Hickory Farmers Market – Buy Local, Buy Fresh

Hickory Farmers Market

Hey, Hickory, have you noticed a bit more fresh in your fresh-air-and-sunshiny Blue Ridge locale lately? That’s because the annual Downtown Hickory Farmers Market is now underway, bringing together “fields, folks, and fun” for a seven-month-long fresh fest that runs through November.

The Farmers Market is just one of the many fabulous things to do in Hickory North Carolina, a town of many claims to fame, including booming businesses and college campuses, world-famous hand-crafted furniture, world-renowned art walks, beautiful community parks, and lovely temperate seasons that provide favorable year-round growing conditions for a variety of crops.

This charming mountain-lake town with nutrient-rich soil and moderate climate is a grower’s paradise that wins raves from local farmers and community gardeners. Many of Hickory’s finest restaurants and gastropubs offer seasonally changing menus with organic veggies and meats sourced from local farms. No matter the season, locals and visitors alike can always count on home-grown specialties as part of the fresh dining experience.

That’s just how it is in Hickory! People here understand the value of supporting their hometown farms by buying local. There are obvious economic benefits to feel great about. Buying local cuts down on fuel and travel time from farm to table, reducing the community’s carbon footprint, improving the environment and the local economy. And the benefits don’t stop there! Eating locally grown produce means your veggies are packed with nutrients and less likely to have been refrigerated, artificially ripened, or contaminated. Long (and delicious) story short, farm-to-table living is good for your own health, your family’s health, the health of the community, and the health of the planet. It’s a win-win-win-win!

But how do you maintain that farm-to-table lifestyle throughout the year? That’s where the Hickory Downtown Development Association (HDDA) comes in. They know locally-grown products are important to their community. That’s why they sponsor the Downtown Hickory Farmers Market and pack the seven-month-long schedule of events with tons to do, see, taste, and enjoy.

At its centrally located train side setting under The Sails, the Hickory Downtown Farmers Market brings the farm into town! Dozens of enthusiastic farmers from local and family-owned farms are on hand to meet and greet their customers and offer the “glory of a good harvest,” which includes fresh produce, grains, plants, flowers, and shrubs, as well as a surf-and-turf bounty of select meats and mountain trout. They stock their stands with locally sourced honey, eggs, and cheeses, fresh baked goods, marinades, preserves, and pickles. And it’s all presented in a festival atmosphere, enhanced by live music, games and events, booths for buying bushels of fresh ingredients, plus dried herbs and spices, artisan crafts, Chefs’ Market creations, street foods, and more.

The Downtown Hickory Farmers Market promises “a soulful feeling and a sense of belonging,” and, as the HDDA says, “for the first time, you’ll know what happiness smells like.” We’re pretty sure we can smell it from here! Or is that the scent of sweet ripe strawberries, which are currently at peak season (April to June). How do we know? The HDDA has provided a handy produce calendar on the Downtown Hickory Farmers Market web site. And we have to admit we’re counting down the days ’til summer when the peaches, cantaloupes, and watermelons will be ripe on the vine! But there’s plenty to do while we wait…

Throughout the month of May, the Downtown Hickory Farmers Market offers family-friendly activities, including “Spin a Kid to Camp” and “Kids Corner Activities” sponsored by the YMCA, plus live music from local performers Kitty G&M OD, Sherrill Keever, Kevin Lee Smith, and ELVIS!

Warm June breezes will be scented with floral notes as the Downtown Hickory Farmers Market ushers in the Lavender Festival starting on June 10th  and keeps the party going with Eat, Drink & Be Local Week starting June 17th. And there’s even more live music from Bob Sinclair & The Big Deals and Piedmont Percussion Program’s Steel Drums with Rick Cline.

As the summer rolls on, the fresh just keeps on coming with more music, more kid stuff, more family events, and our favorite fruits, along with the rest of the huge summer harvest, including farm-fresh potatoes, peppers, peas, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, beans, and (get your chompers ready) corn-on-the-cob!

Be sure to stay tuned in to the online event schedule. Even though the Farmers Market festivities continue on through October and November – grape harvesting season, by the way (did someone say home-made wine?) –  the schedule will be adjusted to accommodate two of the most popular things to do in Hickory North Carolina – the annual Oktoberfest (October 14) and Shuck-n-Peel Festival (November 11).

