Less than two hours from Asheville, N.C., three hours from Knoxville, Tenn., and five hours from Atlanta is the mountain village of Blowing Rock
Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina's High Country
region, the town gets its name from the unique rock formation known as The Blowing Rock
that extends over Johns River Gorge. Regarded as "the crown of the Blue Ridge," the year-round destination appeals to all types of travelers with its wide variety of activities and attractions as well as annual events which include Art in the Park
and Blowing Rock Winterfest
Whether you’re planning a 48-hour getaway or a longer visit, here’s a quick look at what awaits you in and around Blowing Rock.
From the Blue Ridge Parkway
to the Pisgah National Forest
to the Glen Burney Trail
(easily accessible from Main Street), walkers and hikers can find trails suitable for every level. However, if hiking isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the outdoors, like fishing or horseback riding.
You don’t have to limit your adventure to the ground (or the water.) High Gravity Aerial Adventure
encourages you to test your personal limits and capabilities with over 70 different challenges that range from 15 to 50-feet off the ground. After orientation at the"Ground School,” explore the “vertical world” through either the one-level Foothills Course or the three level Blue Ridge Course, where the higher
you go, the more challenging it becomes. Carson Rivers, vice president of operations, recommends budgeting three to four hours to get the most out of the experience.
Explore downtown Blowing Rock. Spend a few hours meandering in and out of various shops
. Find lunch on Main Street at places like Town Tavern
, Storie Street Grille
or Village Cafe
. Afterward, visit Blowing Rock Art and History Museum
, where you can find out more about the area’s mountain heritage through visual art exhibits, workshops and more. Cap off your afternoon with a cup of coffee (or two) from Camp Coffee Roasters
. When you're ready for dinner, return downtown to Sunset Drive, off Main Street, for options that include Best Cellar
, New Public House
Travel back in time to the Wild West at Tweetsie Railroad
. Dubbed as “North Carolina’s original family theme park,” activities at Tweetsie include live shows, plenty of amusement rides, fair games, Deer Park Habitat
and an opportunity to pan for gold and gems. Of course, a visit isn’t comple
te without riding one of the trains
. Pulled by historic steam engines, enjoy a three-mile Wild West adventure through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Go beyond typical gem mining at Doc’s Rocks Gem Mines
. Not only do you learn about the gemstones and fossils you find, but also the history of Appalachian Mining. If you find a jewelry-worthy stone, you can have the gem cut and set at Doc's. Once you're through, head to their Appalachian Fossil Museum
. It features the largest private collection of fossils on display in the U.S., including a T-Rex skull. Nearby is Mystery Hill
. The complex
includes the Mystery Platform
and the Mystery House, as well as the Hall of Mystery, Appalachian Heritage Museum and Native American Artifacts Museum.
Take a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Stop by the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park
and Parkway Craft Center
, located at milepost 294. The park preserves the country estate of Moses Cone - "Denim King," and conservationist and philanthropist of the Gilded Age. The focal point is Flat Top Manor (ca. 1901), home to the Parkway Craft Center, one of five shops of the Southern Highland Craft Guild featuring works of Southern Appalachian craftspeople. About 15 miles south of Blowing Rock and one mile south of milepost 305 is Grandfather Mountain
. In addition to the many walking and hiking trails
, you can discover the Nature Museum
and Wildlife Habitats
. Take a walk out on the Mile High Swinging Bridge
, said to be America’s highest suspension footbridge.
Accommodations are as varied as the attractions and activities in Blowing Rock. There is something for every budget and style. Choices include such places as Chetola Resort, Historic Green Park Inn, Alpine Village Inn, Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn, and others.
photo credits: couple on the Blowing Rock, courtesy of Todd Bush (Todd Bush Photography, www.bushphoto) and the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority; (left) shopping downtown, courtesy of Todd Bush (Todd Bush Photography, www.bushphoto) and the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority; (right) Tweetsie courtesy of Todd Bush (Todd Bush Photography, www.bushphoto) and the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority; (bottom left) Mile High Swinging Bridge, courtesy of Amanda Lugenbell, photographer, and the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority