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Stationed in North Carolina’s rugged Blue Ridge Mountains, Boone radiates enough Appalachian charm to impress any outdoor enthusiast. Boone is teeming with streams for fly fishing and canoeing, mountains for hiking and skiing, and summits for scanning miles of dramatic scenery. And it’s an optimal basecamp for exploring neighboring towns like Banner Elk and Valle Crucis. Named after the 19th-century pioneer, the town has stayed true to its woodsy roots, with miles of trails, pristine wilderness, and small-town charm. Yet for a tiny frontier town of 20,000 residents (also home of Appalachian State University), Boone also has a bounty of historic draws, culinary delights, and cultural activities on its lively main drag.
The closest airport to Boone is the Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI), located 68 miles northwest in Tennessee. Charlotte-Douglas International (CLT) is 95 miles southeast and offers a shuttle service to Boone. Renting a car from the airport is best, as you’ll likely need one to access everything the town has to offer. In good driving conditions it takes 1.5 hours to make the trip. If you plan on visiting during winter, rent a vehicle with all-wheel drive and brush up on your winter driving skills — the roads are often icy and snow storms can appear with little warning.
Boone is enjoyable year-round, with mild summers, vivid fall foliage, and white, snowy winters. But since this is a seasonal climate, you’ll want to pack according to the time of year. Winters are bone-cold, with January claiming an average low of 23 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s a prime time for winter sports like skiing at Appalachian Ski Mountain or ice skating at the spacious outdoor rink at Beech Mountain. If it’s warmer weather you seek, June through September are consistently in the mid-70s, making it perfect for just about any activity. Fall is also beautiful, but be sure to pack enough layers as the chill can be formidable.
Just a half-hour drive from Boone is the tallest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and North Carolina's newest state park, Grandfather Mountain State Park. Three trailheads offer a choose-your-own high-country adventure, from moderate hikes to advanced mountaineering. Plot your course before you go, as a permit is mandatory for all hikers.
One of the Appalachians’ most scenic drives is also one of its most efficient sightseeing trips: The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile serpentine road lined with photogenic landmarks and cinematic views. The Boone portion provides frequent pull-outs for waterfalls, hikes, and vistas. Don’t miss the 1,243-feet-long Linn Cove Viaduct, one of the Parkway’s most photographed landmarks.
Relive the ways of Boone's brawny homesteaders by panning for gems in a water flume at Foggy Mountain Gem Mine. It’s a great way to learn about the local gem mining industry, and whatever gems you find can be cut and polished on-site.
Ride a historic steam locomotive through this heritage amusement park while learning about the region’s railroad history. Located between Boone and Blowing Rock, Tweetsie also features live entertainment and shopping.