Are you sold on Hickory yet? We have to admit, it’s one of our favorite mountain towns in Western North Carolina. But there are lots more like it. You know, the charming towns along the Blue Ridge that get you thinking about exploring NC mountain real estate – or as we like to call it, your very own slice of heaven in the foothills.

What makes these towns so heavenly? Just ask the people who live there, in places like Hickory and nearby Lenoir. These are people who escaped the daily grind to retire in the great outdoors, surrounded by gorgeous terrain in a secluded gated mountain community that’s just minutes from outdoor adventures, art and culture experiences, dining hot spots, and exciting night life. These are the thrill-seekers and chill-seekers who relish both the adventure and relaxation that only comes from mountain living.

Not far from Downtown Hickory, a whole community of outdoorsy types with a penchant for fishing, hiking, community gardening, wine-making, and living life to the fullest are enjoying all these benefits and more at The Coves Mountain River Club, a 3,600-acre mountain community with five miles of river frontage along the Johns River. Amenities here include a community vineyard and garden, and the Lenoir North Carolina weather makes finding your inner gardener a breeze!

Residents of The Coves can take a 40-minute scenic drive to the Downtown Hickory Farmers Market to enjoy the bounty of locally grown fresh produce, and pick up a few growing tips from friendly farmers to take back with them to Isabel’s Garden and Evelyn’s Vineyard, where they plant and sow their own delicious produce and harvest their own Muscadine grapes alongside neighbors and friends. Later in the year, they’ll sit together on the porch of The Coves’ community lodge, where they’ll enjoy 360-degree views of majestic mountain ranges while they share a beautiful farm-to-table meal complemented by their own home-made wine from home-grown grapes. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

When you’re ready to tour a selection of beautiful NC mountain real estate to find your own slice of heaven in the foothills, give us a call at 828.754.0700 and schedule your visit to The Coves. We’ll help you plan your visit to experience the nicest Lenoir North Carolina weather and catch the best of the Downtown Hickory Farmers Market, Oktoberfest, Shuck-n-Peel, and other fun things to do in Hickory North Carolina.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.

Tags: Hickory | Shopping & Antique Hunting

Morganton Heights – Great Stores, Great Choices

Morganton NC shopping

Spring is right around the corner near the gated communities near Asheville. It’s time to dust off the hiking gear, plant beautiful new flowers, and take the pooch for a walk in warm, comfortable weather. The Morganton Heights shopping center is the perfect place to upgrade your outdoor equipment, build your summer wardrobe, have a delicious meal at the some of the best Morganton NC restaurants. Work up an appetite on the trails, then stop at HWY 55 for a hearty burger and fries. After a long walk around the neighborhood, take your canine to PetSmart to get groomed and pampered for an affordable price. With over 35 restaurants and retail stores, Morganton Heights has everything you need to get your spring started right.


  • El Portal – The best Mexican food in the foothills. All of their dishes are meticulously prepared with an authentic, yet mild flavor. Enjoy $2.00 shots and tacos on Taco & Tequila Tuesday!
  • HWY 55 – A fresh All-American diner experience with never-frozen burgers and frozen custard made in-house every day. The retro-themed chain has a 1950s soda-fountain look and every meal is served with a smile.
  • China King Buffet – One of the most unique dining experiences in Morganton. Patrons can enjoy sushi, hibachi, Asian, and American cuisine all in one big All You Can Eat buffet.
  • Di’Lishi Frozen Yogurt Bar – A cutting edge, fully-interactive yogurt bar where customers can creat their own tasty creations from ten different frozen yogurts and over sixty toppings ranging from fresh fruits to candies and chocolates. If you’re looking for a healthy after-dinner snack or something to satisfy your sweet tooth, Di’Lishi is the place for you.

Health and Personal Care

  • Sally Beauty –The largest retailer of professional beauty supplies in the world. Looking to save a little dough by dying your hair or doing your nails at home? Sally Beauty carries the biggest brand names in beauty products and offers exceptional benefits for members.
  • GNC – More than just a vitamin store. GNC has everything for your nutrition needs, including supplements, herbs, health food, protein bars, and more.
  • Great Clips – A casual salon offering haircuts for adults & kids along with professional styling products for sale. Visit the friendly staff at Morganton Heights for an affordable haircut today.

