Situated atop the charming Appalachian Mountains, Boone is one of the most popular outdoor adventure destinations in North Carolina. This lovely mountain town was named after Daniel Boone, a famous explorer who traveled through this mountainous region in the late 1700s. I have to admit that visiting Boone is an experience unlike any other. Whether you wish to enjoy winter outdoor adventures such as skiing and mountain biking or explore some of the town’s local attractions including the Wildlife Habitats & Nature Museum and Watauga County Farmer’s Market, there are many interesting things to do in Boone NC.
Travelers will be happy to hear that Boone is an excellent destination for families with children. From an entertaining local theme park to a unique gravity hill that creates an optical illusion, there is plenty to look forward to when visiting Boone with the little ones. Since the town is home to the bustling Appalachian State University where many young people come to study, it comes as no surprise that Boone boasts a vibrant nightlife with plenty of cool cafes and bars. In case you are looking for places to eat in Boone, NC, I recommend paying a visit to food joints like Joy Bistro, Trout & Barrel, Melanie’s Food Fantasy. To sum it all up, Boone is a great place to visit for both leisure seekers and adventure enthusiasts. To make the most out of your stay, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Boone NC.
1. Grandfather Mountain
With 12 miles of hiking trails and camping sites, Grandfather Mountain is an International Biosphere Reserve that is well-known for its ecological diversity, stunning scenery, and a world-class nature museum. Nature lovers will instantly fall in love with this state reserve. Walking across the 228-foot suspension Mile High Swinging Bridge is definitely the highlight of the visit to the Grandfather Mountain. Once you cross the bridge, you’ll be rewarded with fabulous views of the surrounding area. Travelers will also have an opportunity to see hundreds of species of birds here, as well as endangered animals such as the mountain’s wild bears, cougars, and river otters. Feel free to bring your picnic, as there many grills and picnic tables scattered throughout the area.
2. Appalachian Ski Mtn.
Looking for things to do in Boone, NC for Christmas? Head out to the incredible Appalachian Ski Mountain which is one of the best places in the region for skiing and snowboarding. There are 11 slopes and 3 terrain parks here, as well as a lovely ice skating rink. Keep in mind that the skiing season at Appalachian Ski Mtn. runs from mid-November to late March. It is also worth mentioning that this is the only ski area in the Southeast that offers late-night skiing. Not to be missed is the 46,000 square foot base lodge where you will find a picturesque observation deck and a wonderful restaurant.
3. Watauga County Farmer’s Market
Foodies will want to check out the famous Watauga County Farmer’s Market in Boone. Founded in 1974, the market is open every Saturday from May through October and offers locally sourced products including local produce, soft artisan bread, tasty dairy products, gluten-free cupcakes, and much more. It’s not all about the food here and a variety of local crafts like pottery, plants, and jewelry is available for purchase. There are also numerous special events happening at the market such as live music and chef demonstrations. However, our favorite event is the children’s mini-market when kids can sell their products to the customers. If you wish to mingle with the locals and experience Boone from a different point of view, Watauga County Farmer’s Market should be included on your list of places to visit in this lovely town.
4. Tweetsie Railroad
North Carolina’s first theme park, Tweetsie Railroad is definitely a real treat for the whole family. It is built around a Wild West theme and features many attractions ranging from amusement rides to live entertainment and special events. Go on a ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains on a steam locomotive, see the incredible Sunset and Magic show, and enjoy a ride on the Ferris Wheel. There is also the fabulous Deer Park Zoo where kids can interact with cute animals such as miniature horses, goats, emus, and turtles. In case you get hungry, numerous stalls are selling delicious burgers, pizza, and hot dogs.
5. Turchin Center
There are many cool things to do in Boone when it rains and a visit to the Turchin Center is one of them. Located in downtown Boone, NC, the Turchin Center focuses on visual arts. Expect to find a variety of unique workshops, as well as dozens of outreach programs for children. At the Turchin Center, travelers will also come across exhibitions and artworks of both international and local artists. Our favorite multi-faced program for kids is the Blazing Easels workshop. While you are in the neighborhood, make sure to visit the nearby the Belk Library and the Valborg Theatre.
6. Linville Caverns
No visit to Boone is complete without going on a guided tour of the Linville Caverns. Opened for public in 1937, the Linville Caverns allow you to discover the subterranean world and admire the beauty of hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites. You will also have a chance to learn more about the history of these caverns during the half-hour-long tour. The highlight of the tour is when the guide turns off the lights and visitors can enjoy total darkness for a few minutes. If you are visiting in fall and winter, there is a chance that you’ll see Little Brown bats.
7. Mystery Hill
It seems that Boone has many amazing attractions for kids. One of them is the self-proclaimed gravitational anomaly, also known as the Mystery Hill. In reality, it’s a collection of optical illusions where gravity appears not to be working. The kids are crazy about this place, especially about the bubble room where they make enormous soap bubbles by using hula hoops. The little ones can also enjoy hands-on puzzles and experiments and watch a ball roll uphill or experience water flowing up. If you are visiting Boone with children, a visit to Mystery Hill will be an unforgettable adventure.
8. The Cascades Trail
Do you enjoy nature and love hiking, but at the same time don’t want to spend an entire day on a 10- mile trail? If this is the case, we recommend taking the 1-mile Cascades Trail. Along this picturesque trail, you’ll have a chance to see a variety of local plants like serviceberry, dogwood, mountain laurel, tulip tree, and many others. The trail takes you across the bridge over Falls Creeks and is good for all skill levels. There is a lovely waterfall where you can take photographs and enjoy spectacular views. The best time to go on the trail is from April to October when the weather is nice. You can even bring your dog, as long as the animal is on the leash.
9. Moses H Cone Memorial Park
A visit to the Moses H Cone Memorial Park is one of the most popular things to do in Boone, NC. Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, the park boasts 26 miles of carriage roads which are ideal for outdoor activities such as biking, walking, and horseback riding. At the heart of the park, you will find Flat Top Manor, a Grand Colonial Revival mansion that is now home to the Parkway Craft Center where travelers will find handmade crafts by regional artists. The estate also houses an apple barn, two man-made lakes, a carriage, and a family cemetery. Since the Moses H Cone Memorial Park is one of the largest attractions on this list, we recommend arriving early in the morning so that you have plenty of time to discover all of its sights.
10. Horn in the West
For those who don’t know, Horn in the West is North Carolina’s longest-running outdoor drama and has entertained generations of Americans for more than 60 years. It tells the tale of Daniel Boone’s adventure in the High Country. This fascinating drama is performed each summer at the Daniel Boone Amphitheatre which is considered being one of North Carolina’s most beautiful theaters. The performance runs 6 days a week from late June to early August. There is also the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum that is worth checking out before the show. If you wish to purchase souvenirs after the show, visit the onsite Hickory Ridge Homestead Gift Shop.