Blowing Rock is a charming hamlet tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Known as the state’s oldest attraction, there is plenty to see and do within this scenic setting. It offers something special each season, with many natural wonders to discover. It’s not wonder that Blowing Rock is one of the best small towns in North Carolina.
There is a rich history and cultural heritage here. Learn about and celebrate the character of the Carolina community in the crown of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Perfect for a relaxing getaway, lean into the worry-free, slow-paced spirit of this sleepy mountain town and unwind with these top-notch things to do in Blowing Rock.
Things To Do in Blowing Rock
Moses H. Cone Memorial Park
With over 3,000 acres of landscape to explore, this park is truly a national treasure. Named for a famed entrepreneur who once lived on the grounds, the massive 20 room mansion, Flat Top Manor, is available to tour. Take a peek into the lavish lifestyle of the luxurious Gilded Age by admiring the impressive architect and museum on-site.
There are 25 miles of trails wandering through lush pine forest and open fields full of wildflowers – you can hike or horseback ride through them. Bass Lake is a sparkling body of water that offers an ideal location for fishing, canoeing, or simply reflecting. Enjoy some serene solitude on these vast verdant grounds.
Blowing Rock Brewing Co
- Address: 152 Sunset Dr, Blowing Rock (GPS)
- Style: Taproom & Restaurant
- Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Sunday, Monday, & Wednesday) 11:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (Thursday, Friday & Saturday)
- Website: Link
Blowing Rock Brewery is a haven of high-country craft creations. A beloved mountain brewery making artisan beverages, this spot boasts a wide range of flavors from IPAs to wheat to barley wines. They use all fresh and local ingredients to encapsulate the Appalachian community in a can with a strict focus on sustainability.
They select heavy hitters from their favorite flagships, such as the Mel Electrum Honey Amber Ale and the Cloud Rise Hazy IPA. They also serve up some stellar specialty seasonal brews, such as the Clementine Kolsch and the Schwarz Bier. There’s no better way to enjoy the fresh mountain air than with a cold refreshing pint in hand. If you’re looking to track down some more tasty brews check out our favorite breweries in North Carolina.
Catch the Views From The Blowing Rock
This eponymous formation is over 1,000 years old, created from extensive erosion and the crushing pressure of making the mountain range itself. The Blowing Rock stretches an impressive 3,000 feet out over the picturesque Johns River Gorge. The views from the top are sweeping, vast vistas of surrounding wilderness as far as the eye can see.
To get to the observation lookout, hike, bike, horse ride, or take an all-terrain vehicle. There are several accessible trails to choose from. Take a picnic for the top, and be sure to have your camera ready for some panoramic photo ops. This is one of the most iconic things to do in Blowing Rock.
Enjoy The Local Restaurants
The Speckled Trout cooks up classic Carolina cuisines. They focus on supporting local farmers in all their fares. A celebration of high-country culture, this main street staple serves up delicious dishes such as the Cracker Crusted NC Mountain Trout and the Chicken n’ Dumplings. They also boast an impressive beverage selection and spacious outdoor patio.
Bistro Roca plates up elevated comfort foods in a trendy and upscale setting. The Lobster Mac n’ Cheese is enough for us to name them at the top of Blowing Rocking eateries. They also have very compelling gourmet burgers and wood-fired pizzas. There’s something to please every palate at this gem of a dining destination.
Hike The Glen Burney Trail
- Trailhead: Annie Cannon Gardens (GPS)
- Distance: 2.25 miles
- Elevation: 680 feet
The start of the trail is easily accessible right from downtown, making it an ideal choice for visitors. It’s a three-mile round trip path that leads to three incredibly gorgeous waterfalls – Glen Burney Falls, Glen Marie Falls, and the Cascades. It can be considered strenuous, as the trail can often be slippery and tricky in parts.
The elevation gain is about 600 feet in total. It’s an enchanting way to experience the nature of Blowing Rock as you trek through dense forest to discover these stunning flowing falls. It’s believed that it dates back as early as the mid-1800s adding to its historical allure. You can view these falls from observation decks above or from the clear pooling waters at their base, where you can cool off with a splash.
Stroll Through Downtown
The downtown district of Blowing Rock is chock full of charm, to say the least. Spend a day strolling Main Street to browse all the local treasures on display. This part of North Carolina is known for its quality antiques. While there are several options for scoring vintage gems here, we recommend Blowing Rock Antiques for quality and diversity. Funky Tulip and Monkee’s are both beloved boutiques offering women’s wares you won’t want to live without.
If you need a pick-me-up in the middle of your walk, try out Camp Coffee Roasters for finely roasted or deeply steeped beverages. Artwalk is an oasis of local artisan goods and crafts. A stop into High Country Candles is always a fun time as you can actually watch them being made after you sniff in enticing scents to your heart’s desire. Rustic and Last Straw curate home furnishings to stock up on your cozy cabin decor supply. Stop shopping before you drop and head to the Grilled Cheese Cafe for one of six savory sandwiches served up for the perfect refuel.
Blowing Rock Art and History Museum
- Location: 159 Ginny Stevens Ln, Blowing Rock (GPS)
- Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Tuesday – Saturday) 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Sunday)
- Admission: Free!
- Website: Link
Blowing Rock Museum explores the rich Appalachian cultural heritage of the area through various art and educational displays. Many exhibits are rotating, so there is always something new to learn here. They range from things like Metalsmiths of North Carolina to the Phillip Moose Collection.
They host many community events to encourage engagement through art, including workshops, concerts, and galas. This includes classes like Cast Iron Sculpture, BRAHM Book Club, and Forest Friends Camp. The gift shop provides many handicrafts from local artisans and a carefully curated selection of essential reads. Cork and Canvas is a popular pastime here as nothing goes together better than painting and drinking wine. This cultural hub is one of the most enriching things to do in Blowing Rock.
