The Blowing Rock and Boone area is my favorite place to visit in the North Carolina mountains. Here’s where to eat and what to do while visiting!
My husband grew up in Boone but long before we met, I loved visiting Blowing Rock and Boone, probably because it reminds me a lot of home. (I grew up in Utah but have lived in North Carolina for nearly 11 years.)
Both Boone and Blowing Rock are beautiful mountain towns with so many outdoor activities and amazing views. And the downtown areas have great shopping and dining. It’s really a perfect area for a weekend getaway.
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 Boone and Blowing Rock 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 a great excuse to visit, and we also have a second home in Blowing Rock. We rent our second home through VRBO and AirBNB, but whenever it’s open, we try to take advantage of it.
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 and Boone area.
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. I love their blackened salmon on any salad.
- Sunny Rock – sister restaurant next door with a huge breakfast menu. Come hungry.
- Bistro Boca
- 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.
Places to Eat in Boone
If I’m honest, I think the food scene is better in Boone than Blowing Rock, so if you’re staying in Blowing Rock, consider driving to Boone to eat a few times. They’re not far apart! There are SO many good options. My personal must-visits on every trip are Coyote Kitchen, Kindly Kitchen and The Cardinal.
- Troy’s 105 Diner – great breakfast, diner style. Simple but solid. They also serve lunch.
- Juice Boone – amazing smoothies, juices, salads. Great for vegan and gluten-free diets (good lunch spot too!)
- Melanie’s – great breakfast; get there early or expect a wait
- Boone Bagelry – rumor has it they ship their dough from New York because they like the water there better. Not sure if that’s a verified fact. They have gluten free bagels too.
- Kindly kitchen – they serve salads and grain bowls with ingredients that change daily and it’s always SO good. Strictly vegetarian but my very-non-vegetarian husband loves it too.
- Stickboy Kitchen – AMAZING soups, sandwiches and salads. They have a smaller selection of pastries and bread than their bakery location (listed below).
- CoBo – Known for their sushi but the crispy pork belly tacos with kimchi are amazing too.
- Coyote Kitchen – all sorts of Southwest and Caribbean deliciousness. Don’t skip the fried plantains. Their tempeh is shockingly good too.
- Proper – don’t miss the collards.
- The Cardinal – amazing burgers. The vegetarian beet burger is out of this world, even if you’re a hardcore carnivore. But, if you’re a carnivore their beef burgers are amazing too, and they often have bison or elk burgers. See pictures below! They also offer gluten-free buns.
- Come Back Shack – shockingly solid fast food. Great fries and house made sweet potato chips. They’ll also do lettuce wraps in place of a bun.
- Appalachian Mountain Brewery – fun spot for a beer
- Booneshine – they just opened a new location with a great view
Look at these burgers at the Cardinal!
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 Artisinal.
- 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
- Stickboy Bakery (Boone) — Just get one of everything. 😉 You really can’t go wrong but their red pepper sourdough is incredible ,as are their ginger cookies and oatmeal cookies. It’s not a good sit-down/hang out place since there isn’t seating other than a few benches outside, but definitely take it to-go!
- Local Lion (Boone) – homemade doughnuts (they do have gluten-free donuts – call to find out which days they are available)
- Appalachian Cookie Company (Boone) – Cookie lovers, don’t miss this. They also have amazing gluten-free/vegan cookies – I even had them at our wedding.
- Blue Deer Cookies (Boone) – ice cream sandwiches (the gluten-free cookie is awful, skip it)
- Espresso News (Boone)
- Hatchet Coffee (Boone) – my FAVORITE spot for coffee!
- Camp Coffee (Blowing Rock) – don’t miss the homemade lavender syrup! Their nitro coffee is fantastic too.
- Kilwins (Blowing Rock) – amazing ice cream and free fudge samples. Don’t stress if there is a line – it moves quickly.
Things to do in Blowing Rock & Boone
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 stuck in time and charming. There’s a cheese factory too. It’s a bit of a drive from Blowing Rock but it’s a fun outing. (It’s 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!
Where to hike & run
There are so many options, but here are a few of my favorite trails near Blowing Rock and Boone. I asterisked the ones that are some of my favorite spots for running. (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!
- Moses Cone Manor *- amazing views from the top! It connects down to Bass Lake.
- Fire Tower* – the fire tower at the top has incredible views!!!
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.
TIP: The weather in Blowing Rock and Boone 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?