Embark on a Blue Ridge Mountain vacation in the city that has it all. Banner Elk, nestled along the banks of North Carolina’s Elk River, promises a little something for everyone. With heaps of outdoor adventure, a stunning landscape, a booming culinary scene, and access to two ski resorts between Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain, your getaway will want for nothing. Hit the hiking trails, revel in spring greenery or fall foliage from the Mile High Swinging Bridge, and wind down the night with a tasting at Banner Elk Winery. Grab a seat on the porch and let your high country retreat begin.
We asked our team at Vacasa for their must-see spots when vacationing in Banner Elk. Here are our recommendations for where to eat and stay, what to see, budget-friendly activities, and even fun things to do with kids. Book your stay, pack your bags, and get ready to relax—we’ve got your Banner Elk travel plans on lock.
On your first day in the mountains, start your morning right with breakfast at Banner Elk Cafe & Tavern, where you can get your caffeine fix at the espresso bar or ease into the day with a comforting plate of biscuits and gravy. Once 5 o’clock rolls around, it’s time to sample Banner Elk’s esteemed local brewery scene and wineries. Beech Mountain Brewery is a favorite spot for a pint and watching bikers race down the trails. If you’re in the mood for wine, head to Banner Elk Winery or Grandfather Mountain Vineyard for tastings and a relaxing, scenic atmosphere. After working up an appetite, plan for dinner at Stonewalls Restaurant, a cozy steakhouse with mouthwatering prime rib and cheesy French onion soup.
Banner Elk makes for the perfect year-round vacation, with ample activities to enjoy no matter the weather. The city is a favorite home base for winter sports, with Beech Mountain Ski Resort up north and Sugar Mountain Ski Resort a little further south. Skiing not your thing? Cozy up with a show at the Ensemble Stage or a cup of hot chocolate after ice skating at Appalachian Ski Mountain. With fall’s arrival, make sure to throw out a line at Grandfather’s Trout Farm and take in Grandfather Mountain’s golden and rubied autumn leaves with a stroll along the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Hit the white water rafting tours on Elk River when warmer weather comes around and don’t forget a souvenir at the Land of Oz gift shop.
Whether educational or adventurous, there’s plenty of things to do with kids in Banner Elk. For an engaging way to learn the history of the Blue Ridge Mountains, stop by Sugar Creek Gem Mining and pan for colorful treasures to take home. Kids will love a tour of Apple Hill Farm to see fuzzy friends like goats, horses, and alpacas. Nearby Lees McRae College’s May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center holds tours and educational wildlife presentations for more fun. Liven up your travel plans with a thrilling ride on Banner Elk’s Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster and sightsee together as you cruise through the trees.
Looking to stay on budget? No problem. The city is surrounded by lush state parks, including Grandfather Mountain State Park and Elk Knob State Park, which boast a network of hiking trails easily enjoyed by foot or mountain bike. Have fun at the lake, check out the animal habitats, and breathe in that crisp mountain air. The Blue Ridge Scenic Parkway lies just 12 miles from Banner Elk and is another inexpensive way to spend the day while taking in the landscape in any season.
The fun all begins with a Banner Elk vacation rental, whether it’s a family home or comfy mountain cabin. Stay at the heart of the skiing and snowboarding action and find yourself a cozy ski-in/ski-out home on Sugar Mountain or Beech Mountain. Search vacation homes by amenities like mountain views, hot tubs, and fireplaces to make the most of your trip away.