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17+ Best Things to Do in Boone NC (2024)

Boone NC is a charming Blue Ridge Mountain town with a lot to offer visitors. From hiking and biking to wine tasting, shopping, dining and more there are endless things to do in Boone NC.

Boone is home to Appalachian State University, making it a vibrant and youthful college town. Boone is also a great place to get outdoors and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In this article, we'll explore many of the very best things to do in Boone NC.  We have visited Boone many times over the years, but most recently during the late summer of 2023, where we spent a long weekend. We not only had an amazing time, we experienced all the things to do in Boone NC highlighted below.  

So let's discover together all the amazing and fun things to do in Boone NC!

About Boone NC

Things to do in Boone NC

Boone, NC is a beautiful mountain town in the "High Country" of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Boone has a wonderful mix of shops, restaurants, galleries, museums, theaters and outdoor activities that make it a great place to live or visit.

From skiing to hiking to waterfalls and scenic drives, Boone is a great destination for anyone looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation.

The history of Boone NC dates back to the early 1800s. They named the town in 1872, in honor of Daniel Boone, who explored the area and influenced the history and establishment of the area in the 1760s.  

Today, Boone is a thriving mountain town with a population of over 17,000 people. The town is home to Appalachian State University, as well as several other colleges and universities. Boone is a popular tourist destination with lots of attractions like Horn in the West, hiking trails, waterfalls, shopping, breweries, and wineries..

Our Picks for the Top 17+ Things to do in Boone NC

Things to do in Boone NC - Horn in the West

Horn in the West

Boone NC is full of fun and amazing things do and see. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing, skiing, and more.. 

Boone has plenty of options for those who want to unwind. You can shop, listen to live music, attend events, dine in cafes, restaurants, breweries, and wineries, or take a scenic drive..

Boone literally has it all, with tons of charm, great places to stay, and modern conveniences as well.

Experience Horn in the West Outdoor Drama

Horn in the West Boone NC

Since 1952, they have been performing Horn in the West, an outdoor drama in Boone. The show depicts the hardy mountain settlers of the Blue Ridge Mountains and their fight for freedom before and during the War for Independence..

They set the drama in the 18th century and features a cast of local actors. They performed the show in a historic outdoor amphitheater in town. The costumes, set design, and music take the audiences back to the 18th century, before the town was formed, creating an immersive experience. Daniel Boone is a prominent figure in the show.

Horn in the West is a family-friendly show that is enjoyed by people of all ages. The show is approximately two hours long with an intermission. They hold performances Tuesday through Saturday evenings from June through August.

Besides the show, there are several other activities to enjoy at Horn in the West. Visitors can explore the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, which features exhibits on the history of the area. There is also a gift shop on site where visitors can purchase souvenirs and memorabilia and a snack bar with drinks and various items to eat.

Horn in the West is a fantastic way to learn about the history of Boone NC and these mountains. If you are planning a trip to the Boone, be sure to check out Horn in the West - you won't want to miss this wonderful show.

We're a little ashamed to admit that we didn't even know this existed until recently and we were kicking ourselves for not finding out about it sooner. The show was amazing. The actors and performers did a fantastic job, and the musical numbers were just stunning. We enjoyed the story, the history, the actors, and the various scenes. The production team really put together a wonderful show..

The story is very informative, entertaining, and moving. We left the show, not only entertained, but with a genuine appreciation for the sacrifice that the pioneers of these mountain communities made to be where we are today.   

Here are some tips for planning your trip to see Horn in the West:

  • Book your tickets in advance, especially if you are planning to see a show on a weekend.
  • Arrive early so you can explore the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum and see the various live exhibits.
  • Be prepared for the weather, as they perform the show, rain or shine.
  • Bring bug spray - It's an outdoor show and there are mosquitos.
  • Hang around after to meet the cast, they are wonderful folks.
  • No flash photography is allowed.

