sweeping mountain view one of the best things to do in boone

I always forget how many people visit Boone until I’m there. I’ve always thought of Boone as a college town since so many of my friends graduated from Appalachian State University but there are so many other things to do in Boone, NC that bring people from all over.

Just like anywhere in western North Carolina, this place is a dream for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. If you love beautiful mountain views, cooler temperatures, and friendly locals then Boone is the place for you.

It’s a great place to vacation year-round since you can hike, fish, bike, etc. in the summer and winter brings along ski season, ice-skating, and snow tubing.

If you find yourself wondering what to do in Boone, NC then here is a list of 30 things to do in Boone!

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Map of Things to Do in Boone, NC

Trip map created with Wanderlog, a journey planner app

Outdoor Activities in Boone

This will be the longest section of the list of course. There is so much outdoor adventure to be had in these Blue Ridge Mountains.

Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

mountain view with carriage path in view
The view from the Moses Cone Estate.

The Parkway meanders right beside the town of Boone and it only takes a few minutes to reach a Parkway entrance from town.

If you go south on the Parkway you’ll pass Moses Cone and Julian Price Memorial Parks before coming to Grandfather Mountain. After Grandfather you’ll run into the Linville Gorge area.

Head north and you’ll pass multiple overlooks before arriving at Doughton Park and Stone Mountain State Park. Then you’ll find Cumberland Knob right before the Virginia state line.

Take a Hike

There are so many fantastic hikes in this area that I can’t name them all. Between the waterfall hikes and hikes to epic mountain views, you really can’t go wrong.

The Boone Fork Trail is a popular one off of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Price Memorial Park. Glen Burney Falls starts near downtown Blowing Rock and leads to a few different waterfalls.

Rough Ridge is a great trail off the Parkway that gives you a view of Grandfather Mountain. The Otter Falls Trail is another waterfall hike out near Foscoe.

A little further south is Linville Falls and the surrounding trails in the Linville Gorge Wilderness.

These are just a few of the hikes available in the area. 

Stop at Moses Cone Memorial Park or Julian Price Memorial Park

Both of these parks also offer great hiking opportunities and much more.

At Moses Cone, the Moses Cone Memorial House has been converted into a craft center where you can purchase crafts made by local artisans.

As of August 2021, the house is undergoing some renovations but you can still go inside. The hilltop where the house sits gives a beautiful view of the lake below.

There are helpful rangers at the ranger station here and restrooms if you need them. It’s a beautiful place for a walk but watch out if you are on the carriage paths. This is a popular spot for people to ride their horses.

At Julian Price you’ll find the Boone Fork Trail and the Price Lake where you can hike around the lake trail or take a boat out on the water.

The lake trail borders the lake the whole time and takes you through huge rhododendron bushes. It’s pretty romantic.

Turtle Island Preserve

This preserve is formally named an Appalachian Heritage Farm and Outdoor Education Center. It offers multiple different educational programs and retreats but they also have 1-2 hour guided tours.

The farm and people living here are focused on going back to our roots and doing things the way our great-grandparents did them.

They’ve constructed their own buildings, tend their garden, and raise their own meat. They even use outhouses for bathrooms!

Please note that they have not resumed the tours due to COVID. Once tours begin again though, this is such a cool concept to learn about.

Go Down the New River

Whether you go down the river in a tube, kayak, or canoe you are sure to have a great time. This river is calm, wide, and clear on most days.

If you have all of your own gear then you can either run your own shuttle for the river or park at an outfitter and get them to run shuttle for you. This usually costs about $5 per person.

If you don’t have your own boats then you can rent everything from an outfitter and they will also provide a shuttle service.

A few good outfitters in the area are New River Outfitters, Zaloo’s Canoes, and Wahoo’s Adventures. Wahoo’s is the closest one to town.

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Trout or Bass Fishing

There are tons of fishing opportunities around Boone and two of the most popular ones to fish for are trout and smallmouth bass.

You can bass fish in the New River and there are tons of trout streams up in the mountains. If you aren’t familiar with the area then you may want to consider an outing with a guide.

Elk Creek Outfitters offers a few different excursions but their most popular is a float trip. These guides know where to go to give you the best opportunity to catch a fish.

