Just think of us as home base…
While enjoying the peacefulness, cool mountain air and never-ending views of mile-high Beech Mountain accommodations, you’re never far from the best attractions and activities, the High Country has to offer… most within a short drive from Beech Mountain. Below are some of the area’s most notable attractions.
The Top 10 at a Glance
A nature center, animal habitats, hiking trails, gift shops and the famous Mile-High Swinging Bridge
Western North Carolina’s historic wild-west family theme park
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Experience the thrill of the first alpine coaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains
North Carolina’s only cavern attraction that’s open to the public
Blue Ridge Parkway
469 scenic miles of America’s Favorite Drive with some of the most spectacular views
The Penland School of Crafts
The premier center for crafts education in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Hike and explore the deepest chasm east of the Grand Canyon
Bend the law of gravity in this mind-blowing attraction
Horn in the West
This outdoor drama in an amphitheater tells the story of Daniel Boone and the fight for American Independence
Blue Ridge Music Trails
Find the best venues to hear bluegrass, old-time and traditional mountain music in Western NC
The Top of The Bucket List
If your time in High Country is limited, below are our picks for the top three must do attractions
Blue Ridge Parkway
Known as America’s Favorite Drive, and for good reason—the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway winds through 469 miles of mountain meadows and seemingly endless vistas from the Shenandoah Valley near Waynesboro, Virginia, to Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, North Carolina.
There’s no better way to see the heart of the NC High Country, complete with overlooks, picnic spots, hiking trails and panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountain’s spectacular peaks and valleys, along with the Linn Cove Viaduct, which hugs the face of Grandfather Mountain and is recognized internationally as an engineering marvel.
The natural wonders of the Blue Ridge Parkway also offer visitors an astonishing range of outdoor activities all year round: Hiking and biking (including the legendary Appalachian Trail), wildflower walks in the Spring and Fall colors scenic drives, horseback riding, fishing, ranger guided tours and various Natural Heritage Areas (47 areas dedicated to hands-on demonstrations of traditional mountain life, history and culture).
One of the most famous tourist attractions in Western North Carolina, the Parkway is only 20 minutes from Beech Mountain at Milepost 305.
For more information about the Blue Ridge Parkway or planning a Blue Ridge Mountain vacation, contact 828-298-0398 or visit blueridgeparkway.org
Perfect for families or anyone with dreams of the cowboy life, North Carolina’s very own wild-west family theme park, the Tweetsie Railroad includes an arcade, shooting gallery, petting zoo, picnic areas, live entertainment, gem mining, games and rides in the Country Fair, and the Tweetsie Jail on Main Street.
Tweetsie also offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride three miles aboard the Steam Engine Number 12, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This was one of the original engines in the rail service used to connect Boone, North Carolina, with Johnson City, Tennessee.
In addition, the Tweetsie Railroad hosts seasonal events. Among the most popular are July 4th Fireworks and the Halloween Festival, which includes scary adventures like the Ghost Train and Haunted House.
One of the great destinations in the South, Grandfather Mountain stands head and shoulders above the High Country as one of North Carolina’s top scenic attractions. It gets its unique name from pioneers who recognized that from certain vantage points, the cliffs resemble the profile of an old man or a “grandfather.”
The mountain’s best-known for a walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge – the highest suspension footbridge in the U.S. A journey to the end offers 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and there’s elevator access to the bridge, making it accessible for disabled visitors.
The mountain offers eleven hiking trails, where you’ll find a variety wildlife and interpretive rangers are available year-round to lead guided hikes, bird walks.
Speaking of wildlife, Grandfather Mountain has seven environmental habitats, which are large enclosures showcasing animals in their natural settings. See black bears, river otters, white-tailed deer, cougars and bald eagles as they play, pounce and swim.
The Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum contains various exhibits about the region’s natural history. There are emeralds, rubies and gold pulled from the North Carolina soil, a scale model of Grandfather Mountain and lifelike wax examples of wildflowers, berries and mushrooms that are found here.
Grandfather Mountain is open daily year-round, weather permitting. Hours vary seasonally. You can learn more by calling 800-468-7325 or visiting grandfather.com.
Something for Everyone
The High Country offers attractions, activities and festivals for every lifestyle
The Thrill Seekers Playground
There are those content with taking a leisurely hike through the woods and then there’s the others. The ones who are happiest mastering the Anaconda Rapids at high speed down the river or soaring through the woods in an amazing Zip Line adventure. No worries adrenaline junkies, the High Country has you covered.
