What to do, where to eat and where to hike in Boone, North Carolina!
My husband grew up in Boone, North Carolina but long before we met, I loved visiting Boone, probably because it reminds me a lot of home. (I grew up in Utah but have lived in North Carolina for nearly 13 years.)
Boone is a beautiful mountain town with so many outdoor activities and amazing views and hikes. King Street in downtown Boone is a cute little area to explore as well. Boone also has great restaurants. So, the bottom line is that I absolutely love visiting! In the warmer months, Boone is cooler than Winston-Salem or Charlotte, which makes it a perfect summer getaway. It isn’t as humid and it’s a runner’s heaven. And in the winter, you can hit the slopes or just cozy up next to a fireplace while the snow falls.
Since Tommy’s parents still live in Boone, we have a really good excuse to visit, and we also have a little vacation townhome there, so we spend quite a bit of time up here.
Today, I’m sharing my top picks for what to do and where to eat in Boone. If you’re staying closer to Blowing Rock, check out my Blowing Rock travel guide. Blowing Rock and Boone are close enough together that it’s easy to go to both places during a day trip or a weekend stay, so be sure to check out both posts! Boone has more of a hippie/crunchy vibe and Blowing Rock is a little more preppy, for lack of better terms. I love them both but they have different vibes!
Appalachian State University is located in Boone and has a really fun college atmosphere. But it’s worth noting that during the school year, it can get pretty crowded. Make sure to get to restaurants with time to wait if you don’t have a reservation. That applies year-round it seems these days since Boone and Blowing Rock are both getting more and more popular with visitors!
If you’re looking for a place to stay, my friend owns an AirBnb property in Boone, so I included those details below since I can vouch for it.
Boone Rental Home
“Grand Escape” has 5 bedrooms, 6 beds and 4.5 baths. This large home is centrally located to everything in the High Country, which is great if you want to explore all the different towns in the area! It’s less than 15 minutes to downtown Boone and Banner Elk, less than 20 minutes to Blowing Rock, and most importantly, a two minute drive to Grandfather Vineyard & Winery. It has five bedrooms (including three large king suites), which makes it perfect for multi-generational gatherings or multi-family trips. The setting of this homes gives you both privacy and easy access to all the various outings. Win win! I loooove the backyard and outdoor firepit at this house.
Boone has some of the best food of anywhere up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. While you might be staying closer to Blowing Rock, the restaurants in Boone are a MUST, so you’ll want to make a trip over there. It isn’t far and there are SO many good options. My personal must-visits on every trip are Coyote Kitchen, CoBo and The Cardinal.
Great breakfast, diner style. Simple but solid. They also serve lunch.
Amazing smoothies, juices, salads. Great for vegan and gluten-free diets. (Good lunch spot too!)
The brunch is AMAZING, but you’ll need to get their early or expect to wait. They open at 8:00AM, so if you can get there right then, you’ll have a good chance of getting at table. I promise it’s worth it!
Rumor has it they ship their dough from New York because they like the water from there better for getting the bagels just right. Not sure if that’s a verified fact, but they’re certainly delicious. They have gluten free bagels too.
Just get one of everything. You really can’t go wrong but their red pepper sourdough is incredible, as are their ginger cookies and oatmeal cookies. It’s not a good sit-down/hang out place since there isn’t seating other than a few benches outside, but definitely take it to-go!
Homemade doughnuts (they do have gluten-free donuts – call to find out which days they are available)
Cookie lovers, don’t miss this. They also have amazing gluten-free/vegan cookies – I even had them at our wedding.
Ice cream sandwiches (the gluten-free cookie is awful, skip it)
My FAVORITE spot for coffee! The space is gorgeous and the coffee is fantastic.
They serve salads and grain bowls with ingredients that change daily and it’s always SO good. Strictly vegetarian but my very-non-vegetarian husband loves it too.
This is the sister-restaurant to the bakery and they serve breakfast and lunch. I love their quiche, Kluckin’ Kop Sandwich and Hearti Arti Sandwich. They have indoor and outdoor seating and they also have bread, cookies and muffins if you want to take some treats to go.
Known for their sushi but the crispy pork belly tacos with kimchi are amazing too. They also have shockingly good cheesecake so if it’s available that day, get it!
Has a great wine bar! And a menu highlight is the chicken and waffles.
All sorts of Southwest and Caribbean deliciousness. Their tempeh and salmon are my favorite protein choices and I always get fried plantains, no matter what. They’re very friendly to those with dietary restrictions so it’s great for gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian diners.
Don’t miss the collards.
