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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 in the Blue Ridge Mountains, probably because it reminds me a lot of home. I’m from Utah, so I 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 United States to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall to see the colors.

We visit Blowing Rock, North Carolina 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!) And now that Tommy and I have our own townhouse in Boone as well, we’re up in the mountains much more frequently!

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.

We own a place up there, but if you’re planning a weekend away, I can’t recommend the Blowing Rock Manor enough. It’s absolutely GORGEOUS. It’s brand new and is walking distance to all of the shops and restaurants on Blowing Rock Main Street. My husband and I are planning a trip just to stay there, even though we have a place of our own.

Best Blowing Rock Restaurants

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

The Best Cellar

Great for an adults-only dinner (ask for a patio seat when you make your reservation if the weather is nice!). Tommy and I try to have a date night here whenever possible!

Village Cafe

Cozy spot for a girls’ brunch or lunch (expect a wait). People love their crab cakes!

Foggy Rock

Big menu, solid food, comfort food, casual vibe. I love their blackened salmon on any salad. This is a great downtown Blowing Rock option.

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 and craft beer!

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.

The Speckled Trout Restaurant and Bottle Shop

Haven’t tried yet, but it’s on my list!

Blowing Rock Market

We love this spot for so many things – sandwiches, snacks, and they have expanded their front patio and I think they have been doing grilled food in the summer now.

Blue Deer Cookies

They make homemade chipwhiches (or you can get the cookies or ice cream separately).

The Town Tavern

Nothing remarkable about this food (pub food,) but it’s the spot to go if there’s a game you want to catch on TV, or you just need to feed hangry little people easily. There’s usually cornhole outside and plenty of seating.

Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant

Kid friendly. They have great BBQ and it’s loud, so who cares if your kids are loud! Their wine list is eh, so plan to drink beer. 🙂 Live music on most weekends!

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 Blowing Rock NC

I hope you like the outdoors because there is SO much to do year-round in the High Country. I’ve included activities in and around Blowing Rock, since there are so many great close by places to visit as well.

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

Blowing Rock National Park is worth the $7 entry fee for the views alone! 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.

Wineries

Music on the Lawn

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 soon!

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.

Blowing Rock History Museum

American art, history & Appalachian culture with classes & events.

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.

Kayak/Canoe at Julian Price Lake

The rental shack is at mile marker 297. It costs about $15/hr. Opens at 11am, so I recommend getting there about 10:45. They do include life jackets!

Valle Crucis Park

About 20 mins from Boone in Banner Elk. A nice park with a great playground for kids. Just a little ways back is a place where you can get into the riverbed to play and walk up & down the river a bit (unless they’ve had a big rainfall – then be careful.) It has clean bathrooms nearby.

The Mast General Store

A must-do for kids. Make sure to grab some fun candy! This store is located in downtown Boone.

Julian Price Park

Another great park (a true park, no playground). We park in the picnic loop and go down near the bottom of the loop. There’s a spot where the kids can get in the river and play.

Blowing Rock Playground

This is right on Main St. Nearby Bald Guy Brewing where you can get a coffee or hot cocoa in the winter months and ice cream in the summer (Kilwin is across the street).

Horseback riding

If you visit the Moses Cone Manor trails, you’ll likely see people on horseback. You can book rides through Vx3 Trail Rides.

Skiing

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.)
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! Afterwards, drive into town and get coffee / breakfast sandwiches at Blowing Rock Market. OR if it’s later in the day, buy a bottle of wine and snacks and sit outside. (Also, they have free WiFi if you need to catch up on a few emails after a day of playing.)

Moses Cone Manor *

Amazing views from the top! It connects down to Bass Lake. This is also called Flat Top Manor or The Cone Manor trail.

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.

Linville Falls/Linville Gorge

There are short and longer hike options. The short hikes are family friendly!

Figure 8 Trail

This is a 0.7 mile “hike” (totally do-able for kids) but it feels like a real hike because you’re in the woods the whole time. It’s a big loop – follow the trail arrows, and there are restrooms near the parking lot. Park here: 6570 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Blowing Rock, NC. Walk down to the manor house. If you’re facing the manor house, the trail is off to the left up a little bit. There’s a sign that marks it. It’s not the big gravel path that goes down the mountain. (That will take you back down to Bass Lake but is longer & hillier.)

Cascade Trails

A 0.8 mile out & back trail that walks alongside a creek and down stairs to 2 waterfalls (just to see, not to play in.) This is slightly more challenging, but doable. Don’t go if it’s just rained – there are a few spots that would be too slippery. The trailhead is in a large parking lot with picnic tables & restrooms.

This is by Moses Cone Manor.

Things to do in Blowing Rock North Carolina

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 H Cone Memorial Park.

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?

Shop my favorite items to pack for Blowing Rock

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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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