For the past eight months, social-distancing has meant a lot of time at or near the house and we, like a lot of people, were looking for a change of scenery. With Covid-19 infection rates rising , a lot of consideration went into our plans. To make this outing a stress-free as possible, we decided on a day trip and happily landed in Saluda, North Carolina this past Saturday.
How to Get There
Only around 30 miles from Greenville, Saluda is an easy trip. Apple maps gave us the option of the highway route towards Hendersonville or a more scenic route past the Greenville Watershed. As we had no real time constraints, we chose the scenic path and were not disappointed. The Fall leaves were beginning to turn and except for a few bikers, the route for the most part was devoid of traffic.
As an added bonus, the Gran Fondo Hincapie was being held. While we luckily missed the bulk of the bike traffic, we did get see what was going to be a huge bike event on the route George Hincapie traveled when training for the Tour de France.
After a really nice 45 minute drive, we made a last turn and found ourselves looking at main street Saluda. The downtown district is on the National Register of Historic Places and you can feel yourself slowing down as you enter the town. The quiet sidewalk lined with stores and restaurants is incredibly inviting and walking along Main Street was a perfect way to unwind after a busy week.
Our first stop in Saluda was at Wakey Monkey for some coffee and a quick snack. With homemade pastries and delicious coffee, this was the perfect spot to start our day in town. In a really cool move towards supporting local, Wakey Monkey sources their eggs, kale & sprouts from Saluda when available. There is lot’s of indoor seating and a few outside tables that make it a great spot.
Properly caffeinated, we then set off to check out the Historic Thompson’s Store–the oldest grocery store in the state of North Carolina! Founded in 1890, and moved to its current location in 1940, the market hosts a full-service meat market, deli, a huge selection of wine, beer, cheese, and fresh produce. The market shares space with Ward’s Grill where you can grab a hearty breakfast, or a quick lunch and enjoy a very cool throw-back vibe.
After Thompson’s, we headed down the street and visited the many galleries and stores that dot main street. While not a big place, main street Saluda offers a lot of variety and our relaxing morning quickly passed.
Lunch at Azalea Bistro
One of the reasons we chose Saluda was to try the Azalea Bistro, a Low Country Cuisine and French Bistro from James Beard nominee Garrett Tallent and General manager Emma Tallent. We had heard great things and were not disappointed! Our meals were incredible with each coming with a side of Truffle Parmesan Frites that are worth the trip to Saluda alone. Reservations are probably a good idea for dinner so call ahead – 828-769-9022 – to make sure you get your table. Here’s the menu so you can plan ahead.
Our day in Saluda was a perfect escape from what is generously called the new normal. Covid-19 safety measures were very apparent and we felt safe in all of the shops and businesses we visited. It was great to get away and even though we were back at home before dark, we felt as though we had been on a mini-vacation. I highly recommend that you visit this beautiful little gem right in our backyard, it will do you good!
Looking for a Bit of Adventure?
While we didn’t go on a Zip Line tour on this trip, we did stop in and talk to the people at The Gorge Zipline. The staff was super helpful and explained that they also run rafting tours out of the Saluda location as well. Rafting is seasonal but Zip Line tours run all year and after watching their video, we will be back to try this tour!
Small Towns Need Out Help Too!
Saluda is the epitome of locally-owned as we didn’t see any chains during our visit and like everywhere, their small businesses need support. Most shops open around 11am and the Saluda Visitor Center opens daily to assist you as well as you plan your day in town. A full business directory can be found here.