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We first spent a weekend in Blowing Rock after stumbling upon this small mountain town during a day trip from Asheville. And thanks to all the fun things to do, Blowing Rock has become one of our favorite places to visit 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.
And since we’ve been through the area more than a few times, here are some amazing ways to enjoy a weekend here, including our favorite things to do in Blowing Rock and beyond in the High Country.
A Weekend in Blowing Rock
Organization Note: If you’re looking for something specific in this post, here’s how we’ve organized it.
- When to Visit Blowing Rock
- Things to Do in Blowing Rock Every Weekend
- More High Country Fun (Banner Elk, Boone, and More)
- Linville Gorge Wilderness Area
- Map of Things to Do in Blowing Rock
When to Visit
I’m a huge fan of spending a weekend in Blowing Rock throughout the year but will say that spring and fall are great times to hang out there. Summer is also cooler here than spots at a lower elevation.
Also, things do cool down in the winter, but if you’re seeking quiet and solitude during those months, Blowing Rock is your place. The town gets busy when the weather warms up, as it’s a little bit cooler than North Carolina’s Piedmont and Coast.
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. With Fall brings the best views, but it will also bring more visitors.
Things to Do in Blowing Rock EVERY Weekend
Learn About the Town
Before investigating all the things to do in Blowing Rock during your weekend, learn more about it. The town is known as “Crown of the Blue Ridge” and home to just over 1,000 residents.
And like many places in North Carolina, it’s a part of two counties—Watauga and Caldwell. Many people from North Carolina’s cities and beyond come here to check out one of the state’s best small towns.
For a Blowing Rock-themed literary escape, Jan Karon spent time in the town and based her Mitford series on it.
Blowing Rock Hotels and Resorts
Start with Chetola Resort
We heard about Chetola Resort that we thought we’d never get to stay there. But eventually, we were lucky enough to spend a few days here and came away convinced that this is the ultimate place to stay in Blowing Rock.
Chetola means “haven of rest” in Cherokee and it absolutely lives up to that meaning. Quiet, spacious rooms team up with excellent food from Timberlake’s, beautiful views of the lake, and innumerable outdoor fun to make this a true High Country getaway.
Cozy and Historic Stays
Blowing Rock’s hotels range from right in town to tucked away in the mountains. We spent our first weekend at the Meadowbrook Inn, which is a very short walk away from Main Street’s restaurants and shopping.
You can read more about our time at Green Park Inn here.
More Blowing Rock Hotels and Rentals
Another conveniently placed Blowing Rock hotel includes Azalea Garden Inn.
The Blowing Rock
I mean, this is a no-brainer, right? The Blowing Rock and just a short drive from Downtown off US 321. 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.
We visited The Blowing Rock Music Festival and highly recommend it if you’re visiting in September!
Walk Around Downtown
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.
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 outdoor store.
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. Shops at the Martin House is across the street, next to Memorial Park, and waiting for you to peruse, too!
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 Woodlands Barbecue on US 321, which also features in our North Carolina barbecue guide. We’re big fans Foggy Rock next door, too, Bistro Roca, and more places included in our guide to must-eat restaurants in Blowing Rock.
Blowing Rock Alehouse (Awesome NC Beer and Food)
We also like some craft beer and always enjoy a stop at Blowing Rock Alehouse Restaurant. Testing my favorite beers at the source while also enjoying food is a big plus!
Mystery Hill is a cool place to visit if you’d like to 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 (axe throwing!), Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine, and the Appalachian Fossil 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.
If you’re traveling with kids, the ultimate thing to do in Blowing Rock is Tweetsie Railroad. I have to admit that the child inside me came out while riding on the train.
It was tons of fun watching the cowboys and train robbers duke it out. No spoilers!
Hike the Glen Burney Trail
While we love this small town’s shops and eateries, the outdoor things to do in Blowing Rock stand out, too. We fell in love with the Glen Burney Trail.
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.
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 from 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
You can keep driving for about four miles along the Blue Ridge Parkway and spend time at Julian Price Memorial Park and even stay overnight at the Julian Price Campground.
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.
We included both Glen Burney and Moses H. Cone in our guide to hiking in North Carolina! All featured in our guide to hiking trails near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk.
More Hikes and Outdoor Fun Near Blowing Rock
We’ve mentioned a couple of fun Blowing Rock hikes but thought you’d should know about ones in surrounding areas. One of our favorite ways to see Grandfather 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.
There are even more hikes near Blowing Rock and we can’t wait to share them with you very soon!
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 spots 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?
Check Out the Rest of the High Country
We don’t want to take anything away from Blowing Rock but know that people love exploring its High Country surroundings, too.
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.
Keep in mind that this part of Grandfather is privately run and admission fees are required, though there are season passes available if you’re a frequent visitor.
There are parts of Grandfather Mountain that you can access for free, including the State Park. Its Profile Trail is among the most popular in all of North Carolina.
If you’d like to explore Blowing Rock’s surroundings and are here during winter, start with Sugar Mountain Ski Resort. Nearby Banner Elk is just down the mountain and a nice town for hanging out, grabbing some food, and relaxing in North Carolina’s High Country.
Apple Hill Farm
Grandfather Vineyard and Winery is the first producing winery in Watauga County. Spend some time chilling by the water and drink some of their delicious offerings and you’ll see why they’re so popular. I still have their Cabernet Sauvignon on my mind when comparing to new wines that we explore.
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.
And if you don’t know who he is, read up on our interview with B Townes about Merlefest, the awesome festival that serves as an ongoing tribute to Doc’s son.
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, either. 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.
More High Country Fun
As we mentioned, Blowing Rock isn’t too far from the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area.
The Gorge include 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.
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 I think an SUV would make things easier.
The trailheads for Hawksbill and Tablerock mountains both sit on State Rd 1265, or Tablerock Rd. Hawsbill is the first one you’ll meet after 3.5 miles driving. The 1.5-mile loop will be interrupted with wonderful views of the Linville Gorge.
Drive another 5 miles from the Hawksbill trailhead and the hike to Tablerock 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
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.
We included all this Linville Gorge fun in our guide covering a weekend in Morganton and Burke County.
Our Thoughts and Yours, Too!
We have always loved the mountains and our many weekends in Blowing Rock are a big reason why. 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.
What about you? Have you ever been to this part of North Carolina? What did you think of it? If you’re in the midst of planning a trip there, where do you plan to go first? We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section below!
Map of Things to Do in Blowing Rock
Our map includes the location of all the things to do in Blowing Rock (and beyond) that we mentioned. Select each one for more info, including directions.