Amazing burgers. The vegetarian beet burger is out of this world, even if you’re a hardcore carnivore. But, if you’re a carnivore their beef burgers are amazing too, and they often have bison or elk burgers (pictured below). They also offer gluten-free buns.
Shockingly solid fast food. Great fries and house made sweet potato chips. They’ll also do lettuce wraps in place of a bun.
Good spot for takeout or to dine-in! I especially love their curries.
Food trucks and wide open outdoor space for kids. It’s outside of Boone proper so it’s good spot to avoid crowds, especially during home football games. I love all their beers, but especially their sours.
This is my husband’s and father-in-law’s favorite spot for Italian.
A chain, but I swear the Boone location is one of the BEST. (The Winston-Salem location is awful!)
They use local ingredients (produce!) for their salads, which I love.
The AMB Boone Creek Blonde Ale is my husband’s favorite. I love the Porter. They also have multiple kinds of cider!
This is a fun spot for a beer and they serve food so it’s a great spot for an evening out. Get their wood fired pizzas! They have live music on Wednesdays.
The prettiest public golf course I’ve ever seen. There’s also a driving range if you don’t want to play a round.
This place is charming. There’s a cheese factory too. It’s a fun outing but a bit of a drive from Blowing Rock (about 30-45 minutes, depending on where you’re staying).
I haven’t done this yet, but plan to soon!
Great for kids! I believe they have limited hours in the fall and winter so be sure to check that.
Google this for good options since I can’t personally recommend any! I believe Valle Crucis is a popular area for fishing.
This area is beautiful and especially popular if you like water sports, like canoeing, paddling or swimming. Reference their website before you go since only certain activities are available at certain areas.
About 20 mins from Boone in Banner Elk. A nice park with a great playground for kids. Just a little ways back is a place where you can get into the riverbed to play and walk up & down the river a bit (unless they’ve had a big rainfall – then be careful.) It has clean bathrooms nearby.
A great spot to walk and observe nature. Daniel Boone Native Gardens has tons of North Carolina native plants in a really laidback design. The gardens are open daily from May to October.
It’s beautiful! The below river is on campus.
This greenway is flat and paved so it’s great for strollers, dog walking, etc! There’s also an AMAZING playground for kids near the biggest trailhead (by the Rec Center).
If you’re sore after spending time on the hiking trails and ski slopes (or if the weather prevents you from being outside!), be sure to schedule a massage at The Care Collective. Don’t let the boring office building location deter you – it’s an incredibly cozy, relaxing spot with some of the very best therapists I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a LOT of massages over the years as a distance runner). Brittany Deaton and Brandon Reardon are my two favorite massage therapists.
If you can’t get a massage (they often book up far in advance), a foot soak is equally relaxing with a great lower leg massage and an eye mask to block out the world. I’m also dying to try their saunas!
There are so many options, but here are a few of my favorite trails near Boone. I asterisked the ones that are some of my favorite spots for running, in particular. (If you want to run during your vacation, you should consider the Zap Endurance Running Camps – seriously amazing. Read about my first camp here.)
(Be sure to download the AllTrails app if you want more hiking options!)
My favorite trails to run are in Blowing Rock, so be sure to checkout my guide on where to run in Blowing Rock.
It’s a short hike but the trail is pretty rocky with lots of roots. But, the views are INCREDIBLE, especially at sunset (pictured below).
They have beginner to advanced walking and hiking trails, and some trails that are handicap accessible. This area is beautiful and especially popular if you like water sports, like canoeing, paddling or swimming. Reference their website before you go since only certain activities are available at certain areas.
This is a tougher hike that will take most of the day, but a very popular and classic hike in the area.
This is a flat trail that’s great for kids.
There are short and longer hike options. The short hikes are family friendly!
A 0.8 mile out & back trail that walks alongside a creek and down stairs to 2 waterfalls (just to see, not to play in.) This is slightly more challenging, but doable. Don’t go if it’s just rained – there are a few spots that would be too slippery. The trailhead is in a large parking lot with picnic tables & restrooms.
If you like to mountain bike, Rocky Knob is the spot for you! This is a wooded mountain park that has 185 acres of challenging trails & vistas.
If you’re planning a trip to Boone in the winter, you’re likely hoping to catch some snow. The good news is that you’ll probably see some, even if it’s not snowing the days you’re there. I find that every time we go to Boone after Christmas time, we see snow on the ground or get a snowfall during our trip! On average, the most snowfall happens in February.
I hope this post helps serve as an unofficial Boone, NC travel guide!
Shop my favorite items to pack for Boone