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Blowing Rock NC Travel Guide – Top Things To Do

We really love Blowing Rock NC, and have a been a number of times over the past few years.   Blowing Rock, called the "Crown of the Blue Ridge", is well known for its award winning downtown (often referenced as one of North Carolina's most scenic mountain villages), surrounding attractions and outdoor things to do.  

Blowing Rock is also just a short drive from the larger town of Boone NC, where additional attractions, dining and shopping options are available.

Our first visit to Blowing Rock NC was a few years ago, when we visited the Land of Oz near Banner Elk.   The hotels in Banner Elk were full, so we elected to stay in Blowing Rock, and really enjoyed our stay and the local restaurants.   

We've returned a few times to visit Tweetsie Railroad, and to explore some of the outdoor things to see and do as well.  We really enjoy the small town feel, and like knowing we're just a quick drive to Boone if we need anything a larger town can provide.

Where is Blowing Rock NC?

Blowing Rock NC is located just south of Boone NC, in southern Watauga County in North West North Carolina.  Blowing Rock is about 90 miles northwest of Charlotte NC, and about 200 miles west of Raleigh North Carolina.

Blowing Rock is at an elevation 3,500 feet, and well in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina

Is Blowing Rock NC Worth Visiting? 

In our experience, most definitely.  Blowing Rock is a wonderful small mountain town, with a historic downtown, nice accommodations, and excellent dining options.  

In downtown Blowing Rock, you'll find unique and diverse shops that include: crafts, jewelry, collectibles, home decor, clothing, and more.  For even more shopping, you can visit Blowing Rock's Shoppes on the Parkway, an outlet mall.

If you prefer to explore the outdoors, you'll find numerous hiking trails and waterfalls in the area, and you're just a short drive from the world famous Blue Ridge Parkway.  There's even a local lake you can spend time walking around, or just relaxing at.

"The Rock" itself, where the town gets its name, is about 2 miles from downtown and is well over a million years old, The Blowing Rock sits out over 3,000 feet above the Johns River Gorge, providing stunning long distance, and breath taking views from the observation deck.

Looking for a bit more excitement?  A visit to Tweetsie Railroad is sure to thrill the family, with its train rides,  amusement park rides, and shows.

Is Blowing Rock in the Smoky Mountains?

No, Blowing Rock NC is in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  The Great Smoky Mountains, or often referred to as the Smoky Mountains, are a sub-range of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Now, with that being said, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are offered referred to as the Smoky Mountains, regardless of the location.    The Blue Ridge Mountains and Smoky Mountains are often used by visitors to mean the same mountains of Western NC.

When is the Best Time To Visit Blowing Rock NC

This is a tough question for us to answer, as we love all of the seasons, and each has a different set of pros and cons.   Most would agree that the best time in general is between April and November, avoiding the colder temperatures, ice and snow.  The mountains are more green and temperatures are warmer as well, offering more options for things to do.

Now, if we're forced to choose a particular time of the year, Fall wins hands-down.  Fall in Blowing Rock NC is just a magical time.  Fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains has beautiful colors, cooler temperatures, and still many different things to do and see.

Given Blowing Rock North Carolina's elevation, peak times for Fall Colors are generally towards the later part of October, and colors in the area are normally very vivid and beautiful.  Thus, we would highly recommend visiting Blowing Rock NC during the Fall, for exceptional color and beauty.

History of Blowing Rock NC

Blowing Rock as been a popular travel destination for Blue Ridge Mountain visitors since the late 1800s, when people from the southern piedmont began traveling to the mountains to escape the summer heat.  This opened hotels and guest houses for them to stay at, and further increase growth of restaurants and attractions as well.  

Some claim that Blowing Rock NC was North Carolina's first travel attraction.  

The introduction of engine powered automobiles really spurred growth, as it allowed nearly anyone with a car to make the climb up the mountain.