You can also do wilderness walks where you’ll hike in to one of the many trout streams in the area. Can’t go wrong with either one!

Make sure that you have a valid fishing license for North Carolina before you do any fishing.

Bike at Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park

Boone has definitely been growing as a mountain biking destination and this bike park has helped. If you’re a mountain biker then you definitely need to check this out!

There are eight miles of trails at Rocky Knob and they are working on even more. It’s easy to find off of Hwy 421 and there is plenty of parking, restroom facilities, and even a playground.

If you don’t have a bike then Magic Cycles has a few available for rent in Boone but you can also go to Beech Mountain Resort to rent bikes.

There are a few other great places to ride like Beech and Sugar Mountain and the Emerald Outback Trail System. If you’re looking for something a little less challenging then go with the Greenway Trail.

Ski or Snowboard at One of Three Mountains

Visiting in winter? No problem. There are three mountain resorts within an hour of Boone.

Appalachian Ski Mountain is the closest and is very popular with college students.

Sugar Mountain is next and is a favorite among locals and travelers alike. There are more trails here and high speed lifts.

Beech Mountain is the furthest and is actually the highest ski area in eastern America.

Visit Grandfather Mountain

view of Grandfather Mountain things to do in Boone

You can visit the state park or the Stewardship Foundation at Grandfather Mountain for an interesting day. The state park does not cost anything to enter, but the Grandfather Mountain Foundation does.

At the Foundation you’ll find the mile high swinging bridge and a small zoo that showcases animals native to the High Country.

Currently you must purchase your tickets online in advance so make sure you do that if you want to visit.

As for the state park, you’ll find lots of great hiking and camping opportunities here. These trails are for intermediate to advanced hikers.

The Profile Trail and Grandfather Trail are notorious for their cables and ladders that you must use to climb up the mountain.

Not for the faint of heart!

Daniel Boone Native Gardens

Here you’ll find different trees and wildflowers that are native to the Boone area. For anyone over 16 a $2 donation is required to enter.

There are over 200 species of plant varieties in the Native Gardens so you never know what you’ll see. You can return in spring, summer, and fall and it will look like a different landscape each time.

Note that dogs are not allowed here unless they are service animals.

Head to a Nearby State Park

There are four state parks close to Boone. New River, Mount Jefferson, Elk Knob, and Grandfather Mountain. Make a point to visit at least one of them!

Outdoor enthusiasts go on and on about our national parks but sometimes the state parks are just as good.

Mount Jefferson, Elk Knob, and Grandfather all offer great hiking opportunities and sweeping mountain views. At the New River State Park you can paddle, camp, and picnic.

Rent an ATV or UTV with Appalachian Outdoor Adventures

Did you know you could rent an ATV or UTV for the day and drive it through the Smokies? These tours include the permits needed to access the trails and refreshments for the day.

If you’ve never driven one of these, then it’s super fun! They match you to a vehicle based on your experience so you won’t be in over your head.

This is such a cool way to enjoy the outdoors. Make sure to check out Appalachian Outdoor Adventures.

Food & Drink

I won’t go over all of the restaurants and bars in Boone, but I’ll name a few that you really shouldn’t miss.

Breweries of Boone

Boone is currently home to three different breweries – Booneshine, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, and Lost Province Brewing.

Booneshine is located in a large metal building with garage doors that open to make the outdoor patio and indoor seating area into one large setting. They have a great beer selection and have a restaurant on site with a full menu.

The menu consists of the usual brewery starters, burgers, tacos, and flatbreads. It’s a great spot to come hang out with friends and they also have a large beer garden built into a hillside.

Appalachian Mountain Brewery is probably the largest brewery in Boone and they ship their beers to a few locations in the state.

There is a food truck at AMB called Farm to Flame and they do wood fired pizzas and quesadillas.

Lost Province is located in downtown Boone and recently opened their second location as a new taproom.

At the original location they have beer and food with a menu full of different things to try. Burgers, salads, small plates, and other pub fare. Their specialty is wood fired pizza though.

