Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on September 27, 2023.
Our first experience in this small mountain town happened during a day trip from Asheville. And thanks to all the fun things to do, a visit to Blowing Rock is one of our favorite things to do in North Carolina throughout the year.
It’s got something for all of our inner travelers, from the beautiful scenery that surrounds it to the quiet and cozy downtown that’s filled with fun shops and great eats.
If you’re looking for something specific in this post, here’s how we’ve organized it.
- Where is Blowing Rock, North Carolina?
- The History of Blowing Rock
- When to Visit Blowing Rock
- Seasonal Events
- Year-Round Things to Do in Blowing Rock
- Things to Do in Blowing Rock’s Surroundings (Banner Elk and Boone)
- More High Country Attractions (Linville Gorge Wilderness Area and More)
- Where to Stay in Blowing Rock
We’ve also created this map to help you get around the area. Before you follow that, keep reading about Blowing Rock’s location, when to visit, and our favorite activities there and nearby.
Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in the Blowing Rock area and are wondering, “What are the best things to do near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out!
Read More: The North Carolina Bucket List
Where is Blowing Rock?
Blowing Rock is a town in Watauga County in northwestern North Carolina, a region in our Blue Ridge Mountains also known as the High Country. Parts of the town are shared by Caldwell County nearby.
In total, Blowing Rock and Watauga County border one county in Tennessee (Johnson County) and four NC counties, including the following:
- Ashe County (northeast)
- Avery County (southwest)
- Caldwell County (south)
- Wilkes County (east)
The History of Blowing Rock
Before investigating all the things to do in Blowing Rock, we think you should learn more about its background. The small town is known as the “Crown of the Blue Ridge” and is home to just over 1,000 residents.
Before Blowing Rock was a popular destination for people from North Carolina’s cities, it was home to the Cherokee and the Catawba Indian tribes. You can actually learn an interesting story about those two warring tribes and at The Blowing Rock, which we’ll mention in more detail shortly.
Scotch-Irish settlers began arriving in the area in the mid-1700s and the area was slowly developed by more colonists into the 1850s. After the Civil War, Blowing Rock began attracting visitors and created the need for hotels and inns to accommodate them.
The Green Park Hotel (now Inn) opened in 1891 and is a wonderful reminder of Blowing Rock’s beginnings. The town’s leaders quickly realized that tourists could drive the economy and have consistently worked to keep visitors happy throughout each year.
Today, about 1,500 people live in Blowing Rock throughout the year, with 8,000 total living here during the summer. Many celebrities have passed through here, for obvious reasons.
Author Jan Karon also spent time in Blowing Rock and based her Mitford series on the town.
Read More: Interesting Facts about North Carolina
When to Visit Blowing Rock Today
We can explore all these things to do in Blowing Rock throughout much of the year. However, spring and fall are the best times to hang out here. Summer is also cooler than in many places throughout North Carolina.
Pro Tip: But Definitely Visit During Fall
Fall is our favorite time to visit Blowing Rock, thanks to the beautiful foliage and changing colors found along the area’s tree-covered paths. Fall brings the best views, but it will also bring more visitors.
Where to Stay in Blowing Rock (Chetola Resort)
We had long heard about Chetola Resort and were finally lucky enough to enjoy a few stays here. Let me tell you that this is the ultimate place to stay in Blowing Rock.
Chetola means “haven of rest” in Cherokee and this luxurious resort lives up to that meaning.
Quiet, spacious rooms team up with excellent food from Timberlake’s, beautiful lake views, and innumerable outdoor fun to make this a true High Country getaway.
We also think you should check out Chetola when their fantastic display of Christmas lights surrounds the lake and more!
Read More: Winter in North Carolina
Other Great Blowing Rock Hotels and Inns
We don’t want to knock the rest of Blowing Rock’s hotels because there are many more wonderful places to stay in and around town. Our first weekend at the Meadowbrook Inn, which is a very short walk away from Main Street’s restaurants and shopping.
