike Tours at DuPont State Recreational Forest and Pisgah National Forest, and the Mountain Bike Park, where you can learn to mountain bike, race, practice jumps and more.
Shining Rock Wilderness, consists of more than 18,000 acres with elevations varying from 3300 to over 6,000 feet, and part of Pisgah National Forest. Shining Rock Wilderness is the North Carolina’s largest wilderness area.
A natural sloping 60 foot smooth rock water slide, plunging into a pool of water at the bottom. Bathrooms and showers are open during the summer season with a lifeguard on duty from Memorial Day to mid-August, No alcohol is allowed. Pisgah Forest, NC (828) 877-3350
The Gorge is perched on the rim of the Green River Gorge, the steepest & fastest canopy tour in the USA, 11 ziplines and a sky bridge with breathtaking 90-mile panoramic view. Located a short drive from Hendersonville.
The Western North Carolina Nature Center connects people with the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountain region by inspiring appreciation, nurturing understanding, and advancing conservation of the region’s rich biodiversity. The property is comprised of 42 acres of plants and animals native to the region. Open 7 days per week, year-round with indoor and outdoor exhibits, and many educational and events throughout the year. Located approximately 25 miles from Hendersonville.