Clothing and Accessories 

  • Kay Jewelers – The #1 specialty jewelry brand in the United States featuring engagement rings, timepieces, and designer collections. They offer services including watch & jewelry repair, resizing, diamond upgrades & trade-ins, and jewelry cleaning & inspection.
  • Shoe Show – The latest in brand-name footwear and fashion. Shop women’s shoes, men’s shoes, kids’ shoes, boots, heels, sandals, handbags, and more.
  • TJ Maxx – The best place to save on style. From brand-name apparel and shoes to accessories, makeup, and more – TJ Maxx has it all, and at a discounted price so you can wear the latest trends without breaking your budget.

Home Improvements

  • Walmart Supercenter – America’s favorite superstore. Save on indoor and patio furniture, artwork and frames, and tools to get your spring garden in the best shape possible.
  • Mattress Firm – Great service for great sleep. Choose from a wide array of own-brand spring, memory foam, and adjustable mattresses. After you make your purchase, Mattress Firm will deliver your new bed right to your door and set it up free of charge.

Specialties Stores

  • Dick’s Sporting Goods – Find top brands, gear, and great deals for your sport. Dick’s carries all the equipment you need for everything from North Carolina trout fishing to hiking, swimming, and even golf.
  • Jo Ann Fabrics – The largest assortment of fabric, sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet, jewelry, and other crafts under one roof. Stock up on scrapbooking materials and capture those unforgettable family memories. Have a craft night with friends and make some Do-It-Yourself décor.
  • PetSmart – More than just a pet supply store. PetSmart offers quality products and accessories for a healthier, happier pet. Take your dog or cat to one of their academy-trained, safety-certified groomers for a light trim, a relaxing bath, or a deep moisturizing regimen for silkier fur.

Tucked away in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Morganton is a fun place that is full of history. Morganton was named after Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, a hero of the American Revolutionary war. The city was first named Morgansborough and changed to Morgantown before it finally became Morganton. Archaeologists discovered a historic Native American town known as Joara less than ten miles from downtown Morganton, occupied from 1400-1600 A.D. Morganton is also the setting of Master of the World, of the last novels written by French science fiction writer Jules Verne. The book describes Morganton as Verne saw it in the late 19th century.

Morganton Heights is one of the many fun places to visit in Morganton North Carolina. Dine, shop, and treat yourself to the perfect spring evening. If you’re looking for brand names at an affordable price, look no further than Morganton Heights. 

Morganton is just a twenty-minute drive from The Coves Mountain River Club. We are a vibrant mountain community who provide our residents with the perfect balance between rustic comfort and endless activities set against a picturesque landscape. We know our homegrown paradise is one of the best gated communities near Asheville you find. Why not come take a tour?

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.

Tags: Morganton | Shopping & Antique Hunting

Healthy Home Market Opens in Lenoir NC


Hey Lenoir, are you getting fresh with us? It sure looks that way now that you’ve welcomed one of our favorite health food stores to the neighborhood! We couldn’t believe our luck when we discovered the new Healthy Home Market right there at 1208 Hickory Boulevard.

On behalf of all the nutrition buffs, frugal foodies, and eco-friendly shoppers in Lenoir, we couldn’t be happier to have this specialty store located right in the heart of it all. Shopping at this family-owned grocer and full-service natural health store is sure to become one of our favorite things to do in Lenoir NC.

Healthy Home Market has four stores in Charlotte and neighboring mountain towns in North Carolina. Branded “Farm 2 Family Foods” (or “FF2F”), this newest location in Lenoir features all the same great offerings local health-conscious shoppers have come to love – gluten-free, organic, and special-diet foods, fresh deli cuts, smoothie bar, extensive bulk food section, vitamins and supplements, and locally brewed cold draft beers – plus an expanded selection of fresh produce and meats, all of which makes the Lenoir location the largest of the four stores.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the cool things we discovered as we sampled and shopped our way through the February 2017 grand opening of the Lenoir FF2F store:

Buying in Bulk

Of all the awesome offerings we explored, this one’s definitely worth writing home about. After all, bulk shopping is what Healthy Home Market is known for. When founders Betty and Jerry York opened their first store in 1979, it was a bulk supply shop known as The Home Economist. Today their business has grown into the Healthy Home Market chain we know today. But these family-focused health food stores maintain their strong ties to the community and their commitment to all things locally owned and locally grown.

Why is buying in bulk so popular? According to the staff at HHM, there are tons of great reasons! First of all, bulk shopping is a money-saver. Whether it’s “a pound or a pinch,” you only buy what you need. This personal portion control not only helps you budget, it keeps you from buying extra food that ends up going to waste.

