The tiny town of Sylva, North Carolina has been growing. With over 2,500 people in a 3-ish square mile radius, there is a huge serving of diversity and culture. Sure, it has the usual cluster of cafes-shops-and-restaurants, but it gets better.
Feel like checking out a Drag show and dancing the night away to the latest “club bangers” after yoga? You can do that now. Looking for some rare titles to expand your occult library or hoping to pick up that hot new Ukrainian cookbook? Maybe a bit of de Sade or Schopenhauer for some light afternoon reading? You can find all that on the same block.
My friend and fellow vaudevillian/singer/writer/musician invited me for the weekend. She calls herself Sylva’s own Norma Desmond and I can not think of a more hilariously appropriate nickname for her.
Meine Damen und Herren, without further ado, here are a few places I enjoyed best.
White Moon Coffee Shop
This cafe is super cozy and grows its own herbs right inside the shop that are used to make teas and seasonings. The decor is fairly simple with lush plants, and I felt like I was in my own kitchen.
Friends of the Library Used Books, Harry Alter Books, and City Lights Bookstore each have a great selection of new / used books and locally made gifts.
We ran right into the owner of Baxley’s Chocolates and got a personal escort to her shop where we were treated to samples of handmade truffles, dipped fruits, and gelato.
Candied ginger, chocolate covered strawberry, creme brulee, Highland oatmeal porter, white chocolate blackberry, Cabernet, chocolate, and vanilla are among the many flavours of gelato offered daily. My favourite was a creamy tangerine packed with spicy sage, lavender, and rosemary.
We stopped in Innovation Brewing for a delicious strawberry salad and oven-fired pizza with roasted garlic, golden beets, feta cheese, and arugula. Innovation had my interest from the start when I had heard about their homemade ginger beer and ginger ale that you can purchase by the growler (and we did).
Guadalupe Cafe is even funkier than I remembered from my last visit. The brightly painted walls and decor draw you in, and the food is fresh, organic, farm-to-table, locally sourced, clean fare.
My brunch burrito came with coconut rice, curried potatoes, grilled onions, chorizo, white cheddar, and a side of grilled kale. They serve a mean cup of coffee too.
Antiques and Vintage
Sylva is flush with antiques and vintage shops. Jones Country Store had the most rare collection of items that stood out among the others; a wall of post office boxes still in tact, carousel figures, old carnival games, iron anvils and weaponry, many things I’ve never seen before.
In the center sat a circle of men chattering away in rocking chairs as if they never left the comfort of their wares.
Sassy Frass, Artisinal Artifacts, and End of Main all carry a broad selection of antiques and home decor, attire, novelty items, and kitsch. We did not make it through every one but I would recommend adding Treasures Unknown, Dixie & Co, and Nichols House to your list. Be sure to drop by In Your Ear Music Emporium too.
The Sylva Herald is a long-standing fixture, founded in 1926. The company is still in print and circulation today and has branched out to other locations.
Sylva was founded in the 1800s and originally facilitated the mining and logging industries. In 1996 the city’s Main Street Program 501(c)3 initiative set out to revive the town and brought national attention and tourism.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Thanks to some of that well-deserved attention, Sylva was selected as the primary filming location of the recent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, co-starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell.
Walking around the central historic blocks you can find a few signs and relics of the filming, and I really enjoyed seeing how creatively the small space was used throughout various scenes.
If you have not seen it yet, fix that. You can watch the film’s trailer here on Youtube and the film itself is available on Amazon Prime.
Time to Play
Nightlife in Sylva stirs awake around 9 pm. North Carolina law does not permit bars and requires any business serving liquor where food sales do not make up 30% or more of total revenue to register as a private club.
Members must sign in and present their membership cards upon entry. Guests must be signed in and introduced, and then have the option to join on the spot if desired. Practicality and necessity aside, it lends an air of fanciness about going out; a nod to classier times.
The Cut is a punk rock cocktail lounge that serves some pretty jaw-dropping drinks. Beautiful plants are incorporated into the drinks as much as in the decor, and the finest, freshest ingredients are mixed up right in front of you.
Multiple theme nights, live music, and dinner parties pepper the event calendar each month, including the crowd favourite Pad Thai night. The owner is a striking lady with great skill in complementary flavours and style. Check out their roster!
Paper Mill Lounge is another elegant cocktail lounge that also hosts trivia, karaoke, drag shows, live music, and more. The staff was lovely and we quickly made a new acquaintance among the mixed crowd.
I love the crystal dishes and abundance of plants and mood lighting. I was also pleased that they serve multiple Elderflower options. Visit their FB page for more info.
I am looking forward to returning during cooler months to visit Bigelow’s Botanical Excursions and Pinnacle Park.
In the area for a while? Follow me to Waynesville or Cherokee. Other points of interest nearby are the Farmers Market, Bridge Park, West Carolina University, the Balsam and Cowee Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the town of Dillsboro.
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