West Jefferson: A Small Town with Big Personality

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Nestled cozily within the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains, West Jefferson, NC is a small mountain town bursting at its seams with huge personality. Surrounded by a seemingly endless supply of outdoor attractions, artistic and educational venues, and shops to satisfy practically any impulse purchase⁠—this western North Carolina town remains a top pick for both transient vacationers and distant onlookers seeking to lay roots in their future forever home. No matter the reason for your trip to West Jefferson, you will not be disappointed. Let’s take a moment to learn more about this quaint little town. Read on to discover just what makes it one of Ashe County’s best places to be!

The History of West Jefferson

Like many of its surrounding sister towns, West Jefferson became incorporated in 1909 around the Virginia-Carolina Railroad depot. Prior to the construction of the railroad and town, itself, there was a meager community presence. The nearby valley (resting between Mount Jefferson and Paddy Mountain) was known for its cherry tree orchards. These orchards became a source of focus for the farming families.

Land Grants and City Limits

The earliest official property ownership within the valley area (that would later become West Jefferson) took place in 1779. This was approximately when Governor Richard Caswell of North Carolina permitted 320 acres of land to be given to an American pioneer and NC soldier named Ben Cleveland. Interesting fact: Colonel Cleveland was renowned for participating in the Battle of Kings Mountain against the invading British! Further, he was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons in 1778, as well as the North Carolina Senate in 1779.

Over a century later in 1915 following Colonel Cleveland’s receipt of the land grant, an organization known as the West Jefferson Land Company began surveying the area. They established parameters for the burgeoning town and established the city limits to be a square one-half mile north, south, east, and west of the Virginia-Carolina Depot. From there, the town of West Jefferson became officially chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1915. The area’s initial commercial growth stemmed from the railroad’s freight routes, in addition to the establishment of the First National Bank of West Jefferson in 1915.

Industrial Decline and Tourist Appeal

Although the railroad generated quite a lot of jobs and opportunities for newcomers of the West Jefferson area initially, there was a decline in freight usage that led to the steady loss of jobs. Additionally, smaller textile factory jobs became outsourced to less expensive foreign markets, which only exacerbated the unemployment situation.

Fortunately, the frontrunners of West Jefferson, Ashe County were a tenacious and adaptable bunch. (And still are, to be honest!) Due to the natural beauty and appeal of the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwest North Carolina, West Jefferson’s economy was able to take an effortless turn towards the tourism industry. As out-of-state sightseers flocked to the Appalachian Mountains for a solitary retreat from the stressors of their typical work life, word spread. And it spread quickly. Fast forward to today, and the real estate market has only continued to boom as cabins, housing developments, and commercial real estate opportunities spearhead the continued growth of this winsome town.

Things to Do in West Jefferson

Small mountain towns are a dime a dozen, especially along the Appalachian Mountains. If you’re looking for a nature-driven hideaway from the hustle and bustle of modern day living, you’ll find that this part of the country is in no short supply of options. However, unlike many other tiny boroughs that either transform into crowded, buzzing cities or fade away into obscurity, West Jefferson has managed to stand out from the crowd since its inception in 1915. Whether you’re seeking solace within North Carolina’s captivating High Country or planning a big move to the area, here are some of our favorite things to do in West Jefferson, North Carolina.

Parkway Theater

Who doesn’t enjoy a leisurely outing to the cinema? Whether you’re looking for a hangout spot with friends or crafting plans for a romantic evening with the significant other, attending a movie is nearly always part of the recipe for a good time! For West Jefferson in particular, you will be hard pressed to find a much more engaging, family-friendly source of entertainment. Locally owned and operated, the Parkway Theater offers great ticket prices, comfortable seats that recline, outstanding video projection and sound quality, and a highly attentive, cheerful staff. What’s not to love? For the best movie-going experience in the High Country, you’ve got to check out the Parkway Theater at 10 E. Main Street in West Jefferson, NC.

Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

If your idea of a good time involves basking in the great outdoors while you power through a scenic hike, then Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is an absolute must-see! This North Carolina state park boasts 1,154 acres of land at 1481 Mt. Jefferson State Park Road, so there is plenty to experience here. Further, most of the paths are fit for fido. So bring the entire family for a gorgeous day of taking in the mountain view, soaking up the warmth of the sun, and breathing in that fresh, crisp air!

If hiking is not quite up your alley, don’t write off this state park just yet. There are three outlooks that you can drive to if you’d rather take in the mountainous view of Jefferson from a distance. The trails are generally considered to be between easy and moderate to traverse. If you’re even the slightest bit apprehensive, don’t despair. This is a wonderful place for beginners to start off slowly and work their way up to more challenging routes. Regardless of whether you’re one who wants to experience the biodiversity up close or would much prefer a casual picnic without ever hitting the trails, Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is a true gem of the Appalachians you won’t want to miss.

CatchLight Gallery

Not everyone wants to worry about sunscreen and bug repellent during their day trip to West Jefferson. If you’re in this camp, you can rest assured that this town has far more to offer than just the stunning outdoors (although that’s a good enough reason for many to flock here). If you’re more on the creative side, West Jefferson is known for its bustling downtown district. In particular, it possesses a fairly robust art scene unlike many of its sister towns. If you’ve got an eye for fine art or creative works, you will not be disappointed by the art galleries here!

