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
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.
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.
Louisiana Purchase – great wine list!
- Artisanal – great date night spot with an incredible ambiance. If it’s warm out, request a table on the patio overlooking the river. Make reservations pretty far in advance!
- Eric’s Wine & Cheese Shop
- Banner Elk Cafe – casual spot for breakfast and lunch.
- Mountain Grounds – great coffee and huge tea selection.
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).
- 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!
- Moses Cone Manor *- amazing views from the top! It connects down to Bass Lake.
- 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!
This is along the Fire Tower trail.
At the top!
This is Rough Ridge.
This is on the trails between Bass Lake and Moses Cone.
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?