Last Updated on August 31, 2023
Last Updated on August 31, 2023
Looking for an adventure-filled small town in the North Carolina mountains? We think these things to do in Spruce Pine will tick all the boxes for you.
Located just an hour from Asheville and close to Burnsville (another great small town), Spruce Pine is a great place to visit for everyone. Whether you’re seeking fun annual festivals, gem mining, small businesses, outdoor fun, and friendly people, this town has something for you.
We created this guide after exploring Spruce Pine for years and hope you’ll enjoy this special place as much as we have. Here’s how we’ve organized our guide to an excellent lineup of Spruce Pine attractions:
- Featured Partner (Springmaid Mountain)
- Where is Spruce Pine?
- The History of Spruce Pine
- Where to Stay
- Annual Events
- Things to Do in Spruce Pine This Weekend (and All Year!)
- Things to Do Near Spruce Pine
- More NC 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 area and wonder, “What are the best things to do near me in Spruce Pine?” we think this guide will help you!
Skip ahead to any section or keep reading about Springmaid Mountain, the amazing retreat we partnered with to create this guide.
Featured Partner (Springmaid Mountain)
Springmaid Mountain (2171 Henredon Rd, Spruce Pine, NC) is a family-friendly retreat on 400 acres with cabins and campsites. They partnered with us to promote their property, the wonderful town of Spruce Pine, and its surroundings on our website.
There are accommodations to fit every size group—from 1 to 5-bedroom cabins or a bunkhouse for large groups and retreats.
This awesome place is located on the North Toe River, and is the ultimate outdoor getaway. You can fish, swim in the pond, hike to a waterfall, and ride horseback at Spingmaid Mountain.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Spruce Pine, we think Springmaid Mountain is perfect for every kind of traveler!
Where is Spruce Pine NC?
Spruce Pine is a small town in Mitchell County, North Carolina, in a region known as the High Country. Mitchell County borders two counties in Tennessee (Carter County and Unicoi County) and three Western NC counties, including the following:
- Avery County (northeast)
- McDowell County (south)
- Yancey County (southwest)
Spruce Pine is known for its scenic beauty and is surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains. Nearby Pisgah National Forest makes it a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and enjoying the natural beauty.
The History of Spruce Pine
Spruce Pine has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s. Here are some major events that have shaped it into the place we know today:
- Before European settlement, the area around Spruce Pine was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Cherokee people. These tribes lived in the region for centuries and had a deep connection to the land and its resources.
- European settlers began arriving in the late 18th century. The region’s fertile land and abundant resources attracted pioneers who established farms and communities in the area.
- The real development of Spruce Pine can be traced to the discovery of valuable minerals in the late 1800s. In 1860, geologists and prospectors identified significant deposits of mica, followed by the discovery of feldspar and quartz. These minerals were crucial in various industries, including electronics, ceramics, and glassmaking. As a result, mining operations flourished, and the town of Spruce Pine grew around these industries.
- The arrival of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad in the early 1900s further boosted the economy and connectivity of Spruce Pine. The railroad provided a means to efficiently transport the extracted minerals to other parts of the country.
- Like many mining towns, Spruce Pine experienced periods of boom and decline as the demand for certain minerals fluctuated over time. During the mid-20th century, the mining industry faced challenges, leading to some decline in the town’s prosperity.
- As mining disappeared, Spruce Pine shifted its focus to tourism. The town’s scenic beauty, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, attracted visitors seeking outdoor recreation and its mining history.
Where to Stay in Spruce Pine
- Springmaid Mountain: As we mentioned, Springmaid Mountain is the ultimate getaway, with a great selection of cabins and fantastic outdoor amenities.
- Spacious Skies Campground – Bear Den: Formerly known as Bear Den Family Campground, we’ve stayed here a few times during its previous era. This place is off the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 324.8) and has hiking trails, cabins, campsites, and much more!
Annual Events in Spruce Pine
If you are looking for a unique festival in Western North Carolina, check out these annual events that happen in Spruce Pine.
- April: Fire on the Mountain is probably one of the most unique festivals in North Carolina! Celebrating the art of blacksmithing, the Fire on the Mountain festival features demonstrations, arts and crafts, and local vendors. It is free to attend and draws some of the best metalsmiths, toolmakers, and artisans nationwide.
- June: Spruce Pine Alien Festival attracts locals and visitors from all over, offering a range of exciting activities and attractions. Attendees can enjoy costume contests, live music performances, alien-themed art displays, and even a UFO sighting tour. It’s a fun-filled event that brings the community together to embrace the mystery and excitement of the unknown.
- July: Spruce Pine BBQ Championships bring pitmasters from all over the region come to compete in various categories, including ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and chicken. Sample a variety of delicious barbecue dishes, enjoy live music, family-friendly activities, and local craft vendors, making this Spruce Pine festival a perfect outing for barbecue enthusiasts and families.
