Marion, N.C., a picturesque town located in McDowell County just off I-40 35 miles east of Asheville, features stunning Blue Ridge beauty and a historic district dotted with unique taprooms, art and farmers’ markets, and annual festivals. Its proximity to exciting outdoor adventures as well as other scenic small towns makes it an ideal spot to explore.
Founded in 1844, the city was named for American Revolutionary War hero Brigadier General Francis Marion. Marion’s Main Street Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with 11 structures including churches, former hotels, a bank and courthouse among the honored buildings. The restored Marion Depot, the oldest surviving depot on the Western Rail Line, hosts monthly community events. Historic homes open to the public include the Carson House and the Joseph McDowell House.
Marion offers a range of real estate
Homes in Marion, which has a population hovering near 8,000, range from stately historic mansions to new green builds to modest ranches; available lots mean you can build your dream home from the ground up. Nearby towns to explore include Old Fort, Little Switzerland, Morganton and Black Mountain.
Downtown Marion has seen a revitalization, with new shops, restaurants, music and movie venues, and taprooms popping up in recent years. The downtown Marion Tailgate Market happens twice weekly during the growing season, featuring fresh produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods and local crafts.
Outdoor activities abound in Marion
Marion features a handful of parks, as well as a greenway that follows along the Catawba River and provides picnic tables, fitness stations, fishing piers and a canoe launch; local outfitters offer tube and kayak trips. Area hikes and parks include the Mt. Ida Wilderness Area (with a park and hiking trail that features views of downtown Marion); and Woods Mountain (a challenging, 25-mile single-track loop that crosses the Mountains to Sea Trail).
A short drive away are Lake James, with boating and other water recreation, fishing, camping and hiking opportunities; Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi (6,684 feet); Linville Caverns, the state’s only natural limestone caverns; and many falls, including Linville Falls, Tom’s Creek Falls and Catawba Falls. Nearby wineries, including Silver Fork, South Creek and Lake James Cellars, are nestled along the foothills of the Catawba Valley.
Festivals in downtown Marion include the quirky WNC Bigfoot Festival (September); the Mountain Glory Festival, featuring arts, crafts, food and live entertainment (October); and the Liver Mush Festival (June).
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