Bulk buying also helps eliminate excess packaging. How many times have we bought a big bag of chips only to find there’s mostly air inside? That’ll never happen with bulk shopping. What you see is what you get! And if that’s not reason enough to bulk it up, think about the good you’re doing the planet by keeping landfills free of all that excess packaging.

The F2FF bulk department is the largest in the area with hundreds of items to choose from. They’ve got a fabulous assortment of baking ingredients, grains, beans, legumes, spices and herbs, dried fruit, coffees, teas, popcorn, snack mixes, and all kinds of pantry staples. There’s also a machine for grinding your own preservative-free nut butters. And when you fill up on local honeys and syrups, be sure to save your container to bring back for refills – another great way to go green!

The Main Squeeze

When you’re browsing through the delectable deli, be sure to sample the smoothies or enjoy a shot of wheat grass at The Main Squeeze juice bar. Pick your favorite smoothie or fresh-prepared juices. They’re fresh, healthy, delicious, and made-to-order for you to grab and go. They’ll even add a dash of protein or a dropper of vitamins to up the nutritional value of your tasty juice drink.

Meet your Meat Cutters

Tom, Mike, and Craig run the F2FF meat department. These friendly and knowledgeable meat cutters are more than happy to help you plan your meal, and they’ll even educate you on how to make the best selections from among a wide array of quality grass-fed beef, fresh seafood, pork, poultry, and even organic meats.

Need an Extra Boost? 

When you’re looking for products that cleanse, nourish, and replenish, the dedicated wellness staff can help you select top-quality wellness products, including vitamins, natural remedies, herbal supplements, essential oils, incense, and candles. The vitamin department stocks your choice of vegan, vegetarian, or animal-produced proteins. And supplements come in liquid, tablet, and powder forms. There’s even a homeopathic section that features Boiron products, Beach Flower Essences, Rescue Remedies, and a variety of gentle and safe products from industry names you know and trust.

We could go on and on! And, in fact, on the day of the Lenoir store’s grand opening we did go on and on – through bin after bin of dried cereals and grains, shelf after shelf of delectable condiments and dressings, row after row of fresh artisanal pastas and breads, and a whole range of grab-and-go snacks, sweet treats and protein bars. Then there were the beverages – What a fantastic selection of wines, local craft beers, juices, flavored mineral waters, and soft drinks. The kind you don’t find at your average grocery store!

This was one grand opening we’ll never forget. We came for the ribbon cutting, the raffles, the discounts and the goody bags. But we stayed for the amazing shopping experience. And we’ll be coming back week after week to stock up on fresh, healthy delicious foods that live up to the healthy lifestyle standards we’ve become accustomed to living in the mountain towns in North Carolina.

It’s true, we couldn’t believe our luck when the new HHM opened up in Lenoir. And according to HHM, the feeling is mutual. Their marketing director called Lenoir “the perfect place to expand our Healthy Home Market brand,” and we think we know why…

Those of us who live in Lenoir – like so many others living in mountain towns in North Carolina – are people with a passion for healthy living. We value physical fitness, and we get plenty of it in the great outdoors. We tend to be financially smart, socially conscious, and eco-friendly. And while we welcome all our neighbors with open arms, we have a special fondness for fun-loving foodies with an appreciation for good music, good food, good beer (preferably a local craft brew), and good friends! Because if there’s anything better than gathering friends and neighbors together to share the best life has to offer, we can’t think what it is.

When it’s time to make a move to the mountains, take a tip from us and tour The Coves Mountain River Club. If you value health and wellness, The Coves has got you covered. With a year-round schedule of heart-pumping activities (including yoga Mondays), plus a landscape with endless paths for dog-walking, horseback riding, biking, and hiking (elevations ranging from 1,000 to 1,700 feet), and a state-of-the art fitness facility, outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, this popular gated community with riverfront living and spectacular views of Lenoir’s majestic mountains represents the best of North Carolina mountain real estate… not to mention it’s the perfect place to enjoy those retirement years, living the peaceful, healthful, relaxing-but-active life we’ve all been dreaming of.

The Coves is ideally located in Lenoir, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge foothills, where nature meets luxury living. And did we mention there’s a Healthy Home Market in town?

Call us at 828.754.0700 to schedule your visit to this gorgeous mountain community. And we’ll point you in the direction of the F2FF juice bar, where you can treat yourself to a protein smoothie to celebrate your decision to follow your mountain living dream!

