Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on September 29, 2023.
When thinking about the best things to do in Elkin, North Carolina, we start with the amazing Yadkin Valley wineries found here. But, of course, there’s much more to this lovely small town in Surry County beyond wine.
Whether you’re coming from I-77 (Exit 85) or the Blue Ridge Parkway via US-21, you’ll quickly learn that Elkin offers adventures for everyone. The easily walkable downtown and the amazing outdoor adventures surrounding it are waiting for you.
We’ll share all of that and more of the best things to do in Elkin. But, if you’re looking for something specific, here’s how we’ve organized this guide:
- Where is Elkin?
- The History of Elkin
- Where to Stay in Elkin (and Nearby)
- Festivals and Annual Events in Elkin
- Things to Do in Elkin This Weekend (and ALL Year)
- Wine Tours
- Restaurants in Elkin
- Elkin Breweries
- Nearby Attractions
- Nearby Towns
- More Things to Do in Elkin (Related Travel Guides)
Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in the Elkin 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: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina
Where is Elkin, North Carolina?
- The first answer to “Where is Elkin NC?” should be “It’s in a great spot!”
- Elkin is mostly located in Surry County, with some parts (including Carter Falls) in Wilkes County.
- Many people know the area as the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, a prominent wine-producing region and officially sanctioned American Viticultural Area.
- The town is an easy day trip away from many places in North Carolina, including Winston-Salem (50 minutes), Boone (1 hour 10 minutes), Charlotte (1 hour 15 minutes), Greensboro (1 hour 15 minutes), and Durham (2 hours). Raleigh to the east and Asheville to the west are both about 2-1/2 hours away.
- Other towns close by include Mount Airy (35 minutes) and Wilkesboro (30 minutes), and we’ll share more about them below.
- Many people access Elkin via I-77 (Exits 82 and 85) but as we explain later, there are some beautiful scenic highways through and around the town.
- According to the 2020 census, the population of Elkin is about 4,000. You may meet many of the people when out and about in this small town, including maybe a winemaker or two.
Read More: The NC Tripping North Carolina Travel Map
The History of Elkin
Before digging into the best things to do in Elkin, we think it’s important to understand the town’s history and some interesting facts.
- The Elkin area has long attracted visitors, thanks to Big Elkin Creek and the Yadkin River coming together here. Paleo-Indians are believed to have been in the area around 12,000 years ago.
- After that, the Elkin area was frequented by the Sioux Indians as early as 500 BC. When European settlers arrived in the 1700s, the Cherokee were here, too.
- Elkin also saw action during the Revolutionary War, as troops gathered to march on the Overmountain Victory Trail toward Wilkesboro before moving on to Morganton, and further south. We’ll mention more about that shortly.
- More recently, Elkin enjoyed a rich tradition within the textile industry. Chatham Manufacturing Company opened in 1877, and business boomed with the railroad’s arrival in 1890.
- Chatham Manufacturing became the largest blanket manufacturer for troops during WWI and WWII. While textiles are not the dominant player in the area, there are other industries that employ the roughly 4,000 people who live in Elkin today.
- One of those industries is tourism, with visitors coming to explore the outdoors, local wineries, and other fun things to do in Elkin throughout the year.
Where to Stay in Elkin (and Nearby)
One of the best things to do in Elkin is to choose where you’re staying. There are a few chain hotels just off I-77, including a Hampton Inn in Jonesville.
Of course, our first pick would always be the Six28 House near Downtown Elkin.
At 628 Elk Spur St, it’s situated in a cozy residential neighborhood and is backed by an interesting story. Built just before the Depression, the house changed hands a few times and was owned by some notable local names.
Ask any local about this house today, though, and they’ll likely share how much they like the current owners, Keith and Holly. This wonderful couple is just a part of why we love Six28 House.
Keith’s amazing breakfasts show you why he’s highly sought after throughout town. Before coming to Elkin, he cooked at some highly-regarded restaurants in Raleigh and elsewhere. The food, your cozy room (one of two currently available), and conversations with the owners are the perfect way to start your days in Elkin.
Other unique places to stay include cabins at Elkin Creek Vineyard. We look forward to enjoying one of them in the future!
Festivals and Annual Events in Elkin
There are also some interesting festivals and seasonal events in Elkin worth sharing, too. Here are a few of them:
- The Yadkin Valley Wine Festival in May is all about celebrating Yadkin Valley wine. This kid-friendly event features local music and food!