Other great places to stay in Blowing Rock include:
- We’ve also stayed at the historic Green Park Inn and rank it among our favorite hotels in North Carolina!
- Another conveniently placed Blowing Rock hotel includes Azalea Garden Inn.
- And finally, don’t forget about all the amazing mountain rentals near Blowing Rock that you can find via Vrbo, too!
Seasonal Events in Blowing Rock
Before we share the best things to do in Blowing Rock, here are some events that everyone looks forward to seeing during a typical year.
- January: Blowing Rock Winterfest is an excellent reason to visit during the colder months, after Christmas. There’s a Polar Bear Plunge in Chetola Lake, a Winterfeast (15 restaurants in one place), an Ice Carving in Memorial Park, and much more that you can learn about here.
- April: The Blowing Rock Trout Derby is held each year during the first weekend of April. It’s a great way to get kids out to fish and prizes are also at stake.
- May-October: Blowing Rock Art in the Park takes over Park Avenue for one saturday each month from May to October. Arts and crafts from award-winning artisans are on display. On the Sunday afterward, the outdoor Concert in the Park features a local artist, band, or group!
- June-August: One of the best summer things to do in Blowing Rock is the Charity Horse Show. Hunter/Jumper events begin and June and continue later in July and August. Proceeds from this event go to various local organizations in North Carolina’s High Country.
- July: The annual Fourth of July Festival and Parade is one of the best things to do in Blowing Rock, especially during summer! Festivities commence on the weekend closest to Independence Day and include free entertainment, music and games, and of course, the Main Street parade. Later in July, Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Resort brings together more than 4000 attendees to enjoy music, food, and drink in a beautiful setting.
- October: The Blowing Rock Halloween Festival is free and filled with fun events for everyone. Games, hayrides, a “Monster March,” Trick-or-Treat, and a Moonlight Scavenger Hunt make this a Spooktacular time!
- November: Finally, the Town of Blowing Rock celebrates the holiday season and lights the town! Join in the fun with free entertainment, music, and visits with Santa. The annual Christmas Parade makes its way down Main Street. Then, watch as the Mayor flips the switch for the Main Street wreaths and Town Hall tree!
These are some of the best seasonal things to do in Blowing Rock.
Read More: The NC Tripping Events Calendar
Things to Do in Blowing Rock, NC
Now that we’ve covered seasonal events, here are the best things to do in Blowing Rock, North Carolina throughout the year!
The Blowing Rock
The Blowing Rock tops many people’s list of things to do in Blowing Rock North Carolina and for good reason. For starters, we think it’s nice to just stare out into the mountains from “North Carolina’s Oldest Travel Attraction.”
And if you haven’t been yet, their Facebook page‘s constant updates will convince you to visit.
Walk Around Downtown Blowing Rock
Downtown Blowing Rock is filled with shops catering to just about every taste. You can find antiques, outdoor gear, home furnishings, and kids’ toys.
We’ll get to the shopping shortly. Just spend some time walking around downtown and you’ll see why so many people keep coming back to this town.
Blowing Rock Art and History Museum
The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, on Ginney Stevens Lane, is one of the best things to do in Blowing Rock, especially if it is a rainy or wintery day. Free to enter, the museum provides excellent art exhibits as well as Southern Appalachian heritage and history.
During the winter months, there are typically interactive exhibits for children too! Walk through the galleries, attend a lecture, or join BRAHM for one of their art workshops!
If you’re staying at a bed and breakfast in Blowing Rock, you might not need to go out for a pick-me-up. But I was very happy with the coffee in town. Camp Coffee is a cool mix of really good caffeinated stuff and an outdoor store.
Read More: Independent Bookstores in North Carolina
Shop to Your Heart’s Content
Main Street is lined with shops and SouthMarke Shopping Mall is a nice little nook packed with fun stores. One of our favorite toys shops in North Carolina is located at the bottom of the hill at SouthMarke! (Serves You Right!) I always find adorable things for both kiddos here and it helps keep them occupied while we are traveling.
