Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Banner Elk, NC

  • Published 2021/05/16

Banner Elk is a small yet beautiful village located in the mountains between Beech mountain and sugar mountain.

The small mountain village is a perfect place, providing visitors a great escape during the summer months due to its moderate temperatures and beautiful landscapes.

Additionally, the place is quite refreshing during the summertime and welcoming during the winters.

The place is also perfect for enjoying activities like hiking, rafting, antiquing, etc.

Interested to know more about this city?

Here are the 20 best things to do in Banner Elk, North Carolina:

Pay a Visit to Lees-McRae College

One of the reasons why this small mountain village is famous is because it is home to the famous Lees McRae college.

Initially, the foundation was just an institution, but it was converted into a full-time high school department in 1931.

In 1987, the members of the board of the college decided to seek the status of the college, and finally, in 1990, the status was granted.

The college welcomes students from all around the world.

Apart from educational services, the college also organizes other diverse opportunities to promote the growth of this village and the nearby mountainous areas.

The campus is beautiful and definitely worth a visit!

Have Fun at the Art on the Greene

Art on the Greene is a famous artistic event organized in Banner Elk’s village four times each summer.

The festival is famous for promoting and showcasing the favorite local food, art, and entertainment.

During the event, various local craft vendors and artists come together.

Various items made of metal, ceramics, watercolor, glass, acrylics, etc., are available at this event.

During the event, the entire street is filled with a number of shops and counters where locally produced items can be bought as souvenirs.

All these items are unique in themselves, and the proceeds from the sale are used towards the restoration of the historical banner elk school in the village.

The entire place is vivacious and happy during this event, and it will help you get a better insight into the art and culture of this village.

Join the Woolly Worm Festival

Woolly Worm Festival is one of the most significant events conducted in banner elk every year.

The festival is shown in the third week of October and marks the beginning of the new snow season.

During the event, various contests are used to determine which worm out of the various varieties will have the honor of deciding the sternness of the coming winter season.

Various selections of food, art and craft, and local music are also organized for the visitors to enjoy

As many as 140 food and art stalls are present at the festival.

You can also win exciting gifts by participating in these events.

Visit the Wildcat Lake

Wildcat Lake in banner elk is one of the most famous destinations for summer months.

The lake is spread over 13 acres and has a white sand beach.

It also has a swimming dock and a special bath house.

Wildcat Lake is just perfect for sunbathing and swimming.

Various picnic tables and fishing docks are also installed around the lake to facilitate the comfort of visitors.

The water of wildcat lake is very chilly and perfect for refreshing your mood during summers.

The lake is open for visitors around the week and does not charge any extra prices for entry.

The lake is also one of the most ideal lakes in the village regarding safety as lifeguards are always on duty.

You can also enjoy boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing.

See the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

May wildlife rehabilitation center is located just a mile away from Wildcat lake.

The center is located on the campus of the famous Lees-McRae College.

The rehabilitation center is a laboratory that houses more than 1500 birds, reptiles, raptors, and mammals who are injured in western North Carolina.

The place is established to promote learning among biology students.

However, the Centre is also open for visitors every week.

You can watch the birds from outside their cages and also observe the activities that are taking place inside the lab.

Go Wine-Tasting at Banner Elk Winery

Silhouette of the Banner Elk Winery

Kim McGrew /

Banner Elk Winery is one of the most famous and oldest wineries in the region of Banner Elk.

The winery is renowned for producing wine from grapes varieties from French-America and America.

The winery is also known as the original winery of the country.

The winery follows very high standards while crafting wines.

It is located in a very scenic place, making the wine tasting even more exciting and entertaining.

Some of the famous wines of the Banner Elk Winery have also won awards for representing the local culture and the subtle flavors of North Carolina.

You can take private tours at the winery and enjoy wine tasting events.

Grab Some Wines at Grandfather Vineyard and Winery

Located on the foothills of Grandfather Mountain, Grandfather Vineyard and Winery is another famous winery in the mountain village of banner elk.

The winery was opened in the year 2011 and is very famous for producing some high-quality dry white and red wines.

The winery owners are very welcoming and warm-hearted and always like to interact with the visitors and take feedback about their products.

The winery also offers gift baskets as souvenirs to visitors.

One of the best things about this winery is that you can also order wines online from this place.

Grab Some Beers at Kettell Beerworks

Kettell Beerworks is a famous brewery in banner elk that is famous for serving some 20 varieties of high-quality and specially crafted beers using quality ingredients and mountain water.

The brewing company has established its operations in such a manner that the visitors can observe the brewing process from a giant window installed in the Taproom.

The brewery also has a small kitchen, which is just a perfect location for going out with family.

Along with tasty beers, the place also serves food items such as pizzas and chicken wings.

They also have arrangements for pinball, shuffleboard, and other exciting games.

You can also play board games while enjoying your food and cold brew.

See the Beauty of Apple Hill Farm

Sheep at Apple Hill Farm

Amanda Roman /

Apple hill farm is a famous mountain farm that was founded in the year 2013 by a family of ambitious people.

The farm is famous for being a very refreshing and joyful area within the hills, which is sure to bring a great smile to the face of the visitors.

The farm houses a large number of animals such as angora goats, alpacas, llamas, livestock guardians, and many more.

All the animals on the farm are treated like a family and thus have a name and a specific job.

The farm is also famous for organizing various educational and touring events.

The farm also sells a great collection of specially made gifts and unique products.

You should definitely visit this park to learn how humans and animals can live together and work better.

A llama at Apple Hill Farm

Kim McGrew /

Enjoy Horseback Riding at Banner Elk Stables

Banner Elk stables is a perfect place for enjoying horseback riding with family and friends.

The stables are open the entire year and have a very scenic location.

There are a large number of horses that will provide you with the best experience of wilderness and natural beauty all at once.

The experience is very safe and can be enjoyed by kids and adults.

The stables also organize family-oriented horse rides to various destinations in the village.

The stable is also famous for being featured in movies such as Cinderella, national treasure, and many more.

This is definitely a good place to visit and befriend some horses.

Visit the Maggie Black Pottery

Maggie Black Pottery is a unique vacation destination in the village.

The owner of the pottery has been making pots from the age of six years.

Currently, she is one of the village’s most skilled and expert potters.

Maggie’s Pottery has been serving a large number of visitors and sending its pottery products to various galleries, events, and festivals around the world.

The pottery is also famous for organizing educational events where people can learn poetry making, glazing, and firing.

You can also enjoy the work being done or just participate in it.

Shop at Banner Elk Olive Oil and Balsamics

Banner Elk Olive Oil and Balsamics is a perfect place to grab gifts for your near and dear ones.

The store has a pervasive collection of imported and locally produced olive oils, salts, exotic herbal oils, vinegars, and a wide range of specially handcrafted ceramics and culinary items.

All these items not only enhance the beauty of your home and your dining experience but also create a very happy and refreshing mood.

The staff at the store is also very knowledgeable and helpful and will help you select the best products for yourself.

Relax at Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge

Signage of Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge

Kristi Blokhin /

Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge is just a perfect place for all those people who are tired after exploring the different places in the village.

With just a perfect arrangement of a cafe and a lodge, the Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge is one-stop place for grabbing some tasty espressos, smoothies, and ice creams.

The cherry on the top is that the place also serves very delicious breakfast, lunch, as well as dinner on all days of the week.

Their menu is also quite dynamic and includes various cuisines such as American, Mexican, Italian, seafood, and local mountain dishes as well.

The place is known to serve the most delicious food in the entire village and is definitely not to be missed.

Catch a Play at the Ensemble Stage

There is a modest and quaint theater that offers enthralling plays and educational events at Ensemble Stage.

Are you a fan of witnessing brilliant performers put on live performances?

The Ensemble Stage is where you should go if you want to see it.

In addition to state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, this theater offers various adjacent activities for families to enjoy together.

This theater’s captivating live performances are a great way to spend a rainy day inside.

Musicals, Christmas specials, humorous performances, plays of all genres, such as thrillers and dramas, and many others are available for viewing.

Explore the Area on Wheels with High Country UTV Tours

This is a fantastic program presented by Off the Grid Mountain Adventures.

Several places in Banner Elk, such as this local tour operator, provide a wide range of adventurous activities.

It’s a great way to spend time with your friends in nature.

You may embark on a tour here in a modern, well-maintained UTV with knowledgeable and skilled guides.

If you wish to embark on your own outdoor adventure without a guide, you may rent equipment from the company.

Go on a thrilling UTV trip with your traveling buddies to take in the breathtaking scenery of the mountains.

Driving around the region, you may stop to photograph anything from towering trees to passing animals to stunning mountains.

Ride the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster

The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster.

Single and double rides and 2,390 feet of track are available.

Visit the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster now and enjoy an exhilarating ride through the breathtaking natural scenery with your traveling companions.

You may ride the coaster as often as you want throughout the seven-minute journey.

There’s also a souvenir store where you can purchase anything from apparel to local handicrafts to hats and trinkets.

If you’re looking for something enjoyable to do while vacationing, go over to this popular tourist destination.

There is no limit to the number of times you may ride this breathtaking alpine coaster, which reaches speeds of 27 mph.

After that, you may pick a souvenir from the gift store to keep as a memento of your enjoyable time here.

Release Your Stress at Healing Oasis Massage

One of the Healing Oasis Massage’s offerings is a variety of massage packages and personalized experiences.

Has it been too long since you’ve taken a much-needed break from the grind of city life?

If that’s the case, treat yourself to a day of relaxation at Banner Elk’s Healing Oasis Massage.

It’s the perfect place to get away from it all and relax.

You may get a relaxing massage from a trained expert in a serene setting.

Choose from a variety of various styles of massage, such as dry heated towels, cold therapy, hot stones, or reiki.

You may even request a personalized session tailored to your individual requirements.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Hike the Grandfather Mountain

Scenic view from Grandfather Mountain

Craig Zerbe /

Grandfather Mountain is located a few miles away from this mountain village.

Considered one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge area, Grandfather Mountain is a very famous vacation spot among visitors.

The mountain has very scenic views and additional adventurous activities to do.

Welcome sign of Grandfather Mountain

Kristi Blokhin /

For instance, you can start hiking on the mountain trails or enjoy the views from the Swinging bridge.

It is important to note that all these activities on Grandfather Mountain are operated by a non-profit organization, and the ticket price is relatively inexpensive.

You can also enjoy spotting a lot of wildlife varieties and plantations in the area, as it is full of trees and lush green vegetation.

In addition, throughout the entire property of Grandfather mountain, a number of picnic tables are installed where a peaceful lunch can be enjoyed.

See the Swinging Bridge

Daytime view of the Swinging Bridge

Charles Chadwick Talton /

Swinging Bridge is a bridge that falls within the property of grandfather mountain.

The bridge is located at a great height and is recognized around the globe for the same.

There is also an elevator that could be used to access the swinging bridge.

The bridge is scenically surrounded by colorful trees on all sides–a perfect place to spend your evenings and even mornings.

People walking along the swinging bridge

David Joyce, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Banner Elk, North Carolina’s abundance of activities, makes it the ideal location for a weekend trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

No matter your interests, Banner Elk has something for you.

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