- NC Trail Days in June is a multi-day festival attracting outdoor enthusiasts to bike, hike, and boat the trails of Elkin. Join a guided hike, stay for movie night, and listen to live music and guest speakers!
- Elkin Roots Music Fest in June is held in The Reeves Theater and brings together bluegrass, blues, folk, and country music!
- Reevestock in August is a wonderful music festival held at Elkin’s Hidden Amphitheater. Notable past performers include Mandolin Orange (now Watchhouse) and Mipso.
- We may as well keep talking about music in Elkin, as the Martha Bassett Show is an awesome event that takes place throughout the year at the Reeves Theater.
Are there any other events in Elkin that we should know about? Let us know in the comments or by email!
Things to Do in Elkin NC This Weekend (+ ALL Year)
Those annual events are certainly worthy of a spot on your calendar. They pair nicely with these year-round things to do in Elkin.
Wineries near Elkin NC
While there are many other things to do in Elkin, drinking wine is always number one! There are so many wineries near Elkin that are perfect for afternoon sips.
We delve deeper into them in our Surry County wineries guide, but here’s a brief overview of these seven wineries.
- If you are searching for fruitier wines, check out Slightly Askew, not far from downtown at 913 N Bridge St.
- But, of course, we’re also fans of Adagio Vineyards (139 Benge Dr) and Golden Road Vineyards (542 Golden Road, State Road), and we can’t leave out the picturesque Carolina Heritage (170 Heritage Vines Way).
- Elkin Creek Vineyard (318 Elkin Creek Mill Rd) is one of our favorites to visit as a family! Kids can dip in the creek and, on Sundays, they make fresh dough for delicious wood-fired pizza!
- Another fun Elkin winery is Grassy Creek Vineyard & Winery (235 Chatham Cottage Ln, State Road). It was once a working dairy farm and the tasting room was previously a horse stable! From Grassy Creek, you can also lace up your hiking shoes and hike to Carter Falls. Guided hikes are led from Grassy Creek during NC Trail Days, which we mentioned above in the events section. You can also hike to Carter Falls throughout the year on your own. See more about that below.
- Jones von Drehle (964 Old Railroad Grade Rd, Thurmond) and McRitchie Winery (315 Thurmond PO Road, Thurmond) sit close to each other, just off US-21 between Elkin and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The drive alone is wonderful, but these Wilkes County wineries also serve delicious bold reds and crisp, dry whites.
Read More: Day Trips from Charlotte
Elkin Wine Tours
If you don’t feel like driving to all these wineries in one visit, don’t worry! One of the most convenient things to do in Elkin is to join a wine tour.
These locally run companies will drive and guide you through the area’s wineries. Here are a few of them for you to check out:
101 E Main St
We’re not done with wine in Elkin, thanks to the Wisdom Table downtown. This community fixture is a wine shop, a tasting room, and a bottle shop featuring local wineries and wines from across the world.
Start with a tasting and some charcuterie before walking around the shop for something nice to take home. Starting at 5:30 each night, the Wisdom Table becomes a full-on restaurant with a weekly updated food menu and wine list.
Downtown Elkin NC
The Wisdom Table is a nice introduction to Downtown Elkin. Here’s a breakdown to help you get situated:
- The intersection of Bridge Street (US-21) and Main Street is the center of town.
- This is where you’ll find Southern on Main and the Wisdom Table. One of the town’s many beautiful murals can be found on the side of Southern and Main.
- Head west down Main Street and you’ll find the iconic Reeves Theater, Fruition, American Aquatic, and more that we’ll mention shortly. Main Street intersects with Front Street, which you should follow south to Harry’s for some amazing food.
- To the east of the Bridge/Main intersection is Angry Troll Brewing, Yadkin Valley Quilts, and the Foothills Arts Center at the east end.
- Standard Street is south of Main Street, and home to Crater Park, the Yadkin Valley Heritage & Trails Visitor Center, and more.
- Market Street sits north of Main and is where you’ll find Dirty Joe’s, the makers of great coffee and pastries.
Here are some highlights you’ll find downtown, along with links to individual businesses
The Reeves Theater
129 W Main St
Originally opened in 1941, the Reeves is a 250-seat theater and venue space that embraces its rich history with a retro exterior and decor. Grab a craft beer on tap, dig into some tasty food in their cafe, and enjoy the sounds of the Foothills.
