Overlooking downtown Saluda NC with train tracks

Saluda NC & 19 Fun Things To Do Nearby in 2024 

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Saluda NC, is the perfect mountain escape, landing itself at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While the town is small, with only about 800 residents, thousands of visitors come each summer to enjoy the top mountain biking, world-famous fly fishing, breathtaking waterfalls, and other fabulous outdoor activities. 

There is no lack of fun or exciting activities in Saluda and the nearby areas. The next time you find yourself in the area or are planning a trip, here are some of the wonderful things you and the family can enjoy. 

Saluda NC

Outdoor Activities in Saluda NC

One of the biggest reasons people come from near and far to Saluda is to witness the jaw-dropping beauty all around this area. While you are visiting, here are some beautiful places that you won’t want to miss out on. 

1. Pearson’s Falls and Glen 

Thousands of people visit Pearson’s Falls and Glen, making it one of the top natural attractions in Polk County. The beautiful 90-foot waterfall is the main event, but the 300+ acres of nature around it are unique, beautiful, and inspiring. 

There are two trails that lead to the view of the waterfall. The Webster Trail is just 20 minutes and is an easy trail, good for beginner hikers. If you want a more moderate trail, there is another 30-minute hike. Spring is one of the most popular times to go as visitors come to witness the hundreds of spring wildflowers that are beginning to bloom. 

*Pearson’s Falls and Glen is closed in January. 

Address: 2748 Pearson Falls Rd, Saluda, NC 28773

Saluda NC Pearsons Falls and Glen

2. Go Fishing in the Green River or the North Saluda River

The Green River is a large dam-release river that flows through North Carolina. Much of that river sits right beside Saluda, serving the town and preserving its character.

Fly fishing is a huge event in Saluda, where some of the best and world-famous fly fishing takes place on the Green River and the North Saluda River. 

Saluda Shoals Park or Hope Ferry Landing along the North Saluda River are excellent places to catch trout or smallmouth bass. Fishtop Access is one of the best places along the Green River, popular for catching trout. 

Saluda NC Fly Fishing

3. Saluda Arts Festival

On the historic downtown Main Street of Saluda, the Saluda Arts Festival has been coming together for the past 18 years. Artists from all over share and sell their works of pottery, metalwork, jewelry, sculptures, clothing, and much more. 

Anyone is allowed to enter the festival, and everyone is welcome to come! For a whole day this year, on May 20, 2023, the downtown will be filled with eccentric and interesting works of art. 


Saluda NC Arts Festival

4. Go Whitewater Rafting on the French Broad River

The French Broad River is an expansive river flowing for 219 miles from North Carolina into Tennessee. Lots of activities like fishing, swimming, kayaking, and whitewater rafting take place on this massive river. The start of the French Broad River in Rosman, NC, is just one hour from Saluda. 

Most of the French Broad River offers more relaxing whitewater rafting. This is great for families, younger kids, or those looking to just enjoy a pleasant ride. However, there are about 8 miles of the river that offer some more extreme whitewater rafting trips. Class 3-Class 5 is whitewater rafting for people who know what they are doing and have lots of experience. 

Saluda NC Whitewater Rafting

5. Big Bradley Falls / Little Bradley Falls

The Green River Game Area is the home to Big and Little Bradley Falls, a short drive from the center of Saluda. Little Bradley Falls is a beautiful multi-tiered 50-foot waterfall. The hike is generally very easy and is 2 miles, there and back. The large pool below is a popular place to go swimming. 

Big Bradley Falls starts on the same path as Little Bradley Falls. However, to reach Big Bradley Falls, you must hike another mile to get to the base of the waterfall; the total trip is around 4 miles there and back. This hike is considered a bit more strenuous because of the rock scrambling and elevation gain. Big Bradley Falls also has a large pool at the bottom. 

Saluda NC Bradley Falls

6. The Gorge Zipline

The Gorge is America’s fastest and steepest zipline tour, found right in Saluda, NC. There are 11 ziplines spanning across 1.2 miles over the treetops, with a descent of 1100 feet. The views are unlike any other you’ll ever get of these mountains. This is a great trip to bring along a GoPro! 

