Nestled away in the North Carolina Mountains is the lovely town of Boone, which has a lively yet laidback feel to it. Located in the northwest of the state, it lies at the heart of some truly outstanding scenery, with countless outdoor activities available nearby.
While the breathtaking Blue Ridge Parkway and its majestic mountains just beg to be explored, the charming town itself also has several tourist attractions. Things to do in Boone include visiting a brewery or a boutique, while Downtown Boone is dotted with beautiful buildings, and the Appalachian State University lends its streets a youthful vibe. Most people, however, use the mountain town as a base from which to go hiking, mountain biking or skiing in its scenic surroundings.
12. Rocky Knob Park
Lying just to the east of Boone is the delightful Rocky Knob Park, which has loads of great hiking trails and mountain bike paths for visitors to explore. Very mountainous, it boasts plenty of stunning scenery, with fantastic views on offer from its higher reaches.
As it is located just a short distance from downtown, the peaceful and picturesque park is very popular with locals, who come to enjoy its wonderful woods and wilderness. Created in 2009, it is particularly known for its epic trails and descents that have seen it billed as an ‘Ultimate Ride Hotspot’ for mountain bikers by Velo magazine.
Besides its over 12 kilometers of paths, the park also has various picnic areas and playgrounds for guests to use amid the lush forest and undulating landscapes.
11. Greenway Trail
Set just to the southeast of the town center is the gorgeous Greenway Trail, which meanders alongside the south fork of the New River. Accessible to all, the terrific trail is ideal for everyone – from hikers and cyclists to wheelchair users and families – with a range of scenic spots to stop off at along the way.
Despite its proximity to Boone, the town feels a world away as you amble peacefully along the banks of the stream and pass through flower-filled meadows and verdant forests. The trail also takes you past some interesting historical sights such as a dilapidated old dam. You’ll find informative plaques on the area’s history and nature here and there.
Along the route, there are benches and picnic areas for visitors to rest at and soak up all the lovely scenery.
10. Appalachian Ski Mountain
Nestled amidst the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains is the awesome Appalachian Ski Mountain, which has snow-coated slopes and terrain parks for locals and tourists alike to enjoy. Set just a 15-minute drive to the south of the town, it also has a slopeside restaurant and lodge – as well as a ski school and shop.
First opened in 1962, the resort has slowly increased in size over the years; there are now 11 excellent ski slopes for visitors to make use of. Reaching 1,219 meters at its highest point, its phenomenal pistes and three terrain parks can be accessed through various chairlift systems.
As all of its slopes have snow-making machines, Appalachian Ski Mountain guarantees skiers and snowboarders a great experience. The resort is usually open from mid-November to March, with exhilarating night skiing also on offer.
9. Blowing Rock
Long a popular tourist destination, the picture-perfect town of Blowing Rock is perched in a prominent part of the North Carolina Mountains. A charming and quaint place, it lies just a short drive from Boone, surrounded by the stunning landscapes and scenery of Blue Ridge Parkway.
Full of exquisite restaurants, elegant boutiques, and artisanal shops, the tiny town is named after a delightful and distinctive rock formation that lies nearby. From the unusual outcrop and its observation deck, visitors can enjoy fabulous panoramas over the surrounding area, which is home to several gorgeous waterfalls that you can hike to.
Despite its small size, Blowing Rock hosts a variety of live music and theatre performances in its cosy taverns and art center. With numerous cultural events and festivals taking place in the sunny summer months, the town can get quite crowded as people pack in to enjoy its many different sides.
8. Daniel Boone Native Gardens
Located just outside of downtown Boone are the magnificent Daniel Boone Native Gardens, which are home to over 200 species of plants native to North Carolina. Made up of a range of small, secluded sections, it is a treat to wander around, with towering trees and fantastic flowerbeds wherever you look.
Named after the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone, the stunning gardens were founded in 1961 so that local clubs, schools and botanists could study native shrubs, trees and wildflowers. Since those early days, the lovingly landscaped gardens have increased in size and scope, with a rockery, rustic bridge, and reflection pool springing up alongside many other fetching features.
Open from May to October, the Daniel Boone Native Gardens are well worth exploring for an hour or two.
7. Appalachian Mountain Brewery
The largest and liveliest of Boone’s three breweries, the enticing Appalachian Mountain Brewery is the perfect place to head if you want to enjoy a freshly pulled pint or sparkling cider. Established in 2013, its terrific taproom can be found along Boone Creek, right next to Boone Mall.
Here you can try a broad range of award-winning ales and IPAs, with some fabulous fruit beers and cool ciders also on tap. While its outstanding wood-coated interior makes for a cosy and welcoming atmosphere, the brewery also has a lovely outdoor seating area for guests to make use of overlooking the creek.