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84-page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide, which gives you more information about living in the foothills.

Tags: Lenoir | Shopping & Antique Hunting

Retail Therapy in Hickory NC

vintage jewelry WNC

Relaxation, escape, entertainment, and rejuvenation. When asked to identify the benefits of mountain living, these answers often come out on top. According to researchers who study the psychology of marketing, they’re the same things that top the list of “the positive effects of retail therapy.” Or, to put it another way, the happiness you experience by living in the mountains is a lot like the happiness you feel when shopping.

We’re no scientists, but that sort of thought-provoking formula leads us to only one conclusion… We should all go shopping in the mountains! What better way to double your happiness quotient? And these days, we can all use a little extra happiness.

Well, guess what, science! We’re a step ahead of you. We’ve already scoped out the shopping scene in the mountain towns in North Carolina. And our research points us time and again to one of our favorites – Hickory, NC.

Hickory’s city officials use the phrase “small town values with big city drive” when describing this charming mountain oasis that’s managed to maintain its rich history and down-home warmth even as it’s grown to become the country’s most sprawling metro area, the “retail hub of the foothills,” and home to the largest shopping mall in the region.

A three-time winner of the All-American Cities Award, and the 10th best place to live in the United States according to Reader’s Digest, Hickory is best known for its finely crafted American-made furniture. But, more and more, Hickory is becoming known as a favorite Blue Ridge destination thanks to its seasonal art, music, and food festivals, its vibrant night life, Art Walk, Farmer’s Market, and a fabulous line-up of cafés, restaurants, and craft beer pubs and breweries. This town also comes with a special events calendar that’s nonstop packed with fun things to do in Hickory North Carolina.

But our favorite thing to do in Hickory is shop! And, now that we have scientific proof of its therapeutic benefits, let’s get started. Here are some of our favorite retail destinations in Hickory, NC. Grab your holiday shopping list, and make your way downtown. There are plenty of seasonal specials this time of year. But this town’s treasure trove of shopping options is enough to satisfy shoppers year-round: 

ELLA BLU (214 Union Square NW)        

This is the go-to boutique for fashionistas living in Hickory and the surrounding mountain towns in North Carolina. But the global appeal of Ella Blu extends far beyond the Blue Ridge. “It’s still my favorite store and I live in Dubai,” says one online reviewer, “I can’t wait to come back and do some power shopping!” Ella Blu keeps its inventory constantly updated by visiting trunk shows and fashion events across the country, then hand-selecting the hottest clothing, jewelry, shoes, and accessories. There’s even a consignment section that features gently used high-end fashion finds. Shoppers love the unique inventory of chic clothing and accessories at affordable prices. And they rave about the friendly one-on-one customer service Ella Blu.            

THE NATURAL OLIVE (216 Union Square NW)            

Have you ever walked into a charming Italian olive oil store where your senses are treated to the vibrant tastes and aromas of infused oils, bright balsamic vinegars, and fresh-baked warm ciabatta breads? That’s the experience The Natural Oil brings to Downtown Hickory in their Tuscany-inspired store with its canister-lined wood shelves, old knotted floors, and high ceilings, accented with mood lighting and piped-in Italian music. This place is heaven for the senses. Or as the Natural Olive calls it, “a fun, taste-inspiring experience” where you sample, smell, and sip your way through 50 varieties of fresh oils on tap before choosing your favorites to take home in a bottle that’s corked and sealed just for you. There are featured favorites and seasonal selections, and owner Noelle Walker is happy to share her knowledge of each hand-selected product. You can also find sauces, spices, pastas, cookbooks, home goods, and oil-based soaps and skincare products at this elegantly rustic Italian shop.      

TURNIP THE ARTS (266 First Avenue NW)       

The name is as clever as the shop. This charming gallery of hand-crafted goodies offers a creative mix of gifts, art and events. It’s conveniently located in the heart of Hickory and nestled among some of the area’s best loved restaurants. Turnip the Arts brings its own flavor to Fifth Avenue with a dash of the eclectic. This gallery shows and sells handmade artwork by local, regional, and national artists. Gifts for sale include pottery, woodwork, glass work, jewelry, metal work, paintings, photography, fiber art, and a variety of soaps, lotions and candles. If you’re someone who enjoys “Makin’ the Arts,” they offer a series by that name, which offers classes in jewelry and craft-making. They also offer paint parties, culinary arts classes, and other fun instructional events. With Turnip the Arts in town, you never run out of creative things to do in Hickory North Carolina

