67 Things to do in Boone and Blowing Rock North Carolina

1. Have a tall margarita on the deck at


and watch the sunset - best view in the "High Country".

2. Walk downtown Blowing Rock and check out all of the unique shops. While you're there spring for some ice cream at




Bald Guy Brew

for Coffee!!! Check out the outdoorsy sundries at Footsloggers below.

4. Go fishing at

Grandfather Trout Farm

. Rods are provided and bait and tackle are free! You only pay for what you catch... and they'll even clean 'em for ya. Can't beat that!

5. Go tubing. There are several

local outfitters

that will set you up, drop you off and pick you up. It's a great way to relax on a sunny day. We always put in on the New River in


but there are several other runs as well...depending on how high the water is.

6. Hike around

Bass Lake

. There's a nice flat walking loop around the lake that's .8 miles. There are also other trails to take once you get there.

7. If you want to make it a nice half day trip. Hike from Bass lake up to

Moses Cone Manor

. You can tour the 13,000 square foot estate and check out the

Parkway Craft Center

that has found its home there. (Moses Cone was a "prosperous textile entrepreneur, conservationist, and philanthropist"...in a nutshell). If you want to drive up to the home instead of walking it's mile post 194.1 off of the Parkway.

8. Go to the original

Mast General Store

in Valle Crucis.

9. Music on the Lawn at the Inn at Ragged Gardens on Fridays from May-October.


Tweetsie Railroad

- If you have kids it's a no brainer. What's more fun than a "wild west" theme park. Tweetsie is open May-October.

11. After that, you'll want someone to watch the kids while you go out to eat at the


, a local and visitor favorite tucked away between Boone and Blowing Rock on Shulls Mill road. The eclectic mountain cuisine on their seasonal menu has just about any kind of wild game you can think of. There are vegetarian selections as well. It's sure to be a dining experience that you will remember.


Sky Valley Zip Tours!!!

13. Go

gem mining


14. Check out

Mystery Hill

if you have kids...it's hard to explain so just go and see for yourself what the mystery is.

Camping and Hiking Spring 2011 022_500


"The Blowing Rock"

is definitely worth seeing. You pay six dollars for adults and one dollar for kids. They have trails and an observation deck...the view is really something to behold; I don't know where a better one is except maybe the top of

Mt. Mitchell

(highest peak east of the Mississippi).

16. Blowing Rock has a

nice new pool

open Memorial Day till Labor Day. It is heated and it’s typically pretty crowed during mid day so after 4 is your best bet for peace and quiet. They do have a shallow end for the little ones and a slide.

17. If you're really getting desperate and it's a rainy day you could browse around there for deals or hit up

Shoppes on the Parkway

outlet mall located on 321 as you're coming into Blowing Rock (from Boone). There is great shopping to be had in Downtown Blowing Rock and King Street in Boone.

18. On the other hand if it's a nice day just cruise the

Blue Ridge Parkway

. There are plenty of places to pull off and have a picnic. Go to the

Blowing Rock Market

for a deli sandwich and a bottle of wine.

19. The Blue Ridge High Country is home to lots of unique wineries and vineyards. Check out our favorites -

Grandfather Vineyard


Banner Elk Winery


20. Another no brainer is

Grandfather Mountain

. The famous Mile High Bridge, Hiking Trails, and small zoo make this a perfect way to spend a day. If you go in


(with someone who lives here) it's only two dollars.

21. If it's raining and you have kids under 8 or so, the

Fun Factory

in Boone will keep them entertained for hours! 

Em's Wedding and July 4th 004_2

22. Buy a cheap fishing rod and go throw a line in one of our many streams. You can also plan a

guided tour

. Make sure you check the regulations on the

NC Wildlife Website

and have a current fishing license.

23. Appalachian State University always has

cultural events

going on; from student concerts and plays to acts that they bring in like symphony's and dance concerts.

24. If it's football season, definitely go see a

football game

. ASU has an amazing team. There were 3 years in recent history that they were were the National champs!