Edge of the World
Located in downtown Banner Elk, this outfit offers Whitewater Rafting, Rock Climbing and Rappelling tours. Visit, edgeoworld.com
High Gravity Adventures
Next to Tweetsie Railroad you’ll find this arial adventure park where you can zip, climb, swing and explore. Visit HighGravityAdventures.com
High Mountain Expeditions
With outpost in Banner Elk and Boone, this group offers kayaking, tubing, rafting and caving expedition in both the Watauga and Nokichucky rivers. Visit HighMountainExpeditions.com
Off The Grid Mountain Adventures
If dry land is more your style, this firm is for you with UTV and ATV tours, Outrider Scooters, High-Speed Go-Kart racing and “off-land” they provide gravity defying swings and zip tours. Visit offthegridmountainadventures.com
Sky Valley Zip Tours
Offer day high-flying adventures above the tree canopies. And if you’d like to get a little close to those bright stars, check out their and night-time zip tours. Visit skyvalleyziptours.com
One of the most popular kayaking, canoeing, tubing and rafting outfit in the High Country, offering fun activities for the whole family. Visit WahoosAdventures.com
The Shopaholic’s Dream
The fine shopping districts located in the neighboring towns of Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and Boone offer a number of quaint local retailers, boutiques, art galleries and antique shops. With so many wonderful options, it’s easy to go home with a souvenir, or two or three from your time in Appalachia.
Fans of national retailers will find plenty to explore in the 35 stores of Tanger Outlet Center Shoppes in Blowing Rock and the Boone Mall.
And history buffs, can’t pass up a trip the historic Mast General Store in Valle Crucis. Built in 1883 Mast General has been a staple of the Valle Crucis community offering handmade crafts, books, shoes, clothing, toys, jewelry, candy, even “Yesteryear” items… the list goes on and on!
As you can see, there’s plenty shopping to be done. Just don’t forget your wallet, we implore you!
The Sports Fanatic’s Fantasy
If you’re they type that thinks about sports 24/7… if your idea of Heaven is a big playing field in the sky, then the High Country area has some alternatives for you.
Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University in Boone (about a 30-minute drive from Beech Mountain) is a smorgasbord of athletics with over 400 student-athletes competing in NCAA Division I varsity sports at ASU and 10 times as many dedicated fans who love to cheer them on.
Let’s kick off with football, App State was a dominant force in the Southern Conference for more than 40 years before moving up in July 2014 to the Sun Belt Conference. Since moving up, the Mountaineer football team has won an unprecedented five bowl games in each of its first five eligible seasons and claimed four straight conference championships. You might want to coordinate your visit to Beech during one of their Home games and hop over to Boone to join the fever pitch excitement, with Tailgating being the big draw before games at the 25,000-seat Kidd Brewer Stadium, which is also known as “The Rock.”
Football season over? No sweat, visit the a state-of-the-art basketball arena that seats 8,325 for men’s and women’s basketball games each winter. Or during spring, the Mountaineers’ baseball team plays home games at the $5-million Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium on campus.
Lees McRae College
A little closer to Beech you’ll find the Lees-McRae College in nearby Banner Elk. A small private college attended by more than 900 students from approximately 20 states and countries. The four-year liberal arts college fields eight men’s varsity sports and nine women’s varsity sports at the NCAA Division II level.
The Bobcats compete in Conference Carolinas, which is made up of similar-sized institutions in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Lees-McRae’s basketball teams play home games on campus at the Williams Gymnasium, and the softball team competes at the picturesque Bobcat Field on campus. Lees-McRae’s mountain biking team is a powerhouse that regularly competes for the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Biking National Championship at the Division I level.
Bristol Motor Speedway
If the “need for speed” is more your cup of tea, then Bristol Motor Speedway, located about an hour away in Bristol, Tenn., is the place to be. This NASCAR short track with seating for 160,000 and parking for more than 12,000 vehicles is known as the “World’s Fasted Half Mile”. Despite its small size, Bristol’s extraordinarily steep banking and other distinctive features make the track one of the most popular in NASCAR.
The Theatre Crowd Claps
The bright lights, the costumes, the standing ovations… who can resist the draw of the stage? If you love live performances, check out these venues for all kinds of theatre afficionados.
Founded during the Depression, Barter Theatre, located in Abingdon, Virginia, takes its name from the early practice of bartering produce for admission to see a play. Now a favorite destination for tourists and others, Barter is a grand theatre rich in history and home to incredible productions. The theatre can accommodate 507 patrons. Barter Stage II, set inside a historical building across the street from the theatre, is a more intimate setting with 167 seats around a thrust stage. It’s about 70 miles from Beech Mountain, but certainly worth the drive.
