Looking for exciting things to do near Sugar Mountain NC? Not to worry, I’ve got you covered with plenty of things to do from Sugar Mountain, Valle Crucis, and the Banner Elk area.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide a small commission to me at no cost to you if you decide to make a purchase. You can read more in my disclaimer here.
Sugar Mountain offers all kinds of fun and exciting outdoor activities and makes for a perfect place to visit at any time of year.
If you choose to visit during the summer season or winter months, you can’t go wrong. There is something for the entire family to enjoy all year long.
Whether you’re into hiking trails with panoramic views or hitting the slopes in winter, the Sugar Mountain area has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable vacation in the North Carolina Mountains!
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Located in Banner Elk, the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster ride is a popular attraction in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The coaster is open year-round and is so much fun for friends, couples, and the whole family!
This gravity-propelled roller coaster has a track length of 3,160 feet. It includes three circular loops, a series of waves, and several twists and turns for an exciting adventure. You control your own speed down the mountain with a handbrake, so you can choose how fast or slow you want to go.
The maximum speed the coaster reaches is 27 mph.
For those who want to stand by and watch, Wilderness Run provides an observation deck for spectators to get a peek at the excitement. It also provides an opportunity to take in the surrounding mountain views.
Additionally, there is a clubhouse with a snack bar and gift shop to enjoy before or after the ride.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is definitely a great place to visit for a thrill ride or a family outing. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in the area!
Banner Elk Winery
The Banner Elk Winery is nestled in the small town of Banner Elk, NC. It offers a perfect ambiance to unwind and savor the taste of its high-quality wine selection.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the vineyards, learn about the winemaking process, and partake in wine tastings that feature an array of locally crafted wines.
These wines range from robust reds to delicately sweet whites, each with distinct, intricate flavors. The rustic elegance of the winery, coupled with the staff’s hospitality, makes for a memorable experience.
Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or just along for the sampling, Banner Elk Winery is a must-visit. It offers a taste of local culture that is as rich and inviting as the wines it produces.
Edge of the World Whitewater Rafting
Experience the thrill of whitewater rafting at the renowned Edge of the World in North Carolina. This family-owned and operated outdoor center has been providing rafting adventures for over 30 years.
Tours are expertly guided and make for a fun-filled whitewater rafting trip along the Watauga River – A Class II and III river rafting experience. This means that the rapids are challenging but not too dangerous, making them perfect for everyone to enjoy.
In addition to whitewater rafting, Edge of the World also offers rock climbing and rappelling adventures. This is a great place to visit if you enjoy the outdoors and want more of an adrenaline rush experience.
The Tweetsie Railroad is a wild west theme park located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. It’s a historic steam locomotive train that takes you on a picturesque journey through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The train ride takes you back in time past old Western scenes that include a ghost town, a mine, and an Indian village. Along the way, you’ll see cowboys, Indians, and other characters from the Old West to add to the excitement.
With its Wild West theme, there is plenty of fun to be had by all. From live shows and amusement rides to panning for gold, the park does not disappoint.
The Tweetsie Railroad offers a unique experience rich in history and charm. So whether you’re looking for family-friendly fun or a nostalgic trip down memory lane, this is one you won’t want to miss!
Sugar Creek Mining Company
Dive into the rich history of North Carolina’s mining industry at the Sugar Creek Gem Mine in Banner Elk. The covered gem mine offers visitors an exciting hands-on mining experience.
With tools included, you can sift through dirt from the mine’s flume and uncover precious gems like rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and more. The experience includes a bucket filled with mine ore and experts ready to help you identify your findings.
The Mine also provides educational tours on the mining process and geological history of the area. And whether you’re a gem mining connoisseur or simply in it for fun, you are sure to have an enriching experience.
The Sugar Creek Gem Mine is a perfect blend of education, adventure, and the potential for unique discoveries.
Sugar Mountain Ski Resort
Sugar Mountain Ski Resort is located in the High Country area of Sugar Mountain. The resort features an impressive 125 acres of skiable terrain and 21 slopes and trails.
Sugar Mountain is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. It offers a variety of terrain, from beginner slopes to challenging expert runs.
Additionally, it boasts a terrain park with jumps, rails, and boxes for snowboarders and freestyle skiers.
However, if you’re new to the slopes or feel a bit rusty, there’s a ski school on site that offers expert instruction. And, you’ll be hitting the slopes before you know it!
Sugar Mountain is actually one of my favorites for snowboarding and would highly recommend it. It has some of the longest runs with more flexibility for beginners if you’re a newbie.
Other winter activities include:
- a snow tubing park
- ice skating
The Sugar Mountain resort also has a variety of dining and shopping options, as well as a campground and a hotel. Other accommodation options include cozy chalets and vacation rental condos, cabins, and homes.
Downhill Biking and Summit Express Chairlift
During the summer months and in the fall, Sugar Mountain turns the slopes into downhill biking and scenic lift rides. Sightseers and mountain bikers are shuttled from the base of Sugar Mountain to the mountain’s peak of 5,300′.
They then ride down the trails and back to the base lodge to do it again. The bike park was initially designed for expert riders but has since opened new trails for beginners and intermediate riders to enjoy.
Sightseers can also hop on and off the lift to enjoy the scenic views and ride it back down when done.
Avery Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival
The Avery Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival is among the many popular events that take place at Sugar Mountain Resort. It’s an annual event that benefits the Avery County Chamber of Commerce and is held in July and August.
The festivities include an eclectic gathering of unique fine artists and master crafts artisans, live music, and more.
Beech Mountain Ski Resort
Beech Mountain Ski Resort is another one of my favorites for snowboarding in North Carolina. It’s nestled at the top of a winding mountain road which turns into a winter wonderland when it snows.