25. If you want to play golf, the

Boone Golf Club

is open to the public.


Boone Bowling



right down the mountain in


has food, an arcade, bowling, pool...and drinks. It’s a nice clean facility and they are not crowded at all during the day, I highly recommend it. (20 or 25 minutes from

Blowing Rock


28. The


and the

Children's Playhouse

in Boone always have fun things to do with kids.


Art in the Park

in the summers is always fun in Blowing Rock if you don't mind the crowd.

30. I know I'm writing a lot about food and drinks, but my absolute favorite place to eat in Blowing Rock is

Bistro Roca

. It's tucked away on a side street...get directions, but you can't beat the atmosphere. They have a unique menu with a wide range of selections and pricing. You can go all out with their unique entrees or just get a personal wood fired oven pizza and a salad. Whatever is on special is always good.

31. There's a

disc golf course

in West Jefferson. If you don't have discs of your own, you really just need a putter, mid-range and driver to get started.

32. In the winter go skiing or snowboarding at





Appalachian Ski Mountain

. If you're clumsy like me you might be better off snow tubing at


snow tubing park in Seven Devils. Ps. They do Zip Tours in the summer. Also in the summer, Sugar Mountain lets you go up the Ski Lift and check out the view.

33. Go

horseback riding


34. If you aren't scared of heights climb the

Footsloggers Tower

outside of their store in Boone. If you don't like heights, get some coffee at

Espresso News

next door and watch your friends climb...best coffee in town in my opinion.

35. Feeling adventurous? Try out your mountain biking skills at

Beech Mountain

. In the summers you can ride downhill via bike and then take the chair lift back up to the top. They have everything there you need to rent. If you have all of your own gear,

Rocky Knob Park

on 421 is free and open to the public.


Watauga Lake

is located about 40 minutes from Boone just over the Tennessee line. There are a wide range of water activities to choose from at one of their many marinas.

37. In the summer's there's tons of free music in the High Country. My favorites are Friday nights at the Valle Crucis Park or on the Lawn of the Best Cellar in Blowing Rock. BYOB for Valle Crucis and there’s a full outdoor bar at the Best Cellar.


Horn in the West

- (an outdoor drama put on by locals and equity talent in the summer).


Daniel Boone Inn

... It's like dinner at your Grandma's house on a Sunday. I'm not going to say any more about it, just go eat there!


Woodlands BBQ

. Picnic tables, live music, good BBQ also a kids menu. Try the house wings! For an entree I never get anything other than the chop pork plate with double slaw, fries and fried okra. (Full bar as well).

41. Browse through


or their sister store downtown Boone -

Benchmark Provisions

, for an eclectic Beer and Wine selection. They also offer tastings.

42. For fine dining option in Banner Elk is the

Louisiana Purchase

. Cajun/Americana theme dishes and one of the largest wine lists in North Carolina. Seasonal menu and lots of local food. The


is another great option.

43. The Lee's McRae Performing Arts Department does fantastic summer stock musicals. Check their


to see what's coming up.

44. Canoeing or Kayaking is a great way to spend a day in the summer.



River and Earth Adventures

do guided tours for this as well as white water rafting.


Boone Saloon




The Local


Appalachian Mountain Brewery


Lost Province Brewery

 are great places to see live music on the weekends. Stick to Canyons if you want a slightly older crowd.

46. Can't forget to mention "

Taco Tuesdays

" at Boone Saloon. $1.25 beef, chicken or veggie burger taco's and a great beer selection. I hear the

Tapp Room

in Boone have fantastic Tacos on Wednesday as well.

47. Go


. I'm too scared to so let me know how it is.


Westglow spa




The Inn at Crestwood

if you want to relax treat yourself.

49. Drive up to

Howard's Knob

in Boone. (If you go past Earthfare on King Street make a right onto Cherry Street and you should see signs. Amazing view of the city.

50. Browse around at the local

Subaru dealership

on 105 extension to find your mountain dream car...everybody has one...