BISANAR JEWELER (226 Union Square NW)   

This is not your typical jewelry store. The Bisanar Company upholds a long tradition of excellence dating back to 1896 when Dr. George Bisanar first opened the doors for business. Well over a century later, Bisanar is known as “the highest quality jeweler in North Carolina.” They maintain an antique and estate collection that features Edwardian, Victorian, art nouveau, art deco, retro, and plique à jour jewelry. The designer collection features pearls, diamonds, and other precious gemstones set in platinum, gold, and sterling by acclaimed designers, including Scott Kay, Mikimoto, and Alex Sepkus. Bisanar also has an impressive line of fine Swiss watches from names like Rayond Weil, Mont Blanc, and Cyma. In addition to jewelry, shoppers will enjoy browsing special occasion gifts, including designer evening bags and accessories, as well as fine crystal, silver, and porcelain from top-of-the-line brands, including Towle, Waterford, Lenox, Lunt, Reed & Barton, Cybis, and Boehm. The offerings here are extensive, but shoppers will never feel overwhelmed because at The Bisanar Company, “exemplary customer service is still the number one priority.”     

How’s that for a relaxing and rejuvenating retail therapy session! And that’s just a small sampling of what awaits you on the Downtown Hickory shopping scene. There’s plenty to more to explore. Hickory is chock-full of shops to help you check all the items off your holiday shopping list: clothing, jewelry, gifts, arts, crafts, wines, camping and sporting goods, and a whole lot more.

We all know the saying When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. But in our view (from the beautiful Blue Ridge), we’d like to offer an alternative for an even happier lifestyle: When the going gets tough, the tough go to the mountains…. AND go shopping!

When you’re ready to up your happiness quotient, look no further than the mountains of Western North Carolina. You’ll find Smoky Mountain land for sale that’s surrounded by spectacularly scenic landscape and with access to an abundance of shops, restaurants, live music, art, and seasonal festivals and activities all in the Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area.

We recommend you start your search at The Coves Mountain River Club in Lenoir NC. The beautiful historic town of Lenoir is just a quick drive from Hickory, and it’s one of the most charming mountain towns in North Carolina. When you settle into a home at The Coves in Lenoir, you’re treating yourself to a rare combination of mountain and river living with five miles of pristine river footage, spectacular scenic mountain views, and amenities for days.

Call us at 828.754.0700 to schedule your visit. We’ll be happy to point you in the direction of all the best shopping so you can combine your tour of The Coves with a healthy dose of retail therapy.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.

Tags: Hickory | Shopping & Antique Hunting

Bargain Hunting at Tanger Outlet Mall in Blowing Rock

Shopping at Outlet Malls

Mountain living has long been cherished for its simplicity and solitude. It’s the ideal lifestyle for those of us who prefer the joys of uncomplicated nature to the noise and bluster of the big city. But even while we enjoy the quiet life in our Carolina mountain homes, we still have an appreciation for big-city style and fashion. After all, it only makes sense that the inspiration we find in the beauty and comfort of our daily surroundings extends to a love of beauty and comfort in our fashion as well.  

Who knows better than a mountain lover how to dress in durable but stylish clothing? As avid hikers, we know the value of a good boot that’s both comfortable and fabulous. We understand how to layer our way through all four seasons. We’re experts in finding good-looking gear for hiking, fishing, horseback riding, skiing, and all our favorite outdoor activities. Best of all, we know how to pull together an outfit that can take us from a savory brunch with friends in Lenoir to an afternoon art crawl in Hickory to an evening of live music in Morganton. And we know the one place where we can find clothing and accessories from the labels we love for all of the above – Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock NC.

Located at the southwest quadrant of the Blue Ridge Parkway and US Hwy 321, this popular Blowing Rock shopping destination features a variety of brand-name and designer outlet stores. It’s big enough that you’ll get your fill of shopping, but compact enough for you to explore from end to end in one outing. Customers give high marks to this location’s friendly customer service, and they rave about the special deals and discounts. We like the interactive map on the mall’s web site. And thanks to free Wi-Fi available throughout the center, you can pull up the easy-to-use map on your phone and let it guide you through your day of shopping.

