Banner Elk NC Travel Guide

Banner Elk NC, once the hunting grounds of the Cherokee, is a beautiful and close-knit town. The community of Banner Elk is open and welcome, and this small mountain town is one of the most popular places to visit for those passing through. Banner Elk is filled with a quiet sense of peace, and it's an enjoyable stay for vistitors.

Banner Elk NC, as well as surrounding areas, offer many different things for you and your family to see and do, such as visiting museums and historic buildings, kayaking, watching plays, hiking through the Grandfather State Park, and much more.

Be sure to grab your bags, and let's make the most of your stay at Banner Elk NC!

Where is Banner Elk NC?

Banner Elk NC is a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Avery County, about 20 miles away from both Boone NC and Blowing Rock NC.

The town lies between Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain, both popular places to visit, especially for those who love snow skiing. Banner Elk NC is at an elevation of 3, 701 feet, and 12 miles away from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

History of Banner Elk NC

Due to artifacts found within the area, Banner Elk is presumed to have once been used as hunting and fishing grounds for the Cherokee.

The first white settlers were Delilah Bair and John Holtsclaw, and not long after, more began to arrive in the area. It wasn’t until 1911 that the North Carolina General Assembly integrated the area into the town of Banner Elk.

Agriculture was and still is a big part of Banner Elk NC, and the town is known as the Christmas tree capital of the world.

The name "Banner Elk" came from the Banner family, who had settled in town from Surry County. The family was rapidly growing in numbers, and eventually, the area was referred to as Banner’s Elk.

Things to do in Banner Elk NC

Banner Elk NC has a multitude of interests for you and your family to enjoy. Visiting museums, hiking, watching plays, or going underground are a few different options.  

You can even Follow the Yellow brick road ...

1 - Land of Oz

Land of Oz

Land of Oz is located in Beech Mountain, an is an attraction based on L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  The park opened in 1970, but later closed down, and began re-opening to the public during a series of special events and private tours.  Today, you can visit the park during it's most popular event, Autumn in Oz and watch the characters play out the story throughout this amazing and restored park.

You get to walk along the Yellow Brick Road, see Dorothy’s house, and view the vivid red poppies as you travel to the Emerald City. The Land of Oz is a wondrous experience to relive and it’s sure to be a memorable visit for the entire family.

2- Grandfather Mountain State Park

Grandfather Mountain State Park is a great way to spend your day outdoors. The park offers not only scenic views but hiking and camping as well—a permit is required for camping.

The park is pet-friendly as well, as long as they are outdoors and on leashes. And, of course, you can visit the famous Grandfather Mountain and the Mile-High Swinging Bridge.

The bridge offers a gorgeous view of the rolling mountains, and the mountain itself is well worth the trip.

3 - Linville Caverns

Down in the darkness of Humpback Mountain lies the Linville Caverns, North Carolina's only natural caverns that are available to visit. With its limestone stalactites and the occasional bat, Linville Caverns is a popular place to explore and tour.

The temperature down in the caverns is a bit chilly, so make sure you bring a jacket along with you. Your guide will lead you through the caverns, showing you nature’s beauty; it’s one of the places in the entire world where you can truly witness total darkness.

And, of course, keep any of your small items in your hands or in your pockets; The Bottomless Pool won’t give them back!

4 - Banner House Museum

The Banner House Museum once belonged to Samuel Henry Banner, one of the early Banner settlers in the little town. This house will take you back to the 19th century as you learn the story of Banner Elk from years past.

Witness vintage clothing, old photographs and paintings, farm tools, and more. The museum is available for special events and cultural education, making it a great opportunity to learn.

It’s open from mid-June to September, so come along and check it out if you get the chance!

5 - Ensemble Stage

Do you love the theater? Then the Ensemble Stage is definitely the place for you. Ensemble Stage was originally founded in 2009 before they moved to Banner Elk in 2007.