For those thrill-seekers, or those looking to try something different, you must try The Gorge. The guides are excellent, and it will be an experience you’ll never forget. 

Saluda NC Zipline

7. Green River Adventures

Located in downtown Saluda, Green River Adventures is your adventure dream come true. You can choose from a whitewater adventure, a waterfall trek, rappelling, paddleboarding, and zipline tours. 

Or maybe you are looking for tours of the best swimming holes; you can find the perfect activity for you at Green River Adventures. Book a tour, and explore nature safely with expert guides. 

Green River Adventures building

8. Melrose Falls

Melrose Falls is a 50-foot waterfall with a beautiful and popular hiking trail. The trail is just 1 mile there and back and makes for the perfect afternoon trip. Melrose Falls is one of the lesser-known waterfalls in the area but it is just as beautiful and worth the short hike. 

The trail can see a lot of foot traffic during the warmer months. For more quiet times to view the falls, or enjoy the trail, visit during the spring or the fall. 

9. Green River Cove Trail Hike

Want to spend the day enjoying a good hike? Green River Cove Trail is the perfect hike for you. The trail is 6.5 miles there and back, which can easily take about 3 hours to complete. This hike isn’t for beginners to hiking, as it is considered a difficult hike with 350 feet of elevation change. 

As you hike the trail, you will have stunning views of the Green River and the wildlife surrounding the river. It is also a popular trail for mountain biking, dog walking, and birding. Many locals say this is a great winter hike because you have an even better view of the mountains, and the path doesn’t get too muddy. 

Saluda NC Hiking

10. Hickory Nut Falls

Hickory Nut Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. Just 40 minutes from Saluda, many come to hike the short trail that leads you to the base of the 404-foot waterfall. Located in the famous Chimney Rock State Park this isn’t a spectacle you’ll want to miss. 

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park

The hike is 1.4 miles there and back. It isn’t a terrible hike, with some slight elevation gain, but is still suitable for families and children. Picnic tables and benches are found all along the trail to take a rest. 

Hickory Nut Falls

11. Jackson Park

Covering 220 acres in Hendersonville, NC, Jackson Park is a popular place for fun outdoor activities. The park has many dog-friendly walking trails, hiking trails, a dog park, disc golf, picnic tables, a basketball court, mountain biking trails, and lots more. 

Bring the family for an outing, or bring the pets to get some exercise! Jackson Park is a lovely park to enjoy. 

Jackson Park Sign

12. Jump Off Rock

Jump Off Rock is a scenic overlook offering panoramic mountain views of the Pisgah and Blue Ridge Mountains. Just a short drive from downtown Hendersonville, and just 30 minutes from Saluda, this is a beautiful stop. There are a few hiking trails around the area, along with the observation point. It is a great place to bring a picnic or watch the sunset. 

Jump Off Rock Sign

Over 300 years ago, this was Cherokee land. The name “Jump Off Rock” came from the legend of a Cherokee woman who got word of her young Cherokee chief who had been killed in battle. Distraught, she climbed to the rock and leaped off to her death. Indian legend has it that you can see her ghost leaping off the rock in the moonlight. 

Jump Off Rock View with layers of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background

13. Visit Hendersonville’s Apple Orchards and The North Carolina Apple Festival

Hendersonville is just 20 minutes from Saluda. It is a much larger town, with even more activities and restaurants. Hendersonville is most popular for its bountiful apple orchards and the famous North Carolina Apple Festival. 

Taking place every Labor Day weekend, the apple farmers of the area and all around the state, join together to share their products to mark the end of the season. The festival is complete with rides, games, many treats and foods, and lots of live music. 14 local growers host the event each year. 

As fall rolls around, it is the perfect time to get out to Hendersonville to visit some of the many apple orchards in the area. Places like Coston Farm & Apple House, Apple House & Owenby Orchards, and Freeman Orchards are all fun places to pick your own apples and enjoy the orchards. 

Saluda NC & 19 Fun Things To Do Nearby in 2024 

Indoor Activities near Saluda NC

Outdoor activities aren’t the only thing that brings people to Saluda. Saluda has a quaint, historic downtown strip with charming shops, restaurants, and other historical sites. 