Go back in time at a vintage motel

Blue Ridge Tourist Court Boone NC

The Blue Ridge Tourist Court Motel is a charming 1950s-style motel located just over a mile from downtown Boone, North Carolina. Guests can experience a unique and nostalgic stay after its loving restoration to its former glory.

The Blue Ridge Tourist Court Motel has 12 rooms, each of which is decorated in a different retro style and color. All the rooms have been updated with modern amenities, but they still keep their vintage charm.

The Blue Ridge Tourist Court Motel is the perfect place to stay if you are looking for a unique and affordable place to stay in Boone. The motel is close to everything that Boone offers, and it is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Plus, it's just pure fun staying at the Blue Ridge Tourist Court. You'll feel you're back in the 50s.

We stayed for the weekend in a family suite which offered a queen size bed in one room, and two bunks in the other connecting room. This makes for the perfect suite for a family.  

Both rooms have plenty of space, the beds are super comfortable. Bathrooms are retro, yet very comfortable and offer all the modern amenities.

The Blue Ridge Tourist Court is only minutes from all the action as well, as downtown Boone is less than 5 minutes away.

If you are looking for a unique and very memorable stay in Boone, North Carolina, then the Blue Ridge Tourist Court Motel is the perfect place for you. We really enjoyed our stay, and look forward to staying there again when we visit!

Visit Waterfalls near Boone

Waterfalls Near Boone NC

The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to many beautiful waterfalls and there are several that are near Boone NC. We visited both falls during our recent visit to Boone NC, and enjoyed them both.

Crab Orchard Falls

Crab Orchard Falls near Boone NC

This waterfall is located just outside of Boone NC, in Valle Crucis NC and it is a popular destination for hikers and photographers. The hike is about a 1-mile round trip, and moderate in difficulty. There are a few short sections with very steep inclines.

Parking can be a bit of a challenge here, so get to the falls early.  The parking area is shared with a church and wedding/event venue. Pay attention to the signs to be sure you park in the right area.

When we were there, the trail was very muddy and wet as well, which made getting good footing a challenge.  We would definitely recommend a good pair of hiking boots for this trail.

The falls are pretty tall and feature several cascades down over large rocks. As you approach the falls, there is a nice wooden walkway to the base that was built by some eagle scouts. The walkway makes getting the falls much easier.  

We really enjoyed the waterfall and climbed around the large boulders and exploring.

Pro Tip - If you want to get wonderful photos, you'll need to arrive early in the morning. I took the photo above around 10:00am, and the lighting was far too harsh.

Otter Falls

Otter Falls Near Boone NC

Otter Falls is in Seven Devils, close to Boone and right off the main curvy and steep road up to Seven Devils. The trail to otter falls is a bit more challenging than Crab Orchard Falls, but still moderate.

Otter Falls is about 40 feet high and plunges down a large rock and cliff into a rocky stream blow with lots of small cascades. Otter Falls is really pretty and well worth the hike. It also has a very nice observation deck, and that provides excellent views of the falls.

Other Waterfalls Near Boone NC

Crabtree Falls Blue Ridge Parkway

Crabtree Falls off the Blue Ridge Parkway

These are a few of our favorite waterfalls near Boone NC, but there are more in the area, like Crabtree Falls..

Read More: See our 12+ Waterfalls Near Boone NC

Here are some tips for visiting waterfalls near Boone NC:

  • Arrive early to get good parking, the best lighting for photos, and to avoid the crowds
  • Be sure to wear footwear. You should wear hiking boots or trail runners while hiking to many waterfalls, as the trails can be slippery and muddy..
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks. Hiking to waterfalls can be thirsty work, so be sure to stay hydrated.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Waterfalls can be dangerous, so be sure to stay back from the edge and watch your step.
  • Leave no trace. Be sure to pack out all of your trash and leave the waterfalls pristine for others to enjoy.