Shops at the Martin House is across the street, next to Memorial Park, and waiting for you to peruse, too!
Check out Revolution Clothiers for a breath of fresh air! With lots of tongue-in-cheek merch and the latest trends, it’s a favorite of ours. There is also a location is in Charlotte if you’re in the area.
Candles? Cyndi, Larry, and Kira at High County Candles are so kind and they will show you the behind-the-scenes process of candle making. Plus all the delicious smells can make you want to linger around all day!
I bought a Gardenia candle and lit it as soon as I got home. My house smelled marvelous afterward!
Blowing Rock Restaurants to Dig Into
There are some great places to eat in Blowing Rock during your weekend. Our favorite downtown restaurants start with The Speckled Trout.
Their menu and wine selection tell me that they want to push the envelope for visitors and residents alike.
We’re also big fans of The Pedalin’ Pig on US 321, Bistro Roca, and more places are included in our guide to must-eat restaurants in Blowing Rock.
Blowing Rock Alehouse (Awesome NC Beer and Food)
We also enjoy our favorite Blowing Rock brewery, Blowing Rock Alehouse Restaurant. Testing my favorite beers at the source while also enjoying food is a big plus! The alehouse has a great outside section too, so if you are traveling with kids like us, this is an excellent place to enjoy a pint together!
Read More: Our Favorite North Carolina Breweries
Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort
If you are looking for fine dining in Blowing Rock, Timberlake’s at Chetola Resort is an excellent option. The menu is another collaboration with Bob Timberlake and culinary genius and head chef, Matt Rivers.
The menu changes seasonally, and reservations for dinner are recommended! Also don’t miss out on breakfast at Chetola Resort- we were fans of the stuffed French Toast and chicken and biscuits!
A visit to Mystery Hill is one of the quirkiest things to do in Blowing Rock. It’s a place where you’ll trick your sense of gravity.
On the site of a former apple orchard, it’s now a collection of museums of attractions, and full of the quirkiest things to do in Blowing Rock. The guided tour is educational and most fun at the end, as you try to balance yourself and walk just a few feet through the only naturally occurring gravitational anomaly in North Carolina.
Beyond Mystery Hill, there’s also Tomahawk Hill (ax throwing!), Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine, and the Appalachian Fossil Musuem and Dinosaur Museum.
Combo and separate tickets are available, starting at $18.95. An Annual Pass to Mystery Hill is only $59 if you’re like us and love returning to Blowing Rock multiple times throughout the year.
Tweetsie Railroad is THE place to go when searching for things to do in Blowing Rock with kids. I have to admit that the child inside me comes out while riding on the train.
It is always great fun watching the cowboys and train robbers duke it out. No spoilers! After a ride on the historic train, take your time to walk around and hop on some rides. Tweetsie is perfect for younger children and a fantastic way to make memories in the mountains.
Tweetsie hosts events throughout its season but we have to highlight Tweetsie Christmas, which is one of the best Blowing Rock attractions.
Read More: Kid-Friendly Events in North Carolina
Hike the Glen Burney Trail
While we love this small town’s shops and eateries, the most popular Blowing Rock hike (Glen Burney Trail) hooked us from our first experience there. It’s right next to the downtown and begins in Annie Cannon Gardens.
Once you enter, you’ll feel like you’re far away from everything.
The trail will lead you down to Glen Burney Falls, Cascades, and Glen Marie Falls. All three are among our favorite waterfalls in the Blowing Rock area.
Read More: The Best Waterfalls in North Carolina
Sky Valley Zip Tours
Sky Valley Zip Tours is the ultimate haven for thrill-seekers! Spanning across 140 acres of untouched wilderness, you can zip through the forest canopy or explore off-road trails. The Canopy Tour boasts 10 exhilarating zip lines, a daring Cliff Jump, and a thrilling 120-foot swinging bridge.
