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Blowing Rock, North Carolina – what to do & where to eat

Blowing Rock is one of my favorite places to visit in the North Carolina mountains. Here’s where to eat and what to do while visiting!

My husband grew up in Boone, NC, but long before we met, I loved visiting Boone and Blowing Rock, probably because it reminds me a lot of home. I’m from Utah, so I’m love the mountain views, crisp air, hiking and trail running.

The elevation of the “High Country” is over 3300+ feet so it’s significantly cooler there than Winston-Salem in summer months. I crave those cooler mountain mornings so much this time of year! And the fall colors are truly breathtaking. People travel from all over the world to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall to see the colors.

We visit Blowing Rock, NC every couple of months, and a bit more often in the summer to escape the heat. Tommy’s parents still live in Boone, which is close to Blowing Rock and a great excuse to visit. (Be sure to check out my post on things to do and restaurants to eat at in Boone too!)

Blowing Rock, North Carolina boone sunrise

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

I feel like I discover something new every time I visit so here is my most recent list of must-do’s and must-hit restaurants in the Blowing Rock area.

NOTE: This is a post I’ve updated many times over the years as I just keep adding to it. But, it’s worth nothing that many restaurants are closed or only offering takeout right now due to COVID-19 so be sure to call ahead for details. I would be cognizant about what time you hit the trails since they can be overcrowded, especially on the weekends. Aim for off times — very early or closer to dusk — and if the parking lot is slammed, opt for another trail. And the city of Blowing Rock may have additional restrictions, depending on when you visit, so be sure to reference this website before you make a road trip!

Blowing Rock Restaurants

The food scene in Blowing Rock is really fantastic. These are my staples.

  • The Best Cellar – great for a date night or adults-only dinner (ask for a patio seat when you make your reservation if the weather is nice!)
  • Village Cafe – cozy spot for a girls’ brunch or lunch (expect a wait)
  • Foggy Rock – big menu, solid food, casual vibe. I love their blackened salmon on any salad.
  • Sunny Rock – sister restaurant next door with a huge breakfast menu. Come hungry and expect a wait if you’re hoping to dine in.
  • Bistro Roca – the food is fantastic with an upscale-casual setting.
  • Blowing Rock Ale House & Brewery – they have a great burger!
  • The New Public House – this is a newer restaurant I haven’t visited yet but I keep hearing SO many good things from my friends who live in Blowing Rock full-time.

Boone Restaurants

I have an entire blog post dedicated to Boone restaurants that you can read here!

Banner Elk Restaurants

If you want to venture a little further out, you’ll be rewarded with AMAZING restaurants. For a very nice dinner, definitely make reservations at Louisiana Purchase or Artisanal.

Coffee & Dessert in Blowing Rock

  • Camp Coffee  – don’t miss the homemade lavender syrup! Their nitro coffee is fantastic too.
  • Kilwins  – amazing ice cream and free fudge samples. Don’t stress if there is a line – it moves quickly.

Things to do in and around Blowing Rock

I hope you like the outdoors because there is SO much to do year-round in the High Country

  • Grandfather Mountain – hike the profile trail for an active day, or head to the state park with the swinging bridge for a short walk. They start at different places so be sure to make sure you go to the right spot.
  • The Blowing Rock – the views are worth the $7 entry fee. Great for all ages and fitness level.
  • Boone Golf Club – the prettiest public golf course I’ve ever seen. There’s also a driving range if you don’t want to play a round.
  • West Jefferson – this place is charming. There’s a cheese factory too. It’s a fun outing but a bit of a drive from Blowing Rock (about 30-45 minutes, depending on where you’re staying).
  • Tubing – I haven’t done this yet, but plan to next year when I’m not pregnant!!
  • Tweetsie Railroad – great for kids! I believe they have limited hours in the fall and winter so be sure to check that.
  • Fishing – google this for good options since I can’t personally recommend any! I believe Valle Crucis is a popular area for fishing.
  • New River State Park – this area is beautiful and especially popular if you like water sports, like canoeing, paddling or swimming. Reference their website before you go since only certain activities are available at certain areas.

Where to hike & run

There are so many options, but here are a few of my favorite trails near Blowing Rock and Boone. (Be sure to download the AllTrails app if you want more hiking options!)

