Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and situated in the heart of North Carolina’s High Country, Boone offers some of the state’s most beautiful scenery. With its rushing rivers, dense forests, and tall peaks, this friendly town is a beloved destination for outdoor attractions. Within minutes of many Boone vacation rentals, you can find an adventure suitable for every taste, from easygoing family-friendly outings to wild, adrenaline-inducing action sports. In town, historic sites tell the tale of Native American residents and European settlers. Whether you’re planning a laid-back weekend away or an exciting family vacation, these activities are a great place to start.
1. Visit the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum
Step into the Revolutionary War era at the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, which is operated by the Southern Appalachian Historical Association. Designed as a replica of a mountain homestead and staffed with historic actors, the museum gives you a unique look into the 1700s. In the cabin, watch as settlers cook and weave. Outside, check out candle-making demonstrations, and see blacksmiths at work. If you’re visiting with a group, you can become part of the action by joining a special educational program.
2. Watch the Horn in the West
While you’re at the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, book tickets to the Horn in the West show. This Revolutionary War drama tells the story of a pioneer in 1771 as he struggles to make a home and fight British tyranny. Daniel Boone, the famed frontiersman, plays a key role in the tale. Filled with music and dancing, the show is fun for the whole family. Watch the action-packed performance in the spectacular Daniel Boone Theatre, which is built into a natural ravine.
3. Mine for Gemstones
Feel like a historic prospector as you pan for jewels at the Foggy Mountain Gem Mine. Using a pan and a water flume, search through a collection of rocks and minerals to find the gemstones. Afterward, you can take your gems into the store for polishing and setting in custom jewelry. Mine staff is always on hand to help, and each visitor is guaranteed to find at least one gemstone.
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4. Go Whitewater Rafting
Get out into the mountains on a whitewater rafting trip with the Boone-based River and Earth Adventures. Experienced guides lead regular trips along the Watauga River and the French Broad River. If you’re bringing the family, opt for kid-friendly trips with Class II and III rapids. Adults and teenagers looking for serious adventure can try the more extreme whitewater of the Watauga Gorge.
5. Experience Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park
Get your heart racing on the thrilling trails at Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park. Enjoy an easy ride on the Rocky Branch Loop, or test your reflexes on the intense PBJ Advanced Skills Trail or the Stone Bridge Skills Area. The park also has a variety of intermediate trails if you’re looking for a light challenge and beautiful scenery. Stop by Boone Bike and Touring in town to rent bikes and safety gear, and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated on the hills.
6. Go Underground
Try your hand at spelunking on a cave tour with Wahoo’s Adventures. Led by expert guides, you can climb down into a cave in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. From there, the tour takes you through fascinating caverns and through tight passages. The Wahoo’s Adventures staff customizes the tour to suit your group, making it a fun option for little ones or adrenaline-seeking adults.
7. Hike the Greenway Trail
Enjoy Boone’s gorgeous natural surroundings with a hike along the Greenway Trail. This gentle route wanders across rivers, through mountain meadows, and into deep forests, creating plenty of opportunities for exploration. Interpretive signs provide insight into the ecosystem and the history of the area. With its gentle slopes and well-maintained paved and gravel surfaces, the trail is manageable for families with strollers or small children. Stop by the nearby Watauga Village Shopping Center for bottled water and snacks, and access the Greenway from Clawson Burnley Park.
8. Go Tubing on the New River
Gather your whole family for a relaxing tubing trip down the New River with High Mountain Expeditions. Hop into the company’s sturdy hard-bottom tubes, and float down the river, stopping occasionally to check out the shoreline or cool off with a swim. Feel free to bring the kids; the New River is calm and shallow. If you want to bring snacks and beverages, the outfitter offers special floating cooler tubes to keep everything cold.
9. Go Skiing at Appalachian Ski Mountain
When the snow falls in Boone, do as the locals do, and head for Appalachian Ski Mountain. This small, friendly ski area features 12 runs and six lifts, so it’s a breeze to navigate. Warm up on the beginner-friendly Candied Appal, or show off your skills on the expert-level Hard Core trail. Find ski and snowboarding gear rentals onsite, and book your little ones into lessons with the mountain’s excellent children’s programs.
10. Ride the Tweetsie Railroad
Experience one of the High Country’s favorite family attractions at Tweetsie Railroad, a train-themed amusement park located a short drive south from Boone’s vacation rentals. Watch for bandits as you ride a narrow-gauge train through the mountains on the Wild West Train Adventure, or hop aboard a historic covered wagon. The park also features classic carnival rides including a Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, and carousel. In the Deer Park Zoo, your little ones can feed goats, watch llamas, and check out the miniature horses.
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