Wineries Near Boone

wine flight on table
Wine flight at Grandfather Vineyard

While there are only a few wineries near Boone, each is fantastic and worth a visit. These are some of the best wineries in North Carolina so don’t miss them!

There are two wine trails in the area – the High Country Wine Trail that includes six different wineries and the Boone Area Wine Trail that includes three.

You can learn more about the High Country Wine Trail in my full article on wineries near Boone, NC.

The Boone Area Wine Trail includes Grandfather Vineyard, Banner Elk Winery, and Linville Falls Winery.

Grandfather Vineyard currently (Aug 2021) has premade flights to choose from – dry red, dry white, sweet, etc. You can also purchase a glass or bottle.

They have lots of adorable outdoor seating on property. Some tables line the river and some are behind the tasting room by the vines.

They sell small bites and are dog friendly.

Banner Elk Winery has villas that you can rent and stay a while. The exterior may not look like much but the interior of the tasting room is grand and welcoming with a large fireplace and chandeliers.

They are also doing flights – choose your own 4 – and they do tastings. One of my favorite parts here is they have an option to make your own cheese board!

The people were so friendly here and the grounds are beautiful. There is a small pond that you can walk around or picnic tables where you can sit and enjoy the day.

Linville Falls Winery is built with a Tuscan feel and they also have a beautiful location. Visit on the weekend and you’ll likely find someone playing live music.

They are primarily serving by table service right now and you can order bottles, glasses, or flights this way. Their bar is also open for ordering glasses or bottles.

These wineries are open seven days a week so stop by any time!

Must-Try Restaurants

Boone has a lot of unique restaurants in the area that shouldn’t be missed. While I definitely can’t fit them all in this little section, here are a few to put on your list.

The Gamekeeper is just outside of Boone near Blowing Rock and is fine dining without a pretentious atmosphere.

The special thing about this restaurant is that they serve game meat you wouldn’t typically see elsewhere. You can try ostrich sausage, emu, elk, and more.

The Peddler Steakhouse is a popular restaurant where you can choose your own steak. If you love steaks then this is the place to go and they have a fantastic salad bar.

Dan’l Boone Inn is arguably the most iconic restaurant in Boone. Inside it looks old-timey and meals are served family-style.

You don’t order like in a normal restaurant, they have one menu and will bring out as much food as you can eat. They don’t offer to-go boxes though! They serve breakfast and dinner.

Try Stick Boy Bread Co. for a casual breakfast or lunch on the go or Boone Bagelry for handmade bagels.

Downtown Boone, NC

busy street with mountains in background
King Street in downtown Boone!

The Horton Hotel

This is the cutest hotel in downtown Boone! It’s right on King Street and features 15 unique rooms.

They also have a rooftop lounge and bar with beautiful mountain views. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy an evening.

It’s on of the best places to stay in North Carolina and definitely a unique place to stay in the NC mountains!

Mast General Store

We’ll talk about the original Mast General Store later, but I love going in each one as they all have something special.

There’s no telling what you’ll find here as they sell clothing, kitchen equipment, toys, food items, you name it.

You don’t even have to buy anything and this is a fun stop.

Shopping on King Street

There are so many cute boutiques that line King Street with trendy clothing and just as many that sell App State gear.

You could spend all afternoon meandering through these shops.

Appalachian Theatre of the High Country

This theatre has been recently renovated and I love the retro look! I wasn’t able to go in as the building is still closed due to COVID but it looks really nice inside.

They have different shows here from music to comedy to movies. Check out their event list for this fall.

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Other Things to Do Near Boone, NC

Watauga County Farmers’ Market

If you are in town on a Saturday then make sure you check out the Watauga County Farmers’ Market. They have a great variety of vendors here.

You’ll find produce from local farmers, packaged meats, breads and homemade pastries, and so much more.

Appalachian State University

Whether you drive through on Rivers Street or decide to get out of your car and walk around campus you should explore App at least once.

It’s a beautiful campus especially during the summer when everything is so green.

Tweetsie Railroad

I loved visiting Tweetsie as a kid. While I haven’t been back since I was probably 8 or 9 years old, I still hear great things.

If you have a kid in your group then this is a must. They will love the rides, animals, and especially the train!

