Black Mountain activities fill endless summer days

Margaret Hurt
Special To The BMN

We know that our area of Western North Carolina is a sought-after location in which to live, featured in numerous publications about top places to live in the country. The richness of the arts, music, culture and the varied outdoor activities highlighting the beautiful mountainous scenery, are hard to beat.

Here are some free or low-cost activities in the area that you might consider for outings this summer when guests are visiting or if you are looking for something new to try. Most activities are family-friendly and appropriate for various ages.

Chapel of the Prodigal fresco at Montreat College

View the work of famous North Carolina fresco artist, Ben Long, based on the parable of the Prodigal Son. Located in the heart of the college’s campus, the chapel is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. No cost.

N.C. Arboretum

Just south of Asheville are 434 acres of beautiful gardens at the Arboretum and 10 miles of hiking and biking trails in the adjacent Bent Creek area. The Arboretum is free to visit but there is a $12 per vehicle charge to park (alternatively, park outside the Arboretum gate and walk in at no charge).

Friday Night Barn Dances in Montreat

Each Friday evening through mid August, enjoy free intergenerational square dancing when you head up to the “Barn” just past Lake Susan and beside the Pottery Studio. No experience needed; sit on the bleachers and watch, or join in the dancing. Perfect for kids too. Refreshments available for purchase at the Huckleberry Cafe nearby. The event is coordinated by Montreat Conference Center.

Botanical Gardens of Asheville

Enjoy more than 600 native species of plants and beautiful walking paths. The gardens are located at 151 W.T. Weaver Boulevard in north Asheville, close to UNC Asheville. Admission is free; guided tour are available at $3 per person. For more, visit

Black Mountain’sPark Rhythms

From 7-9 p.m. every summer night, there is free outdoor music on the green at Lake Tomahawk; bring a picnic or buy food from the dinner concessions available. Bring your own chair.

Andrews Geyser

This man-made fountain in Old Fort shoots 80 feet in the air, with an open park space for a picnic and a creek for cooling off. A 25-minute drive from Black Mountain, the geyser is located five miles from downtown Old Fort. Visit for details.

Swannanoa Valley Museum

Learn lots of interesting local history from this cool local collection of assorted items; summer hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Located on State Street in downtown Black Mountain, the museum suggests a $5 donation for visitors.

Carver Center’s new Lib Harper Playground

Bring the children for free creative play and to check out newer playground equipment styles. The Town’s Carver Center is at 101 Carver Avenue. A skateboarding park also available there. If visiting during daytime hours, stop in the recreation administrative offices and learn more about summer programs available for all ages.

Town Square Splash Fountain

Check out the attractive landscaping and flowers in bloom in our lovely Town Square. Sit for a spell, people-watch and let the children cool off at the splash fountain. There is no cost to visit; hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. The fountain unit is activated by touching the pad on the pole.

Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center

Located at parkway milepost 384, the center features 384 interactive exhibits showcasing the parkway’s long history. No admission is charged; for more, visit Numerous hiking trails are close by as well, with varying levels of difficulty.