Downtown Brevard, N.C., offers singular shopping experience

Some know the mountain retreat of Brevard, North Carolina, because of the top-notch Brevard Music Center, which brings talented musicians and music students together every summer for a full slate of operas and concerts. Others know the waterfalls, stables, and hiking trails that crisscross the nearby Pisgah Forest. Enjoy the music and hiking, but don't miss downtown Brevard. Located three hours northeast of Atlanta and one hour south of Asheville, this western North Carolina town is filled with unforgettable, locally-run small businesses, restaurants, and galleries.

The Cozy Bakery: At Bracken Mountain Bakery, locals line up each morning for freshly baked loaves of the bakery's specialty, "Bracken Harvest Brown" bread. Beloved by visitors and locals alike, this bakery has been a town fixture since 1995. Offering a wide selection of fresh pastries, breads, and other baked goods, the shop also sells organic dog biscuits, which have gained a dedicated following among Brevard's canine companions. Be sure to arrive early to stock up on the day's bread selections; some popular varieties sell out daily. Bracken Mountain Bakery, 42 S. Broad St., 828-883-4034,

The Magical Toy Shop: O.P. Taylor's claims that they are the "Coolest Toy Shop on the Planet." With two stories packed full of toys, it is easy to spend hours exploring the 6,000 square feet of O.P. Taylor's original Brevard location. The remarkable assortment of toys—traditional, popular, and one-of-a-kind—thrills kids of all ages, as well as parents and kids-at-heart. O.P. Taylor's, 16 S. Broad St., 828-883-2309,

The Retro Lunch Spot: For a bright and tasty blast from the past, Rocky's Grill and Soda Shop is a 1950's-style soda fountain serving a menu filled with shakes, malts, burgers, and 12 varieties of hot dogs. It is worth stopping in Rocky's just for a taste of their creative ice cream sundaes. Favorites include the "Sliding Rock," a traditional sundae that commemorates the Pisgah Forest Sliding Rock waterfall, and the "White Squirrel Sundae," a caramel and peanut butter blend that is a nod to the area's eye-catching white squirrel population. Rocky's Grill and Soda Shop, 50 S. Broad St., 828-877-5375,

The Outdoorsy Mercantile: D.D. Bullwinkel's is an old-fashioned general store with a contemporary flair. The shop stocks popular sportswear brands as well as local wares, so visitors can fill all of their clothing, footwear, gift and souvenir needs. Bullwinkel's invites visitors to pull up a rocking chair on the sidewalk and enjoy friendly downtown Brevard. D.D. Bullwinkel's, 50 S. Broad St., 828-877-5375,