Spending a weekend in Boone and exploring all the things to do there is a must for your NC bucket list. We can vouch for that after visiting the town, digging into its awesome restaurant scene, and becoming familiar with many spots around it in the High Country.
If you follow us on social media, you’ll know we have a lot of love for Boone. And that’s what we’re going to share here, mixing food, outdoor fun, and attractions beyond the town’s limits. Here are all the ways you can enjoy a weekend in Boone and beyond.
This post is part of our series on Boone and the rest of Western North Carolina. We originally created it on December 20, 2019.
Seasonal and Monthly Events in Boone
Before we dig into all the things to do each weekend in Boone, here are some specific events that you really keep on your calendar.
March: The Daniel Boone Rail Jam brings the snow to Boone on March 16, 2020, with $4,000 total up for grabs. Skiiers and snowboarders will come for the prizes and the guaranteed snow, but you should also stop by Daniel Boone Amphitheater to watch.
April: Boone’s Easter Eggstravaganza is held on a Saturday the week before Easter, with fun for all ages. Egg hunts start at the Watauga County Library at 2:00 pm and a scavenger hunt will take over downtown, too.
June: The third Friday of every June is Doc Watson Day, which is a free concert that celebrates the late great area resident and 7-time Grammy winner. The Jones House invites musicians who played with him and those inspired by his influence to come and play.
December: Starting in 2019, Horton Hotel isn’t just one of the most awesome places to stay in Boone, it’s THE place to be for New Year’s Eve. The fun begins at 6:00 pm in Horton Hotel’s lounges, followed by a midnight ball drop and a complimentary bubbly toast.
We’ll be sharing more seasonal events throughout the rest of this post. A few specific places keep the people of Boone and the High Country very busy throughout much of the year.
20+ Things to Do in Boone NC EVERY Weekend
Stay Somewhere Fun & Close
For the absolutely closest and most convenient place, start with the Horton Hotel. It’s the only downtown Boone hotel, right on King St and surrounded by all the shopping and some of the best places to eat, as we’ll mention shortly.
You’ll find more hotels in and near Boone along US Highways 221 and 321, just a short drive from downtown.
Boone Watauga County Tourism Development Authority hosted us at the Holiday Inn Express and we loved the convenience of getting into Boone and out for exploring more of the High Country. The staff also went above and beyond to make sure our stay was a great one!
If you can’t get into these two, there are more Boone hotels worth checking out (or into) here.
Go Shopping on King Street
We mentioned the shopping on King St but have to give it another shoutout here. Start with the Shoppes at Farmers Hardware, family-owned since 1924 and home to just about anything you can think of buying.
There are more shops on King, Howard, and Depot Streets to fill out any Friday or Saturday afternoon.
Mast General Store
Of course, we can’t leave out Mast General Store while in Boone. It’s absolutely worth a visit if you need to get some shopping done in Boone, especially if you and your kid need some nice winter clothes.
The original location in Valle Crucis is fun to walk through, too. It’s well-known for its collection of just about everything, moon pies, and an inviting back porch.
Outside, you’ll see two connected buildings with an interesting history. And inside, you’ll find outdoor gear, toys, clothes, and so much more.
The Boone Greenway Trail
Boone’s Greenway Trail follows the New River and takes you to spots that feel far away from everything, not just town. The trail is made up of pavement and some gravel, accessible for hikers, strollers, and wheelchairs.
More info about the Greenway Trail and Boone’s parks can be found here.
Eat at these Awesome Restaurants
Eating in Boone is beyond overwhelming because there are so many good restaurants here.
A burger from The Cardinal is a must for lunch, especially if you like bison.
The Local is THE place for great drinks to accompany delicious bites and a fun atmosphere. Live music on Friday and Saturday nights keep it one of the area’s most popular spots.
For more of our favorite places to eat, check out this guide to restaurants in Boone!
Drink (and Eat) at ALL the Breweries in Boone
You can easily pace yourself and visit every brewery in Boone, as there are currently three in town.
Appalachian Mountain Brewery
Appalachian Mountain Brewery (AMB) is the largest, sitting just off US 321 near Boone Mall. An on-site food truck du jour accompanies a great selection of beers. Seasonal creations and taproom exclusives join forces with flagships like Long Leaf IPA to keep AMB a must-visit in Boone.
Lost Province Brewing Company
Walk or drive up the hill on Depot St to Lost Province Brewing Company and enjoy wood-fired pizzas with your pint. Depending on how I’m feeling, a Fat Bastard Oatmeal Stout or Hipster Juice IPA absolutely hit the spot before I have to descend back down the hill.
Booneshine Brewing Co.
The winner of “Most Beautiful Taproom Ever” should go to Booneshine Brewing Co. You might not care as much as me about these things, so let’s talk about the important stuff.
More Beer to Come?
Since Appalachian State is cool enough to offer Fermentation Sciences as a major, I suspect more breweries in Boone to come over the years. Stay tuned for more about these awesome makers of craft beer.
Cheer on the Mountaineers
From August to December, Appalachian State football games are more than an event. They’re a tradition that alumni to return for and students enjoy. And the players? They dominate whatever opposition comes to town, whether it’s a conference game or not.
Ride ’em All at Tweetsie Railroad
If you visit Tweetsie during any regular day, you’ll quickly see why this is one of the most fun things to do in North Carolina. Start with a Wild West Train Adventure, with a mix of comedy and suspense that’ll get a laugh out of both the parents and kids.
The rest of your day can be spent walking around the massive park, enjoying a carousel ride or some arcade games. Or you can just take a chair lift to and from Miner’s Mountain, admiring the views.
