With waterfalls, wine and roller coasters, Sugar Mountain has it all.
Sugar Mountain North Carolina is a village way up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Based on its location, it attracts many outdoor enthusiasts looking to get out and explore the North Carolina mountains.
Sugar Mountain is known for one of the area’s largest ski resorts, Sugar Mountain Resort. But there are many other awesome things to do in the area near Sugar Mountain, NC.
We are going to be taking a trip to Sugar Mountain to look at all the fun things both indoors and outdoors that you’ll find in the area. Hiking, shopping, museum tours and wine tastings are just a few of the things to do near Sugar Mountain, NC.
We asked our friend Sarah from Explore More NC, to dish out the goods on what there is to see and do. Here’s her expert advice on where to go when visiting the Sugar Mountain area in North Carolina.
Sugar Mountain Resort
Sugar Mountain Resort is the largest ski mountain in North Carolina. It is less than a two-hour drive from Asheville. Here you will find 125 acres of ski terrain, 21 slopes, and 8 different ski lifts.
Its size and quality bring thousands of skiers and snowboarders to the mountain each year for winter sports. However, downhill snow sports aren’t the only things to do around the mountain. Snowshoe tours are available, there is an ice skating rink, and there are snow tubing hills for everyone to enjoy.
During the summer, you can visit the popular downhill mountain biking trails, ride the chair lifts, go hiking, and play tennis, or golf. In The Village of Sugar Mountain, you’ll find many options for hotels, cabins, and vacation rentals. While a small town, Banner Elk has a great variety of restaurants.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is a 3,100-mile track coaster. Guests whiz through the forest as they glide on the coaster. Built in Germany, this coaster was modelled after the popular mountain coasters in Europe.
The ride takes about 7 minutes and can reach speeds of up to 27 mph/43 kph. Guests can control their own speeds by using the break. The coaster is on 6 acres of land and is open year-round, rain or snow.
There is also a coffee shop and an observation deck for guests to watch as people fly through the woods. This is truly a unique experience that is great for the whole family.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Linn Cove Viaduct
The Linn Cove Viaduct was the last section of the parkway to be completed. The viaduct is a 1,243′ bridge built of concrete that wraps around Grandfather Mountain. It was built to protect fragile rocks. No one is allowed to walk on the viaduct, however, there are several hiking trails that offer great views.
If you park at milepost 304 (Linn Cove Visitor Center), you can see the viaduct very easily. Linn Cove Viaduct is technically in Newland, NC, but it is just a short 18-minute drive from Sugar Mountain.
Rough Ridge Lookout
The Rough Ridge Lookout is a wooden walkway on Grandfather Mountain that gives you panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can also see Linn Cove really well from this spot. The trailhead starts at milepost 302.4, and the lookout is about half a mile in.
The trail follows a short spread until it connects with the Tanawha Trail. This is a longer 13.5-mile trail that explores parts of Grandfather Mountain. This trail is fairly difficult as it has lots of rock scrambling, so only continue if you’re up for the challenge!
Banner Elk Winery
Banner Elk Winery, which opened in 2005, is the most acclaimed winery in North Carolina’s high country. It is a beautiful spot where you can come and sample their wines.
If you wish to stay in the area, you can stay at either The Villa or The Azalea House. Both of these rentals are state-of-the-art, luxury rentals where your stay will be as comfortable and romantic as you ever thought possible.
The winery is as picturesque as you can get. Because of its splendour, it is a popular spot for weddings and private events. Tours of the vineyard are a great way to spend an afternoon. Be sure to try a sample of their award-winning blueberry wine the next time you’re visiting.
For delicious wine, and beautiful views, there is no place better than Banner Elk Winery.
Sugar Creek Mining Company
Have you ever wanted to mine your own rocks? You can at Sugar Creek Mining Company! Just five minutes down the road from Sugar Mountain, you can search for your own authentic North Carolina gems.