51. The general store in Todd (out hwy 194 from Boone) has

live Bluegrass music

on Saturdays in the summer.

52. On a hot day, jump in a swimming hole. There are two good ones, the first is down from the 105 Dam and the other is called "Snake Pit" out towards Tennessee. Click on this


for directions to both.

53. I almost forgot, my favorite place for gifts and fun home accessories is


in Downtown Blowing Rock.

54. The

Glen Burney Fall's trail

is definitely a moderate to strenuous but there's a big payoff at the end. The trail starts downtown Blowing Rock.


Jimmy Smith Park

in Boone...watch this video on it.


The Wellness Center

in Boone offers guest membership. Included in the price are indoor basketball and racquetball courts, a pool, shower and locker facilities, child care for children over 6 months old, work out equipment and fitness classes.


Julian Price Park

has trails, camping and canoeing and it's just outside of Blowing Rock down hwy 221.

Em's Wedding and July 4th 249_2


Linville Gorge

has mountain biking, camping, hiking and backpacking trails and waterfalls.

60. Grandfather mountain

profile trail

. From what I understand if you do the whole trail it's moderate to strenuous and takes about 5 hours but you can also just do the beginning section if you want a more leisurely hike.

61. If you don't mind getting really far off the beaten path there's a state

off roading park

in Collettesville.

62. There are several

farmers markets

in the area. Boone has one at Horn in the West on Wednesday and Saturday mornings and Blowing rock has one downtown from 4-6pm in the summers.

63. Boone has several different

city parks

each with different amenities.

64. See a concert at the

Convocation Center

at ASU. They bring in big names such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson and Charlie Daniels.

65.The park in Downtown

Blowing Rock

also has tennis and basketball courts and a mini rock wall, jungle gym and swing sets for the kids.

66. Blowing Rock has a new

Art and History Museum

Downtown check out their website for Exhibits and Special Programs. Sometimes they have activities for kids.

67. Aside from being a Blowing Rock Resident, Outdoor Enthusiast, Mom, Blogger and

Musician , my actual job is as a

Wedding and Special Event Planner

Tfor reading,

Meris Gantt

Wedding Planner –The Whole Shebang

828.719.9171 - hello@wholeshebangevents.com

Picnik footer_500

Lana and Mark's Rustic Mountain Wedding at Sugar Hollow Retreat

Loved this gorgeous rustic outdoor wedding at

Sugar Hollow Retreat near Watauga Lake. Check out these pictures from Suzanne Masse

.Sugar Hollow Retreat is an amazing place to have a wedding if you want to have all of your guests stay together in a "camp like" atmosphere. Mark, Lana and their guests made a long weekend of it hiking, swimming, cooking out, playing music and getting to know each others families.


Venue – Sugar Hollow Retreat

Coordination – The Whole Shebang

Flowers – The Whole Shebang

Melissa and Adam's – Rustic Wedding at Camp Sky Ranch

Such an amazing time with this wedding. Camp Sky Ranch is definitely my favorite new venue in the Boone/Blowing Rock Area. Owners Jack and Lori sharp are amazing to work with.

Shout out to all of the High Country Vendors involved

Venue –

Camp Sky Ranch

Catering –

The Gamekeeper

Cake –

Wendy Sykes Gordon from The Gamekeeper

Officiate – Jason English from

The Heart Church

Flowers –

Shady Grove Gardens

Planning –

The Whole Shebang

Photography –

Carolina Portrait Designs

Hair –

Beautiful Bride

Tent/Tables/Chairs/Linens –

Boone Rent All

Musicians –

Tater Hill Music

DJ –

Gambill Entertainment

Transportation –

Air Haven Limousine


Boone and Blowing Rock Restaurant Reviews - The Gamekeeper

Summer 12 362

I am pleased and thrilled to bring you our observations of the meal that we enjoyed at The Gamekeeper

. This little gem of a restaurant is nestled into a little nook off the side of Shull's Mill Road near Yonahlossee

. The unassuming exterior both speaks of a simpler time in the mountains as well as the unique character of the foods and experiences found within it's walls. With reservations for six o'clock, we were able to be seated by a window to enjoy the lush beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted by the Front of House Manager and local legend Angie Pate. She guided us to our table and introduced us to our waitress Sandi Priest. Sandi's menu knowledge was outstanding. She had great presentation at the table and was attentive without being intrusive. She explained dishes well and was very accommodating.