Special Events at Tweetsie
And from its yearly opening in April to December, it seems like there’s always a special event happening at Tweetsie Railroad.
The Ghost Train in September and October, Christmas at Tweetsie, and their Fireworks Extravaganza in July are just a few of the big things happening at Tweetsie.
You can learn more about special events here.
More Fun in Boone
Daniel Boone Native Gardens
Daniel Boone Native Gardens is open every day from May to October and hosts over 200 species of plants, including various native trees and wildflowers. Admission is a $2 donation for visitors ages 16 and older.
Hickory Ridge Living History Museum
We mentioned Horn in the West earlier but thought you should also know about Hickory Ridge Living History Museum. It shares the grounds and sits next to Daniel Boone Native Gardens.
This Revolutionary War-era recreation of a small mountain community is open for tours from April through November. Visitors can also experience demos of hearthside cooking, blacksmithing, and more period-focused crafts.
Whitewater is just a short drive the High Country, and more than a few outfitters can shuttle you out to navigate those rivers and waterways.
They’ll set you up with a kayak, canoe, or raft throughout the warmer months, but you can also reach out at any time of year to see if conditions are cooperating.
For more info, check Explore Boone’s website.
Explore the Surrounding High Country
I don’t want to take anything away from Boone because it’s such an awesome town. There are just a ton of places in the High Country that you must set out to explore from your Boone base.
Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
I love scenic drives and if we’re exploring Western North Carolina, I’m always excited to hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s one of the best places for a road trip through North Carolina. The Parkway is packed with our favorite hikes, the most beautiful overlooks, beautiful spring flowers, and amazing fall foliage.
Access from Boone to the Blue Ridge Parkway is about five miles via US 321. A few of the hikes we’ll mention shortly require getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is no problem in my book. Some of the Parkway’s most iconic spots (including Linn Cove Viaduct) are within 30 minutes driving from Boone.
Note: Some sections of the Parkway are closed during winter due to weather and construction. More info is available here.
It’s hard to write about Boone without its close neighbor Blowing Rock coming up. The town is home to amazing restaurants, an awesome shopping scene, and the famed Blowing Rock—North Carolina’s oldest tourist attraction.
It’s also home to a couple of our favorite hikes—Flat Top Tower Hike and Glen Burney Trail. We’ll mention the first one in more detail shortly.
Any description of the High Country without mentioning Banner Elk would be incomplete. This town of 1,500-plus has incredible restaurants, with Banner Elk Cafe & Tavern one of many you should visit.
Grandfather Vineyard is another reason you should visit Banner Elk. We enjoyed sitting by the creek with our glass in hand, not sure if we admired the scenery or the wine more.
We’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time here, even venturing out to Apple Hill Farm. There’s no apple picking available; just special people and an atmosphere that can cure anyone’s ill mood or feelings.
It’s a place where the beautiful animals do the talking, as you’ll see after hanging out with the farm’s alpacas, goats, and horses. And if meet owner Lee Rankin, some time talking with her (as we did here) will show you that our world is what we make of it.
Banner Elk is also a great base for folks who want to ski at either Sugar Mountain or Beech Mountain. That’s because it’s sandwiched between them, just 10 minutes away from each.
Every year, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games brings colors to Macrae Meadows with pageantry, athletic competitions, and more to celebrate North Carolina’s Scots-Irish heritage.
Favorites not named Linville include Famous Louise’s Rockhouse Restaurant, which sits on three county lines (McDowell, Avery, and Burke). Come here for a delicious breakfast or lunch before or after you’ve hiked around Linville Falls or driven up to see Wiseman’s View.
Hiking Near Boone
We’ve discovered hikes galore in the Boone area and here are a few of our favorites.
Rough Ridge Trail is one of a few that we’ll share that’s just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
It’s a quick hike to the first overlook (1/3 of a mile) and absolutely beautiful if you can get there for sunrise. You can keep going another half-mile to the summit, which stands at 4,773 ft.
We wrote more about the hike here.
Boone Fork Trail
Boone Fork Trail is an almost 5-mile loop that starts at Julian Price Memorial Park (MM 296.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway). It takes you through diverse terrain, crossing its namesake Boone Fork River at many turns.
Summer and early fall hikers come for swimming spots, flowers, and eventual foliage but it’s a gorgeous hike throughout much of the year.
Flat Top Tower
For epic views from the top of an old aero motor tower, the 2.7-mile up-and-back Flat Top Tower hike is perfect. Inside Moses H Cone Memorial Park and just off the Blue Ridge Parkway (MM 294), Flat Top Manor is where you start. Take a minute there and enjoy the beautiful views of Bass Lake below.
You’ll start to notice beautiful views of Blowing Rock about two miles in, but keep going and you’ll reach the 40-foot steel tower.
For this sometimes acrophobic person, walking up and down can seem like an eternity. However, the views from the top were totally worth the anxiety for me. I just count my steps and try to focus on putting one foot in front of the other to keep moving.
There are so many more trails beyond these, though. If you’ve explored the area before, do you have a favorite to share with us? Let us know in the comments!
Ready for Your Weekend in Boone?
I know that we’ve listed too many things to do during one weekend in Boone, which means you’ll just have to come back. And after your experience in this fun town, trust me in confidently knowing that you’ll want to come back.
Boone and its surroundings have this power of making you want to be there when you’re sitting somewhere far away. At least, that’s how I feel when I’m not there.
And while we wait for our next trip to Boone, I want to know. What would you do during your first trip here? If you’ve been before, what do you love about this area and is there anything we left out? Either way
Special thanks to Boone Watauga County Tourism Development Authority for hosting us during our stay. All opinions within this article are our own.