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Home Cities and Regions Mountains Plan the Ultimate Day Trip to The Blowing Rock

Plan the Ultimate Day Trip to The Blowing Rock

Located right along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock Park and the town of Blowing Rock should be on every North Carolina bucket list.

The Blowing Rock is a beautiful Western North Carolina attraction that offers stunning views and unique experiences. You’ll find it just outside the charming mountain town of Blowing Rock.

Blowing Rock is about an hour and forty-five-minute drive from the Charlotte area, Asheville, and Winston-Salem in Western North Carolina. Or, approximately three hours from RDU. When you’re ready to plan a day trip to The Blowing Rock (or even a quick weekend getaway), there are plenty of fun sites nearby. 

We’re sharing our top recommendations of things to do in the area and when to visit below. 

What is The Blowing Rock?

The Blowing Rock is a rock formation of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It sits 3,000 feet above the Johns River Gorge. 

Erosion, gravitational forces, and weathering for over 250 million years formed the mountains into beautiful, unique sights. Rocks that were originally hidden miles deep are now exposed at the top of the mountain. 

Many features of this erosion and pressure can be seen on the face of The Blowing Rock including the striped look and large cracks. The name “The Blowing Rock” comes from a unique phenomenon in which the rock walls create a wind with such force that lightweight objects thrown over the gorge can be returned to you. 

From the top, visitors can see Hawksbill Mountain, Table Rock, Grandfather Mountain, and Mount Mitchell. The views, unique shape, and windy phenomenon all make this natural wonder a must-see in the NC mountains. 

Father and children enjoy ice cream on a bench in Blowing Rock
Enjoying ice cream while people watching is a favorite pastime in Blowing Rock. There are plenty of benches around town on which to practice this hobby. Did we mention ice cream? Photo by Todd Bush.

When to Visit The Blowing Rock

The Blowing Rock park is open from 9 am – 5 pm Thursday through Monday. Check the website for any updates

Although any time of year is a beautiful time in Blowing Rock, there are certain seasons that are more popular for a visit. Fall is arguably the best season to plan your day trip to The Blowing Rock due to the stunning foliage. The views this time of year cannot be beaten. However, the crowds will be much heavier in the fall for this very reason. October is the busiest tourism month for Blowing Rock followed by July. November typically has the least crowds.  

The scenic views surrounding Blowing Rock have yielded decades of incredible work from artists. Art in the Park is a popular event held on various weekends from May through September (more on this later). If it’s possible to plan your visit around Art in the Park, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful pottery, paintings, and works of local artists.

Another popular event is the Blowing Rock Music Festival, held one weekend in September each year. Locals and tourists flock to the scenic town during this festival for jazz, folk, and soul music. 

shopping in downtown Blowing Rock
Take in the boutiques and unique shops in Blowing Rock.

What to Do in Blowing Rock Downtown

Although seeing The Blowing Rock itself will be your main attraction, there are plenty of other options to fill your time and make the road trip worthwhile! Downtown Blowing Rock hosts many great local businesses that are worthy of a visit. 

Local Spots to Hit Up 

Once you’ve worked up an appetite from hiking, stop by Blowing Rock’s Kilwins for a delicious treat. During the summer months, you might catch a long line out the door for a scoop of cake batter ice cream in a homemade waffle cone, but it’s worth the wait. Grab your sweet treat and snag a spot on one of the benches out front to people watch while you chow down. 

Shopping in downtown Blowing Rock is a popular option. Stores range from unique boutiques to art shops, antiques, and toy shops for the little ones.  Take a stroll down Main Street for all of the town’s most popular shops. If you’re looking for a bargain, head down the road to Tanger Outlets which houses nearly 30 popular name-brand stores such as Levi’s, Coach, and Gap.

A booth at Blowing Rock Art in the Park
Take home a new treasure! Award-winning artists offer arts, crafts, furniture, cutlery and wearables at Art in the Park in Blowing Rock. Stick around for the evening concert to extend your day trip. Dates and details can be found here: blowingrock.com/artinthepark. Photo by Amanda Lugenbell.

Art in the Park 

Created in 1962 by a group of local artists, Art in the Park hosts nearly 100 vendors at each show. Throughout the summer months, artists showcase handcrafted goods such as jewelry, home products, furniture, pottery, paintings, and photographs. 

The event is broken up into six weekends from May to September. Each weekend of Art in the Park draws thousands of visitors. A stroll down Park Avenue during Art in the Park can reveal some stunning works. 

Things to Do Near Blowing Rock 

If you’d rather spend your day outside of downtown Blowing Rock, there are several trendy and unique attractions within a short drive. 

Steam engine locomotives at the Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock, NC
All aboard! Take a trip into yesteryear on a coal-fired steam engine at the Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock. Tell the kids to keep a sharp eye out for bandits!

Tweetsie Railroad

The family-friendly Wild West theme park known as “Tweetsie Railroad” has been entertaining North Carolinians since 1957. The main attraction of the park is the 3-mile train ride aboard a historic locomotive. 

Tweetsie also offers various amusement park rides including: 

  • Carousel
  • Ferris Wheel
  • Chair Lift
  • Tilt-a-Whirl
  • Turnpike Cruisers 
  • Round-Up 

Or, if you and your family would like something a bit more relaxing, there are many Tweetsie Railroad attractions that might be more up your alley. Try paying a visit to the Deer Park Zoo, going gold mining, browsing the shops, or attending a show. 

Most families spend around five hours when visiting Tweetsie Railroad. Tickets are $52 for adults and $33 for children ages 3-12. Children under the age of 3 receive free admission. 

Children defy gravity at Mystery Hill in Blowing Rock
People have been defying gravity since 1947 at Mystery Hill in Blowing Rock. While there you can explore three museums and partake in tomahawk throwing.

Mystery Hill 

Ready for something that’s a bit quirky? Mystery Hill is North Carolina’s natural gravitational anomaly. This is one of the most family-friendly activities in Blowing Rock. 

Mystery Hill sits atop land that used to be an apple orchard. Now, the unique attraction includes a museum with one of the largest collections of Native American artifacts, the home of the founder of Appalachian State University, and the ‘Hall of Mystery’ with hands-on science experiments. 

But, the main draw is the natural gravitational anomaly. In this exhibit, water will flow upwards, balls roll uphill, and your mind will be tricked as you try to take just a few steps. Mystery Hill is one of only 19 known gravitational vortexes in the world. 

Mystery Hill is open daily from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm.  

The Glen Burney Falls in Blowing Rock
Take a hike! Burn off the ice cream calories with a hike along the Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock.

Hike the Glen Burney Trail

If you’d rather spend your day trip to The Blowing Rock outdoors enjoying nature, there are several hiking options nearby. The Glen Burney Trail is one of the most popular. The trail runs right next to downtown Blowing Rock; catch the entrance beside Annie Cannon Gardens. 

The stunning 3.1-mile hike will take you past three beautiful waterfalls. A moderately strenuous hike, the change in elevation is approximately 800 feet from start to finish. It is an out-and-back style trail, so remember if you head down towards the waterfalls, you will eventually have to climb back up. 

Or, simply cruise down the Blue Ridge Parkway taking in the scenic views and stopping at any trails or overlooks along the way. 

People throwing tomahawks at targets at Mystery Hill in Blowing Rock
Game on! It ain’t cornhole, but people say it’s fun. You can launch tomahawks at targets at the ax throwing range at Mystery Hill in Blowing Rock.

No matter how you plan to spend your time in Blowing Rock, we know you’ll leave ready to plan your next visit to this beautiful mountain town. Be sure to take a few snapshots during your visit and tag us on social media @carolinatravelr! 

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