Go Hiking in Boone NC

Elk Knob State Park

Boone NC is surrounded by beautiful mountains and forests, making it a great place for hiking. Here are a few of the best hiking trails near Boone NC:

Elk Knob State Park

Elk Knob State Park Summit

This park is home to several hiking trails, including the most popular, the Elk Knob Summit Trail, which is a 3.8-mile loop trail with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet.

Because of its length and elevation gains, the trail is challenging. The summit trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Besides the incredible views, we really enjoyed the trail's excellent maintenance.The trail is relatively new, as far as hiking trails go, and the team that built the trail put in lots of natural rock stairs, switchbacks, and scenic views. One of the best maintained trails we've hiked on.

Other Hiking Trails near Boone NC

Boone Fork Trail

Photo by Helga Kleinert

There are many hiking trails in and around Boone NC, so many, in fact, that we created a dedicated page for hiking trails near Boone.

Learn More: See our guide to Top Hikes Near Boone NC

Here are some tips for hiking near Boone NC:

  • Be sure to wear good footwear. It is advisable to wear hiking boots or trail runners as appropriate footwear..
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks. Hiking can be thirsty work, so be sure to stay hydrated.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Hiking trails can be dangerous, so be sure to stay back from the edge and watch your step.
  • Leave no trace. Be sure to pack out all of your trash and leave the trails pristine for others to enjoy.
  • Dress in layers and temperature and weather can often vary while hiking.

Walk along Middlefork Greenway Trail

Middlefork Greenway Trail

The Middlefork Greenway Trail links Boone and Blowing Rock for pedestrians and cyclists using the Middle Fork River and US 321 corridor.. Once complete, Middlefork Greenway will be 6.5 miles long and will connect with the existing Boone Greenway, creating over 15 miles of contiguous trail.

The Middlefork Greenway Trail is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. The trail has forests, meadows, and wetlands to spot wildlife.

While the trail follows along US 321, it's far enough away in most spots, so that you don't see the road, or hear it too loudly.

Middlefork Greenway Trail

There are several access points to the Middlefork Greenway Trail, including:

  • Payne Branch Park - This park is in Boone and has a parking lot, restrooms, and picnic tables.
  • Sterling Creek Park -This park is in Blowing Rock and has a parking lot, restrooms, and a playground.
  • Whitener Mountain Road - This access point is between Boone and Blowing Rock and has a small parking area. This is near Mystery Hill.
  • 321 Middlefork Greenway Trail Access - There is a nice parking lot here with trail access in both directions, and a nice bridge crossing over the Middle Fork River.   

The Middlefork Greenway Trail is a great place to go for a walk, run, or a bike ride. It is also a popular spot for birdwatching and fishing. The trail is a great way to explore nature and the mountains without having to travel far at all. 

Enjoy incredible food

Boone NC is a definitely a foodie town given the number of outstanding restaurants that visitors have to choose from. 

There are many options, many offer delicious and unique cuisine. There are also many cultural food options to experience as well, which we enjoy.

Boone has restaurants to fit many tastes, from super casual to fine dining. Since Boone is home to Appalachian State University, there are also many restaurants that cater to students and young people on a budget, but still delivering excellent food.

Can you say, Come Back Shack? One of our favorites.

Besides the variety of restaurants, Boone also has a strong focus on locally sourced ingredients. This means that many of the restaurants in Boone use fresh, seasonal ingredients that are grown or raised in the surrounding area. This focus on local ingredients helps to ensure that much of the food in Boone is always fresh and flavorful.

Shrimp and Grits from Vidalia

Shrimp and Grits from Vidalia

Boone is a foodie town with a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Vidalia - Our Top Pick! - This unique restaurant locally sources many ingredients for their unique menu, with a mix of modern southern dishes and unique Asian items. The food and service were excellent!
  • Coyote Kitchen & Cantina - This Southwestern restaurant offers a unique mix of Mexican and Caribbean cuisine with both indoor and outdoor seating options.  
  • Melanie's This traditional American restaurant offers a wide variety of excellent breakfast items, burgers and sandwiches. They are in the heart of downtown Boone.
  • Dan'l Boone InnThis historic inn features a restaurant that serves up classic American fare with family style dining.  The food and atmosphere are wonderful.  
  • Come Back Shack - This unique eatery serves up tasty burgers and fries.  You order online, pickup your food, and enjoy. Simple, delicious, and inexpensive. 

