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Boone, North Carolina Travel Guide – What to do and where to eat

What to do, where to eat and where to hike in Boone, North Carolina! 

My husband grew up in Boone, North Carolina but long before we met, I loved visiting Boone, probably because it reminds me a lot of home. (I grew up in Utah but have lived in North Carolina for nearly 13 years.)

Boone is a beautiful mountain town with so many outdoor activities and amazing views and hikes. King Street in downtown Boone is a cute little area to explore as well. Boone also has great restaurants. So, the bottom line is that I absolutely love visiting! In the warmer months, Boone is cooler than Winston-Salem or Charlotte, which makes it a perfect summer getaway. It isn’t as humid and it’s a runner’s heaven. And in the winter, you can hit the slopes or just cozy up next to a fireplace while the snow falls.

Since Tommy’s parents still live in Boone, we have a really good excuse to visit, and we just got a second home in Boone too. I’m so happy to have a place that we can visit all the time. It’s such an easy drive for the weekends!

Boone, North Carolina Travel Guide – What to do and where to eat

Today, I’m sharing my top picks for what to do and where to eat in Boone. If you’re staying closer to Blowing Rock, check out my Blowing Rock restaurant recommendations in this post. Blowing Rock and Boone are close enough together that it’s easy to go to both places during a day trip or a weekend stay. So, you’ll notice some of the activities are listed in both posts.

Appalachian State University is located in Boone and has a really fun college atmosphere. But it’s worth noting that during the school year, it can get pretty crowded. Make sure to get to restaurants with time to wait if you don’t have a reservation. That applies year-round it seems these days since Boone and Blowing Rock are both getting more and more popular with visitors!

Boone North Carolina Travel Guide

Boone, North Carolina Travel Guide

Where to eat in Boone, NC

Boone has some of the best food of anywhere up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. While you might be staying closer to Blowing Rock, the restaurants in Boone are a MUST, so you’ll want to make a trip over there. It isn’t far and there are SO many good options. My personal must-visits on every trip are Coyote Kitchen, CoBo and The Cardinal.

Breakfast/Brunch

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

The brunch is AMAZING, but you’ll need to get their early or expect to wait. They open at 8:00AM, so if you can get there right then, you’ll have a good chance of getting at table. I promise it’s worth it!

Boone Bagelry

Rumor has it they ship their dough from New York because they like the water from there better for getting the bagels just right. Not sure if that’s a verified fact, but they’re certainly delicious. They have gluten free bagels too.

Coffee & Dessert

Stickboy Bakery

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

Homemade doughnuts (they do have gluten-free donuts – call to find out which days they are available)

Appalachian Cookie Company

Cookie lovers, don’t miss this. They also have amazing gluten-free/vegan cookies – I even had them at our wedding.

Blue Deer Cookies

Ice cream sandwiches (the gluten-free cookie is awful, skip it)

Espresso News

Cozy spot to grab coffee or an espresso and knock out some work.

Hatchet Coffee

My FAVORITE spot for coffee! The space is gorgeous and the coffee is fantastic.

Lunch/Dinner

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.

CoBo

Known for their sushi but the crispy pork belly tacos with kimchi are amazing too. They also have shockingly good cheesecake so if it’s available that day, get it!

Vidalia

Has a great wine bar! And a menu highlight is the chicken and waffles!

Coyote Kitchen

All sorts of Southwest and Caribbean deliciousness. Don’t skip the fried plantains. Their tempeh and salmon are my favorite protein choices.

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 (pictured 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.

Cha Da Thai

Good spot for takeout or to dine-in! I especially love their curries.

Booneshine

Food trucks and wide open outdoor space for kids. Outside of Boone proper so good option to avoid crowds especially football weekends. Great craft beer!

Casa Rustica

This place has been open since opening in 1981! They serve Italian food. I’ve never been there but my father-in-law loves it!

Mellow Mushroom

A chain, but I swear the Boone location is one of the BEST. (The Winston-Salem location is awful!)

Joy Bistro

They have a fantastic French menu and great wine list!

Pepper’s Restaurant and Bar

They use local ingredients (produce!) for their salads, which I love.

Boone North Carolina Travel Guide – What to do and where to eat

Boone, North Carolina Travel Guide

Breweries

Appalachian Mountain Brewery

The AMB Boone Creek Blonde Ale is my husband’s favorite. I love the Porter. They also have multiple kinds of cider!

Lost Province Brewery

This is a fun spot for a beer and they serve food so it’s a great spot for an evening out. Get their wood fired pizzas! They have live music on Wednesdays.

Booneshine

They just opened a new location with a great view. They have tons of outdoor seating and a food truck, as well as great beers.

Things to do in Boone

Boone North Carolina Travel Guide Things to Do

I hope you like the outdoors because there is SO much to do year-round in the High Country! There are lots of things to do in the Boone area and surrounding towns like Blowing Rock and Banner Elk.

Things to Do in Boone North Carolina

Boone, North Carolina Travel Guide

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. High Country Souvenirs, Mountaineer Mania and Appalachian Tees are great stores to stop in as well.

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.

Skiing
Walk around App State Campus

It’s beautiful! The below river is on campus.

Boone Greenway

This greenway is flat and paved so it’s great for strollers, dog walking, etc! There’s also an AMAZING playground for kids near the biggest trailhead (by the Rec Center).
Boone North Carolina Greenway Trail

Boone North Carolina Travel Guide Where to hike and run

Where to hike & run

There are so many options, but here are a few of my favorite trails near Boone. I asterisked the ones that are some of my favorite spots for running, in particular. (If you want to run during your vacation, you should consider the Zap Endurance Running Camps – seriously amazing. Read about my first camp here.)

(Be sure to download the AllTrails app if you want more hiking options!)

afoodiestaysfit fire tower hike

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

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 (the nicest gas station you’ll ever go to.) OR if it’s later in the day, buy a bottle of wine and snacks and sit outside. (Also, they have free WiFi!)

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.

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.

moses cone memorial park

fire tower wildflowers

This is at Moses Cone Manor with my mom.

Boone North Carolina Travel Guide – What to do and where to eat

Boone, North Carolina Travel Guide

If you go to Boone, I’d love to hear your favorite spots!

Shop my favorite items to pack for Boone

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Charlotte
    at

    Hi! All of your posts on NC destinations are very helpful! I’m thinking of planning a trip in the Winter Mid-January or early February. Do you hvae a recommendation on where would be best suited for that time of year? Thanks!!

    • Reply
      Teri [a foodie stays fit]
      at

      It depends what you want to do! The mountains will be chilly and there will be snow if you want to ski or enjoy cold weather. The beaches will be chilly (not swimming weather) but there aren’t crowds so that is lovely and it’s very peaceful!

      • Reply
        Charlotte Brown
        at

        Thank you! If we don’t want to ski but enjoy being outdoors do you think the mountains are worth visiting in the winter?

        • Reply
          Teri [a foodie stays fit]
          at

          It depends what you want to do! You could certainly cozy up next to a fire and enjoy inside time with your family and friends. 🙂 And all the restaurants will still be open and you could still hike if you bundled up.

  • Reply
    Katie Hall
    at

    Just a quick note to clarify that the “Grandfather Mountain” private attraction is what has the Swinging Bridge, visitor center etc. Grandfather Mountain State Park is home to the Profile Trail and other backcountry trails and camping.

    • Reply
      Teri [a foodie stays fit]
      at

      Thanks for clarifying! I never knew that distinction! I had no idea what Grandfather Mountain was a private attraction, but that makes sense!

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