14. Explore Saluda Historic Depot and Train Museum

Reaching the area where Saluda sits right now wasn’t easy in the late 1800s. Brave men worked diligently on the side of the mountains to create what is now known as America’s steepest mainline, standard gauge railroad. This provided easy access to Saluda, which helped make it the bountiful town it is today. 

Outside of the Saluda Historic Depot & Museum

Saluda Historic Depot and Train Museum is a place where you can learn all about the history of Saluda and the importance of the historic Saluda train depot. There are three main exhibits, including a Saluda Grade diorama. There is also a sweet shoppe to visit after the museum with ice creams, taffy, homemade fudge, and other candies. 

Outside of the Saluda Historic Depot & Museum

15. Historic Thompson’s Store

Keeping the heritage of Saluda alive, The Thompson’s Store is North Carolina’s oldest grocery store which opened in 1899.

In the same building that has always stood there, they sell fresh produce, meats, cheeses, imported goods, and a number of Coon Dog Day merchandise. Coon Dog Day is an annual festival the town has been holding for nearly 60 years to celebrate the loyal hunting dogs. 

Thompson’s Store isn’t just a great place to stop and get a snack. It is a place to celebrate the town’s history. Plus, how cool is it to step inside a building that old? 

Thompson's Store from outside

16. Saluda Outfitters

Looking to get outside but need some new gear? Saluda Outfitters is here to help you! They have all the best outdoor gear, from hiking shoes to mountain bikes, bike rentals, and lots of Saluda merchandise. 

However, Saluda Outfitters isn’t just a gear shop. Saluda Outfitters has teamed up with Green River Eddy’s Tap Room, serving customers a variety of local craft beers. Eddy’s also has a grillroom with fries, burgers, and more. 

That’s not all! The Tap Room has comfortable inside seating but another great outdoor seating area with live music playing during the weekends. 

Saluda Outfitters Outside

17. Somewhere in Time

You can not visit Saluda without stopping at Somewhere in Time. A curious combination store of delicious ice cream and a fun selection of antiques from around the world, this store is a staple to the town. 

M.A Pace Building

Take a journey through the antiques, seeing a wide selection of furniture, trinkets, signs, postcards, and lots more. Afterward, pick up a sweet treat. They have regular ice cream, banana splits, sundaes, floats, and penny candy to enjoy. 

Somewhere In Time Ice Cream

18. Western North Carolina Air Museum 

Come back in time to remember what flying used to be, enjoy small crafts and hands-on experiences, and be up close and personal with the planes themselves. It is a perfect place to bring young kids to show them where our large aircraft came from. 

This is a truly unique experience and a perfect one for the whole family. Visitors are welcome to even climb around on the historical planes. So bring your camera, and build some memories! 

Planes at the Western North Carolina Air Museum

19. Carl Sandburg Historic Site

Carl Sandburg was a Pulitzer-prize-winning poet; many called him “Poet of the People.” He made his home in Saluda in the 1940s, and today his 264-site residence is a wonderful historical landmark. 

The site includes 5 miles of hiking trails, a dairy goat farm, and of course, Carl Sandburg’s historical home, all of which visitors are welcome to explore. The average visit lasts about 2 hours. There is a suggested $5 donation fee at the door; otherwise, this is a free experience.  

The Carl Sandburg Home

Restaurants in Saluda NC

Many mountain towns have small, family-style restaurants like old-time diners and mountain lodge-type buffets. You may be surprised to see that Saluda brings a whole culinary experience with fine dining options and foods that are fresh and locally grown.

Restaurants in Saluda certainly won’t disappoint and may even become your favorite eateries. 

✅ Purple Onion

The Purple Onion has been bringing the town organic, fresh, and locally grown meals since 1998. Here, you can enjoy delicious Mediterranean-inspired dishes, along with a variety of pizzas, pasta, seafood, and an abundance of both vegetarian and meat options. 