Read More: See our personal picks for the best restaurants in Boone NC

Grab a local brew at Booneshine Brewing Company

Booneshine Brewing Company

Booneshine Brewing Company is a craft brewery in Boone North Carolina. Booneshine Brewing Company offers a variety of craft beers, as well as a full food menu.

The brewery has both indoor and outdoor seating. The indoor seating area is spacious, with plenty of seating at the bar and tables, and is on two different levels. The outdoor seating area is smaller, making it a great place to enjoy a cold beer on a summer evening.

Booneshine Brewing Company offers a variety of craft beers, including IPAs, stouts, porters, sours, and more. The brewery also offers a variety of seasonal beers and wines as well for those who may not prefer beer.

They also have a full food menu. The menu features pub fare favorites, as well as more creative dishes. We enjoyed snacking on their pretzel, served with beer cheese, and had a couple of desserts as well. The beer and food were delicious.

When we visited, there was live music, and we really enjoyed hanging out and listening to the live music and drinking some cold local craft beers.

Explore and Shop in historic Downtown Boone

Downtown Boone NC

Downtown Boone is a charming historic district with a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. Downtown Boone is also home to the Mast General Store, a well known, historic and popular general store that has pretty much everything.

Downtown Boone is a great place to find unique and locally made gifts. There are many shops selling clothing, jewelry, home goods, and souvenirs. Some of our favorite shops in downtown Boone include:

  • Mast General Store - This iconic store has been selling outdoor gear and apparel since 1883.
  • Lucky Penny - This trendy boutique offers unique clothing and accessories for all occasions.
  • Common Good Company - This shop sells handmade pottery, jewelry, and other local craft items.
  • Appalachian Antique Mall -  This shop offers vintage and antique items ranging from furniture to collectibles.

Be sure to explore Howard Street as well, just one block off main.

In addition to shopping, there are many other things to do in downtown Boone:

  • Jones House Cultural Center -  This historic house was built in 1875 and serves as an interactive cultural center with changing exhibitions, live music, workshops and classes. 
  • See the historic Boone Post Office -  This historic post office was built in 1938 and is a fascinating piece of Boone`s history.
  • Enjoy Live Music - Downtown Boone is full of very talented street musicians.  Stop and enjoy some great tunes!
  • Doc Watson Mural and Statue -  An iconic statue and mural of legendary folk musician Doc Watson can be found in downtown Boone.  Doc Watson was a frequent visitors to Boone NC and Jones House.

Cafes

Venture Chocolate and Wine

There are many great cafes in downtown Boone where you can relax and enjoy a coffee or snack. Here are a few of the best:

  • Hatchet Coffee - Stop in for a hot cup of coffee or tea and stay for some freshly baked pastries and other items. They roast their own coffee, have a wonderful shop and seating/dining are. Our favorite!
  • Venture Chocolate and WineEnjoy artisanal chocolates, excellent coffee and a wide selection of locally-made wines. They make the chocolates in-house and are exceptional.
  • Wildwood Community MarketWildwood is a local favorite for coffee, pastries and delicious sandwiches, salads, fresh produce, and much more.  We loved this super cool open air market.
  • The Local - This cafe has a full breakfast and lunch menu, as well as a selection of pastries and desserts.
  • The Lost Province Brewing Company - This brewery has a taproom with a full food menu.

Overall, Downtown Boone is a great place to visit for shopping, dining, and entertainment. It has a charming and vibrant atmosphere and a variety of things to see and do.