Opening the Experience:

To begin our journey we were able to select a beverage from a wide range of wines, custom mixed drinks and beers. We opted for an Oatmeal Porter from Highland Brewery in Asheville and a Nutty Angel Martini that featured Stoli Vanilla, Frangelico, Bailey's, Buttershots and topped with a sprinkle of nutmeg created by bartender Evan Vernon. The drinks were followed in short order by a little surprise to our evening, an amuse-bouche.

This unexpected treat set the tone of the quality and presentation of the meal to fo

Summer 12 331

llow. It was a wonton with mushroom and cream cheese with Parmesan, ponzu sauce, four daubs of a fiery red hot sauce and baby arugula. Unfortunately, to list the basic parts does little to explain the culinary layers of this seemingly simple bite sized dish. The savory of the wonton, the sweet/sour/saltiness of the ponzu and the heat of the pepper sauce worked to activate the tastes and prepare us for the culinary adventure to follow. As you can see from the photo, the presentation was outstanding utilizing an edible bloom from outside the restaurant.

After enjoying the start of our dinner we were given an assorted selection of breads from local bread maker

Stick Boy Bread Company

of Boone with an oil, vinegar and black pepper presentation for dipping.


We decided todive head first into the Mixed Grill appetizer. The plate arrived with a great selection of game and accompanying sauces. On this day's plate we found rabbit and rattlesnake sausage, buffalo bratwurst, and buffalo and ostrich medallions with a center stack of home fries. For dipping sauces we were offered a sun dried tomato BBQ, a sour cream and green onion horseradish sauce and a coarse ground honey mustard. The portions were substantial and could easily be shared among friends.

The buffalo sausage was rich, bold and savory with a smoky finish while the lighter rabbit and rattlesnake sausage offered a mild sage flavor and a tender texture. If the flavors of these meats alone aren't enough, you can experiment combining their flavor profiles with the available sauces. We favored the rabbit and rattlesnake sausage with the coarse ground honey mustard and the buffalo bratwurst with the sour cream and green onion horseradish.

The buffalo and ostrich portions of our appetizer were so enjoyable that we decided that we would keep enjoying these fine meats as entrees. We’ll save the description of these for the discussion of the main course. For those who decide to go another route for dinner, we found the buffalo paired wonderfully with the horseradish sauce and the coarse ground honey mustard brought out the flavors of the ostrich.

The Entrees:

Inspired by our excellent appetizer, we followed suit with the Ostrich Fan Filet and the Buffalo Hanging Tenderloin. The buffalo came with an herbed blue cheese macaroni and cheese, green onion and sour cream horseradish sauce, and a medley of fresh local

Summer 12 342_1

organic vegetables including sugar snap peas, zucchini, squash, kale and beets. The ostrich was brought in from Hilltop Farms in Forsythe County and featured a roasted garlic risotto and sun dried tomato jus with the same vegetable selection as the buffalo.

Before the entrees came we sought a beverage to help accent our dinner selections. Leaving the choice of wine to Sandi, we were suggested the Andeluna Malbec for the buffalo and the Villa San Juliette Petit Syrah with the ostrich.

The buffalo itself was rich and as tender as one could imagine a cut of red meat. The seasoning was light and complimentary to the smoky flavor of the wood fired grill. The vegetables were grilled just long enough for flavor but not overcooked. The Mac and Cheese was savory but not over sauced and the consistency was firm. The blue cheese served as an accent flavor but did not overpower the dish. 

