Last Updated on September 8, 2021
Last Updated on September 8, 2021
If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.
When thinking about the best things to do in Elkin, many visitors 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 that surround 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:
- Elkin Facts and History
- Where to Stay in Elkin (and Nearby)
- Festivals and Seasonal Events in Elkin
- Things to Do in Elkin ALL Year
- Outdoor Things to Do in Elkin
- Restaurants in Elkin
- Elkin Breweries
- More Things to Do in Elkin (Related Posts)
Many of these fun Elkin attractions also appeared in our guides covering day trips from Charlotte and also, from Greensboro. This post is part of our series on Elkin and more of our favorite things to do in North Carolina.
Understand Elkin’s History (Before Your Visit)
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, which is our first pick when traveling.
Festivals and Seasonal 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!
Things to Do in Elkin ALL Year
Visit Wineries near Elkin
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. But, of course, we’re also fans of Adagio Vineyards and Golden Road Vineyards, and we can’t leave out the picturesque Carolina Heritage.
Another fun Elkin winery is Grassy Creek Vineyard & Winery. It was once a working dairy farm and the tasting room was previously a horse stable!
From Grassy Cree, you can also lace up your hiking shoes and hike to Carter Falls. We’ll share more about that shortly.
Jones von Drehle and McRitchie Winery 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 serve delicious and bold reds and crisp, dry whites, too.
Join Wine Tours in Elkin
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:
Walk Around Downtown
Downtown Elkin is home to shops, a theater, restaurants, and a brewery that we’ll mention later. Overall, it’s a great place to park and walk around.
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 great way to get a taste of local wineries and wines from across the world.
Enjoy Music at The Reeves Theater
Originally opening 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 farm-to-table food in their cafe, and enjoy the sounds of the Foothills.
Elkin Municipal Park
Many of Elkin’s events happen at Elkin Municipal Park, a 25-acre multi-function space built for the town. People come here to enjoy the park’s mountain biking trails, kids’ playground, athletic fields (including tennis courts), picnic shelters, and much more.
The Overmountain Victory Trail and the Elkin & Allegheny Rail Trail also run through the park.
The Overmountain Victory Trail
Also accessible from downtown Elkin is the Overmountain Victory Trail, spanning 330 miles from Elizabethton, TN, 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.
Elkin & Allegheny Rail Trail
Morning walks and jogs are incredibly popular along the Elkin & Allegheny Rail Trail. 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, and restrooms.
Elkin Trails (Carter Falls and More)
The Elkin Valley Trails Association has tirelessly worked to build up its trail system and connect it to our Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which stretches from Clingmans Dome in Western NC to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks.
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.
Where to Eat in Elkin (Restaurants and Breweries)
Enjoy steaming mussels, an extensive wine list, and sonker at Southern on Main, an upscale yet welcoming downtown restaurant. For those of you unfamiliar with sonker, it’s a delicious must-order dessert native to Surry County.
Elkin also boasts two North Carolina breweries: Angry Troll Brewing and Skull Camp Brewery. Here’s a closer look at both of them.
They also make some of the BEST smoked wings we’ve ever eaten! Go with the dry rub, and you can thank us later!
Things to Do in Elkin’s Surroundings
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.
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. Cascades is one of our favorite waterfalls near Boone.
Additional Scenic Drives
One of our favorite drives is along US-21, which we’ve already mentioned 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 Parkway 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.
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 puts Stone Mountain near the top of our favorite state parks!
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.
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?
More Things to Do in Elkin (and Its Surroundings)
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.
One last daytrip from Elkin that we’d like to mention is Mount Airy. This fun town is also known as “Mayberry,” thanks to its connection to The Andy Griffith Show.
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.