With fall in full swing, now’s the time to take a trip to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain town of Boone. Options for outdoorsy travelers are especially plentiful, with fishing, hiking, biking, zip-lining, canoeing and skiing opportunities all at the ready.
The town of 20,000 residents is named for Daniel Boone, the American pioneer and explorer. A center for bluegrass musicians, Appalachian storytellers and the sustainability-driven Appalachian State University, Boone is also perfect for relaxing, with resorts, breweries and exceptional restaurants offering awe-inspiring views and unique drinks and cuisine. Downtown Boone offers its own array of cultural activities, including weekly arts events, live music, farmers markets and notable locales to eat and drink.
Or, simply take a long, scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and gaze at the leaves changing from green to vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow.
A relatively new establishment, Eleven80 Eatery combines a full bar and two lounge areas into an upscale, cozy restaurant. The menu features modern American fare including sandwiches, salads and flatbreads, as well as Southern dishes with a distinct spin, like tequila shrimp and grits, pimento cheese fritters and mini chicken and waffles served with gochujang whipped butter. Enjoy it all with $3 NC drafts every day of the week. eleven80eatery.com
The Red Onion
A casual local favorite since opening in 1985, The Red Onion offers a wide variety of dishes, including classics like the southern chicken sandwich and baked linguine, and novelties, such as the pistachio citrus trout, Tuscan red pepper chicken and the Florentine wild mushroom lasagna. Don’t leave without trying the famous artichoke dip. redonionboone.com
Wild Craft Eatery
Previously the Hob Knob Café, this farm-to-table restaurant changed its name to better suit its commitment to sourcing ingredients from farms across North Carolina. The lunch and dinner menus feature freshly made salads, sandwiches, Latin dishes and “wild and crafty” selections that highlight the best offerings from regional farmers, including a shepherd’s pie made with Southern biscuits and ground venison and a ravioli crafted with three different cheeses, fresh basil walnut pesto cream sauce, peas and portabella mushrooms. wildcrafteatery.com
Booneshine Brewing Company
This brewery prides itself on “making Boone shine,” with beer that fosters a sense of community. The brewery’s humorously-named beers, such as the Who Tarted? Sour IPA and Dank Vader Black IPA, make for vibrant conversation starters. They’re rotated seasonally based on available ingredients and can also be found in Booneshine’s tasting room at neighboring restaurant, Basil’s Fresh Pasta and Deli, where guests can pair their favorite beers with salads, deli sandwiches and fresh made pasta. booneshine.beer
Appalachian Mountain Brewery
Toast the Appalachian Mountain Brewery’s fifth year with one of its flagship beers or ciders at its taproom bordering Boone Creek, which features a 120-foot long outdoor bar and covered, heated porch. The brewery offers a wide selection of acclaimed beers, from IPAs to porters to ciders and everything in between. The brewery supports local sustainability and community nonprofits, so you can feel good about imbibing in more ways than one. amb.beer
This beloved coffee shop in downtown Boone is a favorite among locals for its dependable, daily house roasted brew, cozy atmosphere and friendly staff. Artfully crafted espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos come alongside freshly baked goods, including scones, muffins, cakes and cookies as large as your face.
Linn Cove Viaduct
There’s no better way to see the fall leaves in all their brilliant hues than on the Linn Cove Viaduct. The 1,243 feet segment of the Blue Ridge Parkway offers incredible views of the surrounding Grandfather Mountain and the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains in the distance and is accessible by car or on foot. exploreboone.com/blue-ridge-parkway/linn-cove-viaduct
Original Mast General Store
For a unique shopping experience, head to the Original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, a 20-minute drive from the heart of Boone. The famous, historic shop, established in 1882, is a treasure trove of goodies, carrying everything from North Carolina foods to throwback lunch boxes to vintage home decor. Stock up on holiday gifts, home decor and old fashioned candies. mastgeneralstore.com
Elk Knob State Park
Elk Knob is one of North Carolina’s newest state parks, completed in 2011 and featuring one of the highest peaks in the high country, at 5,520 feet. The park offers a graded 1.8 mile trail, making it easy to reach the summit for incredible views of the distant mountains in Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. For those who prefer to stay closer to the ground, the park also offers an 11-site picnic area with tables and grills, along with campsites for overnighters. ncparks.gov/elk-knob-state-park
Carolina Mountain Lodge
This quaint bed and breakfast at the crest of Heavenly Mountain is just five minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and 12 minutes from downtown Boone. Covered porches allow visitors to watch the Blue Ridge sunrises and sunsets while enjoying a morning cup of coffee or evening glass of wine, and hot tubs are available to soak in after long hikes. A fresh breakfast is served daily, and a grill and fire pit are available. carolinamountainlodge.com
These rustic vacation cabin rentals are located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, minutes from hiking, biking and skiing trails. Four different cabins are available, each fully furnished with various amenities including free WiFi, hot tubs, fireplaces, cable TV and fully equipped kitchens. beulahlandcabins.com
The Yonahlossee Resort is the perfect destination for a family vacation, couples retreat or group getaway in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Inn rooms, cozy studio cottages, condominiums and private homes are all available, depending on party size. Treat yourself to an in-house massage treatment, tennis lesson, dinner or horseback riding session. yonahlossee.com