35 Amazing Things to do on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Sharing is caring!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a famous route in the United States. It’s 469 miles long and starts with the stunning Shenandoah National Park in Virginia before ending near The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Cherokee, North Carolina. It is a scenic route that takes visitors to small-town life and its surrounding scenery. There are countless breathtaking and thrilling stops to make!

The Parkway runs through the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountain range. It passes many popular Virginia and North Carolina towns as it winds through the rolling hills. This is one of the parkways’ main attractions for tourists.

How to Navigate the Blue Ridge Parkway

Most of the expressway is a two-lane undivided road with a speed limit of 45 mph. No commercial vehicles are allowed on the parkway, but cars and RVs can enter. It’s open to vehicular traffic any time of the year. It is busiest during the summer and Peak Week in the fall when the fall foliage on the parkway is in full swing.

Each milepost along the parkway has directional signage that provides information on things to see, do, and eat along your route. The mileposts are also numbered, so you can easily find them.

It is also essential to remember that the parkway does not have many amenities. Occasionally, you will need to get off the parkway to get gasoline, explore a cool town or city, and eat lunch. There is likely decent cell service or WiFi in those areas. Make sure you plan your stops accordingly, so you don’t run out of gas or supplies.

If you’re traveling to a remote area, it’s always a good idea to have a paper map or download one beforehand to avoid getting lost.

Things to do on the Blue Ridge Parkway

From 469 miles, the parkway offers stunning views of valleys, ridges, streams, and forests. There are mile markers that will help you keep track of where you are and what to expect while you drive.

Scenic Overlooks & Hiking Trails

Many mile markers are worth a stop because they have gorgeous overlooks. Here are some of the best places to stop and enjoy views along the parkway!

1) Humpback Gap

At Milepost 6 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll find the Humpback Gap Parking Area. There are also several hiking trails at this milepost, most of which are loop trails.

2) Beacon Heights

Beacon Heights is a short one-mile round-trip hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway that offers beautiful views from several rock platforms. It’s a best-kept secret since most Parkway visitors don’t know about it.

3) Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls is located about 45 miles north of Asheville. The falls can be accessed by a hiking trail with two options: an easier 3-mile hike to and from on the same trail, with a steady descent and return climb, or a more strenuous 3.5-mile loop trail that climbs a ridge above the falls. Either way, you can see a beautiful 70-foot-tall waterfall!

4) Black Balsam Knob

The Black Balsam Knob summit is a great place to hike, with 360-degree views. It’s located on the Art Loeb Trail, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville.

5) Craggy Gardens

The cliffs and crags of Craggy Gardens give the park its name, but these high elevation summits are home to some of the most spectacular floral displays along the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway corridor. A picnic area is a nice place to stop and enjoy lunch while you take in the views! Nature enthusiasts love visiting Craggy Gardens in June because rhododendrons will bloom in beautiful shades of pink and purple.

6) Cumberland Knob

Cumberland Knob is located near the Virginia state line, where the Blue Ridge Parkway construction began in 1935. This is the first recreation area opened to the public and is a favorite destination for locals and visitors.

7) The Blowing Rock

The Blowing Rock is an attraction on the Blue Ridge Parkway that many visitors still flock to see with their own eyes. The rock formation channels wind, and as a result, objects cast over the cliff are blown up rather than down. In winter, snow will be blown up rather than down onto the rocks below!

8) Linn Cove Viaduct

To protect the fragile habitat of Grandfather Mountain, Parkway planners designed the Linn Cove Viaduct. The engineers were challenged to complete the last section of the Parkway here in 1987, after it had been started 52 years prior. The curving of the mountain’s natural contours preserves the beauty and protects the delicate slopes of Grandfather Mountain.

State Parks & National Parks

9) Shenandoah National Park

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most iconic drives in America. It begins at this national wonderland and is home to many wild wonders such as waterfalls, wetlands, rocky peaks, and wildlife.

The landscape is peaceful and features wooded hollows that can be explored. More than 500 miles of trails lead to breezy summits and cascading waterfalls.

10) The Natural Bridge State Park

The Natural Bridge is often considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the Modern World. The area was once owned by Thomas Jefferson, was worshiped by the Monacan Indians, and had been used as a meeting place for George Washington’s army.

11) Grandfather Mountain State Park

Grandfather Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountain range, and its elevation is 5,946 feet. The preserve is home to the famous Mile-High Swinging Bridge, which attracts thousands of tourists annually.

12) Moses H. Cone Memorial Park

Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is home to Flat Top Manor, a historic site with 25 miles of carriage and bridle trails popular with hikers, cross-country skiers, and horseback riders. The park allows visitors to explore 3,600 acres of forests, meadows, and wildflowers.

13) Linville Falls

Trails near the Linville Falls visitor center lead to the breathtaking three-tiered Linville Falls over the Linville Gorge via both strenuous and moderate hikes. This gorge is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.”

14) Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock State Park is a great to experience the best of North Carolina’s mountains. This park is only 25 miles from Asheville, and features a 500-million-year-old towering monolith. When you visit Chimney Rock, you can enjoy 75-mile views overlooking Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.

15) Julian Price Memorial Park

Julian Price Memorial Park is named after Julian Price, an insurance giant who purchased the 4,200-acre land as a recreational retreat for his employees. After he died in 1946, Price’s heirs donated the land to the Parkway as a memorial. Visitors can rent a boat or a canoe to navigate through Price Lake or you can bring your own kayak. There is also a hiking trail that circles the lake.

16) The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular national park in the US! The park features many hiking trails with lush greenery, colorful, rare flora, streams and waterfalls, and summit peaks with breathtaking landscapes stretching out across a majestic mountainous skyline. You may even spot a mother black bear or her cubs!