Summer 12 345

The thing that was the most intriguing about the spice rubbed ostrich was its exquisite texture. It lends itself more towards a red meat than a poultry. It's preparation over the wood fired grill added a touch of crisp on the outside to counter the tender medium rare interior. The risotto was another pleasant surprise on this plate. It was light and saucy and not laden with a heavy cream sauce. The vegetables were complimentary to the overall flavors of the plate.

Summer 12 346

As you can see from the photos, the plate presentations utilized a nice three dimensional approach.  It was a nice balance between using the available design space and ease of consumption.

True to their name, a unique thing that stands out about the Gamekeeper is that the proteins are allowed to stand alone as the true focal points of the meal through their simplicity. The meats are not drenched in sauce, nor are they hidden behind a veil of strong flavored sides. The meats are selected well, spiced well, grilled well and presented well. The entire plate appears to be designed around that focus.

Deserts and More:

Summer 12 350

The desert menu brought upon us a whole new realm of challenges. As mentioned by Sandi, The Gamekeeper is well know for it's Bread Pudding but we decided to go another route opted for the Turbo Coffee and the Pound Cake to polish off our evening.

True to it’s name, The Turbo Coffee is a rich blend of local

Bald Guy Brew coffee

, Frangelico, Bailey's, Kahlua, Amaretto and topped with whipped cream. The dark chocolate and ginger pound Cake was topped with a warm chocolate sauce, almond brittle and Chantilly cream. The cake was pleasantly light in composure and not heavy as most pound cakes tend to be.  Both items were thoroughly enjoyed and were a nice finish to an excellent dinner.

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Random Thoughts and Words on the Night:

There is not salt and pepper on the table thus conveying a trust in the chefs and their vision for the dinner.

The food is cooked using a wood fired grill using apple wood and hickory conjuring up memories of cooking over a campfire.

Local organic and sustainable ingredients are utilized and throughout.

The interior design struck a personal note as a person who lived in the foothills and visited the area very often as a youth. It has a modernistic twist to the rustic mountain style of the area. It’s a nice mix of styles that does well to enhance the experience.

Summer 12 367_1

Summing it All Up:

Walking to our car we felt like we had run a culinary marathon.  For us and many consumers, we associate an amazing dining experience as a sum of the parts.  When the food, the presentation, the decor, the service, and the company all line up, we all as consumers enjoy an amazing dining event.  On this night, this was definitely the case.

A special thanks goes out to Chef Alec Schoberand our hosts for the evening, owners/chefs and all around great people Ken and Wendy Gordon. 


North Carolina Mountain Weddings With The Whole Shebang


The Whole Shebang continually strives to help you create a one-of-a-kind, beautiful, and creative wedding in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

I absolutely love what I do and there is a real joy in the process of creating a relaxed and fun environment that allows a bride to create her own unique vision of a perfect wedding day. My job is to pull together every aspect of your vision and handle all of the details so that your wedding day is beautiful, memorable, stress-free, and uniquely YOURS! Whatever your dream, I will help you find innovative ways to make it happen, and guide you every step of the way.

Born and raised along the coast in Southport, North Carolina, I'd always dreamed of living in the mountains. I found my way to the Blowing Rock area of the High Country in 2005 where I met my husband Paul and started a family. I have been involved in many aspects of the wedding industry, and was at the right place at the right time to make the leap to The Whole Shebang in 2009 when Cassandra Reed, the original owner, relocated to Virginia.

Many years in the service industry experience have given me a rock-solid work ethic and allowed me to forge relationships with many on the area's professionals, including some of the finest photographers, venue proprietors, designers, and entertainment specialists in the High Country. My love of the arts continues to be my driving force in creating a beautiful event regardless of size or scale.

I love the common thread among brides who choose to get married in the mountains. Whether you live in the area, vacationed here growing up, or attended college, there is a deep-rooted connection with nature, the outdoors, and the beauty of the High Country. Whether it's the dream of a casual, rustic backyard BBQ, or a glamorous black tie affair, the one thing all of my brides seem to have in common is that they are creative, soulful, and eager to incorporate the majestic landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains into the overall vision of their wedding day and share it with their closest friends and family.

