Banner Elk, North Carolina

A Day in Banner Elk

Images and editorial supplied by the Town of Banner Elk

Escape, Unwind, Indulge in this Friendly Resort Town

Banner Elk is a popular getaway in the North Carolina High Country that blends small town relaxation with the amenities of a larger city.

Within 15 minutes of the town’s lone stoplight, one can experience the great outdoors, fabulous dining, theater and the arts, family attractions, and the two largest ski resorts in the South.

Outdoor Activities in Banner Elk

Outdoor enthusiasts hike greenways and tackle challenging trails among the highest peaks in the East. They go for thrills via whitewater rafting and navigate the topography on mountain bikes. In winter, Banner Elk becomes base camp for skiers visiting Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort.

One of the High Country’s most beloved natural landmarks, Grandfather Mountain, is just down the road from Banner Elk in Linville. Grandfather Mountain has dozens of hiking trails, a mile-high swinging bridge, wildlife habitats and a conservation museum. Be sure to check out the view from the top—the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountain chain.

In fall, the world turns its attention to the village green for the annual Woolly Worm Festival. Local lore says the color of bands on a woolly bear caterpillar foretell the winter weather, so this whimsical festival hosts a series of races to determine which worm receives the honor of forecasting that winter’s weather.

Indoor Attractions in Banner Elk

The Historic Banner Elk School, built in the 1930s, has been converted into Banner Elk’s newest destination. It is home to a gallery showcasing local artists, a book exchange, and the Ensemble Stage theater troupe.

Even though this town is small, it’s bursting with local culture. Ensemble Stage offers plays year-round in an intimate 99-seat theater, while the theater program at Lees-McRae College annually presents a summer series of musicals.

Shopping and Dining in Banner Elk

On the lighter side, it’s easy to spend a day visiting shops, galleries, spas and restaurants. Banner Elk’s food scene has earned the nickname “Culinary Hot Spot of the High Country” with everything from five-star, white linen dining to upscale casual to ethnic cuisine. There’s are also several wineries and breweries within 30 minutes of downtown.

For a perfect place to relax or just get away for the day, Banner Elk Winery offers quality wine, beautiful scenery and warm hospitality. Take a glimpse into what the storied High Country Wine Region is made of.

With so many things to see and do (and eat), Banner Elk provides an ideal getaway for couples, families, adventure seekers and Baby Boomers. Make a trip soon to Banner Elk. It’s a great place to escape, unwind and indulge in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Wolly Worm Festival

On Your Marks…Get Set…Crawl!

Banner Elk is famous for its rather eccentric festival held each fall, the Woolly Worm Festival. Since 1978, the town has celebrated the coming of the snow season in October by racing woolly worms in a number of heats. The winner of the race is the worm that determines the severity of the next few weeks of winter—they judge based on the color of the worm’s 13 segments. Along with the woolly worm race, attendees can browse handcrafted wares for sale created by juried artists and enjoy live music and dance teams. There are also inflatable rides for the kids, so bring the whole family along to this “weally” woolly day!

Click here to read more about the Woolly Worm Festival.

High Country Visitors Guide cover 2021