- Address: 300 Tweetsie Railroad Ln, Blowing Rock (GPS)
- Hours: Check them here!
- Admission: Adult (13+) – $52, Youth (3-12) – $33, Child (0-2) Free
Take a ride straight into the Wild West at Tweetsie Railroad. Full of family fun for everyone, there are many carnival rides to partake in at this theme park. The rides remain classic with choices such as the tilt-a-whirl, Ferris wheel, and free fall. The train itself is pulled by a locomotive steam engine and takes you on a scenic three-mile journey through the mountainside.
Along the ride, you will discover a whole host of exciting live entertainment. There are magic shows, can-can dancers, old western screenings, musicals, and even the Country Clogging Jamboree. They host seasonal events for holidays as well. It’s been around since the 1950s and has maintained much of its original charm. There are arcade games, gold panning, and many styles of shops to browse goodies galore from yesteryear.
Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine
- Address: 100 Shoppes on the Parkway Rd, Blowing Rock (GPS)
- Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Closed Wednesday)
- Website: Link
Hunt for hidden gems at this treasure trove in Blowing Rock. Doc’s Rocks is the best place to learn about the historical geology of this mineral-rich mountain area. You can buy different types of seeded ore bags, which each contain certain gems and some information about them. There are also shark teeth, arrowheads, and fossils to find. Choose between options like Lucky Strike, Emerald Strike, or Mother Load to pan for some shiny surprises.
Alternatively, you can buy unseeded buckets of a mix of ore from different local active mines. They offer gem cutting services from the finds you want to be shaped up as well. They offer special tours that involve more intense digging and picking for specific gemstones in the mines seasonally.
Blowing Rock Markets
- Address: 990 Main St, Blowing Rock (GPS)
- Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (Sunday – Thursday) 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (Friday & Saturday)
Blowing Rock Farmers’ Market is a haven of healthy goodies. All the freshest local produce awaits you here weekly straight from the farmers. All kinds of vendors are available to peruse, such as Summer Fresh Flower Farms, Blue Goat Dairy, BFR Beef, Baking Creations by Dana, Mystic Pasta, Boone Fungi, and Black Birch Her-Pothecary.
Everything is organic and handmade for your enjoyment. Blowing Rock Market sits right on Main Street and is a charming shop full of locally made treats to try. They sell local wines, beers, ice cream, baked goods, pickled okra, and more. You can order a bite or a beverage to stay, and it’s still a functioning gas station as well.
Appalachian Ski Mountain
There are 12 different slopes to soar down as well as two terrain parks for trying out tricks. As the high country’s first winter sports destination, it has a history as a top hotspot for skiing enthusiasts. They even host Midnight Blast on the weekends, the only late-night skiing and riding in the region.
The lodge at the base of the mountain is Bavarian style and spacious, to say the least. Check out the observation deck for sweeping views of the snowy slopes and peaks surrounding it. It’s complete with a slew of amenities, perfect for a cozy getaway, whether you’re partaking in the icy adventures or not.
They offer private or group lessons for those who are just learning as well. If you go unprepared, feel free to rent or buy any equipment you may need on-site. You can pick your preference, with options to ski, snowboard, or ice skate. Wind down in the winter wonderland of Appalachian Ski Mountain.
Green Knob Trail
- Trailhead: Green Knob Trailhead (GPS)
- Distance: 2.2 miles
- Elevation: 515 feet
Located in Julian Price Memorial Park, Green Knob Trail packs in all the area’s diverse nature. Trek through many types of terrains, take in scenic panoramas, cross multiple creeks, and wander through open fields full of sunshine on this out and back trail. It’s 2.3 miles in total and moderately strenuous.
The effort is worth exploring so much of the lush landscape in this region of North Carolina. You will climb through Rhododendron tunnels and even come across small waterfalls. From some lookouts, you can spot the stunning Grandfather Mountain nearby in all its glory.
Keep your eyes out for native wildlife, especially birds and herds of bulls that frequent the pastures along with parts of the trail. Watch your step on the steep sections, but it’s truly one of the most rewarding short hikes around.
High Country Jazz Society will undoubtedly bring out the true tune groover in you. Located in the majestic Meadowbrook Inn, every type of jazz is experienced in this contemporary and cozy setting. Settle in for soothing melodies of everything from classical to bebop to ballads. Broyhill Park hosts a concert series as well. Check the schedule and stop by with a blanket and picnic to enjoy the sweet sounds of local performers in idyllic scenic surroundings. On the weekends, try out Town Tavern and Twigs.
Town Tavern offers a sports bar atmosphere with a lovely outdoor patio. If you are more interested in making the music rather than listening, be sure to head there for karaoke night. Twigs is a romantic and casual eatery that often has some of the most beloved artists of the area performing. Woodlands BBQ has a band almost every night with music that matches the menu. Enjoy some down-home Carolina cooking with the fixings of cool country tunes in a no-frills rustic space.
High Gravity Adventures
This is the aerial adventure of every thrill seeker’s dreams. From ziplines to sky bridges to obstacle courses, daredevils will rejoice at what High Gravity has to offer. Take a tour of the treetops as you fly through the canopy over a stunning valley below. It’s almost 2,000 feet of zipping and zagging for fun and a foliage-filled good time. There is also a dropzone at the end that lets you finish with a simulated freefall.
A favorite feature here is also the giant swing. It holds up to three people at a time and is as delightful as it is daring. There are challenges for every skill and comfort level, including spider webs, climbing ladders, rappels, swinging logs, climbing walls, and up and down nets. A truly action-packed day out awaits you at High Gravity.