Blowing Rock is located directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and is home to several iconic NC High Country attractions. It takes more than one day to tour some of the best-known sites. If you are looking for a sight-seeing adventure or just want to revisit your favorites, check out this itinerary!
Day 1: Around Town
Morning: The Blowing Rock and downtown Blowing Rock
Get started at the town’s namesake, The Blowing Rock. The view is incomparable, and the near-constant winds inspired a Native legend about the site. An impressive observation deck offers nearly 365-degree views, while a pretty loop trail is a relaxing way to enjoy the scenery. The rock itself is a perfect place to take a bucket-list photo!
The Blowing Rock Attraction is less than 5 minutes from downtown Blowing Rock off Valley Boulevard/Hwy 321. Open year round, weather permitting. Allow at least 30 minutes.
Take the rest of the morning to get to know downtown Blowing Rock! You can spend the entire afternoon without having to move your car if you park in one of the parking decks just off Main Street- there are no time limits on the spaces. The quaint village-like atmosphere is uncommon nowadays and there is plenty to enjoy. Stroll along the welcoming streets to see unique shops and galleries, even some that keep a studio space inside the shop where you can watch artists work. When you’re ready for a break, have lunch at one of many eateries downtown.
Lunch: Downtown Vibe
Two favorites for great outdoor dining have distinct personalities. The Speckled Trout Restaurant & Bottle Shop showcases southern standards with contemporary flair. Yes, they do have delicious mountain trout, and don’t miss the hoe cakes! If you’re in the mood for some tasty wings or a burger instead, head to the Town Tavern, a cozy sports bar.
Afternoon: Blowing Rock Art & History Museum
Continue to browse the shops after lunch as you make your way to the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) at the south end of Main Street. With a focus on locally-relevant material, the Museum presents insightful and interesting exhibits. The exhibits rotate frequently, so the experience is new each time one visits. Special programming offers everything from historical lectures to Cork & Canvas events, so check their schedule ahead of your visit.
Located downtown. Open year round. Allow 1-2 hours for a tour of BRAHM.
Dinner: Historic Elegance
Get a feel for the Blowing Rock of yesteryear with a contemporary meal in a historic location. Chetola Resort was a prominent private estate before the additions that made it a destination for visitors, and Timberlake’s Restaurant is located inside the original family manor house. The menu is inspired by the culinary favorites of world-renowned NC artist and designer Bob Timberlake. The Green Park Inn is Blowing Rock’s oldest hotel, a sprawling Victorian-style structure, and home to the Chestnut Grille. It offers a seasonal menu inspired by the NC High Country. You don’t have to be a lodging guest to dine in either restaurant.
Day 2: The Great Outdoors
Breakfast: Classic Menus, 2 Ways
For a classic diner experience, try Sunny Rock. It’s truly where the locals eat, and you’ll hear lots of hellos and friendly catching up across the dining room over pancakes and eggs. In contrast, The Village Café offers a varied, upscale brunch menu with dishes like French toast made with house-made Fugasa bread. Dine on the garden patio or in the historic home-turned-restaurant.
Morning : Blue Ridge Parkway to Grandfather Mountain
Before heading out to Grandfather Mountain, visit Flat Top Manor. Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s the historic home of Moses H. Cone, who built the mansion at the turn of the 20th century. Cone was a great lover of the natural world and the home is surrounded by 25 miles of carriage trails, old apple orchards, and two fishing lakes. The manor house overlooks the Blowing Rock area and offers expansive views from the front porch. The house also hosts the Southern Highland Craft Guild at Moses Cone Manor, which showcases crafts and fine arts created by members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.
Less than 10 minutes from downtown Blowing Rock at milepost 296 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Access Blue Ridge Parkway from Hwy 221 south, head North on Parkway for one mile. House open March-November, weather permitting. Allow 1 hour.
From the Parkway Craft Center, head south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Grandfather Mountain. On the way you’ll enjoy breathtaking vistas and wooded settings. On the southern slopes of Grandfather Mountain stretches the Linn Cove Viaduct, a marvel of engineering that allowed the preservation of the pristine habitats below. Designed and constructed with the landscape in mind, only the trees directly under the roadway were cut. The s-curve bridge is exciting to drive across, offering an experience like no other as the roadway seems to rush into the sky.
About 15 minutes from downtown Blowing Rock, at milepost 304.6 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Parkway is open year round, weather permitting. Best photos are on approach on the north side, via a footpath from Yonahlossee Overlook. No pedestrians are allowed on the Viaduct. A trail from the Linn Cove Visitor Center on south side of the Viaduct provides access to the underside of the structure.
Just after the Linn Cove Viaduct is the exit to Grandfather Mountain. At admission, an excellent CD audio guide is available to play in your car as you travel up the access road. Grandfather Mountain is home to a natural history museum, animal habitats and observation areas, and the Mile High Swinging Bridge. You can drive all the way to the top where incredible views can be enjoyed from the bridge and cliffs. There are also plenty of leg-stretching trails to enjoy, where you can experience the various ecosystems on the mountain up-close.
About 25 minutes from downtown Blowing Rock on Hwy 221 in Linville. From the Parkway, look for the exit for Hwy 221 to Grandfather Mountain. Open year round, weather permitting. Allow 2+ hours. Advance online ticketing began in 2020; check ahead for details.
Lunch: Grandfather Mountain
There are lots of great picnic spots on the Mountain. You can bring a picnic to enjoy (stop at Blowing Rock Market before leaving town) or grab one from Mildred’s Grill by the natural history museum on Grandfather. If you opt to dine inside at the Grill, the large windows offer great views of feeding areas for wild birds, squirrels, and chipmunks.
Afternoon: Blue Ridge Parkway Hike
On the way back to town via the Blue Ridge Parkway, stop at Price Lake to take in the views. On a calm day, the lake is perfectly reflective, creating a mirror image of Grandfather Mountain and the surrounding woods. The trail around Price Lake is a popular one for good reason. It’s an easy loop trail, but a good leg-stretching length at 2.7 miles. It follows the shoreline through rhododendron thickets and woodlands. From May to October, canoe and kayak rentals are available for enjoying the water.
Price Lake is less than 10 minutes from downtown Blowing Rock. Allow 1+ hours for a hike around the lake.
Dinner: Quintessential Experience
Try something truly unique for the second night in town. Blowing Rock is home to two quintessential High Country restaurants, each with incredible cuisine and charming settings. The AAA 4-Diamond Gamekeeper specializes in game meats and local vegetables, served up in a cozy, quirky space. The long-established Best Cellar at the Inn at Ragged Gardens is known for refined, classic American dishes, and a beautifully rustic setting. You won’t be disappointed with either selection.
Day 3: Uncommon Amusements
Morning: Mystery House or Aerial Adventure
Get an adrenaline rush at High Gravity Adventures! With climbing elements, a giant swing, and ziplines, you can pick your experience. The aerial adventure courses are a fun challenge for anyone, even if you’re new to the activity. After a quick lesson with the harness equipment, you’re ready to safely climb on your own.
Less than 10 minutes from downtown Blowing Rock. Open March to November, weather permitting. Allow 2+ hours.
If you’d rather stay on the ground, try a little mystery. One of Blowing Rock’s oldest attractions, Mystery Hill is an unusual combo of roadside attraction, science museum, and cultural site. The Mystery House is the main attraction, where water flows uphill and the angles seem impossible. There’s a huge collection of Native American artifacts, a giant bubble station, the Appalachian Museum, and more. You could spend most of a day taking in all the activities, and there are different ticket packages to customize your experience.
Less than 10 minutes from downtown Blowing Rock. Open year round. Allow 1.5+ hours.
Lunch: Beverage Inn
Lunch at one of Blowing Rock’s inns on Sunset Drive is the perfect way to recharge. The Blowing Rock Ale House is home to Blowing Rock Brewing, and the restaurant specializes in southern-inspired sandwiches and comfort food. The brewery distributes their flagship brews widely, but you’ll find some special small batch beers at the brewery. Across the street, Hellbender Bed & Beverage features more local brews alongside a menu with unique snacks and sandwiches. It’s named for an indigenous salamander that’s only found along the Blue Ridge.
Sunset Drive Ale House and Bed & Beverage are both located in downtown Blowing Rock.
Afternoon: Tweetsie Railroad
Tweetsie Railroad is NC’s first theme park, and an enduring icon in the High Country. Take the kids or release your inner child with fair rides, shows, and funnel cakes. Historic steam locomotives pull passenger cars along a two-mile track through beautiful mountain scenes for a fun Wild West show. In October, weekend evenings become spooktacular during the Ghost Train Halloween Festival. November and December bring Tweetsie Christmas on weekend evenings.
Less than 10 minutes from downtown Blowing Rock on Hwy 321. Open mid-April to December. Allow 3+ hours.
Dinner: Laid Back Deliciousness
After a day of excitement, try Woodlands, a long-standing favorite spot for tasty barbeque, a friendly atmosphere, and live music from local performers. Or take in the relaxing evening views at The Ridgeline, with a deck that overlooks areas in the Pisgah National Forest.