My favorite wedding moment is being able to stand back and watch the bride and groom... relaxed, dancing,  enjoying their moment, surrounded by loved ones, and knowing that their dream of a perfect day had come to life. It is a such blessing to witness the love between two people starting a new life together.

I invite you to take a look around, check out my blog, read reviews, and get a feel for the wedding planning services offered by the The Whole Shebang Events. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions you might have. I look forward to hearing from you!



Thanks so much for your interest and have a great day!



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Boone NC Wedding DIY Ideas

Here’s a shout out to some of my favorite blogs!

Check out these these sigh-worthy ideas that would look amazing in your wedding in the Boone/Blowing Rock area of the High Country….Enjoy!


Above From The Celebrity Wedding Reporter.com


Above From Inspired By This.com


Above From The Wedding Chicks


NC Mountain Wedding Tips


Thanks to the

Niche White Bridal Loft

for this steal worthy idea. Having an artist (or talented friend) sketch and then paint the scene of your wedding is such a unique and versatile idea and kills 3 birds with one stone.

1. Frame the original the finished product to forever remember your special day.

2. Make full size prints and have them framed for parents and other close family.

3. Have a print scanned into your computer and use the graphic to send out Thank You cards to all of your guests after the wedding.

Photo’s are wonderful as well and you can always have one your favorite pictures immortalized on canvas after the fact but I love the feeling of authenticity that having a live artist present on your wedding day brings to the overall style of your ceremony. Where on earth is a more picturesque back drop than the Boone area of the NC Mountains???

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2011 color trends for your NC Mountain Wedding.


The Boone Area of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina provide a picturesque backdrop for a beautiful wedding in any season. I find that most brides already have some colors in mind for their wedding without following the “latest trends” but it’s always fun to look and explore different avenues.

I love this palette from Michelle Mospens at My Personal Artist. Michelle does tons of research for her wedding sketchbook and this is only one of the palette’s that she has put together for this coming year.

There are so many ways to use color combinations to enhance the overall style and theme of your wedding but here are some of my favorites broken down by season:


: Color wise, spring comes late in the High Country. The trees don’t get completely lush and green until at least May here. My advice if you’re planning your wedding for April or May is to go with a soft palette and combine delicate touches with a lot of texture.

Favorite Spring Combos

: Oyster grey with pear and scallop shell.  Carrot orange with moccasin.  Persian green and antique white.


Summer is so so GREEN in the mountains. I love using vibrant colors and mixing in some additional greens to magnify the natural surroundings. Jewel tones are still “in” so don’t be scared to go bold for summer!

Favorite Summer Combos:

Tyrian purple and pear.  Jewel tones mixed with light or apple greens and neutrals make for a dreamy yet eclectic atmosphere. You have to be really specific with your blues this time of year or you’ll wind up competing with your background. Not to say that you should shy away from them. Teal or agate blue with apple green and some yellows or oranges can look fantastic!


Everyone knows that Fall is gorgeous in the NC mountains. Folks travel from all around just to gaze at the colors in the Boone area. You can use colors in two different ways in the fall. Either use a lot of greens and neutrals and one accent color to give the natural backdrop center stage or… piggyback on the leaves and use a few “fall colors” to give your event an autumn theme.

Favorite Fall Combos

: Dark chocolate and carrot orange.  Olivine green, moccasin and dark tangerine.  Pear and mocha taupe.


Texture and greenery. The mountains are sparse yet dramatic in the winter and early spring. If your wedding is during the holidays thinking about incorporating some rich reds and greens and don’t be scared of metallic golds and silvers. Also, winter is a good time to use those shades of blue since you’re not competing with the green all around you.

Favorite Winter Combos

: Sangria, oyster grey and grey taupe. Tyrian Purple and scallop shell with some green.  Persian green, asparagus and antique white.

The number one rule for color is to

have fun, use your imagination and “own it”.

That being said, it would be difficult NOT to have a beautiful wedding in the NC High Country.

Wedding Invitations