Shopping in Boone, NC

There are plenty of places other than downtown where you can shop near Boone. One of the best places is the Tanger Outlets between Boone and Blowing Rock.

Boone does have plenty of big box stores like Belk and JCPenney at the Boone Mall. I love shopping local though.

Driving down 421 or 105 you’ll see all kinds of cool shops to stop at. If you have time check them out.

The town of Blowing Rock has high end boutiques if you’re looking for something really nice.

Original Mast General Store

Mast General Store currently has ten different locations open but the very first was opened in Valle Crucis in 1883. It was originally named Taylor General Store.

These days you’ll find all kinds of stuff here. Specialty food, cookware, toys, footwear, personal care items, home decor, you name it. They even have a knife shop.

This is also the Valle Crucis Post Office and it’s still a working post office!

Grab a soda in a glass bottle and a snack and sit on their back porch as you watch the people come and go. It takes you back in time.

Horn in the West

If you’ve never been to an outdoor drama you are missing out! Horn in the West is performed at the Daniel Boone Amphitheater and is about the life of – you guessed it – Daniel Boone.

It follows Daniel’s life as well as the other frontiersmen who settled this area and is set during the time of the American Revolution.

Buy your tickets in advance and they have a concession stand on site. However, you are allowed to bring your own snacks. My favorite kind of place.

Hickory Ridge Living History Museum

The Hickory Ridge Living History Museum is managed by the same group that puts on Horn in the West.

This is a collection of six different log cabins which all represent a different part of colonial life in the High Country.

It is open for tours every day except Monday and they also have plenty of special events so be sure to check their calendar.

Linville Caverns

This is one of the most unique experiences near Boone. Linville Caverns have been open to the public since 1937 to tour.

You’re exploring the inside of a mountain so it stays around 52 degrees and the tours last just over 30 minutes.

Small Towns Near Boone, NC

Blowing Rock

A trip to Blowing Rock is usually combined with a trip to Boone as they are so close together. There is a vibrant downtown area that is beautifully landscaped.

You’ll find all kinds of specialty shops, boutiques, and plenty of great restaurants to try. The Glen Burney Falls trail is close to downtown and you’ll go past three different waterfalls.

Banner Elk

hot chocolate on colorful plate
Hot Chocolate from the Banner Elk Cafe.

Banner Elk is where you’ll find the Wilderness Run Alpine coaster where you use a handbrake to control your speed.

It’s near both Beech and Sugar Mountain for easy access to skiing in the winter. You can also go whitewater rafting or rock climbing with Edge of the World Outfitters.

Whatever you do, make sure you try the Banner Elk Cafe. Whether you go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner you will not be disappointed.

Beech Mountain

This resort town has plenty to do no matter what season you visit. It’s a ski resort in the winter and during the summer it turns into a mountain biking mecca.

They also do mile high yoga at the resort with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Don’t miss 5506 Skybar for drinks with those same views!

West Jefferson

Ever heard of Ashe County Cheese? Here is where they make it! West Jefferson is a quirky, artsy town that will have you falling in love in no time.

Check out Ashe County Cheese where you can watch them make the product and go eat at nearby Shatley Springs. Another restaurant that does the meal family style.

Know of other things to do in Boone, NC?

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10 Comments

  1. Boone looks like the ideal place to visit if you love to be outdoors! It’s great that there are so many unique things to see and do here, and some of the scenery is just incredible.

    1. It’s an absolutely beautiful place and full of fun things to do!

  2. I wish I had time to visit Boone on my trip to western NC last July. It looks like an amazing place. Great tips on what to do!

  3. I love that whole area around Boone (Valle Crucis, Blowing Rock…everything). North Carolina has so many great getaways! I’ve visited a lot of the places on your list, but saw a few I definitely want to add. Great post!

    1. It’s so pretty! I agree, there are some great spots in NC. Glad you found some new ones! 🙂

  4. This must have been an amaaaaazing place for your friends to go to Uni. The Blue Ridge Parkway looks incredible and all those hikes look fantastic!

    1. It’s such a fun place! The Parkway and hiking there are definitely some of the best things to do.

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