I asterisked the trails that are some of my favorite spots for running.

(And if you want to run during your vacation, you should consider the Zap Endurance Running Camps – seriously amazing. Read about my first camp here. They’re cancelled for 2020 but keep an eye out for 2021 camp dates!)
  • Rough Ridge – it’s a short hike but the trail is pretty rocky with lots of roots. But, the views are INCREDIBLE, especially at sunset (pictured below).
  • Bass Lake* – it’s a gravel path that’s very flat and very pretty. It’s a great place to take the pup or kids. There are great trails that run above the lake for longer hikes or runs too. You’ll often see the Zap Fitness elite runners out there too!
  • New River Trail – this area is beautiful and especially popular if you like water sports, like canoeing, paddling or swimming. Reference their website before you go since only certain activities are available at certain areas.
  • Grandfather Profile Trail – this is a tougher hike that will take most of the day, but a very popular and classic hike in the area.
  • Glen Burney trail – this is an easy-to-moderate hike that is right behind Blowing Rock main street. There’s a great waterfall at the end and gorgeous views that open up to see forever.
  • Fire Tower* – the fire tower at the top has incredible views!!!
  • New River trails – they have beginner to advance trails, and some trails that are handicap accessible.
  • Trout Lake* – this is a flat trail that’s great for kids.

This is along the Fire Tower trail.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina fire tower wildflowers

Blowing Rock, North Carolina fire tower trail meadow

Blowing Rock, North Carolina afoodiestaysfit fire tower hike

At the top!

fire tower boone nc

This is Rough Ridge.

boone nc things to do

dog at rough ridge

This is on the trails between Bass Lake and Moses Cone.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina fog on moses cone trails

You can see more pictures from some hikes in Boone/Blowing Rock on this post about what to do with a weekend in North Carolina. And if you’re headed to the coast, be sure to read my tips for a weekend in Wilmington, NC.

TIP: The weather in the High Country (e.g. Blowing Rock, Boone and surrounding areas) can be finicky. The mornings can be cold, even if the afternoons warm up. So pack layers and be prepared for some wind in the fall and winter months!

If you’ve visited Boone, Blowing Rock, Grandfather Mountain, Linville or Banner Elk, what are your favorite things to do? What is your favorite restaurant?

 

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Leslie
    at

    Ahhhh Boone! I went to App and I just love Boone so much. We haven’t been in about a year and I get so sad being away for so long! There’s always something yummy to eat and I never fit all my favorites in one weekend like I hope to!

  • Reply
    Jenna
    at

    I love the collards at Proper too!!! And I ate at Foggy Rock when I was in Blowing Rock this past spring! Such fun places!

  • Reply
    Hailey Lee
    at

    Love all of those!!! Going with girlfriends this weekend so excited to go to some of my favorite (non kid friendly places ??). A winery and Best Cellar are calling our names!

    Town Tavern, Six Pence & The Gamekeeper are also some of our favorites!!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    at

    Love Boone. Casa Rustica is a good Italian restaurant to add to the list. My husband went to App so we make day trips there a lot. Such a beautiful place.

  • Reply
    Haley
    at

    All the things…yes yes yes! Miss it all so much!

  • Reply
    ashley
    at

    Would you do a post on your second home? I’d love to hear about renting it out/purchasing it and pros and cons!

  • Reply
    Jenessa
    at

    My boyfriend and I just spend the last two weekends in Blowing Rock! It’s such a magical place! Seriously can’t wait to go back (or move there someday???). We at the New Public House – it was delicious, and I loved Grandfather Vineyard! We hiked on part of the MTS trail and visited Moses Cone.

  • Reply
    Anne Marie
    at

    I’m surprised Gamekeeper isn’t on the list of restaurants! It’s my second favorite behind Artisanal! That area has such amazing food!

  • Reply
    Brenda
    at

    And don’t fret when you realize Coyote Kitchen is in a strip mall!

  • Reply
    Anna T Smith
    at

    Glen Burnie and Glen Marie Falls are great places to hike to that are right in Blowing Rock. We hike those every time we com go visit. They are moderate trails that have great waterfall views at the end!

  • Reply
    Russell Snyder
    at

    Great list! I second Town Tavern as well! I miss the High Country so much. Thanks for the post.

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