This professional theater has shown over 100 productions, and 500 different performances. It’s a highly sought-after theater that performers from many different places have worked at. With their high-quality performances, they’ve sold over 25,000 tickets.

It’s based at the Historic Banner Elk School, and theater packages with two show tickets and overnight lodging are available.

6 - Edge of the World

If you’re more of an adventurous  type of person, then the Edge of the World has plenty of activities for you to joy, including: whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, and rappelling.  Edge of the World a family-run business that’s been open for over 40 years, committed to entertain all of their guests.

Since it's a family-friendly business, amenities such as re-runs and food are provided. All equipment is provided and discounts are available for larger groups and children.

The season is open from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day weekend, and if you ever drop by during the winter, you’ll be able to check out their snowboard shop.

7 - Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster

The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster will take you down 2,390 feet of track, through 360 degree loops and abrupt curves past boulders and trees. It can go up to 27 miles per hour, and one package ticket includes 3 rides.

The coaster is open year round and in both the rain and snow. With a hand brake that allows you to manage your speed, this ride is perfect for families. You can ride with two people or solo—you must be at least 16 and 54 inches to ride solo—and enjoy the wind rushing down your face as you glide along.

At the end, a gift shop awaits, as well as a pie shop for anyone who’s hungry.

8 - Original Mast General Store

Down in Valle Crucis, near Banner Elk, lies the very first Mast General Store, which holds anything “from cradles to caskets.”

The store was managed by the Mast family all the way to the 1970’s, and then it was sold to a professor from Appalachian State University and a surgeon from Georgia. Changes to the store were made, and it was passed along by several different owners before it finally closed in 1977.

But in 1980, a couple from Florida, upon hearing the store’s story, purchased the place and moved to Valle Crucis, where the store began to grow in abundance. Today, it still stands, with plenty of goods for you to purchase.  You'll go back in time during your visit to the original Mast General store.

9 - Apple Hill Farm

Apple Hill Farm is a mountain top farm that is open year-round. It was founded in 2003 and is a family-run business, with guided tours to learn about the animals there—both in person and virtual.

You’re given the opportunity to see alpacas, llamas, goats, horses, pigs, chickens, donkeys, ponies, and more with tickets in advance. The view around the farm is breathtaking, with the mountains all around you.

The farm has a gift shop where you can buy whatever you like, including a few things produced from the farm. To complete the trip, apple trees await you.

10 - Elk River Falls

Elk River Falls is around 50 foot tall, and was once known as Big Falls. The falls cascade down into a deep pool of water, and you can sit and enjoy the sight from the base on a rock.

Some people like to go swimming in it, but it is not advisable to swim anywhere near the currents right in front of the falls, as several injuries and deaths have happened.  So be safe!

The trail itself isn’t so difficult, and there is a separate wading/swimming area that is fairly popular. It’s a hike well worth the trip, and it's very popular in the summer.

Where to stay in Banner Elk NC

Banner Elk NC and its surrounding areas provide many different places for you to stay overnight: cabins, hotels, and campgrounds as well. Whether you want a riverside cabin or a simple hotel in Banner Elk itself, there’s bound to be a place that fits you.

Cabins near Banner Elk NC

Cabins are always a good choice for quaint little get-aways. These rentals come with the amenities you and your family need, as well as reasonable prices for you to spend however long you like.

Hotels in/near Banner Elk NC

Banner Elk NC has plenty of hotels for you to choose from with the necessities and comforts you and your family need. Here’s some of our top picks, and for nearby lodging, check out the hotel in Blowing Rock.

Campgrounds in/near Banner Elk NC

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for an RV campground or a tent campground; nearby areas of Banner Elk have the best of both worlds. Numerous campsites are available for you and your family, so feel free to check out our picks down below.

Where to eat in Banner Elk NC

Banner Elk NC is known as the “culinary hot spot of the NC High Country.” This town offers all sorts of different tastes, and here are the top ten choices that we’ve picked for you.

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