Grab a bucket, and spend the day with the family filling your bucket with beautiful gems. Before any mining adventure, their team of experts will show you how to properly find gems.
The best part is that you get to keep everything in your bucket. If you’d like, the gem cutters will help you cut your gems to make jewelry. They are open all year round, and it is a great trip to take with the family.
Mast General Store
In Sugar Grove, NC, just 10 miles from Sugar Mountain, take a trip back in time by visiting the original Mast General Store. Their other locations are popular for clothing, outdoor gear, personal items, footwear, candy, home items and so much more.
The original Mast General Store is a fun way to see how the store first started. You’ll find old-fashioned sweets, toys, and general items. Built in 1882, the original store is complete with wooden floors, an old-timey post office, and other old relics that the whole family will find fascinating.
Appalachian State University
The Appalachian State University located in Boone, NC is just 28 minutes from Sugar Mountain. Founded in 1899, with approximately 20,000 students, it is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system.
The goal of the college is to provide students with the best education in a sustainable community. Book your campus tour online or by phone to visit the grounds, or become a student for the day.
Surrounded by mountains, the campus itself is beautiful. It is a well-loved college by the students who attend.
At the foot of Grandfather Mountain, you’ll find Grandfather Vineyard. With roughly 5 acres of vines growing on the property, they have a lovely selection of different varietals of wine. The team at Grandfather Vineyard strives to provide guests with the best and most relaxing wine-tasting experience possible.
Sit on their back patio on the banks of the Watauga River while enjoying your wine. An array of snacks such as cheeses, crackers, and finger foods are available. There is also a food truck that comes every weekend during the summer months.
You will find live music every Thursday-Sunday from May until the last weekend of October. Feel free to bring your canine companion because dogs are welcome on the back patio. The Grandfather Vineyard is a great, down-to-Earth place to come and enjoy wine.
10 more things to do near Sugar Mountain, NC
Banner House Museum
Looking for a rainy-day activity? Come tour The Banner House. The Banner House was built in 1870, for an early English settler, his wife, and their 7 children.
Today, the house is furnished with period pieces, and heirlooms donated by local residents showcasing what 19th-century life was like. You can also find an exhibition room with even more 19th-century pieces highlighting the local history.
From June-September, entrance costs $10 and includes a self-guided tour through the whole house. During the tour, you will learn a little bit about the house and the town’s history.
Apple Hill Farm
Founded in 2003, Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk has been loved by both residents and visitors for years. Family-owned and operated, Lee Rankin has devoted herself to caring for these animals. She makes sure everyone has a chance to feel like part of the family.
Apple Hill Farm is the best place to go to visit alpacas, angora goats, and llamas while learning about this working fibre farm. They also have an array of other livestock on the property including pigs, donkeys, cows, and chickens.
The farm itself is 43 acres, with 15 fields, 4 barns, and a farm store. They offer tours that last between 45-60 minutes in duration. During the tour, you’ll explore the farm and visit the animals.
You’ll also learn how they got to the farm, how they are taken care of, and more. This is a great trip for people of all ages to learn about what it takes to run a working farm.
A popular attraction in Banner Elk, Wildcat Lake is owned and operated by Lees-McRae College. The 13-acre beachfront brings people from all over to enjoy swimming, fishing, and kayaking.
If you are looking for something fun to do near Sugar Mountain on a hot, sunny day, this is it. Wildcat Lake is a very popular swimming hole during the summer, attracting thousands of visitors.
There are also pavilions with picnic tables available for rent nearby. The lake is open from Memorial day until mid-September and is a great way to cool off and enjoy a summer day.
Land of Oz Park
In Beech Mountain, NC you can visit the land of Oz. Go for a stroll along the yellow brick road and meet the characters. For 50 years, people have been coming to the park to feel the enchantment and have their pictures taken with the iconic Oz characters.
You can’t miss Autumn at the Land of Oz because it’s the largest Oz-themed festival in the world. You can watch live performances, eat delicious food, and follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City. Be sure to visit the Over the Rainbow observation deck for great views.