The resort features 17 different runs and 10 high-speed lifts that cater to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.
Other activities include:
- snow tubing runs
- snowshoe tours
- and an ice rink
- scenic lift rides
This is an all-year-round resort so you can find various activities throughout the year. In the summer, the slopes are converted into downhill mountain biking trails with scenic lift rides. Much like Sugar Mountain.
There is also a free 5506’ Live Music series each summer that takes place at the Skybar. Here visitors can kick back on the deck in the Adirondack chairs and enjoy the panoramic views – All while listening to live music.
For a more relaxing option, you can enjoy Mile High Yoga on the 5506′ deck on weekend mornings. It’s a perfect mountain setting for yoga and meditation classes to jumpstart the day.
Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a week-long adventure, Beech Mountain is a great place to visit.
There is plenty to do throughout the year which makes it an ideal destination for a mountain vacation getaway.
Explore the North Carolina Mountains
Mast General Store
The original Mast General Store is located just a short drive from Beech Mountain in the historic community of Valle Crucis.
The Mast General Store holds a significant place in history as one of the oldest operating general stores in the United States. It has been a cherished landmark and a beloved destination for both locals and tourists alike.
Some of what you’ll find here are traditional candies, jams, outdoor gear, apparel, kitchenware, and more.
A Little Bit of History
Established in 1883, the store began as a small shop providing essential goods to the local community. Over the years, the store expanded its offerings and became a central hub for the surrounding mountain communities.
Furthermore, the Mast General Store has become more than just a place to shop. It’s a cultural landmark that celebrates the heritage of the region and offers a nostalgic glimpse into the past.
What makes the Mast General Store special is not just its historical significance but also that its quite unique.
The store retains much of its original charm such as creaky wooden floors, old-fashioned displays, and vintage merchandise. It’s like stepping back in time and definitely, a great place to stop by if you enjoy history.
In addition to being a retail establishment, the Mast General Store has also served as a gathering place for the community. It’s a spot where neighbors can catch up, visitors can chat with locals, and everyone can share stories and experiences.
Its success has led to the opening of other Mast General Store locations in different towns including Asheville. But, the original store in Valle Crucis remains a cherished and authentic representation of a bygone era.
Grandfather Mountain State Park
The entrance to Grandfather Mountain State Park is located in Banner Elk, near Sugar Mountain. It’s a perfect place to visit in the fall during peak season for a bright display of colors. Definitely, a sight to see!
The park offers miles of trails for hiking, rocky cliffs, picnic tables, and the opportunity for wildlife sightings. Furthermore, the park’s remarkable ecological diversity has been recognized as a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve.
Calloway Peak is the park’s highest peak, standing at 5,946 feet above sea level. It boasts a ‘Mile High Swinging Bridge,’ offering breathtaking panoramic views.
You can’t leave the park without going over the swinging bridge. And have your camera ready for some amazing panoramic shots!
Camping at Grandfather Mountain is an option if you want to enhance your outdoor experience. There are also plenty of other RV parks you can enjoy if you’re planning a camping road trip.
I highly recommend checking out Grandfather Mountain. You won’t be disappointed. The only thing I would suggest is visiting on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Especially in the fall.
Grandfather Vineyard & Winery
Grandfather Vineyard & Winery is nestled between Banner Elk & Boone in the heart of the Appalachian High Country. The winery is family-owned and deeply rooted in history.
It also offers a family and pet-friendly environment with wine tastings, live music, and local eats. All with the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains as a picture-perfect backdrop.
The tasting room is where wine tastings are held and where wine purchases can be made. It offers visitors the opportunity to sample wines and learn about the winemaking process.
Wine selection varies from crisp whites to robust reds, each masterfully crafted. The exact selection of wines may vary based on the grape harvest and production cycles.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just love a good glass of red, a visit to Grandfather Vineyard & Winery makes for an unforgettable experience.
Linn Cove Viaduct & Visitor Center (Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 304.4)
The Linn Cove Viaduct has been recognized as an “engineering marvel” and a notable feature of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is the final link of the parkway that was completed and opened in 1987.
This after being delayed for 20 years to help protect the fragile habitat of nearby Grandfather Mountain.
The viaduct is known for its innovative design that minimizes its impact on the natural environment. It is 1,243 feet (379 meters) long, curving in an elegant S-shape along the mountainside.
A must-stop for some of the parkway’s most amazing scenic views.
The Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center
The Visitor Center serves as an educational hub for visitors to learn about the history, construction, and environmental considerations of the viaduct. You can expect to find detailed exhibits, displays, and information panels.
It’s a great place to stop, gather information, and appreciate the significance of the viaduct. It always offers a closer look into the Blue Ridge Parkway and its natural surroundings.
The Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center is only open from spring to fall. Opening hours may vary, so it’s recommended to check the official Blue Ridge Parkway website for up-to-date information.
As someone who has lived in North Carolina for 17 years, I’ve explored quite a bit. I’ve created some amazing memories with my daughter here and can honestly say, it’s a magical place to visit.
Specifically, the Sugar Mountain area where some of the coziest and most charming towns are within reach. From Banner Elk, Boone, and Blowing Rock, you are sure to make amazing and lasting memories just the same.
You can easily drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway and find plenty of things to do. From rafting, snowboarding, and tubing, to waterfalls, rivers, and hiking some of the most scenic trails.
And while there is beauty in every season, fall is the most popular.
Whatever time of year you choose, rest assured, you’ll enjoy every moment. Just don’t forget your camera. There will be a ton of photo opportunities you won’t want to miss!