Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Burnsville, NC

  • Published 2022/11/25

Burnsville, North Carolina, is a beautiful, vibrant city nestled in the mountains.

This small mountain town may seem like a sleepy little place without much to do, but don’t let its laid-back vibe fool you because it’s brimming with fun things to do and see.

From scenic nature trips to exploring local history and joining vibrant festivities at the heart of the town, Burnsville got your trip covered with memorable experiences.

Are you planning your next vacation or weekend getaway in North Carolina?

Check out this list of the 15 best things to do in Burnsville, North Carolina!

Explore the Outdoors at Mount Mitchell State Park

Scenic view from Mount Mitchell State Park

Margaret.Wiktor /

If you want to get lost in nature and witness its glorious beauty, there’s no place more ideal than Mount Mitchell State Park.

This state park spans up to 4,789 acres that became the first state park of North Carolina in 1915.

Mount Mitchell State Park boasts a dramatic summit with an elevation of 6,684 feet, which boasts an amazing view that overlooks valleys and nearby towns.

Observation deck at Mount Mitchell State Park

Cvandyke /

Take a hike in the network of trails to delve deeper into nature and explore the wilderness.

Stop by the state park’s museum to learn about Mount Mitchell’s cultural and natural history, which will fascinate you with interesting stories and unique historical artifacts.

There are camping areas in the state park to enjoy a night under the starry skies while huddled around the fire pit.

A trip to North Carolina won’t be complete without experiencing nature at its best, so plan your visit to Mount Mitchell State Park.

Highest peak marker at Mount Mitchell State Park

upinthehillscasey /

Spend a Serene Time at Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area

Spend a serene time surrounded by nature’s calming sights and sounds at Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area and Campground.

This scenic nature respite in Burnsville offers two paved paths that run along 36 campsites.

The campsites offer picnic tables, fire rings with a cooking grill, and lantern posts.

You can go swimming, tubing, or fishing in the river and have a picnic surrounded by the peaceful nature vistas.

This charming destination is located in the Appalachian District of Pisgah National Forest.

Escape the hustle and bustle of your daily cares on a serene nature trip at Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area and Campground.

Listen to the Cascading Waters of Roaring Fork Falls

Water rushing from Roaring Fork Falls

Craig Zerbe /

Burnsville is rich in natural wonders that’ll surely fill your trip with fascinating adventures.

The Roaring Fork Falls in Pisgah National Forest, located in Busick Work Center Road, is a natural gem in town.

Take a short, relaxed hike and appreciate the wonderful sight of towering trees and lush greens along the way.

Trees framing the Roaring Fork Falls

Jennifer Stanford /

As you get closer to the Roaring Fork Falls, you’ll be welcomed by the calming sound of cascading water from the falls.

You can take a dip to cool off when the weather is hot or sit by the rocks to meditate and enjoy a quiet time with nature.

Just follow the sound of the waterfalls and let go of your worries as you venture into this fascinating natural wonder.

Catch Live Performances at Parkway Playhouse

Head out on a theatrical journey at Parkway Playhouse that’ll surely amaze you with fantastic artistic talents.

This historic theatre located in Green Mountain Drive was originally established in 1947 by Dr. William Raymond Taylor, a drama professor.

It has served as an outlet for the artistic endeavors of the locals for decades, and it remains to produce quality theatrical performances up to this day.

The Parkway Playhouse is an abode for local artists and art enthusiasts to immerse in theater arts.

This charming theater house produces mainstage productions in the summer and year-round theater workshops.

If you’re looking for something fun to do on a summer night in Burnsville, this is the place!

Choose from various shows ranging from the classics to comedies, drama, musicals, and more.

Go Camping at Toe River Campground

If you’re traveling to Burnsville on an RV, you should camp out at Toe River Campground!

This expansive campground offers many campsites with hookups and seasonal sites close to the river.

There are also tent campsites in the area if you want to spend the night surrounded by the cool breeze of the air.

You can go biking, swimming, river tubing, and even fishing by the river to enjoy your time in the outdoors.

The Toe River Campground is located at Patience Park Road, surrounded by marvelous scenery to take all your worries away.

Join Local Events at Burnsville Town Center

Get acquainted with the town and meet the friendly locals by participating in an event at Burnsville Town Center.

This large facility provides a space for locals and visitors to have a place to celebrate occasions and organize local events.

The town center houses an array of events like theater shows, live concerts, workshops, farmers’ markets, and other cultural activities.

Whether you’re looking for a place to appreciate the tight-knit community, join festivities, or have a place to celebrate, this is the place!

Burnsville Town Center is located on Main Street, where you can meet new people and listen to interesting stories.