Towns

There are several charming towns in North Carolina and Virginia that visitors should not miss. Many have historical downtowns, cute shops, fantastic food, and festivals throughout the year.

17) Roanoke

Roanoke has many small-town charms that are common in the region, including a historic town center and close proximity to nature. Downtown is a bustling metropolis with many attractions, including racial diversity, ethnic restaurants, numerous museums, and lots of pavement for pedestrians.

18) Waynesville

Waynesville is a buzzing tourist destination with many art galleries, natural attractions, and a delicious culinary scene. The town is close to The Great Smokey Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. This makes it a great place to enjoy outdoor recreational opportunities.

19) Little Switzerland

The resort that started in 1910 was named after its deep valley views and resemblance to the Swiss Alps. Many of the buildings in the town incorporate iconic Swiss architectural styles. Many of the shops and restaurants in Little Switzerland are themed after Swiss villages too. Enjoy an amazing meal at the Switzerland Cafe!

20) Boone

Boone is named after legendary explorer Daniel Boone and is home to Appalachian State University so it has a lively student-town spirit, while also retaining the ruggedness associated with its past. The surrounding area offers some of the best outdoor adventures in the country, with fast, clear rivers perfect for rafting or kayaking.

21) Blowing Rock

The small town is known as the “Crown of the Blue Ridge” and is regarded as one of the most charming villages near the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a great base location if you want to see several mountain overlooks and attractions! Downtown has several quaint shops and some historical hotels and inns that you can stay in.

22) Banner Elk

Banner Elk is a small town located in the mountains between the Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain ski areas. It is a popular tourist destination for those looking to enjoy some winter skiing or snowboarding. Grandfather Mountain is located nearby and is popular for hiking. The Mile High Swinging Bridge can be seen nearby as well.

23) Asheville

This eclectic city has a thriving art and music scene and unforgettable restaurants for all who visit. Asheville is at a lower elevation than some other towns on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so you can see the exploding colors of fall foliage in October and November. It’s a fun city with many outdoor places to hang out!

Breweries

24) Blue Mountain Brewery

Blue Mountian Brewery has American-style cuisine, live music, and views of the mountains is located in Afton, Virginia Order a sampler flight of craft beer because they have so many unique flavors that makes it tough to choose which one to taste first! Grab a seat outside so you can take in the incredible views of the surrounding mountains.

25) Lost Province Brewing Company

Lost Province Brewery is a microbrewery and gastropub in Boone, North Carolina. We specialize in brewing authentic craft beers and serving delicious wood-fired fare.

We are a small, family-owned, operated business that aims to provide gracious hospitality to our guests. We strive to be environmentally friendly and respectful of our employees and the community we live in.

26) Stable Craft Brewing and Cidery

Stable Craft Brewing & Cidery is a working farm with chef-inspired food and hand-crafted beers, ciders, and wine. We offer overnight stays and spacious indoor & outdoor dining options. Visit the stable, play corn hole, sit by the fire pit, or relax on the patio.

Wineries

27) Grandfather Vineyard & Winery

The Grandfather Vineyard and Winery is the first winery in Watauga County. The vineyard has over five acres of grapevines and produces wine from 12 varieties of grapes. Higher elevation yields wines with bold flavors, which visitors can enjoy at several events at the winery throughout the year.

28) Linville Falls Winery

Just a short drive from the spectacular Linville Falls is the Linville Falls Winery. This family-owned and operated vineyard produces wine, pumpkins, apples, and Christmas trees.

Visitors can enjoy a wine tasting, live music, and a bite to eat while they are on their visit. Occasionally food trucks stop by to provide some delicious fare.

29) Chateau Morrisette Winery

The Chateau Morrisette Winery is located in Floyd, Virginia, and is one of the oldest and largest wineries in the state. The vineyards are surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

Their wines are from Virginia grapes, including chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and pinot noir. They offer wine tastings and tours of their cellars to see how their wines are made.

30) Thistle Meadow Winery

This winery produces 30 different types of wine, most of which are available throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy relaxing walks through the vineyards or view the surrounding mountains while sipping their favorite beverage. They also offer tastings of dry reds, dry whites, blush wines, and sweet wines.

Tourist Attractions

31) Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate, America’s largest and most grandiose home, resembles French Renaissance architecture. The Vanderbilt castle is a historical estate with 250 rooms! That includes 43 bathrooms, 34 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool, a 10,000-volume library, and more.

The Biltmore Estate ticket cost is $60-85, depending on when you plan on going. Children 9 and under are free to enter on most days. The Biltmore Estate is a must-see!

32) Blue Ridge Music Center

The Blue Ridge Music Center is a well-known heritage site for folk music and dance in the mountains of western North Carolina. The center offers live music throughout the day in a breezeway and concerts during the summer and fall.

33) Emerald Village

Emerald Village is home to several historic mines in a spectacular mountain setting. These mines offer visitors the chance to explore the inner workings of these historical sites.

34) Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill is one of the most photographed sites on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mill was built in 1910 and offers demonstrations of its old-time heritage.

35) Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad is a heritage railroad and amusement park between Boone and Blowing Rock. Visitors can go on a 3-mile ride on one of its two historic narrow gauge steam locomotives. There are a few fun activities here, including the Deer Park Petting Zoo, which has deer, goats, llamas, sheep, and donkeys.

How many days should I spend on Blue Ridge Parkway?

If you want to drive along the entire length of the parkway, it will take about 6 hours to travel that distance. However, you should stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery and charming towns on your trip itinerary. You should plan to spend five to seven days along the Blue Ridge Parkway so you can see as much as possible.

Bottom Line

The Parkway offers travelers various scenic routes, from easy drives to strenuous hikes. There are plenty of attractions like wineries, breweries, ski resorts, amusement parks, and more. With its scenic overlooks and various activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *