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15+ Best Things to Do in Burnsville NC

Located about 30 minutes northeast of Asheville, and near the base of Mount Mitchell, Burnsville NC is a delightful surprise just waiting to be explored and discovered.   In this guide, we'll cover all of the very best things to do in Burnsville NC, and there are many!

Burnsville NC has that wonderful small-town charm you would expect, but also delivers tons of outdoor adventure for those looking for beautiful scenery and mountain challenges.   You'll also find many good restaurants, shops, and a thriving arts community.

We spent a long weekend in Burnsville NC an in this guide, we'll share all of the very best things to do base on our personal experience during our visit.  We'll take you hiking in the highest peaks east of the Rockies at Mount Mitchell.  

We'll explore the vibrant Burnsville town square, a hub for local culture, art, and history, buzzing with unique shops, galleries, and restaurants that serve the most delicious local cuisine.  

We'll hike to and explore waterfalls, gaze at stars in one of the largest dark sky reserves in the southeast.

Let's not forget about the thriving art community that is the core of Burnsville NC.  We'll highlight some working art studios and galleries, where you can see amazing art being created right in front of you.

A visit to Burnsville is not just a trip; it's a true mountain experience.  A chance to slow down, reconnect with nature, and immerse yourself in a friendly community that values heritage, creativity, art, and the great outdoors.

So hang on, as we set off to uncover the magic of the small mountain town of Burnsville NC and all that it has to offer. 

Welcome to Burnsville NC, where adventure, art, and relaxation meet!

Disclosure: We were invited by the Burnsville NC Chamber of Commerce and meals and activities were complimentary; however, all opinions, information, and photos are our own and we were not asked in any way to influence our thoughts, comments, or the content of this article.  All opinions are our own - We believe in putting our readers first.

About Burnsville NC

Burnsville NC is a small and historic town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains about 30 minutes northeast of Asheville NC

Most NC residents and visitors haven't heard of Burnsville NC, but it's truly a hidden gem ... at least for now.  

Burnsville is home to the tallest mountain on the east coast, Mt. Mitchell, and offers exciting opportunities for outdoor adventure.   Burnsville is also full of culture and history, and the historic downtown offers a picturesque town square and park, shops, restaurants, art studios, and much more.

This small mountain town boasts incredible views of the mountains, plenty of hiking trails, camping spots, fishing, and more. 

Burnsville NC

Burnsville NC

Burnsville is also taking some serious steps to make the town more visible and is also adding a number of restaurants and venues to make it more attractive to visitors.

Not only does Burnsville offer a great place to explore nature’s beauty but it also serves as a cultural hub for artists and musicians. The Burnsville area contains hundreds of artists and crafters that create unique and original art in clay, glass, wood, metal, and fiber as well as furniture and musical instruments.  

The Toe River Arts Council ( TRAC) has a gallery and gift shop in downtown Burnsville and stages studio tours to allow people to get to know local artists and their talent even more. TRAC also offers classes, workshops, and other events throughout the year. 

With such beautiful mountain surroundings, it’s no wonder why so many people are drawn to this historic mountain town. Whether you come for the outdoors, the art, or both, you are guaranteed a wonderful experience when visiting Burnsville. 

Best Things to Do in Burnsville NC

Best things to do in Burnsville NC

The town of Burnsville, NC, has a rich history and culture and provides a number of things to do, including area outdoor attractions, shopping in the historic downtown, access to numerous art galleries and studios, and even a farmer's market.  Of course, there are great restaurants and bars as well.

With so much to do in Burnsville NC, you will not be disappointed or bored!

During a recent long weekend in Burnsville NC, we explored many of the best things to do in Burnsville NC.  Here are just a few of the great options for you to enjoy!

Stay in the historic Terrell House Bed & Breakfast

The Terrell House Bed & Breakfast is a beautifully preserved historic property that is just a short walk or drive to downtown Burnsville.

This 18th-century house offers five unique guest rooms, all featuring their own bathroom and shower, bed, sitting areas, heat and AC, queen beds, and WIFI.   

The house also features a number of common areas, including a sitting room with a flat-screen TV, games, and books to read.  A living/common area with large windows, sofas, magazines, and information on things to do in the area.   The dining area features a large table for breakfast but also has a refrigerator stocked with cold drinks, snacks, and coffee and tea are available as well.

Each morning, guests are treated to a delicious full breakfast, as well as complimentary coffee and tea.   Breakfast is made hot and fresh by the innkeepers each morning, and was just wonderful.

We stayed in Sandi's Room, which featured a large and high queen size bed, sofa, and private bathroom.   The room was historic, clean, and just lovely.   The Innkeepers Su and Mike Frost went out of their way to make sure we had everything that we needed.   The beds were super comfortable, and the Inn and neighborhood were very quiet in the evening.

We enjoyed exploring the old home, hearing about its history as part of an old school, and exploring the outdoor living areas, which included a lovely flower garden.  We also enjoyed meeting and talking to all of the other guests in the morning over breakfast.

The location of Terrell House Bed and Breakfast is perfect for those looking to explore the area.  It's just minutes away from restaurants, shops, art studios, and more. For those who really want to fully immerse themselves in the history of Burnsville, a stay at The Terrell House is sure to be an unforgettable experience!

Learn about Glass Blowing at Hearth Glass and Gallery

Hearth Glass and Gallery

A visit to Hearth Glass and Gallery provides a unique experience when visiting Burnsville NC.  The studio is founded by the children and grandchildren of Harvey K. Littleton, "the father" of the American Studio Glass Movement.

This working glass studio and gallery is located in the heart of the city, in a historic gas and service station.

The studio offers classes in glass blowing and torchworking. At Hearth Glass and Gallery, you can learn to create your own works of art from glass or perhaps even purchase some of their exquisite glass pieces already made.

If you are a glass artist, you can also rent and use their facility to craft your own glass art!

We visited Hearth Glass and Gallery, met with the owners, and took an introductory glass-blowing class, and it was one of the most interesting things we've ever done, and definitely out of our normal "outdoor" element.  

We really enjoyed working with and learning from Keikichi, Tadayoshi (Yoshi), and Miguel.  They were very patient with us, explained the whole process, and we learned so much in just the short period of time we did our intro glass.  With their help, we even made a vase and a drinking Glass!

The intro class teaches you all the basic elements of crafting glass art, from the different furnaces and tools to the many different tools used to form and shape the glass.    The whole process was just incredible to watch and experience.   It was really amazing to take hot melted glass, color it, shape it, and mold it into something you can use to drink from.

Be sure to browse their gallery too, which has items from their studio, and glass art from other artists as well.  Some of the items are just incredible!  

If you're visiting Burnsville NC, you won't want to miss out on the incredible experience offered by the glass artists at Hearth Glass and Gallery!

Learn about Pottery and see Demos at High Country Ceramic Arts

High Country Ceramic Arts

High Country Ceramic Arts is a community-based ceramic art studio that works with both established and aspiring clay artists. At High Country Ceramic Arts, visitors can learn all about pottery and watch demonstrations of the craft.

They offer beginners and quarterly membership packages, private lessons, and parties.  The classes offered allow you to explore the process of creating a piece, from "throwing" clay to firing your artwork.

We really enjoyed browsing the large gallery they have there in the studio, which is full of ceramic art items from many different local artists.   Gallery items are available for purchase, making High Country Ceramic Arts a great way to get unique art for your home or as gifts for friends and family.

We also really enjoyed and learned a lot from the owner, Linda, who gave us a demonstration on throwing some clay and using the wheel to turn and shape it into pottery. 

Explore and Shop in Downtown Burnsville

Downtown Burnsville NC

One of the things to do in Burnsville NC that we really enjoyed was exploring its historic and charming downtown. 

Downtown Burnsville is a great place to walk, shop and explore.   The town is home to an array of boutiques, art galleries, specialty stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and more.   The shops are a great spot to find unique souvenirs or items, including locally made art.

If you're looking for something special to bring back with you from your trip, definitely make sure to head downtown for some shopping!

We really enjoyed walking around and exploring all of the wonderful locally-owned shops.  We walked through gift shops, antique stores, and even a toy store for the kids!   Be sure to visit the park in the center of town as well.  We really enjoyed just sitting there on the benches and relaxing under the big old shade trees. 

During the summer and on weekends, there is often live music and various events going on in the park.

Hike to Setrock Creek Falls

Setrock Creek Falls NC

Setrock Creek Falls is a pretty waterfall that is located at the end of a moderate out-and-back hike located about 30 minutes from downtown Burnsville and near the base of Mount Mitchell.

The hike is a 1.4-mile roundtrip hike with an elevation gain of about 300 feet, leading up to Setrock Creek Falls which is more than 50' high.

The waterfall isn't one of the most beautiful falls we've seen during our Blue Ridge Mountain adventures, but it's definitely pretty and worth visiting, especially given the short and relatively easy hike to get to it.   

We enjoyed photographing the falls, and just sitting there listening to the sounds of the water.

See the stunning Roaring Fork Falls

Roaring Fork Falls NC

Just a few miles from Setrock Creek Falls, you'll find the stunning Roaring Fork Falls.  Roaring Fork Falls is a gorgeous set of cascades, that is easily one of the most beautiful waterfalls and settings we've visited in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Roaring Fork Falls is exceptionally photogenic.

The hike out to the falls is an easy to moderate hike with only a small elevation gain and a total roundtrip distance of 1 mile.  The hike is along an old and wide logging road until just before the falls where it becomes a more narrow trail.

Along the way, you'll pass 2 old concrete buildings.  These were storage buildings for crews working on the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway.  One building was used to store dynamite and the other fuses.  The logging road was used by crews going up to the parkway to work.

Roaring Fork Falls is a stunning 100' high waterfall with multiple beautiful cascades down into a basin below.   The falls and surrounding area are very pretty and definitely worth a visit.

Grab a coffee at Appalachian Java

Appalachian Java Coffeehouse

Appalachian Java is a charming coffee shop located in the heart of downtown Burnsville NC. With its cozy atmosphere and town views, it's the perfect place to come for a cup of coffee or food.

They offer a variety of fresh coffees, from espresso drinks to cold brews, with many flavor options. You can also enjoy delicious pastries and light food items like parfait cups and delicious sandwiches. The staff is super friendly and helpful.

They have both indoor and outdoor seating, and the outdoor seating is dog friendly, so you can bring your "pupper" along for an outdoor adventure. 

We really enjoyed grabbing morning coffee there, and also lunch as well. We sat outside, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and watch all the downtown activities and action.

View Stars at Bare Dark Sky Observatory

Bare Dark Sky Observatory

The Bare Dark Sky Observatory, located about 20 minutes away from downtown Burnsville NC, is a great place for stargazing and astrophotography. With its dark skies and minimal light pollution, it's the perfect spot to spend a night under the stars.

The Observatory allows visitors and the local community to view the moon, planets, and stars through their 34″ diameter mirror on a custom-built Newtonian telescope, as well as the smaller 14″ mirror Meade planetary telescope. CNN recognized the observatory as one of the 23 best places in the world to stargaze. 

Visit and explore the wonders of space at the Bare Dark Sky Observatory near Burnsville NC! 

Learn more in our Bare Dark Sky Observatory Guide.

Stay in and explore the Historic NuWray Inn - Re-opening soon!

Nuwray Hotel Being Renovated

The Historic NuWray Inn is hard to miss in the center town area of downtown Burnsville NC and is a well historic inn that dates back well over 200 years and was established in 1833.

The Inn is currently closed, as it is undergoing a complete restoration, including all-new plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and installation of a commercial kitchen.  The restoration is being completed with sensitivity to historical and existing materials.

The Inn will re-open with twenty-two rooms with en-suite bathrooms and a full-service restaurant. The hotel is expected to reopen later this year (2023).

We'll keep you updated on this historic in and the restoration progress.  We hope to stay in the hotel and give you a full tour once it's open again.

Roland's Bar - Nuwray Hotel

In the meantime, visitors and locals can enjoy the grounds and get a sneak peek at the inside of the old hotel by visiting Roland's Bar, behind the NuWray.   To get to Roland's, you walk through the main entrance of the NuWray and out the back into the hotel grounds.  The old hotel smokehouse has been restored and converted into a wonderful outdoor bar, surrounded by outdoor seating - they even retained the original wood and structure!

We really enjoyed our relaxing evening at Roland's, sitting outside and meeting and talking with Burnsville locals and other visitors.  The bar and hotel grounds are a great place to relax and enjoy good company.

The restored NuWray Inn Carriage House is now home to the recently opened Carriage House Sundries, a wonderful new cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and brunch.   They also offer a large selection of wines, scotch, and cigars in the evening as well.  

Dine at one of the amazing local restaurants

Burnsville NC Restaurants

Burnsville, North Carolina is home to some of the most amazing restaurants in the area. From Southern-style BBQ to Mexican cuisine, there's something for everyone.

Try the pulled pork at Pigs and Grits, the burgers at Snap Dragon, a deli sandwich at The Garden Deli, or a Pizza with some craft beer at Homeplace Beer Company

Appalachian Java coffee shop features an array of homemade pastries, sandwiches, and light bites to enjoy.  Visit the newly opened Carriage House Sundries for some gourmet breakfast and lunch, including brunch on weekends.

Burnsville NC is full of great places to eat, with lots of different options.   You definitely won't go hungry during your visit!

Visit the Highest Mountain on the East Coast - Mount Mitchell

Mount Mitchell

Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the Eastern United States, sits atop the Black Mountains of North Carolina at an elevation of 6,684 feet. Mount Mitchell is located just a few miles from Burnsville and is a popular destination for hikers and visitors looking for an outdoor adventure and incredible views.

The summit of Mount Mitchell can be reached by driving up to the top along the access road, then taking a short but fairly steep walk up to the observation deck.   For those wanting a more challenging route, there are several trails that lead to the summit of Mount Mitchell as well.  

The most popular route is the 1.6-mile Black Mountain Crest Trail which takes around 2-3 hours to complete. This trail offers some of the most stunning panoramic views of any hike in North Carolina — you can see over 50 mountain peaks from this lofty vantage point! 

At the top, there is a large parking area, restrooms, a snack bar that offers light food and drinks, and a nice gift shop.  The paved trail to the summit is next to the gift shop.

From the parking area, you can also walk along the stunning Nature Trail, which offers a magical walk through the unique fir forest at the top of Mount Mitchell.

At the Summit is a large observation deck that offers up 360-degree and long-distance views of the surrounding mountains.

Also at the top is the grave of Reverend Elisha Mitchell, who is credited for identifying Mount Mitchell as the highest mountain east of the Rockies.   Sadly, Reverend Michell died while exploring Mount Mitchell.

Whether you are looking for an incredibly scenic drive, challenging hiking, or just incredible scenic views, a visit to Mount Mitchell should definitely be on your shortlist when visiting Burnsville NC.

Visit the Arthur Planetarium for a movie or show

Arthur Planetarium

The Arthur Planetarium, located just outside of Burnsville NC, is a great destination for those looking to explore the world of science and astronomy.

The modern planetarium offers a variety of events and shows throughout the year. From family-friendly screenings of educational films to interactive lectures from experts in space-related fields. 

During our visit to Burnsville, we explored the night sky around Burnsville NC in the planetarium and traveled light years to view various objects, including stars, universes, and nebulas.  They even have special chairs called "zero gravity" chairs, that allow you to recline all the way back and look up at the virtual sky presented by the Planetarium.

We also watched Flight of the Butterflies, a documentary film about a scientist who spent his life trying to find where monarch butterflies migrate to each year.  the Film was presented on the 360-degree wide screen of the planetarium.

No matter your interest or skill level, visiting the Arthur Planetarium in Burnsville NC is sure to be an experience you won't soon forget!

See beautiful Pottery at Page Pottery

Page Pottery Burnsville NC

Page Pottery is owned by husband and wife JR and Kristen Page, both exceptional and well-known crafters and artists in the Burnsville area.  The pages have a gallery and studio at their beautiful mountain home, just outside of downtown Burnsville NC. 

They create hand thrown pottery items such as dinner sets, mugs, vases, pitchers. and more.  They even create mixed media art, blending their pottery with other forms of art.  Their work is exceptional and the large number of orders they receive keeps them busy and in demand.

JR and Kristen welcome locals and visitors to their gallery and studio, just call ahead at (828) 381-6638.

We were fortunate and able to visit them at their studio, along with their adorable little dog Foxy.  We explored their gallery of gorgeous pottery and were able to watch them working on a number of different items at various stages of the pottery process.

The pages are wonderful, friendly, and incredibly talented artists.  Their passion for their home, Burnsville and their craft is infectious, in a good way!  

The Page's gallery at their home is full of beautiful and detailed hand-thrown pottery items available for purchase.   It is also the location of their working studio, where you can watch them crafting their amazing art.  

Their home garden is a work of art in and of itself, with beautiful plants and flowers surrounding a stunning and amazingly crafted waterfall.

In addition to selling their pottery in their gallery, you can also explore and purchase their pottery on their website.

Grab a local craft beer and just relax at Homeplace Beer Company

Homeplace Beer Company

Homeplace Beer Company is the perfect place to unwind after a day of taking in all that Burnsville has to offer. With its cozy atmosphere, great selection of craft beers, and food menu, it's easy to make yourself at home here. 

Guests can choose from an extensive range of local beers on tap, including IPAs, pale ales, stouts, and many others.   They offer a large selection of both beers and wines.

For those looking for something a bit heartier than beer, Homeplace also serves up delicious pub fare like stone-fired pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and salads.  A number of the various menu items are also stone-fired, including the Jalapeno poppers.

Their space has plenty of seating options too - including indoor and outdoor seating and booths for groups and tables where you can enjoy your beer with friends. 

If you're looking for some entertainment during your visit to Homeplace Beer Company, look no further – they regularly host events such as trivia nights and karaoke nights as well as local live bands throughout the week. 

So grab a  pizza and beer - you'll be sure to have an enjoyable time and an excellent cold beer.

Enjoy local produce, crafts, and food at the Yancey County Farmer's Market

Burnsville NC Farmer's Market

On Saturdays from 9am to 1pm, be sure to visit The Yancy County Farmer's Market which is located just off of the Town Square on Main Street.

At the market, you will find a variety of fresh produce and craft items sourced directly from local farmers and artisans. Fruits, vegetables, honey, cheese, jams, pickles, and other homemade goods line the tables of the vendors.

As well as these delicious offerings, some vendors sell homemade soaps, jewelry, and other crafts that make for great gifts. There are also prepared food options available such as pies and pastries for those looking for something quick to eat!  

We visited early on a Saturday morning and were greeted with live folk music, and lots of activity.   We really enjoyed browsing all of the various vendors and merchandise for sale.   There was even a local food truck there, that we heard had the very best burgers in town.

Over in the town square, there were special events and games set up for kids, including dancing.

FAQ - Burnsville NC

What outdoor activities can I do near Burnsville NC? 

There are plenty of outdoor activities near Burnsville NC, such as hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking. Grandfather Mountain is a must-see destination for its spectacular views and wildlife habitats. 

Are there any local attractions in or around Burnsville NC?

Absolutely! Just outside of town you can find historic sites like the Vance Birthplace and the Mountain Gateway Museum. There are also plenty of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options in nearby Asheville or Boone

What kind of shopping options are there near Burnsville NC?

Nearby  Asheville and Boone offer plenty of shopping options for everyone. You'll find unique stores with one-of-a-kind items as well as your favorite big chain stores.

Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Burnsville NC

Burnsville NC is a great destination for anyone looking to explore the small town beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Whether you're interested in fishing, kayaking, or simply soaking in the majestic views, Burnsville delivers.  We really enjoyed our weekend visit, and look forward to returning!

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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