Book Your Stay at Nu Wray Inn

Exterior of Nu Wray Inn

Upstateherd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for a place to crash and rest your weary feet after a day of long hikes and exploration, you should book your stay at the historic Nu Wray Inn!

Located in the heart of Burnsville is the historic Nu Wray Inn that was built in 1833—it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

It was one of the pioneer buildings in Yancey County even before Burnsville was established, and it remains standing today, carrying centuries of stories.

This charming inn combines the charms of history with the modern comforts to ensure that you’ll have a comfortable stay in Burnsville.

Spend your night in their cozy rooms with free internet access and check out their iconic restaurant for some hearty meal.

Nu Wray Inn is located in the downtown area, so you’re nearby the bustling part of the town where you can enjoy the vibrant community of Burnsville.

Tee Off at Mount Mitchell Golf Club

Can’t go on a trip without hitting the links?

Then you should book a tee time at the Mount Mitchell Golf Club!

This mountain golf course located in NC-80 boasts lush, breathtaking scenery that’ll surely have you enjoying the game while marveling at the scenery.

Test your golfing skills in their par 72 course that meanders along Toe River with breathtaking mountain vistas anywhere you look.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced golfer, Mount Mitchell Golf Club is a must-visit!

Have a Picnic at Ray-Cort Recreation Park

If you’re looking for a place to hang out without straying far away from the town, you should head out to Ray-Cort Recreation Park.

Located in Town Park Road is where you can find a charming park with plenty of amenities to fill your day, as well as activities that overlook the mountains of Yancey County.

The park features a large picnic pavilion with BBQ grills throughout the grounds to have a picnic with the family on a sunny day.

There are also workout stations if you want to get active, a play area for the kids, a small skate park, and a swimming pool to cool off on a scorching day.

Ray-Cort Recreation Park is a must-visit if you’re looking for a place to spend a sunny afternoon with the entire family.

Learn about Medicinal Plants at Mountain Garden

If you’re interested in the wonders of nature, then delve deeper at the Mountain Gardens.

This botanical garden in Burnsville features the largest collection of native Appalachian and Chinese medicinal herbs in the eastern US.

Mountain Gardens offers a magical experience to visitors where you can learn to identify, propagate, cultivate, and prepare medicinal herbs.

They also organize plant walks that take you on a mystical adventure in a rustic setting while learning about the plants.

You can stop by their herb shop to purchase medicinal herbs that are organically grown in Mountain Garden, along with seeds, books, and tools for you to learn and cultivate a sustainable way of life.

Mountain Gardens is a hidden gem in the outskirts of Burnsville located along Shuford Creek Road that offers a life-changing experience for visitors.

Take a Stroll through Downtown Burnsville

Cars parked along Downtown Burnsville

gurezende /

A trip to Burnsville won’t be complete without taking a stroll on Main Street.

The downtown boasts the iconic rural-artistic charm that draws visitors to explore the town.

This bustling part of the city of walkable, so you can scour through independent shops and restaurants, marvel at street murals, and discover quaint art galleries.

Downtown Burnsville also has a public Town Square, which serves as a gathering space for the community to join fun festivities.

Shop for unique items to take home as a souvenir from your trip and stop by one of the restaurants to delight your tastebuds.

Downtown Burnsville boasts the town’s tight-knit community with its welcoming atmosphere and hospitable locals.

Learn about Local History at Rush Wray Museum

Are you a history buff or simply a curious person?

If yes, you should check out the fascinating stories and displays at the Rush Wray Museum.

The Yancey History Association runs the museum, and it’s housed in the historic McElroy House located in Academy Street.

The house was built in the 1840s featuring a Georgian-style architecture that served as the family home of the local businessman John Wesley McElroy.

Now the McElroy House serves as a gateway to history to see a range of exhibits from American-Indian artifacts to fascinating pieces of furniture showcasing the way of living in the older times.

This quaint museum is a must-visit if you’re interested in learning about the local history—you’ll also be supporting the mission of the Yancey History Association to preserve the history of the town.

Gaze Up the Stars at Bare Dark Sky Observatory

Spend an evening of stargazing and marveling at the wonders of the universe at Bare Dark Sky Observatory.

The observatory offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the moon, planets, and stars with little light pollution.

Learn about the skies and take a detailed look into the space objects surrounding the Earth.

Identify the planets, see the brightest stars, and wish upon a shooting star if you see one!

Bare Dark Sky Observatory is located at Energy Exchange Drive, so stop by for a fun, educational night in Burnsville.

Go Horseback Riding with Bucktown Stables

Do you enjoy exploring the woods but does hiking seems a daunting task for you?

If so, you should check out the horseback riding service of Bucktown Stables!

The stables offer a scenic horseback trail ride stretching to over 20 miles of trails.