Today, Blowing Rock combined with Boone NC, is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Where to stay in Blowing Rock NC

Blowing Rock provides a number of really nice accommodation options, when you're looking for a place to stay for weekend excursion or extended vacation.  Options include luxury to accommodations to more family-friendly and budget oriented places to stay.  In any case, you'll find something that meets your needs and that is safe and clean.

 Options for where to stay in Blowing Rock NC include:

  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hotels
  • Camping

Cabins in Blowing Rock NC

Cabin Rentals are a popular choice for visitors to Blowing Rock NC.  Rental Cabins provide safe and clean accommodations with numerous amenities, at very reasonable prices.  You'll find many different cabin rental options in and around Blowing Rock NC.  There is a cabin for everyone!

Hotels in Blowing Rock NC

The most popular accommodation option when visiting Blowing Rock NC are hotels.  Hotels provide many nice amenities, prices that meet everyones budget, and are often locate very close to town.  Blowing Rock has a number of really nice hotel options that receive high ratings.  We love the Meadowbrook Inn, and have stayed there multiple times.   Here are our top rated hotel picks:

Camping near Blowing Rock NC

Blowing Rock NC area campgrounds offer numerous options, from tent camping to luxury RV hookups.  You'll enjoy relaxing in the high elevation outdoors in one of the many area campgrounds.  Camping near Blowing Rock allows you to not just adventure into the outdoors, but to experience it during your entire stay.  Here are our top picks for the best campgrounds near Blowing Rock NC:  

Best Restaurants in Blowing Rock NC

Picking a great restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner in Blowing Rock NC is tough, as there are so many great options to choose from.  The number of really nice restaurants in this small mountain town is surprising, and very rewarding when you're hungry.  

We've visited Blowing Rock a number of times, and tried many of the area restaurants.  Here are our top picks for the best best restaurants in Blowing rock North Carolina:

Things to do in Blowing Rock NC

Blowing Rock NC is full or and surrounded by things to do, including shopping, attractions, scenic drives, and outdoor activities.  Here are just a few things you consider doing when you visit!

The Blowing Rock

The Blowing Rock

No trip to Blowing Rock is complete with out seeing the natural attraction for which the town is name, "The Blowing Rock".    Yes, there is an actual blowing rock, that you can visit, sit on, and enjoy the incredible views.

The Blowing Rock is known as one of North Carolina's oldest attractions, The Blowing Rock sits at a breathtaking 4,000' in elevation and sits over Johns River Gorge.  Sitting on The Blowing Rock, you'll notice that the air flows upward, under and over the rock.   

The views are incredible, and long range.  From the rock, you can see Table Rock, Hawksbill Mountain, Grandfather Mountain and Mt. Mitchell on a clear day.

Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad Blowing Rock NC

The most popular attraction in Blowing Rock is the historic Tweetsie Railroad, which opened in 1957.  Tweetsie offers family-friendly Wild West Adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The park features live shows, shops, amusement rides, The Deer Park Zoo, and the highlight of the park, the 3-mile ride along a historic rail line, and historic stream engines, #12 and #190.  Both are historic coal-fired, narrow gauge steam-engines, built by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia PA in the early 1900s.  You definitely do not want to miss this Wild West Railroad adventure, for the whole family!

Mystery Hill, Blowing NC

Gravity Room Mystery Hill

Mystery Hill is a bit difficult to describe, as it's one of he more unique attractions in Blowing Rock NC.  Mystery Hill offers a mix of indoor and outdoor activities including: 

  • Natural Gravitational Anomaly where you can watch a ball and waterfall go uphill.
  • Hall of Mystery where you'll have fun with weird science in a hands-on science attraction
  • At Tomahawk Hill, you can try your hand at knife or axe throwing
  • Find treasure at Prospector Hill Gem Mining

These are just a few of the many things you can do at Mystery Hill, which is located right off of Highway 321 between Boone NC and Blowing Rock NC.

Other Things to do in Blowing Rock NC

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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