The Purple Onion was started by Susan Lamar, who had a goal of creating a place where people could come together to enjoy a comfortable environment, along with delicious food and entertainment. There is a beautiful outdoor dining area and live music on Thursday and Saturday nights. 

Image of the Purple Onion from outside

✅ Azalea Bistro

Azalea Bistro is a high-end eatery that provides a unique combination of Low-Country cuisine and French Bistro-style foods. The owners are highly motivated, extraordinarily talented chefs with over 15 years of culinary experience. They would like to give guests a delicious high-end experience that is fun and approachable. 

Dishes are created using seasonally fresh, local ingredients. They also have an all-you-can-eat brunch on the weekends and a vast wine, beer, and cocktail selection. Reservations are highly recommended. 

Azalea Bistro in Saluda NC

✅ Saluda Whistle Stop Pizza and Wings

Saluda Whistle Stop has been a part of the community for over 30 years. The owners have raised their families here and love being a part of the community.

They serve mouthwatering brick oven pizzas, wings, and other appetizers. All ingredients are fresh and locally grown, providing you with a healthy take on simple “pizza and wings.”

Saluda Whistle Stop has a large selection of locally crafted beers and wines. Having fun is an important part of the restaurant, so games like Jenga, checkers, and cards are always offered. 

The Whistle Stop Building

✅ Green River BBQ

Since 1984, Green River BBQ has been a woman-owned restaurant. They have a family and pet-friendly atmosphere that is fun and comfortable. They serve a variety of Southern-style BBQ items, burgers, and a large variety of fresh sides.

The taproom has variety, and the kids’ menu doesn’t disappoint. It is a great place for everyone to love. 

Green River BBQ sign

Places to Stay Near Saluda NC

Lodging isn’t hard to find around Saluda. During the warmer months, Saluda is a popular destination for travelers looking to get outside and spend the weekend. You can find a variety of lodging situations right in Saluda and very close by. 

📍 Early Blue Motel | The Early Blue Motel is a 24-room mountain lodge right in the mountains of Saluda. It is a popular place to stay, as the lodge offers 70+ miles of visibility with some of the best panoramic views of the mountains. Rooms are extremely comfortable, clean, and dog-friendly! The Early Blue Motel is not only a great place to stay but will also be a wonderful backdrop for beautiful sunrises and sunsets. 

📍 The Lodge at Flat Rock | To make your mountain stay comfortable and memorable, The Lodge at Flat Rock is a great lodging option. There are a variety of rooms, perfect for couples or families. Accommodations at the hotel include free wifi, an indoor heated pool, an exercise room, a BBQ area with picnic tables, and a courtyard with a small waterfall. The Lodge at Flat Rock is highly recommended ​​for large meetings, weddings, or to get out and take a vacation.  

📍 The Saluda Inn | The Saluda Inn is a place to restore, relax, and rejuvenate in the fresh mountain air, all within walking distance from historic downtown Saluda. Being a 21+ inn, this a great place to take a romantic vacation or to have an adult weekend. The rooms have a modern, unique feel that is comfortable and spacious. Guests are welcome to enjoy the gaming court and relax by the fire pit. Wednesdays through Sundays, the amazing wine cellar is open with a full bar and live music. 

📍 The Orchard Inn | If you are looking for a luxury stay with spa treatments and delicious breakfast, then you must stay with The Orchard Inn. The Orchard Inn has the best spa in this area. They offer relaxing massages, couples massages, pregnancy massages, hot stones, facials, and yoga classes. The rooms and cottages are spacious and perfectly comfortable. Each morning, every guest is treated to a made-to-order, top-of-the-line breakfast served by Newman’s Restaurant. Newman’s also serves dinner and a special Sunday brunch. Vacation packages are available. This is the perfect romantic getaway or a great place to come and relax. 

Sign for the Orchard Inn

Final Thoughts

Saluda has history and charm like no other town in the North Carolina Mountains. The people are friendly, the activities are endless, and the food and lodging are both accommodating and unique. Here, tucked away in the mountains, you can enjoy a romantic getaway or get out and explore with the whole family.

There is something here for everyone, and is a place where memories are built and last forever. Now go out there and enjoy some of the fun things to do in Saluda NC.

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