Boone, North Carolina

Boone, North Carolina

The southern city of the summer

Words by Amanda Sullivan

When the summer sun shines down on the South, you can bet it’s always a few degrees cooler in Appalachia. Nestled in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, Boone is an ideal spot to beat the summer heat. The canopy of spruce, fir, Eastern red cedar, and flowering dogwood trees provide much welcomed shade, and cascading waterfalls splash flecks of much-deserved, cool mountain water at the end of a few hiking trails. The misty Blue Ridge fog holds off the morning sun, but the lakes and rivers are right there waiting when temperature is highest in the early afternoon. Speaking of temperature, the average summer in Boone is in the 70s. Long story short, it’s pretty easy to keep it cool.


Grandfather Mountain: Experienced hikers and fun-seeking families will all fall in love with the scenic views on the Grandfather Mountain hiking trails. As you stroll through the wooded forest and gentle meadows, you’ll get to see Boone’s wildlife habitats in action. Don’t forget to stop by the Mile High Swinging Bridge for panoramic views. After your hike, head indoors to the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery to cool down and learn more about the mountain! 

Ziplines: Explore the mountain canopies from sky-high with ziplining adventures! Hawksnest Ziplines has lines stretching as long as 1500 feet, and Sky Valley Zip Tours offers the area’s only nighttime zipline. High Gravity Adventures features a 70 foot plunge in the dropzone for those seeking extra thrills.

Price Lake: There are few things more fun than a day on the lake, but especially Price Lake! It’s surrounded by beautiful walking trails, but the most excitement is on the water. Rent a canoe, kayak, or rowboat to splash around, or grab some bait and tackle for a relaxing afternoon on the lake. If you can’t get enough of the area, the lake even has campgrounds so you can spend a night or two!

Mystery Hill: Talk about fun for the whole family! Mystery Hill is full of adventures—tomahawk throwing, gem mining, bull riding, old time photo-taking, and so much more! But don’t worry—there’s cool stuff outdoors too, like the Middle Fork Greenway Trail! Make sure to grab a hand-dipped ice cream from Front Porch Eats before you leave. 

Green Valley Park: At the gorgeous Green Valley Park, you can picnic, play, and canoe. There is a paved loop trail and a few unpaved trails to explore. Head to an outfitter to get set up for the New River Paddle Trail for a paddling beginners paradise, or spend a lazy day tubing. 

The Boone Greenway: The Greenway is mostly flat and paved, making it perfect for people of all abilities who enjoy bird-watching and flower viewing. Along the way, stop to read the signs to learn more about Boone’s natural history.

Downtown Boone: You can spend several days exploring Downtown Boone alone! From the 40’ climbing wall to the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, there’s something for everyone. Grab a bite to eat at Melanie’s Food Fantasy, peruse Mast General Store's Old Boone Mercantile, or have a drink at the Horton Hotel Rooftop Lounge.


Grandfather Winery & Vineyards: Grandfather Winery & Vineyards is a must-visit location on the banks of the Watauga River. It is the first winery in the High Country to produce wine from grapes grown in a local vineyard. The tasting room is open daily, and each weekend you can enjoy live music, food trucks, and other fun vendors.

Everybody's Bruncheon Club: This breakfast and lunch diner will start your mornings off right. The menu is packed with mouth-watering menu items like biscuit sandwiches, gravy boats, and breakfast burritos. 

Lily’s Snack Bar: Not your mama’s sandwich! Delight your taste buds with Lily’s Snack Bar Burger or the Spicy Cauliflower Sandwich, and wash it down with an ice cold beverage from their cool cocktail menu. It’s a great place to refuel after a morning hike!

Hatchet Coffee: Swap your regular cup of morning joe for one of Hatchet Coffee’s more exciting caffeinated drinks. The menu changes seasonally, but you can always expect a delicious iced espresso soda and smooth cold brew.

Blue Deer Cookies: You’ve never had an ice cream sandwich like this before! Customize it by choosing a homemade cookie combo, then adding a scoop of Homeland Creamery  ice cream in between. It’s the perfect sweet treat for a summer day—but if plain cookies are more your style, order them with a glass of cold milk or lemonade.


Crestwood Resort & Spa: This mountain retreat is a restful getaway. You can book a room in the inn, or for extra privacy choose one of the cozy cottages. The Table, the on-site restaurant, features seasonal dishes that show off the flavors of Appalachia. 

Lovill House Inn: This award-winning inn sits on 11 private, secluded acres in Boone—yet it’s just a short walk from downtown! The historic building has a wraparound porch that’s a great place to enjoy your morning coffee.

Rent a cabin: There are plenty of mountain cabins to choose from in Boone, for families big and small. Each one has a unique vibe and a scenic view, so you can’t go wrong with whichever one you decide on!

The Horton Hotel: Boone’s first boutique hotel, the historic Horton has an impeccable rooftop with a stunning downtown view. With custom furniture, exposed brick walls, and rich local history as a former Studebaker dealership, it makes for an unforgettable experience.