As we mentioned in our “events” section above, the Reeves Theater hosts the Martha Bassett Show throughout the year.
The beautiful mural on the side of Southern on Main’s building is one of our favorites in town. There are even more to admire, though, as Elkin is blessed with a plethora of paintings on its buildings.
Since Elkin is a legitimate trail town, it’s fitting that there’s a mural to show that off. Head to 111 W Market St and you can see the work of Michael Brown, which was sponsored by the building’s owner.
We’ll mention some of downtown’s great restaurants and places to grab a drink shortly, but we also think you should know about where to go shopping in Elkin NC.
We want to mention everyone because this town’s shops are amazing, but here are a few to get you started:
- American Aquatic (127 W Main St)
- Elkin Antiques and Collectibles Mall (131 A South Bridge St)
- Yadkin Valley Hemp (225 E Main St)
- Yadkin Valley Quilts (235 E Main St)
223 W Main St
We mentioned the Wisdom Table, Angry Troll, and the Reeves Theater as places to grab a drink in Elkin. However, you should start with Fruition if you like cocktails, a nice selection of alcohol, and canned beer.
They can make anything you desire, but the drink menu at Fruition was created by experts. Just leave it to them, unless you’ve got a specific recipe memorized.
If you don’t meet a winemaker at the Wisdom Table, you’ll possibly meet one at Fruition.
Foothills Arts Center
321 E Main St
Bookending East Main St is the Foothills Arts Center, which occupies a building with a long and deep connection with Elkin. Built as the Gilvin Roth YMCA building in 1942, many people walked through its doors when it served many town functions.
Today, it houses the work of local artists and studios of those who work here on site. Classes are open to the public, so you can come and learn how to paint, draw, weave, build violins, and more.
Blue Ridge Craft Trail Stops in Elkin
The Foothills Arts Center and the Reeves Theater are part of Surry County’s Blue Ridge Craft Trail, along with these other arts contributors to the area:
- The John Furches Gallery (123 W Main St)
- The November Room (206 E Main St)
- Yadkin Valley Fiber Center (321 E Main St, Elkin)
- Yadkin Valley Quilts (235 E Main St)
Outdoor Things to Do in Elkin
You can start exploring the outdoors while in Downtown Elkin, as multiple trails run through it. The Elkin Valley Trail Association (EVTA) has worked to connect the town’s trails Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which stretches from Clingmans Dome in Western NC to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks.
Here are a few, including others just a short drive away.
Read More: 100+ Hiking Trails in North Carolina
Elkin Trails (Carter Falls and More)
Of course, one of the best things to do in Elkin is to visit Carter Falls, an easy, kid-friendly hike that was relatively unknown until recently. Personally, I like visiting when the greens of spring and summer haven’t arrived, as your view of the falls are more obstructed during those times.
As we mentioned, the Elkin Valley Trails Association has tirelessly worked to maintain the Carter Falls Trail and the entire trail system around Elkin. That’s why you can hike to Carter Falls from a few different places.
Here are some of the other trails included in the system:
- Grassy Creek Vineyard Trailhead (235 Chatham Cottage Ln, State Rd, NC): Yes, you can start hiking from an Elkin winery. From Grassy Creek, you’ll hike about a half-mile to Byrd’s Branch Campground and up the hill to the Carter Falls Trailhead. Of course, we think you should end your day at Grassy Creek Vineyard with a tasting inside or a glass (or bottle) outside. Drink responsibly.
- Isaac’s Trailhead (400 E Carter Mill Rd, Elkin, NC): Isaac’s Trailhead follows Grassy Creek for about 1.5 miles before meeting with the Grassy Creek Vineyard Trail mentioned above. Note that during this part of your hike, you will be walking along and adjacent to multiple privately owned properties. Be respectful and don’t venture onto private property.
The Overmountain Victory Trail
The Overmountain Victory Trail is a National Parks Unit that spans 330 miles from Elizabethton, Tennessee, to Kings Mountain National Military Park in South Carolina.
The trail follows the path that the patriot militia took during the Battle of Kings Mountain during the Revolutionary War. A 70-mile stretch branches out to Elkin and eventually reunites with the main route in Morganton.
