Winter Wonderland of the Appalachians
Once a frontier town, Boone, North Carolina, has become a small-town paradise in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. It has the sights, sounds and culture to delight you, and it exhibits plenty of charm. You can visit Boone any time of year, but come winter, it’s full of holiday spirit and offers plenty of outdoor activities.
Named after the famed explorer Daniel Boone, who made his camp within the present-day city limits, Boone incorporated in 1872. Today, it’s home to Appalachian State University and bustles with cultural events, small businesses, and outdoor recreation. See, share and savor Boone’s mountain beauty. Shop for unique gifts. And stay in style.
No matter what the season, you’ll probably want to get out into the wilderness — even if it’s not normally your thing — because of the majestic Appalachian wonder. But you’ll find plenty to do in the city proper, too. Take a stroll around to get your bearings. Downtown Boone’s packed with restaurants, coffee shops and historic civic buildings.
- Pop in to the Boone Area Visitors Bureau on King Street to get some ideas and suggestions. It’s located right in the middle of downtown, so you’ll already be close to many of the sights they mention. It’s also a good place to get a map or a schedule of fun events going on while you’re in town.
- About 28 miles south of the city is Blowing Rock, an ancient and massive cliff that’s considered the oldest tourist attraction in NC. The cliff is more than 4,000 feet above sea level, providing a breathtaking view. You may even experience dazzling phenomena like snow falling upwards due to the legendary winds at Blowing Rock.
- Part of Appalachian State University, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is one of the largest displayers of art in the Appalachian South. This is the cultural hub of downtown Boone, uniting university students, regional folk artists, and international artists. The Center dazzles all visitors with its unique, exciting exhibitions.
- While it’s slightly over an hour drive from Boone, Yadkin Valley Balloon Adventures is worth the trip. From a balloon, you can see the mountains like never before. It’s also a great trip for the whole family. Except for inclement weather, balloon rides are available year-round.
Boone is a town to experience first-hand. No photo or video can capture its charm and beauty. So get out of your room, seize the day and pick from the dozens of activities the area has to offer. Art exhibits, sporting events, family fun and adrenaline surges are all available in this lively city. How you make your memories is up to you, but try these recommendations:
- The Moses H. Cone Memorial Park and Parkway Craft Center is a 3,500-acre property off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The grounds are open for tours and exploration, and the gorgeous mountain mansion is now the Parkway Craft Center, featuring the work of more than 300 local artists and craftspeople.
- If you head back towards Blowing Rock, Tweetsie Railroad is a theme park that offers fun for the whole family. You can even take a four-mile ride on a real steam locomotive!
- Just down the road is Appalachian Ski Mountain, one of many nearby ski areas, but one of the closest to Boone. It features a luxurious base lodge, daycare for children, individual ski lessons and even nighttime skiing for winter sport lovers.
- The Cornett Deal Christmas Tree Farm lies a mere 15 miles west of Boone in Sugar Grove. While the farm operates only on the weekends leading up to Christmas, they really make it fun for everyone. If you’re in Boone at that time, cut yourself a Christmas tree this season!
- Visit Gem Mountain in Spruce Pine for a chance to be a miner for a day. Tools are provided, and experts give tips and guidance as you hunt for gems. There are even jewelry makers on hand that can cut your finds and set them in chains or rings.
Boone locals are gourmets, but they like to keep things simple. In every style and price range, the main focus seems to be making delicious, satisfying fare.
- It wouldn’t be quite right to call it comfort food, since Melanie’s Food Fantasy on King Street serves up simple, fresh and unique takes on the best American cuisine. It’s open for breakfast and lunch if you want something different and exceptional.
- Hob Nob Farm Café in downtown Boone is dedicated to using the freshest ingredients from the nearest locations. You can get a variety of local and organic dishes at very reasonable prices. Stop in for lunch or dinner.
- A two-minute drive from the ASU campus, Joy Bistro offers upscale cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. The food leans towards a French style, but with tinges of down-home cooking.
- About a mile south of ASU is McKethan Brothers Barbecue, the place for great wood-smoked BBQ. This restaurant offers high-quality meats with all the delicious fixin’s. You must eat here at least once during your stay.
Although you’ll find some traditional chain stores in Boone, you also can discover some real gems from Boone’s artist culture. It all depends what you’re looking for!
- 1st Tracks and Fatty’s Snowboards carries equipment for all the winter sports that locals and visitors alike adore. They even have a rental department in case you just need some gear for your next adventure.
- Just when you thought you’d seen everything, there’s Under the Sun on King Street. It’s a consignment shop and a tanning salon. You can find clothing and accessories, or bring some of your own to trade or sell.
- Fall Creek Woods, also on King Street, sells hand-crafted furniture made entirely from trees that fell naturally. This is a great place to pick up something for your home that you’ll never see anywhere else.
- Even though it’s a 30-minute drive away, North Carolina’s oldest cheese plant, Ashe County Cheese, is well worth the visit. Learn about the cheese-making process and buy high-quality cheeses, jams, and fudges.
Pack your days full of activity from dawn to dusk, but come nighttime, you’ll want to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Boone has dozens of private accommodation rentals available directly through the owners, but more traditional lodgings are also available:
- Blue Ridge for Rent offers a ”Mountain Magic” cabin rental in Sugar Grove, a 10-minute drive from downtown Boone. Peaceful and secluded but not primitive, this luxury cabin provides a great place to unwind after a busy day.
- Half a mile from downtown, La Quinta Inn & Suites is clean, modern and comfortable. You’ll have all the amenities you need and a great base camp for your trip.
- Hidden Valley Motel is a small, old-fashioned inn about nine miles west of Boone. It’s quiet, and you’ll get everything you need, including personal care and assistance from the innkeepers.
It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, Boone will surprise and delight you. And you’ll find yourself wanting to return, maybe in a different season, to explore and create great new memories. The Appalachian Mountains and Boone go hand in hand.