One of the best towns in the North Carolina High Country to visit in the fall is West Jefferson. The town of West Jefferson was awarded NC Small Town Award of Merit in 2013 for its beautiful streetscape design. It is rare to fine a downtown these days that doesn’t have red lights and power lines, but instead is dotted with festive flowers, murals and a high appreciation of the Arts. Here is our itinerary for a day trip to West Jefferson:
1. View St. Mary’s Church Frescoes
Visit this church as you turn into town and view the beautiful frescoes painted by internationally acclaimed artist Ben Long. In St. Mary’s Church your will find: “Mary Great with Child,” “John the Baptist” and “Mystery of Faith.” There is a button on the wall you can push as you enter the church to hear a short description of the frescoes and their meanings. The church is always open to the public and is free of charge with donations accepted.
2. Visit Ashe County Arts Council
Visit the beautiful rock building built in 1938 and view the latest gallery show. All gallery shows are free to the public but donations are accepted. The front of the building houses a gift shop featuring the works of local artists. While you are there, pick up a brochure on the Murals of Downtown West Jefferson.
3. Ashe County Cheese Factory
Walk to Ashe County Cheese from the Arts Council. The factory is the oldest cheese factory in the Carolina’s! Visit the factory viewing room, have your photo taken by the trademark milk cows and get some famous cheese curds and a glass bottle of soda from the factory store to snack on while you walk around town.
4. Downtown Murals Walking Tour
View the 12 murals located throughout the town that showcase the history, culture and beauty of the mountain region. Maps are available at the Ashe County Arts Council.
5. Lunch at Hotel Tavern
Grab lunch at the Historic Hotel Tavern and view photos of the towns history. The tavern is located in the town’s former hotel situated by the former railroad depot of the Virginia Creeper!
6. Florence Thomas Art School Gallery Exhibits
Stop by the Art School and view works by the areas impressionist artist, Florence Thomas, who lived to the age of 98. The gallery features rotating exhibits open free to the public.
7. Boondocks Brewery & Tap Room
Finish off your day with a refreshing local brew that can only be found in the tap room. The brewery also keeps around 30 brews on tap with a heavy focus on North Carolina craft beers.