Here are 20 milepost stops with fun things to do along or near the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina:
Milepost 292 and others
In Valle Crucis, Mast General Store is one of the oldest continuously operating general stores in America and still sells pioneer products such as kerosene lamps and stone-ground grits. Built in 1883, the store pays tribute to its mountain heritage with occasional back-porch bluegrass jam sessions.
Moses Cone Memorial Park preserves the 13,000-square-foot mansion of Moses Cone, a textile entrepreneur, conservationist and philanthropist. The 3,500-acre park also offers horseback riding, fishing, cross-country skiing, easy trails and a crafts shop.
Campers love Julian Price Memorial Park, where amenities include picnic areas, an amphitheater, campfire programs, and canoeing and fishing in Price Lake.
In Vilas, Dutch Creek Trails is an equestrian paradise. Visitors can take a one-hour trail ride through wooded trails while enjoying the Southern hospitality of Keith Ward and his family, who own the family-friendly operation.
Built into the side of a mountain at an elevation of 4,100 feet, the Linn Cove Viaduct is a 1,234 foot long S-curve that is an engineering wonder.
Grandfather Mountain is a nature preserve that boasts the famed Mile High Swinging Bridge, interesting wildlife, picnic spots, hiking trails and a kid-friendly nature museum.
Linville Falls offers gorgeous waterfalls, hiking trails, and spectacular views of the falls and Linville Gorge.
Dig into homemade ice cream or fudge or take a hayride at the The Orchard at Altapass. The historic apple orchard is an Appalachian cultural center that celebrates the people, music, art and beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A stone’s throw from the Parkway is the community of Little Switzerland, where the Switzerland Inn offers an enchanting chalet restaurant; day excursions for horseback riding, gem mining and trout fishing; and hiking, golfing and shopping nearby.
Flower fans shouldn’t miss Craggy Gardens. The high-elevation summits boast some of the most spectacular floral displays along the Parkway, including a breathtaking rhododendron garden that bursts with color in June. Nearby, Mount Mitchell is the highest point in eastern North America.
The Folk Art Center is one of the most popular attractions on the Parkway and is operated in partnership with the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The center showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary crafts, and visitors can see daily craft demonstrations from March through December.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center near Asheville is a good place to start your journey. Check out the fascinating 22-foot interactive Parkway map, watch an award-winning movie about the roadway, and shop for books, clothing, souvenirs and collectibles.
Those energetic enough to climb to the top of Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park, on Highway 74 near Asheville, will be rewarded with magnificent mountain views. The nearly 500 steps of the Outcroppings Trail will lead you to the rock's summit.
Asheville’s famed Biltmore is a must-see for all travelers. Besides exploring the vast estate, you can meander through the property’s gardens, visit the winery, pet the animals at River Bend Farm and much more.
The North Carolina Arboretum is where you can – and should – stop and smell the flowers. You can also enjoy 10-plus miles of hiking and biking trails, learn about the art of bonsai, enjoy lunch at Bent Creek Bistro and much more.
Mount Pisgah provides relaxation at the Pisgah Inn, one of the only places along the Parkway that offers sit-down dining and lodging. It’s also known for beautiful sunrises and excellent hiking.
Located down Highway 276 near Milepost 413, Sliding Rock is a magnet for the young (and the young at heart). Slide down a natural, 60-foot rock water slide into a refreshing, 8-foot-deep pool at the bottom.
The century-old Grand Old Lady Hotel – formerly known as Balsam Mountain Inn – in Balsam is the perfect place for a romantic getaway and provides 50 guest rooms and suites, each with its own turn-of-the-century décor. Amenities include an award-winning restaurant, gift shop, library, hiking trails and two 100-foot-long porches lined with North Carolina-made rockers.
Experience the rich culture of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in Cherokee. Here you’ll find the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, the fascinating Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual Inc., the renovated Oconaluftee Indian Village and the fabulous outdoor drama, Unto These Hills.