For this season’s offerings, visit bartertheatre.com
Lees McRae Summer Theatre
Right in our own backyard you’ll find the Lees-McRae Theatre located on the campus of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk. Thousands of patrons have come each summer to enjoy Broadway-quality productions and to mingle post-show with the artistic director and cast members.
Horn in the West
Horn in the West, which premiered in 1952, is one of the nation’s oldest Revolutionary War dramas. It portrays the lives of pioneers who braved the wilderness to settle in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Horn in the West is performed in one of the country’s most beautiful outdoor theatres, located in Boone. On the grounds of the outdoor theatre are the Hickory Ridge Homestead Museum and the 75-seat Powderhorn Theatre, where Horn company members perform serious drams, comedy, new works and classics.
The Festival Groupies
Calling all fans of fairs, carnivals, festivals and jamborees, you’ll love the High Country region which hosts a variety of top-notch annual festivals.
An Appalachian Summer Festival: late June to late July
Regarded as one of the country’s leading regional arts festivals, An Appalachian Summer Festival is held on and around the Appalachian State University campus in Boone. For nearly a decade, the Southeast Tourism Society has named the family-oriented festival one of the “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast.” The multi- and inter-disciplinary festival incorporates music, theatre, dance, film and visual arts.
1.800.841.ARTS / www.appsummer.org
It’s a Banner Day
Every Independence Day Banner Elk hosts its legendary Fourth of July Parade and Party in the Park in conjunction with a weekend long Arts & Craft Festival. Be sure to join the festivities and later head back to Beech Mountain for the Annual Roasting of the Hog and Fireworks extravaganza.
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games: mid July
Since 1956, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans has been held each summer at MacRae Meadows on beautiful Grandfather Mountain. Fostering and restoring interest in traditional Scottish activities, the event features games, athletic competitions, dancing, piping, drumming, sheep-herding and Celtic entertainment. Dressed in their distinctive tartans, more than a hundred clans participate in Raising the Clans and the Parade of Tartans. Event is held the second full weekend in July.
MusicFest n’ Sugar Grove: mid July
Held on the site of the Doc Watson Museum at the Historic Cove Creek High School in Sugar Grove, the annual MusicFest ‘n Sugar Grove celebrates the music of Doc Watson and friends. In addition to the traditional and bluegrass music in the main stage shows, MusicFest presents additional acts on a solar-powered stage, plus more players indoors. Other features include a songwriters’ showcase and instrument workshops led by festival performers. The event is usually held on the second Friday and Saturday in July.
828.297.2200 / www.covecreek.net
Tweetsie Ghost Train Halloween Festival: entire month of October
There’s safe and scary Halloween fun for all ages at the Tweetsie Ghost Train™ Halloween Festival at Tweetsie Railroad, located between Blowing Rock and Boone. The Halloween-themed attractions include the Haunted House, Freaky Forest and trick-or-treating. Advanced tickets are required for this annual event, held Friday and Saturday nights in October, and the event frequently sells out.
800.526.5740 / www.tweetsie.com/
Woolly Worm Festival: third weekend in October
The Woolly Worm Festival, held the third weekend in October, draws some 20,000 people, more than a hundred vendors, a thousand worm trainers, and national media to Banner Elk. The attraction is the woolly worm, which mountain lore credits with the ability to predict winter weather. It is believed that if the worm has more brown on its body than black, the winter will be mild; if more black than brown, the winter will be harsh. Wooly Worm followers claim 85 percent accuracy over the last two decades.
The Valle County Fair: third weekend in October
The Valle Country Fair is an ample church bazaar held in one of the most picturesque valleys in High Country during fall color season. Proceeds raised fund High Country organizations which serve people in need. The idea is to provide attendees with local, home-grown experience, so Crafters must hand-make their items and cakes, muffins, cookies and even canned goods are all made in home kitchens. Two stages are set up to provide local entertainment that ranges from bluegrass to storytelling to clogging to poetry reading. The family friendly fair also offers an activity area where kids can play games, bowl with pumpkins and create arts and crafts. Other diversions include visiting with live alpacas and face painting.
Choose and Cut Festival: late November through Christmas Eve
Every year, visitors trek to the North Carolina High Country to choose the perfect Christmas tree from among the acres of beautiful Fraser firs growing on tree farms throughout the region. They buy fresh garlands, shop for ornaments and locally crafted holiday gifts and enjoy old-fashioned wintertime activities. Some farms offer hayrides, bonfires or petting zoos, or have craft shops and gift shops on the premises.
For more info on exploring Western North Carolina attractions or planning your next family vacation in Beech Mountain, contact the Beech Mountain Visitors Center at 800-468-5506.
Beech Mountain is located within the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. For more info on cultural, historical and artistic pursuits within the BRNHA, visit blueridgeheritage.com