Banner Elk is the hidden gem of the North Carolina High Country. A charming fusion of adventure and quiet hospitality, Banner Elk is notable for its sweeping panoramas and hiking trails, beautiful vineyards and wineries, and an abundance of family-friendly dining options.
1.Grandfather Mountain State Park
© Chansak Joe A./stock.adobe.com
North Carolina’s newest state park has been heralded as a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve, inhabited by a bounty of rare and endangered wildlife species. Boasting breathtaking views from its summit, hikers will be challenged by over 12 miles of ecologically diverse trails within the 2,456 acres of parklands, from rocky outcrops to forested streams. With 13 campsites and guided tours on offer, reservations and bookings are essential.
9872 NC 105 S., Suite #6, Banner Elk, NC 28604, Phone: 828-963-9522
2.Grandfather Vineyard & Winery
© Grandfather Vineyard & Winery
A family owned and operated venture, Grandfather Vineyard & Winery is home to five acres of 10-12 grape varieties, the first of which was planted in 2003. Watauga County’s first producing winery opened in 2011 and the bold fruity flavours of the wines are attributed to the 3,300 feet elevation of the vineyard, with some grapes planted at 4,630 feet. The Tasting Room offers dry, sweet, sparkling and dessert style tasting options and a souvenir glass to complement the experience. A weekend visit can include a stop at the Eleven80 Food Truck, which takes residence on site for a delicious meal to enjoy with a glass of wine. Grandfather Vineyard & Winery also encourage participation in their wine club and offer an extensive list of wines to order online.
225 Vineyard Lane Banner Elk, NC 28604, Phone: 828-963-2400
3.Sugar Mountain Resort
A veritable paradise for adventurers, Sugar Mountain Resort has been opened since 1969. With 21 slopes available for skiing across 125 acres, visitors of the resort’s winter wonderland can also enjoy tubing, ice skating, and snowshoeing tours of the mountain. The resort offers value packages that include discounted rental fees as well as skiing and snowboarding tuition. Visiting in December means celebrating Sugarfest and the light show of New Year’s Eve, when the resort draws large crowds during these annual events. The summer season is similarly exciting, with a bike park for beginners through to expert riders, the annual 4th July hike to the 5,300 foot summit, as well as the lively Oktoberfest celebration on the second weekend of the month.
1009 Sugar Mountain Drive, Sugar Mountain, North Carolina 28604, Phone: 800-784-2768
4.Banner Elk Winery
© Banner Elk Winery
The award-winning original winery of North Carolina’s high country, Banner Elk Winery & Villa is a luxurious opportunity for guests to sample like a sommelier, traipse the vineyard’s idyllic grounds, or enjoy the generous hospitality during a stay in private luxury at The Villa. The Tuscan-inspired villa features eight suites decadently adorned with queen or king size bed, private bathrooms featuring whirlpool, and breathtaking views of Blue Ridge Mountains. Private functions can be held in the idyllic setting, with packages available for intimate parties and larger festive gatherings. The family friendly establishment is open from noon year-round.
Banner Elk Winery & Villa, 60 Deer Run Lane, Banner Elk, NC, 28604, Phone: 828-898-9090
5.Sugar Creek Gem Mine
© Sugar Creek Gem Mine
A family owned and operated company, Sugar Creek Gem Mine offers prospecting fun for the whole family, with staff enthusiastically assisting participants to discover precious and semi-precious gemstones. The gem mining begins with the selection of a bucket from three different sizes, each containing authentic gemstones. Visitors undertake the fascinating process of sifting through the rough in order to discover, identify and transform gemstones into special keepsakes. Expert miners and gemologists are available for a truly educational experience. The gem mine is open year-round and while walk-ins are welcome, reservations are encouraged to avoid wait times for this popular summertime activity.
3045 Tynecastle Hwy Banner Elk, NC 28604, Phone: 828-898-GEMS
6.Grandfather Trout Farm
© Grandfather Trout Farm
A fabulous day out for family-friendly fun, Grandfather Trout Farm provides bait, tackle and all the essentials for a memorable fishing experience. Services include cleaning your catch, fileting and smoking to enjoy your meal of rainbow trout, or packaging the fish to take home. The site also houses a nine-putt golf course or guests can mine for gems.
