Banner Elk is located in the northwest quadrant of Avery County in the Appalachian Highlands 3,701 feet above sea level. Home to Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk features a lively arts and crafts cultural scene, complete with an intimate pedestrian shopping district. Banner Elk’s food scene has earned it the title “Culinary Hot Spot of the NC High Country.” Several top-notch restaurants are within walking distance of the town’s lone stoplight, including Artisanal, twice ranked in the Top 100 in the U.S. by OpenTable.com.
Summer visitors enjoy cool temperatures and outdoor activities. Banner Elk is home to Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, NC’s first alpine coaster, while waterfalls, hiking trails and Grandfather Mountain are within 20 minutes of town. Fall foliage season is popular in Banner Elk, especially the third weekend of October, when the famous Wooly Worm Festival draws over 20,000 visitors to celebrate this furry little critter long considered a forecaster of winter weather. In winter, Banner Elk is situated within five miles of North Carolina’s two largest ski resorts on Sugar and Beech mountains.
Beech Mountain is Eastern America’s highest town (elevation 5,506) with well-maintained hiking trails and bike routes made famous by Lance Armstrong, alongside premier skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and ice skating. Popular events include the Mile High Kite Festival in September, and the Autumn of Oz Celebration in October. The high temperature has exceeded 72 degrees only a handful of times since an official weather service reporting station was established in 1992.
In and around the Village of Sugar Mountain you will find a Frank Duane designed 18-hole public golf course, Har-Tru clay tennis courts, miles of trails to hike and bike, outdoor adventure outfitters, shopping, restaurants, and a range of cozy lodging options. In the winter, grab your skis and snowboard and enjoy North Carolina’s largest ski area. Local festivals include Oktoberfest in the fall and SugarFest in December.