As it is very community focused and puts a lot of importance on sustainability, some of the profits from every pint go to various local non-profits. Between sampling all the great beers, visitors to the brewery can grab a bite to eat at its excellent on-site food truck.
6. Sugar Mountain Resort
Sprawling over a vast area is the sensational Sugar Mountain Resort, set just half an hour’s drive to the southwest of Boone. Located within Pisgah National Forest, it lies along the Eastern Continental Divide and has sublime slopes and powdery pistes for visitors to try out.
Reaching up to 1,596 meters in height, the resort has 21 slopes to speed down, with a range of other ski-able terrain on offer. Suitable for beginners, intermediates and experts alike, its snow-coated slopes are serviced by chairlifts, which are meticulously groomed each day.
Besides its superb skiing and snowboarding, Sugar Mountain Resort has snowshoeing, ice skating and tubing on offer. On top of this, there is some excellent hiking and mountain biking to enjoy in the summer months, as well as countless cosy lodges and inns to stay at throughout the year.
5. Howard’s Knob
Offering commanding views out over Boone and its surroundings is the haughty Howard’s Knob, which lies just to the north of the town. Part of the Appalachians, the mighty mount is very popular to visit among locals and tourists alike due to its stunning landscapes, scenery and nature.
Named after Benjamin Howard, a British loyalist and early settler to the area, it towers 1,340 meters above sea level, with phenomenal panoramas to be enjoyed from its wind-swept summit. Winding their way up and down the hillside are delightful hiking trails to wander along, which take you through some lush forests and meadows.
The undoubted highlight is the views from up top, where you’ll also find a small, serene picnic area to stop off at and bask in the beauty before you.
4. Foggy Mountain Gem Mine
While Howard’s Knob will transport you up into the clouds, you’ll have to keep your eyes somewhat closer to the ground at the Foggy Mountain Gem Mine as you prospect for rubies, emeralds and sapphires. A very fun and family-friendly place, it lies nestled away in the High Country of North Carolina, just a ten-minute drive to the west of Boone.
As gem mining has played a considerable role in the region’s history and heritage, it’s well worth stopping by this marvelous mine, which has been run by the same family for generations. Thankfully, they have already done all the hard work for you, so all you need to do is buy a bucket and sift through the soil and stones until you unearth a glimmering gem or twinkling treasure.
While this fun activity is sure to delight young and old alike, visitors can also have their finds cut, polished and turned into jewellery. With precious gems to buy as souvenirs and lots of interesting and educational exhibits on the history of mining in the region, Foggy Mountain Gem Mine certainly makes a great day out for all the family.
3. Moses H. Cone Memorial Park
Once the expansive estate of Moses H. Cone, this magnificent memorial park now protects and preserves the textile magnate’s historic home and grand grounds. Part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, it lies just 20 minutes’ drive to the south of Boone, not far from Blowing Rock.
At the heart of many gorgeous gardens and verdant forests lies the undisputed highlight of the park – the fabulous Flat Top Manor. Built in 1901 in a brilliant Beaux-Arts style, it has lots of decadently decorated rooms to explore, with sweeping views to be enjoyed from its pretty porch.
Surrounding the manor house are countless trails and paths to wander along, which take you through flower-filled meadows and lush woodlands. A great place to go hiking, horseback riding or cycling, the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park also has a charming craft center to check out where local artists exhibit their work.
2. Grandfather Mountain
One of the most popular and picturesque places to visit near Boone is the gigantic Grandfather Mountain and its superb state park. Set just half an hour’s drive to the southwest of the town, it boasts truly astounding scenery, with countless outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy.
Towering 1,812 meters tall, the massive mount is the tallest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with rugged cliffs and wild woods coating its scenic slopes. Strung between two of its peaks is the majestic Mile High Swinging Bridge, which is the park’s most popular attraction due to the panoramic views on offer.
Besides wandering along the highest suspension bridge in America, visitors can go hiking or cycling along the plethora of peaceful paths that dot the park. One of the best times to visit Grandfather Mountain is in July when it hosts the Highland Games. Here, countless colorful clans compete in centuries-old games and celebrate their Scottish ancestry.
1. Blue Ridge Parkway
As Boone lies right next to the breathtaking Blue Ridge Parkway, no visit to the town can ever be complete without checking out ‘America’s Favorite Drive’. Meandering along the spine of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, this remarkable route stretches a staggering 755 kilometers in length, with plenty of scenic spots to stop off at along the way.
Passing through thick forests and marvelous wilderness, the rambling road takes you from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia all the way to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. While most people only travel along part of the parkway, wherever you go, you will be greeted with outstanding nature and phenomenal viewpoints.
Besides Boone and its many delights, the scenic drive also takes you past the charming cities of Asheville and Roanoke. With various historic sites and tourist attractions to be found alongside the picturesque parkway, it is no wonder at all that it is the most popular part of the nation’s National Park System.