10767 Highway 105 S, Banner Elk, NC 28604, Phone: 828-963-5098
7.Grandfather Mountain Nursery Garden Center
© Grandfather Mountain Nursery Garden Center
The ultimate in plant care and landscaping, Grandfather Mountain Nursery Garden Center has been enriching the lives of customers since 1976. Expert knowledge and an array of garden products and services combine to create commercial and residential customer satisfaction. The key to success is passion and the provision of premier varieties of unique plant stock, which is personally maintained by staff in the garden center, all of whom are deeply knowledgeable and willing to share their wealth of experience. Landscaping services are available – designers are on hand to meet budget requirements, consult with clients and develop proposals that include installations of water features, patios and outdoor entertainment areas.
11466 Hwy 105, Banner Elk, NC 28604, Phone: 828-963-5025
A desire to elevate the performing artists of the North Carolina High Country and generate a strong sense of community in the region was the impetus for the conception of the theatre in 2009. Since the initial production of War of the Worlds, over 300 performances of over 80 productions have been staged, creating a burgeoning cultural milieu. Productions begin in June for the theatre’s summer season and continue through to December for the annual Christmas performance.
185 Azalea Cir SE, Banner Elk, NC, Phone: 828-414-1844
© Carlton Gallery
Originally established in 1982, the Carlton Gallery houses an array of inspired fine art pieces and contemporary crafts, with over 200 local, national and international artists represented. The charming gallery hosts workshops that are conducted in a variety of mediums, including oils, acrylics and mixed media collage. The gallery houses seasonal exhibitions as well as artists’ receptions that are frequented by locals and visitors alike.
10360 Hwy 105 S, Banner Elk, NC, 28604, Phone: 828-963-4288
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Sumptuous Italian cuisine served in a welcoming atmosphere for the ultimate dining experience, Bella’s has established a reputation amongst locals and visitors alike. Excellent service, delicious Italian wines and an extensive flavourful menu make for a memorable meal. Located in the Food Lion Shopping Center, customers queue for traditional calzone, specialty lasagne and delectable antipasti. Food is made fresh to order, which makes live music and entertainment a welcome accompaniment to an evening out. Bella’s also serves lunch and is open seven days a week.
3585 Tynecastle Hwy, Banner Elk, NC 28604, Phone: 828-898-9022
11.The Pedalin' Pig BBQ
© The Pedalin' Pig BBQ
Gourmet, locally sourced food meets High Country style in the smokehouse on Highway 105. With a renowned local chef in charge of the smoke pit, the sultry slow-roasted pork can be enjoyed in the cosy dining area or on the patio, taking in the view. Seasonal ingredients are used for unique flavour fusions, including the signature honey chipotle rub, which can be prepared with a local microbrew or regional wine for the ultimate unwind. The Pedalin’ Pig BBQ is open from 11am daily and also offers catering services and online ordering options.
4235 Hwy 105 S. Banner Elk, NC 28604, Phone: 828-898-7500
© Grandview Restaurant
Open daily from 7am, Grandview Restaurant serves wholesome breakfast cuisine with gorgeous views of the Grandfather Mountains. Breakfast is served all day, an extensive menu of homestyle comfort foods, featuring omelettes, French toast and pancakes. Delectable lunch specials are also made daily. The Grandview gift shop stocks a lovely range of souvenirs in celebration of Grandview and its legacy, open since 1977.
10575-1 Highway 105, Banner Elk, NC 28604, Phone: 828-963-4573
12 Best Things to Do in Banner Elk, North Carolina
- Grandfather Mountain State Park, Photo: Chansak Joe A./stock.adobe.com
- Grandfather Vineyard & Winery, Photo: Grandfather Vineyard & Winery
- Sugar Mountain Resort, Photo: Oleksandr/stock.adobe.com
- Banner Elk Winery, Photo: Banner Elk Winery
- Sugar Creek Gem Mine, Photo: Sugar Creek Gem Mine
- Grandfather Trout Farm, Photo: Grandfather Trout Farm
- Grandfather Mountain Nursery Garden Center, Photo: Grandfather Mountain Nursery Garden Center
- Ensemble Stage, Photo: lapandr/stock.adobe.com
- Carlton Gallery, Photo: Carlton Gallery
- Bella's, Photo: WITTY/stock.adobe.com
- The Pedalin' Pig BBQ, Photo: The Pedalin' Pig BBQ
- Grandview Restaurant, Photo: Grandview Restaurant
- Cover Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com