In Western North Carolina, just south of Asheville, Hendersonville blends natural beauty with Southern hospitality, a vibrant arts scene and a rich agricultural tradition to create an idyllic Blue Ridge Mountain getaway. With an average elevation of 2,200 feet, the area experiences four distinct seasons without the harsh winters of higher climes or muggy summers found throughout much of the Southeast.

Hendersonville has long been known for its abundant apples. Henderson County leads North Carolina in apple production and ranks seventh in the nation. As late summer approaches, tree branches hang full of ripe fruit. The orchards — many run by third, fourth and fifth generations — once sold primarily to wholesale buyers. But today many farms welcome visitors to pick their own apples. The Crest of the Blue Ridge Orchard Trail outlines 20 orchards, roadside stands and markets along the scenic backroads of Henderson County. The self-guided trail encourages visitors to create their own apple-country itineraries. Additional farm activities include taking a hayride, feeding barnyard animals, wandering through a corn maze and picking a pumpkin from the patch. On-site bakeries transform fresh apples into pies, fritters, doughnuts and caramel-coated confections. A favorite pastime is getting a doughnut fresh from the fryer and savoring it from a rocking chair with a mountain view.

Hendersonville’s ready supply of apples makes it a natural fit for the growing hard cider market. Bold Rock Hard Cider — the largest craft cidery in the country — operates a state-of-the-art pressing barn, production facility and tasting room. Visitors enjoy sampling about a dozen ciders, all made with local apples and varying from crisp and dry to pleasantly sweet. Seasonal selections include blackberry, winter spice, peach and blood orange. The Bold Bites kitchen serves smoked barbecue, which makes an excellent cider pairing.

Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider brings a bit of the Old World to the Blue Ridge. The owner, whose family stretches back nine generations in Hendersonville, imported apple trees from France to make his dry European-style cider. Named for surrounding mountain peaks, each cider has its own nuance, reflecting the different apple varieties used in its creation. Sip cider inside the barn-turned-tasting-room or on the back deck that overlooks the orchard.

Downtown Hendersonville encourages pedestrian shoppers and alfresco diners with wide sidewalks in a curvilinear design, brick planters overflowing with colorful flowers and friendly shopkeepers who serve as ambassadors for this mountain town. Galleries display the talents of artists who practice ceramics, painting, woodworking and glass blowing in the surrounding hills and valleys.

Twenty-five independent restaurants provide a plethora of options for dining downtown. Indulge in elevated farm-to-table cuisine that showcases trout from nearby streams, grass-fed beef from neighboring pastures and cocktails mixed with locally distilled spirits. Work your way through an internationally influenced tapas menu. Savor the down-home comforts of fried chicken, barbecue and biscuits. Bakeries, ice cream parlors and fudge shops entice passersby with sweet-scented aromas that spill onto the sidewalks.

Several bed-and-breakfasts operate within walking distance of downtown Hendersonville. Innkeepers welcome guests with wide front porches, comfortable furnishings, personal recommendations for attractions and bountiful breakfasts to start the day. Many visitors return again and again, reserving their favorite rooms and requesting specific dishes.

While Hendersonville feels worlds away from busy schedules and the hustle of daily life, getting there is simple. Hendersonville is conveniently located 20 minutes south of the Asheville Regional Airport.

To learn more about Hendersonville, download a visitors guide and plan a trip, go to www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or call (800) 828-4244.