The trails will lead you to majestic woodlands and take you to the top of Big Bald Mountain, where you can marvel at the 360-degree views of the Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests.

Bucktown Stables offers a memorable horseback riding experience with gentle horses and experienced guides.

Experience an enjoyable day in a lovely mountain setting and connect with the gentle horses as you go along the trail.

Make sure to stop by for an exciting experience at Bucktown Stables located in Bald Mountain Road.

Sip and Swirl Fine Wines at Burnsville Wines and…

If you want to cool off with a fantastic drink at hand, stop by at the Burnsville Wines and…

This quaint wine shop located west of Main Street offers a laid-back winetasting experience for guests.

Get a taste of world-class wines sourced from North Carolina and worldwide.

They also offer a selection of wonderfully-flavored craft beer if you want to chill out.

Burnsville Wines features a deck where you can enjoy your drink and join special events surrounded by the mountains.

Enjoy the Attractions at Old Timey Fall Festival

You’re just in time for the Old Timey Festival when you’re in Burnsville during September.

This whole-day annual event is the second largest happening in the city held at the Town Square.

Your whole family will enjoy different attractions like music and dance performances; likewise, little tots can join various games and activities.

Watch antique cars, tractors, and trucks parade the downtown area at the Tractor Parade.

The highlight of the event includes lines of heritage crafters with demonstrations of “old-timey” craft-making methods.

Get to see demonstrations on basket-making, beekeeping, candle-making, quilt and rug-making, and others.

Otherwise, purchase various craft wares at Old Timey Fall Festival.

Browse Art Pieces at Toe River Arts

For more local art exhibits, you can drop by Toe River Arts.

This popular arts council has been around since the 1970s providing support to artists and communities in North Carolina’s Western area.

They also offer various events and programs to schools and people of all ages.

Area artists can also apply for grant opportunities to fund their equipment and take advantage of educational opportunities.

Take time to appreciate the arts with featured and rotating exhibits from over a hundred artists with their works in various mediums.

Get to see more interesting art pieces at Toe River Arts.

Satisfy Your Southern Fare Cravings at Pig & Grits

Authentic southern cuisine served with great southern hospitality is what Pig & Grits offers its visitors.

This local restaurant opened in 2014 and has established its name in the Burnsville Community and surrounding areas.

Savor some Smokehouse Breakfast and mouthwatering slow-cooked Smoked Hickory BBQ.

Slow-smoked meat on their menu includes Brisket, Pulled Pork, Ribs, Chicken, Turkey, and a whole lot more.

You’ll get the taste of hand-cut hickory smoked meats, all-natural and cooked in-house.

Choose from five regional sauces to get a kick on different flavors; they also have seasonal sauces including Honey-Sriracha, Cherry Bourbon, Applewood Smoked BBQ, and more.

Order drinks, sides, and other lunch and dinner meals; kiddos can also order their favorites.

Pig & Grits also serves Pints and Pounds, good for family and group shares.

Explore Pristine Nature with Snakeroot Ecotours

Have a tour of Burnsville’s off-the-beaten paths with Snakeroot Ecotours.

They offer day outings, nature retreats, overnight stays, and seasonal nature walks.

Take adventurous custom-guided hikes with your family and walk along the lush forest areas and rugged mountain terrain.

Your guide will take you on a half-day trip to the Black Mountains; you can trek unmarked trails, go rock hopping, and see the hidden waterfalls.

Likewise, look for the secret swimming holes, and cloud forests, and spot rare plants and fungi.

Get a custom ecotour and experience the Naturalist Walks in the Appalachian forest; this tour is for nature lovers of all levels from curious adventurers to experienced naturalists.

See the gems of the Blue Ridge with the view of rare bogs, secret trails, and wildflower coves on one to three miles over moderate terrain.

You’ll get the best natural landscape sights with Snakeroot Ecotours.

Stay at the Charming Yummy Mud Puddle

The Yummy Mud Puddle is a charming vacation rental accommodation perfect for a family getaway.

The lodging sits in a ten-acre scenic forest area overlooking the Black Mountains.

But the place offers more than a relaxing, cozy stay because you’ll also see the galleries and studios of mixed media artist, John D. Richards, printmaker, Claudia Dunaway, and Kathryn Lynch’s handmade textile wearables.

Explore the grounds, relax on the docks and let your little ones feed the fish, or catch the artists working their crafts.

The area is also pet friendly so even your four-legged family members are sure to enjoy their stay, too.

Yummy Mud Puddle has other amenities that include cable, high-speed internet, and a landline phone.

Final Thoughts

Burnsville is a gateway for all exciting adventures where you can immerse in nature and escape the hustle and bustle of big city life.

Bookmark this list for a trip brimming with memories and exciting experiences!

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