Oct 24, 2019 - Travel

20 things to see, do and eat in Blowing Rock, 2 hours from Charlotte


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Distance: 97 miles | Approx. driving time: 2 hours | Population: 1,263

If you’re playing one of those word association games Tweetsie Railroad might be the only thing that comes to mind when you hear Blowing Rock.

But this tiny (but busy) mountain town is one of the most charming places we’ve been to. It’s the place to visit if you need to slow down and take a break from your usual mile-long to-do lists. It’s not complicated or flashy, you just show up as you are.

The drive from Charlotte is easy, so it’s a doable day trip or the perfect weekend getaway.

To make the most of your visit, no matter how long you stay, we curated a can’t-miss list of some of the very best Blowing Rock has to offer. Here’s how to tackle it.

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The Inn at Ragged Gardens Blowing Rock stay
The Inn at Ragged Gardens

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In terms of accommodations, Blowing Rock has a handful of quaint inns, an 87-acre resort and Airbnbs abound.

Main Street is where most of the restaurants and shops are, and The Inn at Ragged Gardens — a historic 12-room inn with an acre of gardens — is walking distance, just around the corner.

There’s also plenty of free parking downtown, so booking an Airbnb or staying at Chetola (the 87-acre resort we mentioned earlier) is equally convenient.

Blowing Rock hotels & accommodations

Green Park Inn Hotel9239 Valley Blvd., Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – starting around $165/night

Chetola Resort185 Chetola Lake Drive, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – starting around $230/night

The Inn at Ragged Gardens203 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – starting around $130/night

The Ragged Garden stay
The Ragged Garden

Meadowbrook Inn711 Main St., Blowing Rock, NC – starting around $170/night

Prefer to stay in a mountain house? There are dozens of homes listed on Airbnb right around $200 a night. This is the way to go if you really want to take in those breathtaking mountain views.

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The Grilled Cheese Cafe Blowing Rock eat
The Grilled Cheese Cafe

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Eat & Drink

Whether you’re looking for post-hike fuel or prefer to sip something boozy on a patio, Blowing Rock’s food and drink scene has something for everyone.

If the restaurant offers reservations, go ahead and make one, especially during leaf-peeping season.

If reservations aren’t an option, put your name on the waiting list a little earlier than you’d ideally like to eat and use the time to stroll Main Street (almost everything on this list is walking distance).

Blowing Rock Restaurants and Bars

Bistro Roca 143 Wonderland Trail – This casual bistro has a power-packed menu featuring anything from wood-fired pizza to lobster mac and cheese.

Bald Guy Brew Coffee Roasting Company1116-2 Main St, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – If you’re a Not Just Coffee patron here in Charlotte, this is your spot in Blowing Rock. The coffee is delicious, and they offer nut-free options for FREE (including oat milk, folks).

Camp Coffee Roasters 921 Main St, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – Cozy up with a good cup of java in the upstairs lounge or meander the connecting outdoor store.

Camp Coffee Blowing Rock

Six Pence Pub 1121 Main St. Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – This English pub’s spacious patio is packed when the weather’s right. Expect the usual English pub fare bangers and mash, Sheperd’s pie, fish and chips, etc. and seasonal beer on tap.

The Ridgeline Food & Spirits 8960 Valley Blvd., Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – Away from the main drag, this lunch, dinner and cocktail spot has unobstructed views of Grandfather Mountain.

The Grilled Cheese Cafe –  1179 Main St., Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – Simple, comforting and quick, there’s nothing like a good grilled cheese. They’ve got six signature sandwiches, including a weekly chef special. Note: They’re open May-October.

The Grilled Cheese Cafe Blowing Rock, classic

The Best Cellar 203 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – The upscale American restaurant on the first floor of historic inn Ragged Gardens is highly recommended by locals. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. daily, and you’ll need a reservation.

Blowing Rock Ale House 152 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – The menu features seasonal lunch and dinner items made from local ingredients, and of course fresh brews from Blowing Rock Brewing Company.

The Speckled Trout Restaurant and Bottle Shop 922 Main St., Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – A nod to Appalachian food and beverage culture, the menu features regional and seasonal dishes including Cracker Crusted NC Mountain Trout, Blackened Trout Po’ Boy and more.

The Town Tavern 1182 Main St., Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – If you want to eat outside, this is the place to go. They’ve got your typical tavern food like fried mac and cheese bites, cheesesteaks, sliders, nachos and more.

Town Tavern Blowing Rock food slider

The Village Cafe146 Greenway Court, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – Adorable breakfast and lunch spot with an idyllic garden patio.

Sunset & Vine150 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – You can buy wines, cheeses, chocolates, etc. to go, but we recommend getting a wine flight (or a glass or two) and staying a while — preferably on their rocking-chair front porch.

Blowing Rock Market990 Main St., Blowing Rock, NC 28605 – This place is Common Market meets country store. You can get breakfast, lunch, ice cream, beer, wine, coffee, snacks to go and more.

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The Blowing Rock things to do
Annie Cannon Gardens walk
My dog, Roy Williams, modeling at Annie Cannon Gardens

The Blowing Rock

Glen Burney Trail waterfall hike

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Funky Tulip Blowing Rock shopping


Blowing Rock nc travel guide

If you like being outside but most likely wouldn’t go camping (me), Blowing Rock is the ideal mountain escape for you. There are plenty of ways to experience the great outdoors, break a little sweat and recover with some retail therapy, patio sitting and a comforting meal.

Things to do in Blowing Rock

Take a leisurely stroll (especially after that hearty grilled cheese). Head down Main Street to Blowing Rock Memorial Park to plop down and people watch or let kiddos burn off some energy at the playground. Behind the park you’ll find Annie Cannon Gardens, a scenic and sweet little loop around a lake. Pro tip: The park isn’t dog friendly, but you can take your pup to Annie Cannon for a nice walk.

Pay a visit to the town’s namesake. You can brush up on the town’s history, pose on the actual Blowing Rock and take in the mountain views from the observation tower. This is more of a short nature trail than a true hike, but it’s accessible for most people.

Take a hike and do go chasing waterfalls. The Glen Burney Trail is 1.6 miles long and considered a moderate hike, probably difficult for some. The robust trail is filled with steep steps, twisty vines and waterfall views along the way.

Go leaf peeping. Hop in the car and take in the color-changing magic — it really is mind blowing how beautiful North Carolina is. You can check out this map for potential routes.

Splurge a little and revamp your wardrobe. Funky Tulip is on par with Boem here in Charlotte — it’s where you’ll find designer denim, trendy motto jackets, chunky sweaters and other items you just *need* to add to your wardrobe. You’ll also see 1 in 10 women walking around with a Monkee’s shopping bag (it’s a really good one).

Pop into the speciality shops along Main Street. It’s a short walk so you can hit every store if you wanted to, but Hanna’s houses some seriously beautiful antique and vintage treasures and Christmas In Blowing Rock will make every Holiday Cheermeister’s heart sing.

Treat yourself to a little TLC after chasing those waterfalls. But really. Book a massage at Chetola and indulge in an afternoon tea, or look into one of their Adventure Packages if that’s more your speed. Even if you’re not staying at the resort, you can still take advantage of its offerings.

Go ahead, pack your bags. The mountains are calling. 

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