- August: North Carolina Mineral and Gem Festival highlights the area’s natural resources giving attendees the opportunity to explore a vast array of precious and semi-precious stones, fossils, minerals, and handcrafted jewelry. Educational exhibits, demonstrations, and workshops on geology and lapidary arts make it an informative and engaging experience for visitors of all ages.
- October: Spruce Pine Potters Market brings renowned local potters and clay artists to sell work ranging from functional wares to figural sculpture. Get a unique glimpse into the vibrant world of studio pottery, and find the piece that speaks to you.
Read More: The NC Tripping Events Calendar
Things to Do in Spruce Pine NC This Weekend (and All Year)
Those events will help keep your calendar full but you can count on these things to do in Spruce Pine throughout the year.
Downtown Spruce Pine
Downtown Spruce Pine is a beautiful little community filled with small businesses.
- Burnette’s Country Store (279 Oak Ave, Spruce Pine, NC) has an excellent selection of outdoor clothing, equipment, and fine-crafted furniture. Also, the couple owning it is incredibly sweet so make sure to say “Hi!” to Samantha and Kirk for us!
- Tropical Grill (198 Oak Ave, Spruce Pine, NC): If you are hungry in Spruce Pine, we highly recommend eating at Tropical Grill. They’ve been in Spruce Pine for over a decade and serve dishes from Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Caribbean! We had an incredible meal, and the staff were all very patient with us and our two kids.
- Lakeview Mercantile and Gardens (665 Oak Ave, Spruce Pine, NC) is another fabulous locally-owned business in Spruce Pine. Serving the community for three generations, find gardening and plants, locally produced spices, honey, and crafts, as well as an adorable kid’s toy selection!
- Fox and the Fig (615 Oak Ave, Spruce Pine, NC): If you are searching for a great coffee shop in Spruce Pine, Fox and the Fig is the spot! Serving up fresh baked goods and Counter Culture coffee, we loved the family-friendly atmosphere and beautiful decor inside.
When a business loves the community, it is clear. These small businesses in Spruce Pine love being a part of the mountain charm and were all very welcoming to everyone who walked through their doors!
Spruce Pine has one of the world’s richest deposits of gems and minerals. It is knowns for mica, kaolin, quartz, and feldspar. 90 percent of the raw materials for plumbing fixtures come from Spruce Pine! There are several locally owned gem mines to explore in the area, including
- Gem Mountain (13780 Highway 226 South, Spruce Pine, NC)
- Rio Doce Gem Mine (14622 NC-226 S, Spruce Pine, NC)
- The Emerald Mine (2120 McKinney Mine Rd, Spruce Pine, NC)
Address: 331 McKinney Mine Rd, Spruce Pine, NC
But if you are looking for a super unique gem mining experience in North Carolina, we recommend going to the Emerald Village.
Start by getting a bucket to sluice for gemstones and minerals from a mining flume. Our kids love doing this because each shake of the pan is a new surprise!
You can also take home any gemstone inside the bucket, which invariably becomes a precious keepsake.
Underground North Carolina Mining Museum
Address: 331 McKinney Mine Rd, Spruce Pine, NC 28777
In addition to gem mining, Emerald Village is an excellent place to learn about mining history at the Underground North Carolina Mining Museum.
These exhibits provide insights into the mining industry and miners’ lives during the early 1900s. After going through the museum, guests can walk through the historic Bon Ami Mine.
The Black Light Mine Tour is what makes this one of the best attractions in Spruce Pine! Occurring only 10 nights a year, the village illuminates with vibrant colors only seen with ultraviolet light.
These large deposits of Hyalite Opal glow bright green! This tour sells out fast, and reservations can be made online.
Museum of North Carolina Minerals
Address: 214 Parkway Maintenance Rd, Spruce Pine, NC
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 331
Want to learn more about the history and rich minerals of Western North Carolina? The Museum of the North Carolina Minerals is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 331) and hosts more than 300 varieties of minerals and gems.
There are interactive displays and an in-depth exhibit on the historical importance of the mining industry to the local economy.
Address: 305 Tappan St, Spruce Pine, NC
Riverside Park sits across the North Toe River from downtown Spruce Pine and is one of our favorite places to take our kids. The park has a kids’ playground, picnic shelters, a baseball field, and access to fishing and swimming on the river.
Toe River Arts
Address: 269 Oak Ave, Spruce Pine, NC
Toe River Arts (previously Toe River Arts Council) is a nonprofit organization that promotes the arts and supports artists in Mitchell and Yancey counties, fostering a thriving arts community through various initiatives.
They offer art education programs, workshops, and exhibitions, providing opportunities for artists to showcase their work and connect with the public.