Take flight at a breathtaking 300 feet above the valley on a 1600-foot zip line, followed by an adrenaline-pumping rappel down a 45-foot rock cliff. For an even more unforgettable experience, try it under the cover of night!
Even if you’re accompanied by young adventurers, Sky Valley Zip Tours has something special for them. The Whistle Pig Adventure Park features a kid-friendly zip line course designed for children aged 4 and up. It includes seven exciting zip lines and a thrilling 20-foot slide!
If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, consider trying out their 4-wheel drive, all-electric vehicles. Produced right in Mars Hill, NC, the Mountain Cat Off Road Adventures are designed to be accessible to guests with mobility impairments.
So, if you’re craving an adrenaline rush in the High Country, don’t miss out on Sky Valley Zip Tours! We guarantee it’s one of the best things to do in Blowing Rock!
Visit Moses H Cone Memorial Park
Another beautiful Blowing Rock walk is inside Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, where you circle the picturesque Bass Lake. The immense Flat Top Manor overlooks it all and seems huge, even below.
And speaking of Flat Top, there’s a tower with that name on the property and you can hike to it. In total, it’s a 2.7-mile up and back hike and a great way to start any morning in Blowing Rock.
Julian Price Memorial Park
The 5.5-mile Boone Fork Trail starts and ends at Julian Price. It’s a nice yet strenuous walk in the woods, along streams, pastures, and rhododendron-lined paths. This trail is where you’ll find Hebron Falls, which is also known as Boone Fork Falls.
Read More: 100+ Hiking Trails in North Carolina
More Hikes and Outdoor Fun Near Blowing Rock
We’ve mentioned a couple of fun Blowing Rock hikes but thought you’d know about ones in surrounding areas. One of our favorite ways to see Grandfather Mountain is via Rough Ridge Trail, also an amazing hike for sunrise!
It’s a part of the 13.5-mile Tanawha Trail that includes one we already mentioned (Boone Fork) and also, Beacon Heights, which is a short half-mile hike to beautiful views of Grandfather Mountain and more mountains in the distance.
Hop On the Blue Ridge Parkway
To reach many of these hikes and outdoor spots near Blowing Rock, you’ll need to spend time driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s an epic scenic road and runs through Moses Cone and not far from downtown.
If you get on it, some popular stops nearby include Linn Cove Viaduct (12 miles). Some sections do close during the colder months, so please keep that in mind when you decide to visit.
If you’ve ever been through the area, got any favorites to share near Blowing Rock?
Read More: The Best NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes
Things to Do in Blowing Rock’s Surroundings
You’ll never tire of all the things to do in Blowing Rock. We just want you to know that you’ll love exploring its High Country surroundings, too.
Read More: Day Trips from Boone
15 minutes away from Blowing Rock
You’ll notice a lot of younger people working there, and they likely live in Boone and attend Appalachian State University (App). Thanks to that thriving college, there are a lot of things to do, both inside and outside.
Before and after you get out there, though, we think you should explore the amazing restaurants in Boone.
Walk around King, Howard, and Depot Streets and shop for some App State gear, antiques, and souvenirs. Before heading into Boone’s epic Mast General Store, don’t forget to stop and pay your respects to the Doc Watson statue at the corner of King and Depot.
He’s a town icon and remains here in spirit.
Read More: Our Interview with B Townes about Merlefest
Breweries in Boone
While you’ll find some awesome places to eat here, we think the breweries in Boone shine above many throughout the state. Lost Province (130 N Depot St) brings wood-fired pizzas to the table with their amazing beers up the hill off King.
Head to Booneshine (465 Industrial Park Dr) for beer and food with an awesome view, but don’t sleep on their beautiful interior. And for the biggest name in town, stop by Appalachian Mountain Brewing (163 Boone Creek Dr). Their iconic beers (Long Leaf IPA for starters) join forces with a food truck du jour to make a fun day of hops.