You’ll see signs when driving around the area, but Elkin even has a few places to get out and walk the trail.
A couple of good spots include the Elkin & Alleghany Rail Trail, starting at the Elkin Recreation Center.
Another is near the Elkin Public Library (111 N Front St), where a wonderful scene awaits nearby. This is where water rushes over a historic dam, and you can watch it from a bridge on Main Street or on either side of Big Elkin Creek.
Elkin & Alleghany Rail Trail
Walks, jogs, and bike rides along the Elkin & Alleghany Rail Trail are among the best things to do in Elkin. This trail follows an old railroad trail and boasts excellent views of Elkin Municipal Park’s spillway dam.
The course extends two miles and offers plenty of benches to rest, shelters, restrooms, and more scenic views. There are even a few single-track mountain bike trails that branch off the trail, too, and they aren’t easy.
You can learn about Elkin’s history and biology through dozens of exhibits along the trail.
Elkin Municipal Park
The Overmountain Victory Trail and the Elkin & Allegheny Rail Trail both begin at Elkin Municipal Park (399 Hwy 268 West). Beyond those two paths, this is a 25-acre multi-function space built for the town and people of Elkin.
People come here for the Elkin Recreational Center, the kids’ playground, athletic fields (including tennis courts), picnic shelters, and much more.
Where to Eat in Elkin
With so many trails to explore, you’ll need to fill your belly at some point.
Luckily, Elkin is home to some solid restaurants, with more than a few Downtown and the others scattered around. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Angry Troll Brewing (222 E Main St): We’ll mention Angry Troll in the breweries section below, but they also deserve a nod here. Whether you’re seeking innovative or familiar pizzas (mac and cheese for the win!), some nicely sauced wings, or anything else to go with your beer, this place is a good start.
- Dirty Joe’s (132 E Market St): Dirty Joe’s makes a great cup of coffee to go with some yummy pastries. If you’re not staying at an awesome bed and breakfast like Six28 House, then opt out of your hotel’s breakfast at least once for this place.
- Harry’s Place (135 Front St): I don’t want to anger anyone and pick a favorite, but Harry’s Place is hard to forget. Around since the 1950s, Harry’s offers daily specials along with a comfortable menu of familiar southern favorites. Hopefully you can get some fried chicken from there at least once.
- Southern on Main (102 E Main St): Enjoy steamed mussels, tasty steaks, exquisitely breaded local fish, an extensive wine list, and sonker at Southern on Main. This is an upscale yet welcoming downtown restaurant. For those of you unfamiliar with sonker, it’s a delicious must-order dessert native to Surry County.
- Speedy Chef (685 N Bridge St): You might spot Speedy Chef before you reach downtown and stop if you do. Some of the best burgers, hot dogs, and other quick favorites are waiting.
- The Yellow Door Cafe (280 Standard St): Across from the Yadkin Valley Heritage and Trails Center is the Yellow Door Cafe. It’s a breakfast and brunch restaurant owned by the The Liberty Catering Company, and their French-inspired menu with leave you with fun food memories.
Elkin also boasts a North Carolina brewery—Angry Troll Brewing. Here’s a closer look.
- We mentioned Angry Troll‘s amazing pizzas but think you should know about their beers. You can get anything from a stout to a lager and IPAs, and it’s hard to go wrong here. They also offer a great selection of NC beer made beyond their own walls, if you must!
Ready to Dig Into These Things to Do in Elkin?
Thanks to its lovely downtown, beautiful surroundings, and yes, the wineries, we think you’ll never stop finding fun things to do in Elkin. Whether it’s your first time or a return trip to the area, we hope you’re able to get out there and explore this wonderful area as soon as possible.
In case you’ve visited before, we’d love to know which of these are your favorite things to do in Elkin. If you’re planning your first trip, what’s at the top of your list?
Things to Do Near Elkin NC (Nearby Attractions)
Thanks to its location in both Surry and Wilkes counties, Elkin is surrounded by some amazing scenery. You can experience many of these beautiful things to do in Elkin from the seat of your car, your bicycle, or by hiking around the area.
Read More: Excellent Day Trips from Greensboro
You may pass through Jonesville on your way into Elkin but do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with this little town. It’s home to a few restaurants (including Generations and Theo’s), the scenic Jonesville Greenway, and the Hometown River Company.