Explore Price Lake in a Canoe or Kayak

Canoeing on Price Lake near Boone NC

Price Lake is a gorgeous lake, near Boone NC and just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The lake is a popular spot for locals and tourists, and a great place to go canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding. 

We rented our canoe from Price Lake Boat Rentals, at a very low cost, and thoroughly enjoyed paddling around this incredibly scenic lake. The views of Grandfather Mountain over the water are incredible.  

Once you have rented a canoe, you can paddle around the lake at your own pace. There are several interesting things to see at Price Lake, including:

  • The dam: The dam is at the north end of the lake, and it is a popular spot for fishing and swimming.
  • The boathouse: The boathouse is on the west side of the lake, and it is a great place to take a break and enjoy the scenery.
  • The wildlife: Price Lake is home to a variety of wildlife, including ducks, geese, and turtles. You may even see a deer or two!

Paddling around Price Lake is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. It is a fun activity for people of all ages, and it is a great way to see some of the beautiful scenery in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Wine Tasting at Grandfather Vineyard

Grandfather Winery

Grandfather Vineyard is a family-owned and operated winery located just outside of Boone NC off Highway 105 between Boone and Banner Elk. The vineyard is home to over 20 grape varieties, and they produce a variety of wines, including reds, whites, and rosés.

Grandfather Vineyard is a great place to visit for a wine tasting. They offer a variety of tastings, including flights and by-the-glass pours. They also have a beautiful outdoor patio and seating area where you can enjoy your wine and the incredibly beautiful scenery.

Grandfather Vineyard is a great place to visit for a day trip or a weekend getaway. It is a beautiful setting, and the wine is excellent.

We really enjoyed sitting up on the hill, immediately next to the grapevines, and quietly enjoying our white and red wine tastings. It was raining the day we visited, and the quiet sound of the rain falling really adding to the charm and experience.

Visit Mast General Store

Mast General Store Valle Crucis

No mention of Boone NC shopping would be complete without mentioning the Mast General Store location in downtown Boone NC.   Mast General store has a number of locations, with the original being in Valle Crucis NC.

A visit to Mast General Store is a wonderful trip back in time, to the old general stores many of us remember as children. You'll even find the creaky old floors!

In Mast General, you can find canned goods, candy in a barrel, old-fashioned candies, clothing, sodas, home decor items, toys, and much more.  You'll even find several more modern items, including clothing and outdoor gear.  They even have the classic ice-cold RC cola and moon-pies!

We love visiting the various Mast General Stores, and the one in Boone NC is one of our favorites!

Visit the Wild West at Tweetsie Railroad

No visit to the Boone or Blowing Rock areas would be complete without a visit to Tweetsie Railroad, especially if you have kids.  

Tweetsie is an Old West themed amusement park combining classic family fun with old West nostalgia. Tweetsie is located just to the south of Boone NC, near Blowing Rock.  

The Park has a lot to offer, including a historic steam locomotive train ride, live shows, amusement rides, a zoo, a chair lift, food, and shopping.!

Uncover Mysteries at Mystery Hill

Mystery Hill Blowing Rock NC

Located between Boone and Blowing Rock NC, this popular and fun attraction is well known as one of North Carolina's most "unique attractions" and for good reason.  

The main Mystery Hill attraction is the Natural Gravitational Anomaly ... yea, that's a mouth-full. See, Mystery Hill was once an old Apple Orchard, but the workers began noticing that strange things were happening, like things rolling uphill, and people feeling funny or out of balance.  Turns out, Mystery Hill is the only naturally occurring gravitational anomaly in North Carolina.

Mystery Hill provides guided tours that are fun, educational, and well ... a bit of a Mystery. You'll explore the Anomaly itself in a room where balls roll uphill, water flows uphill, you have trouble walking, and gravity just seems to be a bit off. You'll also explore the Hall of Mystery, full of hands on science experiments, and encase your family and friends in bubbles at Bubblerama.