25 minutes away from Blowing Rock
For a look at North Carolina’s first historic rural town, visit Valle Crucis and the Original Mast General Store. It’s an interesting stop for souvenirs, snacks, and a moment or two hanging out on the back porch. Across the street is Over Yonder, which is an absolutely amazing farm-to-table restaurant!
30 minutes away from Blowing Rock
Christina’s viral TikTok shows Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster from our video perspective.
Apple Hill Farm
Grandfather Vineyard and Winery in Banner Elk is the first producing winery in Watauga County. In case you need a nudge to visit, it’s also one of North Carolina’s best wineries and vineyards.
Spend some time chilling by the water and drinking some of their delicious offerings, and you’ll see why they’re so popular. I still have their Cabernet Sauvignon on my mind compared to the new wines we explore.
30 minutes away from Blowing Rock
Blowing Rock is close to more of North Carolina’s most beautiful outdoor places. We’d probably start with Grandfather Mountain‘s gorgeous hikes, that breathtaking mile-high bridge, and wildlife exhibits inside.
Remember that this part of Grandfather is privately run, and admission fees are required, though season passes are available if you’re a frequent visitor.
There are parts of Grandfather Mountain that you can access for free, including the State Parks side (25 minutes away from Blowing Rock). Its Profile Trail is among the most popular in all of North Carolina.
Linville Gorge Wilderness Area
As we mentioned, Blowing Rock isn’t too far from the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. The Linville Gorge is one of the most rugged landscapes in North Carolina, so be prepared when hiking and always Leave No Trace.
40 minutes away from Blowing Rock
The Gorge includes Linville Falls, which is easily one of our favorite hikes in North Carolina. You can stare at the falls from Erwin’s View or Chimney View via the Erwin’s View Trail (1.6 miles round trip).
Or you can descend down via the 1.4-mile Plunge Basin Trail. It gets tricky and non-passable when the water is too high, so it’s best to ask around before heading down.
Read More: Things to Do in Morganton and Burke County
1 hour away from Blowing Rock
If you’re up for a more adventurous drive, Wiseman’s View can be reached by a somewhat treacherous trek four miles up what seems like a never-ending winding road. However, the short walk after parking and the view are certainly worth it.
Note: I’ve made it up and down this road multiple times in a Toyota Camry, though my SUV easily handles the road.
50 minutes away from Blowing Rock
Hawksbill and Table Rock mountains’ trailheads sit on State Rd 1265, or Table Rock Rd. Hawksbill is the first one you’ll meet after 3.5 miles of driving. The 1.5-mile loop will be interrupted with wonderful views of the Linville Gorge.
Table Rock Mountain
1 hour 10 minutes from Blowing Rock
Drive another 5 miles from the Hawksbill trailhead and the hike to Table Rock Mountain awaits. It’s a steep 2.2 miles round trip, with additional gorgeous looks at the Gorge. Some sections of this road close from January to March, so plan accordingly.
Bonus Gorge Fun: Famous Louise’s
40 minutes away from Blowing Rock
Famous Louise’s in the town of Linville Falls is a great spot for breakfast, with generous portions and reasonable prices. It sits between Linville Falls Welcome Center and the road that leads to Wiseman’s View.
Ready to Explore These Things to Do in Blowing Rock and Nearby Towns?
We have always loved the mountains and our many weekends exploring all these wonderful things to do in Blowing Rock. This awesome town and its surroundings would earn such a warm spot in our hearts.
I can’t wait to go back and walk around Downtown before planning our day of exploration over some Camp Coffee or Blowing Rock beer.
Have you ever visited? If so, we’d love to know your favorite things to do in Blowing Rock.
If you haven’t been yet, where do you plan to go first? We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section below or via email.
Don’t forget to share your Blowing Rock adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.