At the time of writing, dates have not yet been announced for 2023. Check their website for more information.
Blowing Rock, NC
The town of Blowing Rock is just 30 minutes from Sugar Mountain. It is a hub for all kinds of outdoor activities and attractions. It is a popular place for visitors to find lodging, restaurants, and shops.
Most famously, the town is named after North Carolina’s oldest attraction, The Blowing Rock. The rock is a cliff that juts out and overhangs Johns River Gorge. The rocky walls of the cliff form a flume that causes the winds to sweep with such a force that things appear to be blowing upside down.
After a short walk (0.5 miles long), you can come right up to witness the rock itself. The rock is something everyone should see at least once because you will probably never see anything like it again in your life.
Appalachian Fossil Museum
The Appalachian Fossil Museum is North Carolina’s largest display of fossils. The museum features a large collection of fossils from all over the country.
It also has unique fossils from Africa and Canada, and rare gems and minerals from all over the world. You can even see a real T-Rex skull, among other amazing fossils.
This museum is a great way to spend a cold or wet and rainy day indoors. Everyone in the family will enjoy this activity near Sugar Mountain, NC.
Tweetsie Railroad is a Wild West theme park right in the mountains of North Carolina. The park features a 3-mile train adventure, rides, live entertainment, a deer park zoo, arcade games, shopping, restaurants and so much more.
The Tweetsie Railroad is the perfect place to bring the family, learn about steam-powered trains, and enjoy all the fun they offer. Events take place all year, including the 4th of July fireworks, dog shows, and more.
The railroad comes alive with sparkling lights and Christmas-themed activities during the holiday season. There is even a nighttime train ride to visit Santa and his gingerbread house. Check their website for current special events that are happening.
In the early 1800s, Linville Caverns were discovered deep inside Humpback Mountain. In the 1930s, they opened for the public to enjoy and have been a marvel attraction ever since.
The caves are expansive and include an underground stream. Tours run all day every day and make for a fun way to do something new and exciting.
The caves sit around 52 degrees no matter what the weather outside is doing, so bring a jacket. It’s also best to book tours in advance as they tend to fill up fast.
Grandfather Mountain State Park
13 miles southwest of Boone, Grandfather Mountain State Park is a beautiful place with many hiking trails, scenic views, and camping areas. The park itself is 2,600 acres, with lots to explore.
You can easily spend an entire day wandering through the miles of trails and climbing around Grandfather Mountain. There are 13 designated spots throughout the park where camping is allowed with a permit. All of their campsites are hike-in, backcountry sites.
Whether you are planning a family camping trip or looking to get some good hiking in, this would be an excellent place for outdoor enthusiasts to be. Grandfather Mountain state park is one of the things to do near Sugar Mountain, NC that is fun for the whole family.
Elk River Falls
North Carolina is known for having some amazing and jaw-dropping waterfalls, many of which you can swim in and even go under. If you haven’t swum under a waterfall, it’s an incredible experience! Elk River Falls is a 50-foot cascade that drops into a beautiful pool, popular for swimming.
There is a short trail to the top of the falls, and if you are feeling daring, you can jump into the water below. Because it is a free area, it gets very busy during the summer season. People from all over come to enjoy the pools and the waterfall.
Things to do near Sugar Mountain, NC conclustion
Sugar Mountain is a beautiful place that acts as a hub for fun adventures in the area. As you can tell, there is no shortage of both outdoor and indoor activities that the whole family will love.
From educational visits and tours to relaxing with wine by the river, or enjoying a family camping trip, there is something for everyone in the Sugar Mountain area.
The next time you are near Asheville, or travelling through North Carolina, Sugar Mountain is a beautiful area to stop and explore. I hope we’ve given you enough things to do near Sugar Mountain, NC. And if a road trip through the Rockies is on your travel bucket list, check out how to spend five days in the Rocky Mountains.
Pin this post to help you plan your next trip to North Carolina!