In addition, Mystery Hill offers mechanical bull riding, axe throwing, gem mining, Appalachian and Native American museums, old time photos, food, and nature trails.   

We were skeptical about visiting, but went anyway, and really enjoyed it! Highly recommended for everyone, and especially those with kids.  Tickets prices vary by package, based on the attractions you want to visit.

Skiing and Snow Tubing at Appalachian Ski Mountain

Skiing the Blue Ridge Mountains

Grab your snow gear, skis and poles, as a visit to Boone NC offers some of the best skiing and snow tubing in the state of NC, and the southeast.

Boone is well known for its winter sports action, and specifically skiing and snow tubing. There are a few nearby options, but Appalachian Ski Mountain is the closest, and the best.  

Appalachian Ski Mountain is the first Ski Area in the "High Country", opening in 1962.  The resort features 12 different slopes for both beginners to more advanced skiers.  At a peak elevation of over 4,000 feet, Appalachian Ski Mountain offers 3 beginning courses, 6 intermediate courses, and 3 advanced courses.  Regardless of your skill level, you will find a trail that you'll enjoy.

Additionally, Appalachian Ski Mountain offers an ice rink, and snow tubing.

Visit Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain Mile High Swinging Bridge

One of the most popular attractions in North Carolina is just a short drive from Boone NC, and offers incredible scenic views, a wildlife preserve, hiking, picnic areas, and the famous Mile-high Swinging Bridge.  Grandfather Mountain, at 5,946 feet in elevation, with its rocky and jagged peaks, really delivers on the full mountain experience.

Visit Grandfather Mountain, and drive up to the top summit parking area, where you can explore and walk across the famous swinging bridge.  For more adventure, visit Grandfather Mountain State Park, for some of the best and most challenging hiking on the east coast.

Grandfather Mountain is fun and an adventure for the whole family, and something you won't want to miss.

Drive the Scenic Blue Ridge Parkway

Fall Color at Linn Cove Viaduct

One of the most famous scenic drives in the world, the  Blue Ridge Parkway runs through Boone NC.  Boone is also a very popular access point for those wishing to drive and explore this amazing and scenic road. 

Along the parkway, near Boone NC, you can explore:

  • Moses H. Cone Memorial Park
  • Julian Price Lake
  • Bass Lake
  • Drive across Linn Cove Viaduct, and beautiful engineering marvel
  • Hike up to the top of Rough Ridge for incredible long distance views

Go Mountain Biking at Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park

Rocky Knob Mountain Biking Boone NC

If you are looking to mountain bike, look no further than Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, just a short distance from Boone NC.  This award-winning park really delivers.

Rocky Knob Park has 5 different trails:

  • 1.6-mile Rocky Branch Trail loop
  • 1-mile Middle Earth Trail
  • 4-mile Boat Rock Loop
  • A Downhill PBJ Trail, which comes off the Middle Earth Trail -  It's a exciting ride, named for its pumps, berms, and jumps.
  • Ol' Hoss - the highest elevation trail at Rocky Knob, and rated very advanced.

Besides the mountain trails, the Sunset Skills Area "pump track", on the right as you drive into the facility, provides a scenic area to warm up. Trails are open to both Mountain Bikers and hikers, just be sure to follow the recommended direction of travel for safety. Helmets are required.

Rocky Knob Park has paved parking areas, bathroom facilities, a large picnic pavilion and a playground for kids. They built the playground equipment from natural wood and ropes.  

Final Thoughts on Things to do in Boone NC

The city of Boone and the surrounding areas have plenty of activities to keep you entertained. From outdoor adventures like biking, skiing, and hiking, to shopping, dining, and museums; there is something for everyone in Boone!

We really enjoyed our visit, from the Horn in the West drama, to restaurants, to paddling price like, and everything in between.    

Whether you are looking for a day trip or an entire weekend getaway, be sure to check out all the amazing things that Boone offers.

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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