CatchLight Gallery is one such venue that carries the town’s arts district. As you meander through the enchanting downtown area, you’ll find this inviting photography gallery at 118 N. Jefferson Avenue in West Jefferson. Most of the photographic art on display is captured by local North Carolina artists. If you’re on the lookout for a phenomenal gift for friends, family, or yourself, this is the place for you. Displays are rotated relatively regularly, and CatchLight’s website features two artists every single month! So if you’re not already following a lot of local creative minds, you might just find yourself digging deeper into the hobby as a result of your experience with CatchLight.

Places to Eat & Shop in West Jefferson

One of the appealing aspects of North Carolina is the sheer variety of things to do, places to explore, and ways to engage with your environment. For some, that predominantly means hiking, skiing, fishing, and corralling friends around some sort of outdoor festival (of which there are many in this neck of the woods). For others, the preference might be that the fun times with friends occur in a place that has air conditioning. Fair enough! If you’ve been waffling on whether or not West Jefferson will have enough indoor opportunities for good times, don’t you worry. Delicious eateries and adorable shops abound here! Let’s dive into a couple of options that will get you and the family out of that AirBnB and into the West Jefferson community. No hiking boots required!

Ashe County Cheese

Founded in 1930, the Ashe County Cheese factory is North Carolina’s oldest cheese plant. And would you believe that it can be found right here in West Jefferson? Located at 106 E. Main Street, this establishment produces high quality cheeses and attracts patrons from far and wide! In addition to selling over 20 varieties of original Ashe County cheese, this venue also offers homemade butters, fudge, and cheese curds. Yum!

If you’re looking for something to accompany your fancy new cheeses, they’ve got you covered on that front as well. Ashe County Cheese also sells locally made wines, old fashioned snacks, and a variety of candies. This is the perfect place to grab some food and a gift or souvenir for a loved one! If you’re set on making a day of your excursion here, you can take everything a step further and actually watch the process of cheese making. Don’t forget to check their schedule, though! During specific windows of time, Ashe County Cheese allows guests to observe them making their delectable cheeses from a viewing area. Talk about fun for the entire family! You won’t want to miss this during your next visit to West Jefferson, NC.

Antiques On Main

If you love to shop but also value a bargain, West Jefferson has the perfect place for you. Antiques On Main is essentially a gigantic antique mall, featuring several smaller shops inside. From furniture to home decor to works of art and practical pieces like kitchenware—there is something for everyone here at Antiques On Main. No matter what sort of antique(s) you’re seeking, this venue more than likely has what you need. Prices are considered to be exceptionally reasonable, and this mall is known for having some of the most inviting and knowledgeable staff around! If you need an opinion or want some general advice, you won’t find a better batch of folks than the staff at Antiques On Main. Discover your next priceless piece of home decor here! This is a place you must visit when you’re in West Jefferson. Find them conveniently located at 842 S. Jefferson Avenue!

Black Jack’s Pub & Grill

Once you’re done exploring the NC outdoors and shopping ‘til you drop at the plentiful stores and shops in the heart of West Jefferson, you’re going to need to refuel. The downtown area is fit to bust with mouthwatering restaurants and eateries. A local favorite is Black Jack’s Pub & Grill at 18 N. Jefferson Avenue. The first time you step foot in this place, you’ll quickly learn why it sees so many returning diners! This laid-back, down-home restaurant serves handmade hamburgers, wings, and other delicious, hearty food. If you need something to wash it all down, you’ll find it here, too! The bar offers a variety of cocktails and beverages to satisfy your mood and complement your meal choice. Overall, the stellar service, relaxing ambiance, and enticing food at Black Jack’s Pub & Grill will undoubtedly have you coming back for more! Don’t miss it when you’re next in the area.

Find Your Forever Home in West Jefferson, NC

North Carolina is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the United States. The Appalachian Mountains in particular offer a diverse suite of activities for year-round family fun. As such, many of the small towns in the area constitute spectacular places to lay roots, raise a family, and eventually retire. West Jefferson is no exception to this rule, and the rapidly growing real estate market can attest to that!

If you’ve already made a trip or two (or three or four) to West Jefferson, then you know firsthand the value of calling this town your home. When you’re ready to stop dreaming of life in the mountains and start making that dream a reality, Regency Properties is here to help. We are a full service Ashe County real estate agency located right beside Ashe County Cheese in the heart of the West Jefferson arts district at 204 E. Main Street. Our dynamic team proudly offers years of realty expertise, and many of us are natives of the area! As such, you won’t find a more knowledgeable, transparent crew than Regency Properties.

Are you ready to secure that gorgeous dream home or peaceful cabin getaway? Get in touch with our real estate experts! You can contact the Regency Properties staff today by giving us a call at 336-246-2307 or sending us an email at [email protected]. We look forward to serving you soon!

Contact the Realty Experts at Regency Properties