Let’s face it. If you’re coming Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock NC, chances are you’re here for the clothes or mountain home furnishings! So let’s start there. As you stroll through store after store of the latest fashions, you’ll find big savings on designer labels and brand names from all your favorites, including J. Crew, Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, LOFT, Van Heusen, Bass, White House Black Market Chico’s, Banana Republic, Wilson’s Leather, Levi’s, and Gap. And for the kids, there’s Gymboree, Oshkosh B’Gosh, and Carter’s Babies and Kids. Trust us, you will never pay full price at any of these stores.

But if you’re looking to score even steeper discounts, just pull up that interactive map on your phone, and link to the special deals and coupons that you can find right there in real time. Need help? Just visit Tanger Shopper Services located right there in the center of the mall. The friendly Tanger associates will help you find what you’re looking for, and they’ll even let you in on how to get some exclusive offers, coupons, and gift cards to get even more out of your shopping experience.  

If you haven’t worked up an appetite by this point, we’d be surprised! Now that you’ve finished in the fitting rooms and picked out all your favorite fashions, it’s time to load your shopping bags in the car and head back inside for lunch at Cheeseburgers Grille located conveniently inside the mall. This local family favorite has soups, salads, sandwiches, hot dogs and, of course, hot-off-the-grill burgers to satisfy your taste buds and re-energize you for the rest of your shopping expedition.

So let’s get back to it! We haven’t even tackled the sporting goods and specialty shops yet. There’s a Vitamin World, a Kitchen Collection, and side by side at one end of the mall are Board Paradise and the new Sports Fanatics. Both are fully stocked with discounted gear and equipment for all kinds of activities, weather, and terrain. We could spend hours at these two stores alone, trying out a variety of rods and reels, or buying a new set of skateboard wheels. Those of us with Carolina mountain homes like to stock up on the latest gear for hiking, biking, fishing, and all the invigorating activities that come with mountain living. Because when we’re finished enjoying a day of Blowing Rock shopping, we’re ready to get back to the great outdoors. 

Those of us heading back to The Coves Mountain River Club –  just 23 miles away from Tanger Outlet Mall –  are lucky enough to live in a NC mountain real estate community with five miles of frontage along the Johns River, where well-stocked waters and pristine views of Grandfather Mountain add up to a perfect day. Living in such close proximity to Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock NC, where we can buy all the essentials for all four seasons of mountain-river living – from waterproof footwear, fleece hoodies, and insulated gloves to t-shirts, tennis shoes, and sunglasses all at discount prices – is just one of the many great benefits of life at The Coves. It’s a peaceful, secluded Blue Ridge oasis with easy access to outlet-mall merchandise to enhance the mountain experience.

Are you ready to experience the best of both worlds? Mountains plus river? Seclusion plus shopping? Rich lifestyle plus bargain shopping? Drop us a line to let us know you’re coming, and we’ll be happy to show you some of the finest NC mountain real estate we call The Coves Mountain River Club. Call us at 828.754.0700.  

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page Complimentary Magazine.

Tags: Blowing Rock | Shopping & Antique Hunting

WNC Cheese Trail – Farm to Table Deliciousness

WNC Cheese TrailAttention curd nerds, cheese buffs, and foodies. It’s time to wake up and smell the gouda. As the glorious mountain sunrise emerges on the horizon to light up the beautiful mountain towns in North Carolina, it’s time to celebrate cheese season. Time to visit the friendly family of independent dairy farmers, creameries, and cheese makers in your favorite western NC mountain communities. And there’s no better path to cheesy goodness than the WNC Cheese Trail, one of the area’s tastiest attractions.

What’s the WNC Cheese Trail? It’s an innovative approach to connecting local cheese makers with enthusiastic cheese lovers. This one-of-a-kind tasty tour of cheese-tastic businesses blaze a delectable trail through the Blue Ridge mountains and across the beautiful countryside to create the perfect cheddar-lovin’ experience.

Introduced in 2012 by a group of dedicated cheese makers intent on raising awareness about the fabulous local cheeses being made right here in mountain towns in North Carolina, the WNC Cheese Trail has grown in both size and reputation over the years. Today, the trail spans across 33 counties, extending from I-77 to the western border of NC, and includes dozens of member organizations, including creameries, restaurants, breweries, inns, cheese shops, and farmers’ markets. The WNC Cheese Trail provides you with a treasure map that leads to each of these local businesses that support the industry. Just follow the map to find your favorite places for browsing, sampling, observing, tasting, and learning how cheeses are produced. And don’t be shy about buying a few favorites to bring back home.