Hometown will take you out on the Yadkin River in a kayak or tube and is a great, locally-owned outfitter.
Stone Mountain State Park
Between Elkin and the Blue Ridge Parkway is the road that leads to Stone Mountain State Park. Exploring this park is one of our favorite things to do in Elkin’s surroundings.
Stone Mountain is best known for its iconic granite dome, which you can climb and hike around on the 4.5-mile Stone Mountain Loop. On the loop, hikers will pass a historic homestead and the 200-foot Stone Mountain Falls.
While most hikers take the loop trail to see the 600-foot dome, Widow’s Creek Falls is another popular spot in Stone Mountain State Park. The waterfall is easy to reach, a great swimming spot in the summer, and perfect for photos throughout the year.
All of these fun things to do put Stone Mountain near the top of our favorite state parks!
Blue Ridge Parkway Stops near Elkin
Drive on US-21 for about 20 minutes from downtown Elkin and you’ll reach the Blue Ridge Parkway! From Elkin, you’ll enter at around Milepost 229, which is near Little Glade Mill Pond (MP 230) and Doughton Park (MP 238 to 241) to the south and Cumberland Knob (MP 217) to the north.
Drive even further south to Milepost 272 for an easy waterfall hike at EB Jeffress Park. It leads you to Cascades, one of our favorite waterfalls near Boone.
Read More: The Best NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes
Additional Scenic Drives
There are other scenic drives near Elkin not named the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- We’ve mentioned US-21 a few times. The road is surrounded by trees and mountains and will take you through the beautiful Yadkin Valley before meeting the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north.
- Some of this stretch of US-21 is part of the Yadkin Valley Scenic Byway, one of our favorite scenic roads. This particular route is a loop that also meets Old US 421 south of Elkin. You’ll cross the Yadkin River a couple of times and will pass through the town of Rockford, east of Elkin.
- Another road to hop on is NC-268, which runs 90 miles west to east from Caldwell County near Lenoir and Boone through Elkin to Westfield near Hanging Rock State Park. Some of the prettiest sections of this road are between Elkin and North Wilkesboro and Wilkesboro and Lenoir.
The Surry Scenic Bikeway
The Surry Scenic Bikeway is another option for exploring the area’s beautiful countryside. With more than 500 miles of designated routes, the Surry Scenic Bikeway attracts avid cyclists looking to bike miles of rolling terrain.
There are plenty of stops along the way, including the Rockford General Store and many wineries.
The Yadkin River Paddle Trail
Hitting the water with a paddle and a friend on the Yadkin River Blue Water Trail is one of the most fun things to do in Elkin! Rocky River Forest Run is a boating outfitter in Elkin that will happily organize equipment for those looking for a fun time on the Yadkin River.
Whether you kayak or tube, the team at Rocky River Forest Run will shuttle you and your equipment to make your time on the river as pleasant as possible!
Pilot Mountain State Park
The last of our fun things to do in Elkin’s surroundings is one of the most iconic mountain peaks in North Carolina. Pilot Mountain State Park sits about 40 minutes east of Elkin.
If you’re thinking about day-tripping here, make sure you arrive early, as its parking lots fill up quickly on weekends and during busier times. The short Little Pinnacle Overlook Trail (0.1 miles) is a wonderful introduction and offers a look at Big Pinnacle.
Longer Pilot Mountain hikes include the Mountain Trail (4.3 miles, Red Blaze), which connects to Grindstone Trail (3 miles, Blue Blaze). You can combine the two to make a roughly 6-mile loop.
We thought it’d be a stretch to include Wilkesboro and Mount Airy in our guide covering things to do in Elkin, so we’ll mention them here.
Beyond that iconic festival, things to do in Elkin’s Wilkes County neighbor include visits to more wineries (including Raffaldini), art galleries, and much more.
Many people also know Wilkesboro as the Moonshine Capital of the World, which means there’s also plenty of NASCAR history here. In fact, Wilkesboro is the site of the first-ever NASCAR track.
You’ll figure that out when walking around downtown, while stopping in one of its cool souvenir shops, or while enjoying a meal at one of the yummy places to eat here. Walker’s Soda Fountain and The Snappy Lunch are two of our favorites, but there are plenty of other great restaurants in Mount Airy.
More Elkin-Area Travel Guides
Here are some more North Carolina Travel Guides covering Elkin and elsewhere.