The Toe River Arts Council organizes events and studio tours, allowing visitors to experience the area’s diverse and vibrant artistic talents. It plays a vital role in preserving and enriching the region’s cultural heritage through the arts.
Spruce Pine has some of the best trout fishing in North Carolina! A two-mile section of the North Toe River is classified as the Spruce Pine Mountain Heritage Trout Water.
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission manages this area as delayed-harvest waters.
It is heavily stocked, has many access points, and makes for some of the best fishing in the state! Find it from the US 19E Bridge east of town to the NC 226 Bridge north of Spruce Pine.
The Orchard at Altapass
Address: 1025 Orchard Rd, Spruce Pine, NC
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 328.3
The Orchard at Altapass presents yet another delightful stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway, situated just below a breathtaking overlook that treats visitors to panoramic views of the apple orchards.
Here, you’ll enjoy apple picking and indulging in warm, comforting apple cider. And don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes!
During fall, live music sets the stage for a joyous and festive atmosphere from Thursday to Sunday throughout the apple season.
Things to Do Near Spruce Pine NC
These are some of our favorite things to do in Spruce Pine’s surroundings, starting with NC’s most famous scenic road!
The Blue Ridge Parkway
We mentioned a few Blue Ridge Parkway stops in Spruce Pine and here are a few more nearby. All of these attractions are within 25 miles of Spruce Pine.
- Linville Falls (MP 316)
- Bear Den Mountain Resort & Campground (MP 317)
- Chestoa View (MP 320)
- The Orchard at Altapass (MP 328)
- Crabtree Falls (MP 339)
- Mount Mitchell State Park (MP 355)
We’ll mention of few of these stops in more detail shortly. Before that, here are a few more small towns near Spruce Pine.
Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 339
Speaking of Crabtree Falls (MP 339.5), this is one of North Carolina’s best waterfalls, boasting an awe-inspiring 70-foot drop that makes it a cherished gem near Spruce Pine. Crabtree Falls is my absolute favorite waterfall in North Carolina.
To reach the falls, you’ll embark on a moderate 2.5-mile loop, with the waterfall around 1.6 miles into the trail. While you can take a direct in-and-out route to witness the falls, we highly recommend completing the loop for a truly immersive experience.
The trail presents a steep ascent just after the waterfall, but fear not, as the path evens out and accompanies a tranquil creek, making the journey even more beautiful.
Little Switzerland is a wonderful mountain town along the Blue Ridge Parkway that is home to the Switzerland Inn. Enjoy at least lunch or dinner there, and you’ll be treated to some of the loveliest views of the mountains and valleys in the distance.
Burnsville is a charming town located in Yancey County, southwest of Mitchell County and Spruce Pine. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty.
The town is known for its vibrant arts and crafts community, with numerous galleries and studios showcasing the works of local artisans. You’ll also find some great restaurants in Burnsville, another reason we love visiting.
Burnsville is also surrounded by the Black Mountains, meaning plenty of hiking trails, waterfalls, and outdoor recreational activities are nearby.
Marion is known as “where Main Street meets the mountains” and is a great place to get out, stretch your legs, and walk around. We recommend grabbing lunch at Bruce’s Fabulous Foods (especially the cheesecake!) and grabbing a beer from Mica Town Brewing.
Visitor Center Address: Linville Falls Visitor Center, Warrior Ln, Marion, NC
Linville Falls is a famous natural wonder located along the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 316), which cascades into a deep gorge surrounded by picturesque cliffs and lush greenery.
The falls offer various vantage points accessible through well-maintained hiking trails, giving visitors different perspectives of the breathtaking scenery.
The trail is well maintained but still requires climbing some stairs and hills, but we still recommend it as a kid-friendly waterfall to visit in North Carolina.
Address: 19929 US-221, Marion, NC
Linville Caverns is a fascinating underground attraction near Spruce Pine. It is one of the only caves in the state that are open to the public.
The caverns offer guided tours that take visitors through limestone caves filled with impressive stalactites, stalagmites, and other unique rock formations.
The year-round constant temperature inside the caverns makes it a comfortable destination regardless of the weather outside. Tickets must be purchased in person, so we recommend arriving early as they can sell out.
Ready to Enjoy these Things to Do in Spruce Pine NC and Nearby?
We’re obsessed with this area so we’re not done enjoying all these fun things to do in Spruce Pine and its surroundings. If you’re familiar with Mitchell County or any neighboring spots we mentioned, we’d love to hear from you.
Let us know in the comments or send us an email. Tell us about your favorite places to go around here.
Don’t forget to share any Spruce Pine adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group. Photos are welcome!
More Things to Do in Spruce Pine and Nearby (NC Travel Guides)
There are many fun things to do in Spruce Pine NC and nearby. These NC travel guides include the Spruce Pine attractions mentioned above and more!