The WNC Cheese Trail is open year-round, and since it’s virtually impossible to hit all the hot spots on the trail in one day, we recommend planning to stay a while and keep coming back for more. Some of the stops along the WNC Cheese Trail are located in or near Lenoir, which is also home to The Coves Mountain River Club. Why not combine your Cheese Trail experience with a closer look at our gated mountain community nestled in the foothills that combines rustic mountain living with some of the best outdoor amenities, including a neighborhood vineyard and garden. Just imagine sipping your own brand of wine – harvested, stomped, and aged right in your own backyard – with some crisp local fruit and a fresh creamery cheese you picked up while venturing along the WNC Cheese Trail.

The dairy closest to The Coves is the Ripshin Goat Dairy, located right along the Yadkin River in Happy Valley. Inspired by goat dairies in France as well as the historic Carl Sandburg Farm in Flat Rock, NC, this local family-owned operation once produced hand-made farmstead cheeses, including herbed chevre (using fresh herbs straight from their own gardens), goat milk feta, farmer’s cheese, and on special occasions, chocolate goat cheese truffles. Now retired, these cheese makers have turned their contemporary dairy building into a mixed-use facility, which is now used by bakers, pickle-makers, and jam and jelly makers. But they invite you to come for a tour, and say hello to their multi-generational herd of American Saanen dairy goats who enjoy grazing along 20 acres of woods and pasture on this beautiful NC dairy farm.

Plan to visit Ripshin Goat Dairy (1865 Hwy 268, Lenoir, NC) as part of your WNC Cheese Trail experience. But call ahead to schedule your tour, where you’ll meet the goats, learn about goat husbandry, and basic cheese making (828-758-0906). To purchase cheeses to take back to The Coves, be sure to stop at one of the active dairy farms, shops, and creameries along the WNC Cheese Trail, including:

        Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery
327 Flat Creek Road, Fairview, NC
(Call ahead: 828-551-5739 )

        English Farmstead Cheese

19456 US 221 North, Marion, NC
(Open Fri & Sat, 10am – 6pm)

        Looking Glass Creamery

57 Noble Rd., Fairview, NC
(Open Year Round: Thu 3pm – 7pm, Fri & Sat 11am – 5pm)

        Mountain Farm

3001 Halls Chapel Rd., Burnsville, NC
(Open Year Round: 1st Sat of the month 10am – 5pm)

        Oakmoon Farm &  Creamery
262 Baker Lane, Bakersville, NC
(Farm stand open Thu & Fri 2pm – 5:30pm, Sat 9am – 5pm)

        Round Mountain Creamery
2203 Old Fort Rd., Black Mountain, NC
(Open Year Round. Call ahead: 828-669-0718)

        Spinning Spider Creamery
4717 East Fork Rd, Marshall, NC  28753
(Open May-Dec, Fri-Sun 12noon – 4pm)

        Yellow Branch Cheese and Pottery

1073 Old Yellow Branch Rd., Robbinsville, NC
(Open Apr-Dec, Tue-Sat 12noon – 5pm)

WNC Cheese Trail tours and visits are open on varying schedules throughout the year. But summertime offers special events you won’t want to miss. Last month, the Second Annual Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest took place on April 24th at Highland Brewing in Asheville. This lively festival celebrated the best of southern cheese and benefits the WNC Cheese Trail (a 501c6 organization). Attendees senses were indulged as they watched the process of cheese making, learn about pairings, taste the products, touch the animals, chat with the cheese makers, and the lucky were able to buy a few of their favorite flavors to take back to The Coves.

After enjoying the Cheese Trail and or a Cheese Fest experience, don’t be surprised if your friends and neighbors at The Coves Mountain River Club are wow’d by your cheese prowess and impressed by your choice to support these small independent cheese makers. And when you pair a few of their locally grown gourmet cheeses with the wines made from your home-grown grapes as you share a perfect Blue Ridge sunset with friends from your side-by-side handcrafted rocking chairs on the porch of Pisgah Mountain Lodge, you’ll wonder why you didn’t move here years ago.

This is living! This is the life! Of all the charming NC mountain communities, we know The Coves Mountain River Club is the perfect pairing of mountain and river living. Why not make The Coves your forever home. Visit our beautiful community found in the foothills of Lenoir. Invite your friends along to enjoy a unique mountain adventure on the WNC Cheese Trail, and you’re sure to melt their hearts like a creamy fondue.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.

Tags: Shopping & Antique Hunting